For breakfast I love a good muesli. But my husband loves a good granola. And when you look at the muesli verse the granola you could be forgiven for thinking they were exactly the same thing. I mean, that’s what I always thought until I started trying various types of mueslis and granolas for myself.
While similar, there are a few differences between them. Both were developed in the early 20th century by doctors looking to provide health benefits to their patients, however Dr Bircher-Benner developed muesli in Germany while an American doctor invented granola. Bircher muesli is therefore named after Dr Bircher-Benner and uses a different method of preparation than the granola invented in America.
Muesli is the combination of oats and other grains with some dried fruit and often includes seeds and nuts. It also usually includes coconut as well (although you can buy varieties without coconut) and it can be served with fresh fruit or yoghurt on top. Some people even eat it with milk AND yoghurt. The thing about muesli is that it’s usually made on a base of raw oats, although these days there are plenty of mueslis being made on other types of grains like quinoa flakes, rolled spelt flakes, buckwheat, barley or puffed rice and millet.
Most often muesli is served ‘natural’, which just means the oats are still raw, or uncooked. A natural muesli can be served as is or often its also served toasted – and that doesn’t mean adding a bowl full of muesli to your toaster! (If you think you can toast muesli in the toaster then you need my post on the do’s and don’ts of using a toaster). When you toast muesli you cook it in the oven for a few minutes to darken and roast the oats and nuts. When its cool you add the dried fruit and then store the cool muesli in a container to be used for breakfasts this week.
A toasted muesli is therefore crunchy and can be used on top of yoghurt instead of serving the yoghurt on top of the muesli. Bircher muesli, on the other hand, is very soft because the muesli mix is soaked overnight with water, milk or juice. Once you’ve removed the oats from the fridge the next morning you can thin it with some milk or yoghurt and add some fresh fruit.
I have to say, my favourite is bircher muesli because of its soft and gooey texture. I can’t tell you why I love it so much, but I love decorating my bircher muesli with fresh fruit, and I always mix it up. Here’s a couple of shots of my own bircher muesli.
Granola on the other hand is a combination of oats and other grains with seeds and nuts. It often includes coconut as well and sometimes includes dried fruits but not always. The main difference between muesli and granola is that granola is always served toasted – in fact granola is always crunchy because it has been toasted with honey, maple syrup, golden syrup or molasses so that the oats, nuts and seeds stick together. It is also sweeter because of the honey or syrup used to make it stick together.
If you remember from above, muesli can be toasted, but it’s not toasted with a sticky sweetner- that’s reserved specially for granola. Clumps of granola can be used as a variety of granola that’s a bit different to regular granola where the clumps have been broken up.
You can eat granola as a snack by itself, soften it with milk and eat it like cereal, add it on top of yoghurt or use yoghurt and fruit to layer granola into a breakfast or dessert parfait. Yum!
How they’re actually different
See, they sound pretty similar, don’t they? The main difference, however, lies in the sweet component. Granola has a lot of added sweetness which when made at home is provided by honey, maple syrup or molasses. Muesli can be toasted without the extra sweetness, but it’s usually the raw oats and it’s the higher fruit content of dried and fresh fruits that makes it stand apart. You can also soak muesli overnight in milk or yoghurt to soften it (a la Dr Bircher) or heat it up and make it into porridge. Granola isn’t usually served softened.
When researching for this post I came across a hilarious anecdote on a website: a woman served granola to a Swiss couple who just couldn’t figure out what it was as they were used to natural muesli, not granola. Once they were told what granola was their reaction was priceless: “You burned muesli! Why would you do that?”. Hahaha. I love it! It just shows that some people will always have a preference for one over the other.
Recipe Ideas for Muesli and Granola
- Here is an amazingly simple topping for your muesli or to eat with your granola: spiced strawberry sauce. Yum!
- Maple walnut granola parfaits.
- Toasted muesli, mango and yoghurt breakfast parfaits.
- Berry breakfast tart.
- Healthy granola recipe (+ variations).
Its such a pity that I’ve just finished breakfast because I really feel like making another bowl of it! Maybe I should just have that muesli mango and yoghurt parfait for lunch, or the berry tart?
Hopefully this post has helped you to sort out the differences between muesli and granola. If you’re after other posts that help you sort out the differences between similar food types check out my category of Same Same but Different posts. So far you can find out about pancakes vs crepes vs pikelets, fresh vs frozen vegetables and fresh vs minced vs dried ginger, but more Same Same but Different posts are coming so check them out here too.
So, after all this discussion, will it be muesli or granola for breakfast tomorrow? Let me know in the comments below or share your thoughts with me on Twitter @SpicedAnecdotes.