Popular Granolas Ranked From Worst To Best

Granola is more than 150 years old, but it's really become a popular household staple within the last decade (per The New York Times). Partly responsible is the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a major surge in sales (via CBS News). With so many people working from home or obeying lockdowns, cereal and other shelf-stable breakfast staples, including granola, hit peak popularity, and still haven't slowed down years later.

Granola has maintained a strong reputation among the health food set, but the truth is, like many breakfast cereals currently on the market, granola feels more like a dessert than a healthy meal to start the day. It's chock full of sugar without much else to fuel the body. Lauri Wright, nutrition and dietetics chair at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, told the Washington Post, "There are a lot of land mines when it comes to choosing granola," adding, "you have to be a very savvy consumer to find the healthiest one."

Life is too short to waste time and money on bad granola. So we rounded up some of the most popular and well-known granola brands out there, ranked worst to best based on flavor, texture, and nutrition information.

12. Kellogg's Low Fat Granola with Raisins

Classic granola only has a few ingredients. The most basic recipe is pretty much oats, fat (in the form of nuts), and honey or maple syrup. Reducing one of those ingredients means that you have to add some other things in to maintain the right texture and flavor. In the case of Kellogg's Low Fat Granola with Raisins, that includes some weird additions, such as nonfat milk, glycerin, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids (also known as PEG, a synthetic emulsifier) and malt flavoring. Then of course there's the fact that low-fat foods tend to suffer from less satisfying flavor, and brands often have to split the difference by increasing the sugar content (via BBC Good Food). Kellogg's Low Fat Granola with Raisins includes 13 grams of added sugars, more than a quarter of the recommended daily allowance (per the CDC).

But despite all of the odd additives and increased sugar, we found that this granola is still bland, dry, and unpleasantly crumbly. The raisins provide the most flavor, but they're hard and not very appealing. It might make John Harvey Kellogg happy, considering his passion for bland food (via Snopes), but if you want to enjoy your breakfast or snack, pass on this granola.

11. Chex Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola Mix

Chex is a popular brand on the cereal aisle, and Chex Mix maintains solid rankings in the average opinion poll (per YouGov). But just because Chex makes a great gluten-free cereal and many different snack mixes doesn't mean that the brand's attempts at granola are the best.

Unlike some other brands, Chex Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola Mix doesn't incorporate a lot of weird additives. The most unusual things on the ingredients list are "natural flavor" and baking soda. But just like many other granolas, Chex Honey Nut Granola Mix is packed with added sugar. Molasses, honey, and regular old white sugar all take starring roles in the ingredients list, and the end product contains 13 grams of added sugar.

With that much sugar, not to mention 9 grams of fat, you'd think that Chex Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola Mix would be tasty. Unfortunately, that is not really the case. We found that it's still pretty bland, and texture wise it trends towards sticky instead of crispy.

10. Craisins Cranberry Granola Snack Clusters

Sometimes brands branch out and discover a completely new product area to achieve big success in, and sometimes bringing on new items makes a brand stumble. Ocean Spray's Cranberry Granola Snack Clusters is unfortunately more of a stumble than a success. For starters, the official site includes reviews from consumers that mention issues with texture and potential allergens in the product, but there are other problems with this granola variety. 

We found that the texture of these granola bites is odd, dense, and chewy in a way that just isn't appetizing, rather than being crunchy, which is what you want with granola. This might be because there are more cranberries in the product than there are oats. There's also a fairly high amount of added sugar, with 8 grams per serving in the form of brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup, molasses, and honey. There's also added sugar in the cranberries themselves.

We found that the oats play second fiddle to the dried, sweetened cranberries, and they are basically all you can taste in these granola bites. Combined with the sticky, weirdly chewy texture, these granola bites are definitely not one of the big successes out of all of Ocean Spray's extensive line of products featuring their star fruit.

9. Quaker Simply Granola

A lot of granola fans appreciate the fact that the oat-based staple provides a nice dose of fiber. However, there is such a thing as too much fiber. And according to several of the reviews on the official site for Quaker Simply Granola, this product may fall into that category, resulting in some unpleasant side effects. To help boost the fiber content in this granola, Quaker adds inulin, a type of insoluble plant fiber used to treat a variety of conditions including constipation (per WebMD).

But inulin isn't the only questionable added ingredient in this granola, either. It also includes whey, nonfat milk powder, whey protein concentrate, and glycerin. The whey and milk powder do contribute some added protein, but these ingredients also contribute to the slightly odd flavor the granola has.

Quaker Simply Granola is also an allergen sneak. Per the nutrition label, it includes coconut and wheat ingredients, in addition to the milk components that can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible people. We also found the raisins in the mix to be hard and unpleasant, rather than plump and chewy. All in all, the name "Simply Granola" is a bit ironic, given how many ingredients the product includes. It's a complicated recipe that reviewers point out could cause gastric distress, and doesn't even boast a great flavor to make up for it.

8. Bear Naked Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Chewy Granola Bites

Bear Naked Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Chewy Granola Bites don't lie about their status as more of a treat than a health food, with the product description on the site proclaiming, "There's an old bear saying: Chocolate at night, bear's delight. Chocolate in morning, better get hoarding." But as it turns out, this product is surprisingly low in sugar for a granola treat, with only 6 grams added sugar.

Less surprisingly, it's got a lot more salt than your usual granola, with one serving of the treat making up 5% of the recommended daily intake of sodium. The product does have a decent bit of protein, mostly from nut butters (cashew and peanut) and sunflower seeds, but those also make this granola unfriendly for people with various allergies.

The real misfortune here is that while the idea is a solid one, the execution is off. The site boasts positive reviews from consumers, but we found that these granola bites lose the war for balance between sweet and salty, landing firmly on the side of salty. Dark chocolate with a pinch of sea salt can be a decadent treat, but this tastes more like salt with a dash of chocolate.

7. Udi's Au Naturel Granola

Udi's has a strong reputation among those with gluten-free diets, with the tagline "Gluten Free, Not Taste Free" prominently displayed on the brand's website. With a motto like that, it's even more disappointing that the brand's Au Naturel Granola is on the bland side. 

It features the most basic ingredients list of any of the selections in our ranking: certified gluten-free oats, honey, and canola oil.  That said, from a nutrition standpoint, the granola isn't terrible. It's a little high in fat, but not the worst on this list. It has no sodium, which is good for people who are worried about heart health, as well as minimal added sugar. But this is ultimately what dooms the granola from a flavor perspective.

We found in our taste tests that Udi's Au Naturel Granola is boring, no two ways about it. While granola doesn't need a lot of crazy flavors to be good, this granola is closer to crunchy oatmeal than it is to a sweet, satisfying breakfast treat. If you want something that will blend in perfectly to whatever you add it to, adding crunch but not much flavor, it's a good call. But on its own, this product is tasteless and unsatisfying.

6. Nature Valley Oats & Honey Protein Granola

Nature Valley is a well-known name in the granola game. One YouGov survey shows the overwhelming majority of people asked about the brand have heard of it and most like it. The brand's Oats & Honey Protein Granola takes one of the staples from their lineup and improves it for fitness fans with a boost of protein.

The main source of added protein is soy protein isolate. This is maybe not the most natural form of added protein in a granola product, but it is at least closer to blending in than whey or other animal-based protein sources. With 13 grams of protein and only 7 grams of added sugars, it's a good balance for people who want a little more from their granola. And the good news is that the added protein doesn't mess with the texture. We found that it's a crunchy, satisfying granola without the weird gritty feeling that some other protein-enriched products have due to improperly incorporated protein powder.

Nature Valley Oats & Honey Protein Granola is also relatively low in fat, has a decent amount of fiber, and keeps things pretty straightforward when it comes to the ingredients. Overall, it's a balanced granola product that may not be the most adventurous in terms of flavor, but it allows the oats and honey to shine.

5. Nature's Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries

Nature's Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries Granola proves that you can have a treat without totally derailing your nutrition goals. While it's not the top pick on this list, it's a strong choice for people who want a little something extra with their granola, thanks to the balance of sweetness and nutrition.

This product does contain 6 grams of added sugar, but that sugar content gets balanced out with a decent amount of fiber, a low sodium content, and relatively low fat content. Plus it contains decent amounts of potassium and iron. Given the decadent flavor of the crunchy treat, it's surprisingly not too bad for your diet. The ingredients list is also refreshingly simple. Whole grain rolled oats, sugar, oil, chocolate and freeze-dried berries make up most of the recipe, without any weird components to try and boost the texture or flavor.

The flavor of the Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries Granola isn't overpowering, but it's definitely a chocolate granola with a fruity undertone. A few reviews on the product page complain that it needs more fruit pieces and chocolate chunks. One downside is that it's not allergen-free, and not certified gluten-free, so if you're sensitive to coconut, soy, or gluten, you'll want to give it a pass.

4. Bear Naked Fit V'nilla Almond Granola

We criticized Bear Naked's Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt granola bites earlier in this list, but the brand has had some granola triumphs worth pointing out. Bear Naked Fit V'nilla Almond Granola is definitely a success in combining flavor and health. The product has a sweet, simple taste and satisfying texture, and it isn't chock full of sugar and fat.

The official site for Bear Naked Fit V'nilla Almond Granola makes it clear that it's intended for people who have healthy habits on their minds, with the tagline, "Not all bears hibernate for the winter. Some like to keep active all year round." The product includes 6 grams of added sugar in the form of brown rice syrup and cane sugar, but it gets a boost of fiber from natural sources, oat bran and ground flax seeds. It also contains 6 grams of protein per serving, which is a good balance for physically active people.

Most importantly, we found that the flavor and texture are great. The granola doesn't have a lot of odd or questionable ingredients, so it's pretty true to what you'd expect. It's crunchy and crisp, but it isn't overly dry or hard on the teeth, so it would work just as well in a trail pack or a cereal bowl. It's got the right amount of sweetness with the classic vanilla-almond flavor you'd expect from a dessert, without being overpowering, thanks to real almonds and vanilla in the recipe. 

3. Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted Granola

Honey Bunches of Oats made the top five in Mashed's cereal ranking, so it should come as no surprise that the granola spinoff hit high notes for us as well. Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted Granola also gets high reviews from consumers, per the official website for the product.

It's definitely not the healthiest of the granolas on this list, with a fairly staggering 12 grams of added sugars, but it does have a lot of added nutrients that other options on this list don't include. Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted Granola is a good source of vitamins A and B, as well as iron and zinc, making it a better choice than you might think despite all the sugar. This granola also features 4 grams of protein, which is a good starting point for a balanced breakfast.

Beyond all of that, it just tastes good. We found that Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted Granola has the strong honey flavor you would expect, with nothing to complicate it. It is exactly what most people think of when they think about classic granola. The texture is also pleasant, crunchy, and crumbly in a good way, with clusters that are just big enough. It's a great addition to yogurt, fruit salad, or other sweet foods you might eat for breakfast or a snack. And it's also good just on its own.

2. Trader Joe's Pecan Praline Granola

A lot of Trader Joe's products have a cult following, and the Pecan Praline Granola deserves to join the list. Like so many of the best things that Trader Joe's offers, this granola keeps things simple on the ingredients front: whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, brown rice syrup and meal, pecans, maple syrup, and salt.

The granola is a mouthful of autumn with the nutty maple flavors, and all things considered it's a wholesome treat. Despite all of the sources of added sugar, the pecans boost the protein up to 5 grams, and the fiber content is a little higher than average, without any added fiber ingredients like inulin or flax seeds.

If you're allergic to tree nuts, this product is not a safe choice. But otherwise, if you enjoy fall flavors, this granola makes for a great addition to your morning routine or a snack. We found this granola to be crisp, with just the right added texture from the pecans, and enough maple flavor to taste it without being overwhelming. Also, the maple syrup doesn't add any element of stickiness to our surprise. Trader Joe's Pecan Praline Granola makes for a nice treat to enjoy all season long. 

1. Bob's Red Mill Maple Sea Salt Homestyle Granola

Bob's Red Mill knows grains, so it should come as no surprise that the brand makes fantastic granola. Bob's Red Mill sources high-quality ingredients and cooks up batches of its Maple Sea Salt Homestyle Granola with an old-fashioned touch. Few of the reviews on the official website are lower than 4 stars, making it a big success for the brand, and for good reason.

The granola features whole grain oats, maple syrup, coconut flakes and oil, brown sugar, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a bit of sea salt to keep the flavor balanced. The high-quality ingredients baked to perfection makes for a granola that is crispy, crunchy, and flavorful, and the balance between flavoring components and the oats means that it still tastes like granola. While some of the other sea salt granolas have a tendency to be a little too salty, we found that this granola has just enough of the key ingredient to keep the flavor interesting without making it taste like a savory snack.

With only 5 grams of added sugars and 3 grams of protein, this granola is a balanced choice for how sweet and satisfying the flavor is, too. It's also certified gluten-free, and certified kosher, as well as being a wholesome, whole-grain option. All in all, it's a great granola that you can eat without having to worry about weird ingredients, too much sugar, or anything else.