This chocolate Paleo granola is gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free… and raw with living enzymes! It's basically a dessert that's healthy enough for breakfast. Top it with your favorite dairy-free or raw milk and you'll be fueled with energy through lunchtime. This easy homemade recipe also takes the extra step of soaking the nuts and seeds for better digestion!
It's no secret… I'm a granola lover!
Yet, there's a new recipe in my life now: this CHOCOLATE Paleo Granola recipe. Yes, chocolate!
The breakfast I begged for as a child and never got was chocolate cereal. As a child of the 80s and 90s, I thought chocolate cereals — Cookie Crisp, Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Count Chocula — must be the greatest breakfast ever.
I remember begging for those chocolate cereals when I went to the store with my mom.
Now that I'm a big kid, I'm still enthralled by the thought of chocolate for breakfast, though I have ZERO desire for processed chocolate chip cookies in a box.
That's why I created this grain-free, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free Paleo Granola. And because of my affinity for chocolate, of course it needed to be flavored as such!
Paleo Granola Ingredients
Raw Cacao & Antioxidants
Raw cacao — both the powder and the nibs — are FULL of free radical-destroying antioxidants. Free radicals damage DNA, causing premature aging and even cancer.
Cacao nibs are the most unprocessed form of raw cacao, therefore they are the most concentrated source of these beneficial antioxidants.
Did you know cacao can stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters that can trigger happy, feel-good hormones and give us a sense of alertness and well-being (source)? I think that's a good enough reason to eat chocolate granola first thing in the day!
Again, all of these good enzymes, antioxidants, and added vitamins are only achieved through properly soaking and drying the nuts and seeds and keeping the granola raw throughout the entire process.
Raw “Crispy Nuts” & Enzymes
You may be wondering about the soaking stage of the nuts and seeds in this recipe and asking yourself if it's really necessary.
“Nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances found in nuts, grains, and seeds can be minimized or eliminated by soaking. These inhibitors and toxic substances are enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens. … Enzyme inhibitors will clog, warp, or denature an active site of an enzyme. … Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains.
Soaking in warm water also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amount of many vitamins, especially B vitamins.” (Source)
Soaking the walnuts, pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds not only breaks down hard-to-digest enzymes and phytic acid, but it also encourages the production of beneficial enzymes that further aid in digestibility and increases nutrition.
By keeping the nuts and seeds raw through the entire process, you are ensuring even greater nutrition in your food by leaving the beneficial enzymes intact.
For this recipe, I kept it pretty basic as I wanted the chocolate part of this Paleo granola to shine. I added in coconut flakes (because coconut + chocolate = YUMMY!), cacao nibs for crunch, and chia seeds for the omegas (plus a little extra crunch as well).
There's no reason you couldn't add in some extras like flax seeds, dried fruit (dried cranberries would be delicious!), and even other nuts or seeds (I'm thinking pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds?).
The next time I make this, I'm going to try adding some almond butter (you could use peanut butter for a non-Paleo version) to the coconut oil and chocolate mixture to make a chocolate peanut butter Paleo granola! How good does that sound?
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of mix-in options.
You can sub honey with maple syrup! If you don't have coconut oil, use avocado oil.
If you're not dairy-free or strictly Paleo, you could even use butter.
No matter how you alter this, it's bound to be a great recipe. If you find yourself a winning combination, be sure to let us all know what it is in the comments section!
Paleo Granola Is A Labor of Love
I won't lie, this recipe is a bit labor-intensive. It's not hard by any means, but it does require you to plan ahead by soaking and dehydrating your nuts and seeds AND THEN to wait for an additional 8 to 10 hours for the granola to dehydrate again.
Not much hands-on time, but quite a lot of waiting time, which can be difficult when you just. want. a. bowl. of. cereal.
That's why I created this recipe to make a lot o' granola: 12 cups to be exact, at least 24 servings. The end result is well worth this labor of love.
The thing about nut-based Paleo granola is that a little goes a long way. You won't have to eat an entire cereal bowl (or two) before you feel satisfied, like with commercial breakfast cereals.
It's loaded with good fats and protein, so don't let the fact that there's chocolate in your breakfast make you think that it's not good for you.
What Makes This Granola Paleo?
Simple! There are no grains or refined sugars like you usually find in regular granola recipes!
There is also no dairy to be found. From the oils to the chocolate, it's all dairy-free.
The combination of nuts, seeds, coconut, and cacao nibs all clustered together make for the perfect granola bite. You won't miss a single oat or grain, promise.
How To Make Paleo Granola
This recipe keeps your seeds and nuts in a completely raw state. Because we're dehydrating them BELOW 118 degrees, all the enzymes and antioxidants are still intact.
1. A couple of days before you want to make this Paleo granola, make sure you start soaking and dehydrating all nuts and seeds. See full instructions here — and don't worry, it's easy.
2. Pulse whole walnuts in a food processor until they're about the size of gravel, then measure out 2 cups. Repeat this same process with the almonds and pecans.
3. Mix in the cacao nibs.
4. Add the chia seeds.
5. Add the coconut and stir to combine.
6. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, coconut, and cacao powder, whisking constantly. When the mixture comes together and is smooth, add vanilla and salt.
7. Pour chocolate mixture over dry granola nut mixture and stir until everything is well coated.
8. Line a dehydrator tray, or (if using the oven) a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread an even layer of the granola onto as many trays as you need. (If you have a small dehydrator, you may need to do this in batches.) Dehydrate for 10 to 12 hours at 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Once fully dehydrated, pour granola into a large bowl and break up any extra-large chunks with a wooden spoon. For extra chocolate-y chocolate Paleo granola, fold in 1/2 cup of chopped, allergy-free chocolate chunks — again, chop first, then measure.
10. Store in an airtight container or glass jar in a cool location.
Ways To Serve Granola
- We like ours in a bowl with fresh raw milk. (For a super special dairy-free option, we like homemade chocolate almond milk! Or see how to make your own plain nut milks here.)
- Don't want to serve chocolate cereal for breakfast? Eat it for dessert or use it as a topping for homemade ice cream.
- Chocolate Paleo granola makes a fantastic kid-friendly snack. Pack some up in a zip-top baggie and send it off with your kiddos to school.
- Slice some fresh fruit and layer it up in a tall glass with homemade yogurt, Paleo granola, more fruit… and keep on repeating until your glass is full! Top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and you've got a fancy breakfast, or a healthy dessert, that no one will pass up.
Note that using a dehydrator on a low setting for the entire process locks in all the nutrition and enzymes of raw, soaked nuts and seeds, raw honey, and the antioxidants of raw cacao and cacao nibs (source).
If using an oven instead, be aware that the lowest temperature setting of most ovens is 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The enzyme content of granola made in the oven may be less than when made in a dehydrator.
I don't like super sweet chocolate. Rich, dark chocolate is what I want, and this granola delivers. The addition of antioxidant-rich raw cacao and cacao nibs gives this cereal the pleasant bitterness of chocolate, while the raw honey balances it out with a slight sweetness.
*If you try this recipe, don't forget to rate it!!! And if you have any tips or tricks to share, be sure to leave them in the comments below so we can all learn how to make even better Paleo granola (if that's possible!).
Chocolate Paleo Granola (grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free)
The food I begged for as a child and never got? Chocolate cereal! This grain-free, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free Chocolate Paleo Granola fits the bill.
- 2 cups walnuts preferably soaked and dehydrated
- 2 cups almonds preferably soaked and dehydrated
- 1 cup pecans preferably soaked and dehydrated
- 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup sunflower seeds preferably soaked and dehydrated
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup cacao nibs
- 1 cup raw honey decrease to 3/4 cup for even less sweetness, or increase to 1 1/4 cups for more sweetness (see notes)
- 10 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chunks chopped (optional)
Soak and dehydrate all nuts and seeds if you haven't already.
Pulse whole walnuts in food processor until about the size of gravel, then measure out 2 cups.
Then repeat with almonds and pecans.
Combine all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, coconut, and cacao powder, whisking constantly.
When the mixture comes together and is smooth, add vanilla and salt.
Then remove from heat and pour into combined dry ingredients.
Stir well so chocolate sauce coats dry ingredients.
Lay parchment paper onto dehydrator trays and spread the granola mixture out evenly on the trays.
Dehydrate for 10 to 12 hours at 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the mixture is cool, transfer back to a large mixing bowl and use a wooden spoon to break up any large chunks.
If desired, fold in a half cup of chopped, allergy-free chocolate chunks — again, chop first, then measure.
Finally, store in a cool location in an airtight container.
Using a dehydrator on a low setting for the entire process locks in all the nutrition and enzymes of raw, soaked nuts and seeds and raw honey and the antioxidants of raw cacao and cacao nibs (source).
If using an oven instead, be aware that the lowest temperature setting of most ovens is 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The enzyme content of granola made in the oven may be less than when made in a dehydrator. I suggest propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon to let some of the excess heat out.
Other ovens have a "warm" setting that keeps the temperature at 100 degrees. You can certainly use this setting, it just may take longer for your recipe to fully dehydrate.
I don't like super sweet chocolate. Rich, dark chocolate is what I want, and this granola delivers. The addition of antioxidant-rich raw cacao and cacao nibs gives this cereal the pleasant bitterness of chocolate, while the raw honey balances it out with a slight sweetness. Taste the granola before dehydrating and, if needed, add more sweetener to your liking.
Other Breakfast Favorites
- 15 Sweet and Savory Breakfast Casserole Recipes
- Paleo & Allergy-Free Breakfast Sausage
- 38 Gluten-Free Breakfast Recipes
- Overnight Baked Chocolate Oatmeal
- Healthy Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
- 90 Egg-Free Breakfast Ideas
Do you like granola? What do you think about chocolate cereal for breakfast?
This post was featured in 90 Nourishing Egg-Free Breakfasts and The Great Granola Round-Up: 31 Deliciously Nourishing Recipes!
This post was originally published and written by Lindsey Dietz on 11/11/15. It was updated and republished on 6/1/20.
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