The hectic holiday season has officially arrived. With it, the too long ‘to do’ lists and days that aren’t long enough to get everything done. There are likely a lot of special people on your gift list and if you are like me, the thought of checking everyone off without breaking the bank can be daunting. So the question is, how do you give thoughtful gifts on a small budget?

You make them yourself, that is how! Delicious handmade food gifts are always appreciated. Sure, you could always make cookies, but what about a sweet, festive, granola? You can make a large batch without spending a lot of money or a lot of time.

Christmas Granola
Package your granola gifts in festive jars and finish with a holiday bow.
Leah Mawson

I love to make a seasonal granola with cinnamon, white chocolate chips, orange zest, cranberries, apricots and pistachios. The colors and flavors lend themselves quite nicely to the holiday. Omit the white chocolate if it feels healthier and add extra of the other afore mentioned ingredients.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can tweak just about every aspect of this recipe as long as you keep the ratios balanced and the flavors well paired.

It doesn’t matter which type of oil you use. Know that olive oil will impart more flavor, whereas grape seed oil will be a more neutral flavored fat. You can also use butter if you prefer.

And I sometimes add shredded coconut. When I do, I will also use coconut oil, and I might add macadamia nuts, or swap in semi-sweet chocolate chips, or use both. If I decide to include crystallized ginger, I will omit the ground cinnamon and substitute ground ginger. I like to substitute maple syrup for the honey if I know that I will be adding pecans.

Cooking times may vary depending on whether the nuts are already toasted. Almond slivers for example will not need as much time as say whole almonds. You get the idea.

Granola is versatile. Have fun. Play with it. Be creative. Making a homemade gift is personal. This easy recipe is exactly what you need to simplify your prep list, to ensure you, and your loved ones have a tasty and happy Holiday.


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries)
  • 1/2 cup medium, diced dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate


To achieve store bought quality clumps to the granola, use a spoon or offset spatula to cluster it together on the baking sheet after you remove it from the oven. The secret is to then allow it to cool completely before you transfer it to a bowl. Once it’s cool, you can break it apart. If you prefer a less clumpy granola, simply add it to the bowl directly from the oven and stir, still allowing it to cool before adding the remaining ingredients. A non-stick baking mat such as a silpat is the best tool for making granola because the ingredients are sticky, but you can also use parchment in a pinch.


Granola Prep
Making granola is a breeze, just prepare for some stickiness with parchment or silpat mats.
Leah Mawson

1. Set oven at 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats with the cinnamon and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and orange zest until emulsified

4. Pour the oil mixture over the oats and stir until the oats are fully coated in the mixture.

5. Spread the oats onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the oats are golden. Set aside to cool completely.

6. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the cranberries, apricots, pistachios, white chocolate and stir.

7. Immediately transfer to an airtight container(s).