Muesli vs. Granola: What’s the Difference Exactly?

muesli vs granola

You love granola’s crunchy sweetness. But the last time you wandered down the cereal aisle, you spotted a similar-looking breakfast box vying for your attention. And as much as you love those sweet oatmeal clusters, you’re always on the lookout for delicious new ways to start your day. (Hello, cinnamon-roll pancakes.) But what is muesli exactly and how does it stack up against our go-to cereal? And more important, in a muesli versus granola showdown, which one comes out on top when it comes to taste (and nutrition)? Here’s everything you need to know. 

What Is Muesli?

Traditionally made with rolled oats (although other grains like amaranth, quinoa and millet can also be used), muesli was created by Swiss nutritionist Maximilian Bircher-Benner, M.D., in the late 1800s. A combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit are mixed in with the grains and, well, that’s basically it—there is no cooking involved or sweeteners added. This hearty breakfast is still pretty popular in Europe, and while not every American grocery store carries it, if they do, it’ll be in the cereal aisle.

When it comes to texture, muesli is chewy, while granola is crunchy. And although it’s loaded with tasty ingredients, it’s too dry for most people to eat alone.

Instead, muesli can be enjoyed in a few different ways. Our favorite method involves soaking the muesli overnight in milk, an alternative milk (oat milk adds a nice sweetness) or fruit juice (apple or orange are go-tos). This turns the muesli into a soft, creamy texture that’s similar to overnight oats. It can also be cooked on the stove with some water or milk, similar to how you would make oatmeal. But the easiest way to eat muesli is raw, just tossed with some milk or yogurt to moisten the oats (although this method results in a less-than-soft consistency that may not be to everyone’s liking). 

OK, and What’s Granola?

Granola is also made with rolled oats or other grains and then tossed with nuts, seeds or dried fruit. But here’s the difference: Unlike muesli, granola is baked with a sweetener (like maple syrup or honey) and fat (like olive oil or butter). This binds the ingredients together, creating those crunchy clusters you love so much.

Once cooked, granola can be stirred into milk, an alternative milk or yogurt, or just enjoyed straight out of the bag as a snack (no judgment). You can also add some granola clusters to your salad instead of croutons—seriously, try it. But unlike muesli, which can be eaten hot or cold, granola is nearly always served cold.

(Psst: You can also make grain-free granola if that’s your thing. Try this cranberry walnut grain-free recipe.)

But Which One Is Healthier?

When it comes to the nutritional value of muesli versus granola, it all depends on the ingredients used. But in general, if you’re opting for the store-bought stuff, the muesli is probably going to be better for you. That’s because it doesn’t contain any of the oils or sweeteners that are used to bake granola. For example, one serving of Bob’s Red Mill muesli has three grams of fat and 140 calories, whereas a portion of their whole-grain granola contains 3.5 grams of fat and 220 calories. But keep in mind that the liquid you soak muesli in may contain extra sugar (like OJ). In other words, check the label.

So Which One Is Better?

Granola is a little sweeter and crunchier, while muesli might be a bit healthier. Try these recipes for cocoa peanut butter granola and chocolate granola to see for yourself. Or toss the ingredients for this slow-cooker cherry almond granola recipe into the Crock-Pot. When it comes to muesli, we’re fans of Bob’s Red Mill Old Country StylMuesli, made with wheat, dates, sunflower seeds, rye, barley, oats, almonds, flaxseed and walnuts. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to bed early—we have some extremely delicious cereal to eat tomorrow morning.

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