Grain-Free Granola Balls

January 20th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

There are few things I miss from my pre-gluten-free days. Honestly, I could care less about banana bread and carrot cake, whole grain toast or English muffins, pasta or pizza. Give me a plateful of sweet potatoes or brown rice any day. Gluten-full foods don’t mean that much to me.

With one exception. Granola.

Just a year or two before I went gluten-free, I crafted the most addictively good and ridiculously easy granola recipe. Laden with oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, natural sweeteners and spices, that stuff was incredible. Drizzled with just enough almond milk to coat the crunchy clusters, it was heaven in a bowl.

I was sorely disappointed when I tried the same recipe with gluten-free rolled oats only to find that my body doesn’t jive with them. A few here or there in a baked good is tolerable, but when it comes to eating straight oats in something like granola or oatmeal, it’s a no go.

So, quite miserably, I’ve given up granola for the last few years. It’s one of the very, very few “gluten foods” I actually crave from time to time. But ever since a few bad experiences with gluten-free oats, I’ve laid aside all hope of enjoying it again.

When I saw that Lauren of Celiac Teen was hosting Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free this month, and when I discovered that her theme was “Follow the Calendar,” and when I found out that January 20 was National Granola Bar Day, something fluttered in my stomach. Like an old highschool crush come back to haunt me, I recalled my love for granola with an ache in my chest. In a bar or in a bowl, it doesn’t matter. Granola is heaven in all forms.

I quickly scrolled through a few lists of January food holidays. Fig Newton Day was a possibility and Chocolate Cake Day was certainly a tempting option, but my mind would not wander from the glory of granola. So, armed with nothing but passion for my deepest culinary love and a pantry full of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, I set out to make what I hoped to be an oat-free granola knock-off that would satisfy even my strongest cravings.

As I mixed together my favorite combination of usual granola suspects—walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried blueberries, honey, cinnamon—I felt a surge of hope flood through me. Maybe this would work after all.

Pinching the mixture between my fingers as I was about to spread the granola out in an even layer on a pan, the thought occured to me: why not turn this granola—my favorite anytime snack—into a bite-sized ball?

I took the idea and ran with it. These balls, firm enough to hold their shape but not so much as to break a jaw, are a testament to the fact that even our most cherished recipes can be modified to fit a new lifestyle. Enjoy these balls alongside a cup of tea and you favorite newspaper (or, if you’re like me, food magazine). For all you winter travelers, these are exceptionally transportable, too. They’d make a healthy (and incomparably delicious) alternative to airplane peanuts.

The results of writing this recipe have confirmed my belief that granola in all forms—be it by the bowl, bar, or ball—is completely and utterly perfect.

I cannot think of any other word in the English language to describe it. So perfect will do just fine.

Grain-Free Granola Balls

Makes 12-14 balls


½ cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup blanched almond flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup raw walnuts, chopped

¼ cup dried blueberries

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon good quality honey

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond flour, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse for ten 1-second pulses to form a coarse meal. Transfer to medium mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the walnuts, blueberries, and raisins.
  4. Then add the honey, almond butter, water, and vanilla. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Dough will be thick and stiff.
  5. Using wet hands, form dough into tightly-packed balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown. Balls will still be soft to touch. Cool completely before serving or storing. Balls will set up as they cool. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)


  1. Your gf granola balls look so delectable, Hallie!

  2. Mmmm – delicious. I miss granola, too. My favorite way to eat it was in a mug, topped with apple cider. But, lots o’ oats do me in as well. I tried quinoa flakes and brown rice flakes once. Neither did it for me, though. I’ll have to try your version here.

  3. Oats have always tasted good to me, even when they didn’t make me feel so good. Oats + nuts + honey = even better! These granola balls look really tempting.

  4. Wow….they do sound perfect and I can’t wait to try them. So glad you were able to find a way to get granola back in your life :)

  5. These sound really good. Last Christmas I received an excalibur dehydrator and one of the staples that I make in it is raw granola. It has almonds, pumpkins seeds, flax seeds, sunflowers seeds, apples, agave nectar, cinnamon. It is just like eating real granola. I love mine with almond milk and bananas. If you want the full recipie let me know.

  6. Have you tried freezing these? I’m not a big granola eater, but I like having something around that I can grab for on the go. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Those look lovely! I’ll have to try them for sure! For what it’s worth, I have a fabulous gf banana bread recipe if you want it. :)

  8. KristinaD said on January 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    These look really good! Where do you buy your nuts? We are allergic to corn also and have problems getting corn-free nuts and seeds.

    • KristinaD: I buy my nuts and seeds at Whole Foods or my local natural foods co-op in town. I can see how cross-contamination could be a real problem. There must be a certified corn-free source somewhere. I’ll do some snooping around and let you know if I find anything!

  9. Wow, what a clever idea! Thank you so much for this, I don’t miss the gluten full foods either but I have been wanting granola recently. These balls are genius, perfect for snacks for school for me.. and grain free too! I can’t wait to try them.. they look to die for too!

    Teenie Foodie

  10. YUM YUM YUM!!! I so miss granola too and the oats don’t work for me at all either! Oh….. I can’t wait to make this…and I’ll have to follow your blog! Thanks so much! :)

  11. These are genius! And so darn cute. We love granola here. We’ll have to give these a shot! It looks like there’s oats in them! Well done :)

  12. oh yum – these look delicious! Can’t wait to try them!

  13. mmm – these look delicious! I’ve made something similar, but with a carrot cake kinda flavor, I’ll have to try granola too! Thanks for the recipe!

    I’m so happy I found your blog through the gluten free roundup, I’m loving your recipes. It’s so nice to find fellow Holistic foodies :)

  14. These look really, really tasty. I too miss oats and granola. I make oat-free granola, but I actually miss a big bowl of oatmeal. While I am fond of quinoa flakes, they’re not the same.

  15. A friend at work made these granola balls last week and gave a couple to me. They were outstanding–addictive, in fact. I highly recommend that when any of you make these, you prepare a double batch. Delicious!

  16. This week I have been making granola and just love the crunchy feel in my mouth. I had never thought of making granola balls! You are clever! These look “perfect”.

  17. Nancy Ball said on April 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I’ve made three batches of these this week. They’re just about the best thing I’ve ever tasted. They have enough protein and oils to sustain me for breakfast. And they’re good with salads and stew. Oh yum! The store was out of pumpkin seeds, so I substituted pistachios. I also want to try subbing Sunbutter for the almond butter. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Nancy: yes, I’ve made them this week too! They really are the perfect snack. Thanks for sharing your variation ideas…those sound great!

  18. Thank you for this recipe. We are not gluten-free, but we try to balance the occasional cakes, etc. with non-grain goodies. I can’t wait to make these cute little things! Found your blog via Spunky Coconut.

  19. I just stumbled across your blog and am enjoying my time here! I was wondering if you ever posted Tracey’s excalibur granola recipe? I would love to see it! Thanks a million!

  20. Wow, these are amazing!! Just made them and they taste just like oatmeal cookies. Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Just have to say we love this recipe! I make them at least twice a month. They are great for my kids before school. I love how versatile the recipe is, I use whatever nuts and seeds I have on hand. This morning I went to get the raisins out but someone had eaten them all (typical) so I used dried apricots and they were delicious.

  22. muriel jelsma said on February 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Just found your site and can’t wait to try the recipes.
    Question: does your cook book show calories, carbs. etc. for the recipes?

  23. Hi Hallie, I just made these and they were delicious! What would you say a serving size would be for a snack versus breakfast?

  24. Julie: Glad you like them! For a snack, I usually just have one or two because I find them to be pretty filling. For breakfast, I would eat two with a smoothie, scrambled eggs, or breakfast sausage, etc.

  25. Dorette said on July 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Can I put the batter in the fridge for 30 minutes instead of baking them?

  26. Dorette: I think that should work fine. The flavor will be different since they won’t be baked, but there are no raw eggs in this batter so it’s totally safe! :)

  27. I have had these pinned for a while now and have finally made them today. They are absolutely wonderful! I wonder if you would mind if I showcased this recipe on my blog, crediting you and adding my own substitutions that I used? Thank you for sharing this healthy, tasty recipe!

    S. L

  28. S.L. – Wouldn’t mind at all. Thanks for asking. Glad you enjoyed them! :)

  29. Finally made these this weekend — used pecans instead of walnuts & cherries instead of raisins. Fabulous! Too good, in fact! Even my non-fruit loving hubby liked them!
    Thank you!

  30. Wow, these are fantastic!

    I processed the seeds until they were a flour consistency and these turned out more like delicious little cookies. Plus used agave and added some dark chocolate chips as a treat.

    Creamy, delicious, and filling. Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

The Pure Kitchen Books

In Hallie’s cookbooks you’ll find gluten-free, dairy-free recipes made with whole, natural foods.

The Pure Kitchen: Amazon | Hallie's eStore

Super Healthy Cookies: Amazon | Hallie's e-store

Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free: A Whole Food Starter Guide and Cookbook

About me

I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.