When my rockstar employee Gretchen told me she had an easy granola recipe she knew I’d love, I was admittedly skeptical. I’ve said this time and again but here it is one more time: I really have zero confidence in the kitchen.

I know that’s hard for some of you to fathom. I don’t know why or how it came to be but I just never learned how to cook when I was younger. Truth time: before I moved to San Francisco, I had never even boiled a pot of water. Then I spent a couple years in New York living off of coffee and takeout and using my kitchen cabinets to store sweaters instead of pots and pans. The few times I’ve written about food on my blog, I’ve gotten feedback that the recipe is too basic or that I’m cheating by using store-bought ingredients instead of making my own. And I totally get it. It’s well-intentioned feedback (and would be valuable input for a more seasoned cook) — but it leaves me feeling like it’s too late for me to learn, or at the very least too scary to share that undertaking with my readers.

But you know what? I know I’m not the only girl in the world who doesn’t know her way around a kitchen. Hell, half my friends in New York haven’t set foot in a grocery store in years. I happen to love the idea of sharing recipes that are easy for anyone to take on, whether you’re inexperienced, working crazy long hours, or, yes, using most of your kitchen as additional closet space. We all have to start somewhere and I’m starting here. Without further ado, my favorite new recipe: Gretchen’s granola. Scroll down to the bottom to read exactly why I love it! Spoiler alert: I’m addicted.

design darling granola recipe

You’ll need:

4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons vanilla

easy granola recipe

1. Mix oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2. Combine coconut oil, honey, and vanilla in a separate container. (Measure the honey in the same cup as the oil to prevent it from sticking!) Heat in microwave until melted.

easy granola recipe design darling

3. Pour the microwaved mixture into your first bowl.

4. Spread mixture on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 300* for 30 minutes, stirring at 15 minutes.


5. Let cool and enjoy! Store in air tight container.


What I love about this recipe: 1) it takes 35 minutes, start to finish. 2) it doesn’t make a mess if you use parchment paper on your cookie sheet. 3) it makes your house smell amazing. 4) it makes enough granola to last a few days. 5) the day we made it, I literally ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Gretchen says it even makes a yummy ice cream topping! Sign me up.

Anyone else a little tentative when it comes to the kitchen? Who wants to join me in taking baby steps towards learning how to cook? Who can teach me about food photography? 😉 I’m all ears!


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  1. I love this recipe and have made it so many times since you first posted it! Thanks so much for sharing. My favorite fall twist is to add some ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to the cinnamon to make it pumpkin spice 🙂

  2. You should never feel bad about being tentative in the kitchen! I was the same way until I was 30. Never let anyone judge your ability in the kitchen– just make what you think is fun and delicious and easy, Don’t give a thought to what anyone else thinks. Practice makes perfect!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been trying to do a bit more cooking since starting law school (and being too broke to eat out), but it’s so hard to find easy recipes! I recommend trying some roasted veggies once the weather gets a bit cooler. Super easy to do and nearly impossible to mess up! Here are a couple of my favorites: – Roasted cauliflower, although to be honest I use pre-cut cauliflower and don’t bother with the onion or garlic – Roasted eggplant, this turns out amazing!

  4. Love this post and recipe! I am also a complete disaster in the kitchen. I actually marvel at people that can make simple things like eggs. My mom bought me The Can’t Cook Cookbook and it actually has recipes I think I could make once I get a kitchen bigger than a foot (#NYstudioaptstruggles). I think you should check it out!

    Savvy City Chic

  5. I’ve wanted to make my own granola. This recipe is the best timing! I prefer recipes that are fast and easy. Keep them coming!

  6. I discovered your blog today when Capitol Hill Style linked to your post on moving in with a significant other, and I ` had to comment on this post. When I got my first apartment in 2008, I was under the illusion that I could cook because I spent years watching my mom who’s an amazing cook. But because she loves cooking, I rarely ever had to cook for myself or others. I quickly realized that in reality, the only things I could actually make were hot dogs, spaghetti and macaroni & cheese from a box! I just kept trying things though (and made a lot of panicked calls to my mom!). Fast forward 7 years, salmon is one of my favorite proteins to cook and yesterday to combat the post-vacation blues, I threw together a lemon cheesecake! So don’t let comments about how you’re cheating by using premade ingredients get you down. You have to start somewhere. And hey, I still occasionally buy pre-chopped onions at the grocery store when I want home cooked food but am just too lazy to do more than dump things in a pot 😉

  7. OK this is something I can’t get on board with! I am the world’s worst cook– total lack of confidence. Thanks for sharing this; I can’t wait to give it a try! Love having you in Dallas– hope to run into you sometime! xx

  8. I’m super excited to try this recipe! Posts like this were EXACTING what I was hoping would come from your move to Dallas. You are killing it Mackenzie!

    I used to be hesitant to cook for myself or others. I learned to cook from my Southern grandma, who didn’t always cook the healthiest meals out there. I took a few classes at the community college, and now take one every month or so at Sur La Table/Williams-Sonoma. Some restaurants even offer classes – a date night activity perhaps?

    Again, I love how you and Design Darling are blossoming in Dallas!

  9. This looks so good! Don’t be discouraged, it’s never too late to learn to cook. Food network shows are great because you get detailed instructions of how to do everything. One of my favorite go to recipes that is so easy and looks really impressive is from Giada De Laurentiis’s cookbook Giada at Home. It’s called pasta ponza:

    Another great cookbook is Ruhlman’s Twenty. He goes through twenty techinques/ingredients and how you use them, then follows with step by step recipes. It’s kind of like a textbook for cooking.

    Good luck and I love your blog!

  10. I Love This!
    I really love Granola, but whenever I go to buy it ready made in the supermarket, it has way too many calories in it!
    It;s great that this recipe will be so much healthier, be easy to make and taste great!

  11. Yum! It looks like this recipe would be super easy to adjust to add anything you want. Don’t get discouraged with cooking! About two years ago, I was absolutely clueless too. I started just doing Pinterest recipes and picked up some cook books until I started figuring out what to do on my own. You can totally do this!!

  12. Try out the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks. She has a photo to accompany each instruction so you know exactly what you’re doing.