Granola is a fantastic product that is beloved by millions all over the world. It is praised for its ease of use, convenience, flavor options, health benefits, and even affordability!
So, you can’t imagine that anything is wrong with such an incredible product, right? Well, unfortunately, one thing people cannot seem to agree on is whether or not granola is gluten-free?
So, is granola gluten-free? Unfortunately, not always. Only if granola has been made from pure or whole wheat oats can it be considered gluten-free. And, then it should also not contain any other gluten-containing ingredients like wheat!
Is all hope lost? Are there no gluten-free options for this tasty treat? Luckily, many brands offer a ton of delicious gluten-free granola products made using alternative grains or simply pure rolled oats.
In our jam-packed article, we will have a look at the fascinating world of granola and oats. We will explain exactly why you cannot always eat oat-based granola and how severe the consequences are.
But, we have also included your silver lining and made an in-depth product review of the best gluten-free granola options out there!
What Is Granola?
While some may see granola as a somewhat boring or average product, it actually has a rich and fascinating history.
Granola, or back then referred to as “granula,” was invented in New York by Dr. James Caleb Jackson in 1863. Only later in the 19th century was it officially trademarked in the U.S.
Originally granola was made using a base mixture that resembled cereal flakes. Then later manufacturers started adding fruit and nuts to sell it as a healthy food.
However, it was only later that the cereal was replaced with oats, as we know granola today.
So, in this modern age, granola has become a staple ingredient in many homes. It was first used as a breakfast food but later made its way into other categories including snack making, baking, and even smoothies.
Granola is a mixture of rolled oats, honey, nuts, and some other sweeteners like sugar. But, because we live in such a creative and inventive era, there are hundreds and thousands of different granola recipes and products out there.
Many popular additions to this mixture include dried fruit, seeds, other grains and cereals, and a bunch of flavoring ingredients.
The way this product is most often used is during breakfast. It is mixed with either yogurt or milk. This softens the oats and naturally helps add moisture to an otherwise dry bite.
But, you can also add additional toppings to give it more flavor and color. Fresh-cut fruits are amongst our favorites!
Then, granola can also be used to create snack bars. This is considered to be a healthy on-the-go snack that is also relatively quick to make.
Granola Vs Muesli
It is important to understand that there is a difference between these two products. The differences do have an effect on the price of the two items and their nutritional value.
Granola is a baked product that contains added sweeteners (even if it is natural like honey).
Once the ingredients are combined, it is often spread on sheets and baked in a hot oven. Then, it is crushed up to turn it into loose pieces that are easier to eat.
Muesli, on the other hand, is unbaked and unsweetened. So, after the ingredients are mixed, they are immediately packaged and used as-is. The only sweeter muesli gets is from the fruits it can (optionally) be served with.
Both of these are used in virtually the same way. But, naturally, muesli will be somewhat healthier because it contains fewer sugars.
But, depending on how you serve these and with which accompanying ingredients, a healthy snack or dish may soon turn sugar-packed.
Ingredients Used To Make Granola
As we have mentioned, today’s granola is traditionally made using rolled oats. This is a type of cereal grain that comes from the Poaceae plant grass family, also known as oat grass. Their edible seeds are what get used as oats.
Then, granola is also often made with honey. However, because honey is a relatively expensive ingredient, it is often substituted with some other type of cheap sugar syrup. This can be glucose, cane syrup, or corn syrup.
If you buy expensive granolas, they might contain actual honey. But, you will have to specifically take a look at the list of ingredients at the back. Honey-flavored does not specifically mean that the product contains real honey.
And finally, most granola products contain some type of nuts, chopped or whole. You can find many products with a wide variety of nut options and even nut mixes.
Other additives that have become common (especially in mass-produced products) are flavorings, chocolate pieces, and dried fruits. Flavorings are often in a powdered form or have been incorporated with the syrup.
The chocolate pieces can be as simple as chocolate chips or chunks, or they can be cocoa powder. And the type of dried fruit also varies a ton! This is what makes granola so amazing – its’ wide range of options to fit everyone’s needs!
If you want to experiment with making your own gluten-free granola, this vegan recipe from HealthNut Nutrition on YouTube is a great place to start!
Is Granola Gluten-Free?
The main ingredient used in making granola is oats. And unfortunately, not all oats are gluten-free. Sad, we know! Especially because of all the amazing flavors and uses available out there!
There is a big misconception that oats are completely gluten-free. It is only pure oats that are.
Unfortunately, very few manufacturers use pure oats when making granola. And although oats do not come from wheat, they are mass-produced and often stored with wheat products.
Another reason that these fake oats aren’t gluten-free is because of a protein they contain called avenin. It is similar to the protein found in the gluten in wheat. This means that can have a similar effect on people with allergies to it.
A gluten allergy or intolerance can cause mild or severe symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and fatigue, among many others.
In many countries, like Australia and New Zealand for example, you cannot label oats or oat products as gluten-free.
Also, a lot of granola products contain regular wheat flour that helps bind the ingredients together. They may even add wheat germ to market it as a health product.
While this protein isn’t the same as the one found in oats, even more people are intolerant to it.
So, bottom line is that most granola types are not gluten-free. However, we live in a world today that offers many fantastic alternatives. But, we will talk about them shortly!
How To Tell If Granola Is Gluten-Free
The easiest way to do that is to check the back of the packaging. Most products today have a list of common allergens specifically named at the back below the ingredients list.
And because wheat is one of the top 8 allergens in the world, it is almost always listed.
Some countries even legally require a product to state any common allergens included in the product.
But, if you still want to make sure (especially if you have celiac disease), then here is what to look out for in the ingredients list.
Oats are the first item that is listed in most oat-based granolas. Then, you can also look out for any wheat listed. They don’t always specify which type of wheat or wheat product is used, but they do say “wheat.”
Now, keep in mind that there are many different types of wheat products like spelt, farro, graham, and Kamut. These are also often used in granola.
So, if you see an ingredient you aren’t familiar with, rather give it a quick Google search. Barley and rye are two other ingredients that are also popular, but also contain gluten.
How To Choose The Best Gluten-Free Granola – A Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide
If you are feeling pretty helpless by now because you came here looking for gluten-free oats, don’t worry! Because we have good news! You can find many oat-based granolas that are made from pure oats that don’t contain any gluten.
In fact, these products are even tested and certified as being completely gluten-free. So, you can even rest assured that they weren’t made on a farm or factory alongside wheat products.
Now, let’s take a look at what you have to know before choosing a product.
Is It Actually Gluten-Free?
Just because a label says “gluten-free” doesn’t mean that it is. Sure, it is super illegal to put false information on products, but that won’t stop companies that try to make millions!
How many articles do we see of products being recalled because of some hazardous issue caused by a shortcut?
So, always check the back of the ingredients to make sure you don’t catch anything that shouldn’t be there. You can read our section above to recap on what you should look out for.
If you feel confident that your product doesn’t contain any gluten, you can move on to some other factors to consider, arguably the second most important being flavor.
The flavor of granola is one of the first things that attract people to a specific brand. After all, a short description or picture can paint a thousand words!
So, make sure that the flavor is to your liking before just buying it. Read the full description. Especially when you have a granola with a bunch of yummy ingredients, something you may not like could be hiding in there.
For example, we like to buy fruit granolas. But, when we see that it contains banana chips, we are out!
And don’t worry if you first feel like you cannot find anything you like. Trust us, it is only a matter of time before you find your go-to granola!
Other Dietary Restrictions
Just because you have ruled out gluten from the product, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other allergens hiding in the mixture.
As we have said, granola also often contains nuts. And, as you know, this is arguably the most common allergen in the world. But, people with nut allergies aren’t necessarily allergic to all types of nuts.
So, make sure to rule out your specific allergy or intolerance in the ingredients list or allergen specification section.
Quality And Price
Okay, so you have found something that caught your eye. Is it quality though? You don’t want to spend a ton of money on gluten-free granola (because trust us, it isn’t the cheapest thing in the world) so personally, we like to check the quality of ingredients used.
For example, if we are paying a fortune, then it helps justify the price if the ingredients are organic, kosher, or halaal certified. Furthermore, we like gluten products that don’t have any flavor enhancers, colorants, or preservatives.
These are all small things that end up making a huge difference, not only for the environment but for your personal health!
And, even more importantly, don’t overspend. You will find a great gluten-free granola for a price that fits your budget. Don’t pull the trigger on an expensive option that doesn’t suit your budget.
Best Gluten-Free Granola Products
So, eager to get to the gluten-free granola options? Well, here they are! All of these options are extremely nutritious and packed with delicious flavors.
But, better yet, they are all relatively easy to find and, in our opinion, very affordable.
Each has different certifications and offers different nutritional benefits. But, what you can assure yourself in knowing is that they are high in quality and a great choice for a better lifestyle.
|1.||Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola - Original Flavor||Wide variety of flavors, vegan, oat free, natural|
|2.||Nature’s Path Organic Gluten-Free Granola - Honey Almond||Several flavors, organic and GMO-free|
|3.||KIND Healthy Gluten-Free Grain Clusters - Dark Chocolate||Healthy and natural ingredients|
|4.||Bear Naked Gluten-Free Granola Cereal - Cocoa And Cashew Butter||Great flavor and texture|
|5.||Wildway Gluten-Free Vegan Granola - Apple Cinnamon||Vegan, no artificial ingredients|
1. Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola – Original Flavor
This is another amazing brand that makes a wide range of flavors for gluten-free granola.
Again, it makes it a lot easier to find something you actually like.
This range of gluten-free granola contains roughly 7 different flavors and 5 different sizes available for sale.
The benefits and certifications will vary depending on the flavor you choose (because they contain different ingredients), but the original flavor is completely GMO-free, vegan, keto and paleo-friendly, made with organic ingredients, and doesn’t contain any refined sugars or added flavors.
Oh, and of course, it is completely gluten-free, made only with amaranth, quinoa, and chia seeds. It doesn’t even contain oats, so you can rest assured completely that it is gluten-free.
This is a mind-blowing gluten-free product that is going to change the entire way we look at formerly restricting dietary foods.
2. Nature’s Path Organic Gluten-Free Granola – Honey Almond
Nature’s Path also has a bunch of gluten-free granola flavor options and they are even sold in various sizes.
This is incredible because it gives you the freedom of choice!
Many dietary products often limited you to a simple choice. But you could say that this range is as good (if not better) as most “normal” granola manufacturers.
The only reason they are slightly lower on our list is that they do contain enriching ingredients, cane sugar, and aren’t completely vegan. Other than that, a fantastic option if those things don’t bother you.
So, about this specific product and its flavor. It is made from all organic ingredients that have been certified as non-GMO too.
It is completely vegetarian and also dairy-free. Unfortunately, it isn’t vegan because of the addition of a honey product.
It is made with gluten-free rolled oats, so you can still enjoy the flavor you are looking for. And, it contains real almonds in the mixture, making it even more nutritious.
Another feature that makes this granola unique is its shape. These are made into clusters instead of fine cereal-like crumbs. These clusters are super crunchy and give each bite a lot more texture.
This makes them perfect for crunchy breakfast bowls and on-the-go snacks!
A fantastic option that is easy to find, comes with a ton of flavor and size options and is surprisingly affordable.
3. KIND Healthy Gluten-Free Grain Clusters – Dark Chocolate
So, this product range isn’t your traditional granola cereals. Instead, they are all chunky and crispy clusters are granola mix.
There are three products to choose from, all just as delicious as the last! And, they are all very affordable and easy to find!
So, getting to the product descriptions, this dark chocolate granola cluster is made with 5 super whole grains including gluten-free oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. These alone will all provide you with a bunch of nutrients and benefits!
The entire product is gluten-free, doesn’t contain any GMO ingredients, and has no trans fats. And, if you thought that it couldn’t get any better, it also doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, sweeteners, colorants, or preservatives!
This brand’s slogan is “ingredients you can see and pronounce” and we certainly agree! It is an amazing product and the price is well-justified!
4. Bear Naked Gluten-Free Granola Cereal – Cocoa And Cashew Butter
This is another incredible brand that produces top-quality gluten-free granola. The biggest downside and why they are at our number two position is that they only have two flavors.
But, they are both packed with flavor and incredibly nutritious! So, we can live with that.
Essentially, you can choose between Cocoa And Cashew Butter or Cinnamon And Sunflower Butter. Both of these have been Fair Trade Certified and Non-GMO certified.
The main ingredients in this recipe include whole-grain oats, pepitas, cashew butter, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and sea salt flakes. Sound delicious, doesn’t it? And it is!
And, because of its cereal-like texture, it is a lot more versatile product than chunky granola. It is perfect for making healthy protein balls, granola bars, and of course, smoothies and breakfast bowls.
Oh, and before we forget, this range is just as affordable as the previously mentioned product. This is a great choice that is relatively easy to find, and you can rest assured that this is a product you can trust.
5. Wildway Gluten-Free Vegan Granola – Apple Cinnamon
As this article comes to an end, we still wanted to end on a bang! And this product was perfect for us.
A gluten-free granola that is equally high in quality, but a little bit more expensive if you are willing to pay the price.
Wildway has also created a wide variety of flavors that are creative and simply to die for! They are, however, only sold in 8-ounce packages. But, that is still enough to last you a while.
So, what does this product offer? Well, apart from the fact that it is completely gluten-free, this granola is also free from any grains and wheat products. It is made from a combination of nuts and seeds with all-natural flavorings.
It has added dried fruits, vanilla beans, and some spices, but no added artificial extracts. And, it is even sweetener-free. So, other than the natural sugars in the fruits, you are completely rid of processed sugars.
Furthermore, it doesn’t have any added oils and is completely vegan. So, even though the price is a little on the steep side, it is well worth the purchase!