Muesli vs. Granola: What’s the Difference?




You’ve likely stumbled upon muesli and granola online or while strolling your supermarket’s cereal aisle in search of healthy and easy breakfast options.

Perhaps you’ve also noticed that they look pretty similar and share most of their ingredients, making you wonder what sets them apart.

This article explains the main differences and similarities between muesli and granola.

Both muesli and granola are oat-based cereals that were created as nutritional supplements.

Most of their ingredients are the same. They typically include:

  • rolled oats
  • nuts like walnuts or almonds
  • dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, apricots, or dates
  • seeds like chia, sesame, or flax seeds

Additionally, they can include other grains like barley, quinoa, or millet. Both types are also easy to customize by adding extra ingredients like additional nuts or fresh fruits.

Thus, their main differences have to do with how they’re made and served.

What is muesli?

As mentioned, muesli is a mixture of oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.

It was created by Maximillian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss doctor and nutritionist, and is popular throughout Europe as a healthy breakfast meal.

Unlike granola, the ingredients in muesli are not baked, meaning they’re raw and loose. It’s traditionally soaked overnight in milk or juice and served cold — just like the famous overnight oats.

Alternatively, you may enjoy it straight from the packet with milk, much like cereal, or boil it with milk or water to make porridge to enjoy hot.

What is granola?

Granola was created by American physician James Caleb Jackson. It remains a classic breakfast item in most American homes to this day.

It’s made by mixing ingredients like nuts, oats, and dried fruit with oil and sweeteners — usually honey, maple syrup, or cane sugar — and baking them. This creates its classic crunchy clusters.

Unlike muesli, granola is mostly served cold. You may eat it straight out of the bag as a snack, with milk, or as a crunchy topping on yogurt.


Muesli and granola are two similar breakfast items. The main difference between them is that granola is sweetened and baked, while muesli isn’t.

Since both types of cereal comprise mostly the same ingredients, their nutritional values are relatively similar.

Below is the comparison between 1/2 cup (43 grams) of muesli and 1/2 cup (56 grams) of granola (1, 2):

Although muesli doesn’t usually contain added sweeteners, it has a fairly high sugar content if it contains dried fruit, much like granola. As you can see, the difference between them is about 5 grams per serving, the equivalent of 1 teaspoon.

It’s also worth noting that added sweeteners, even if they come from a natural fruit source, significantly increase the carb and calorie contents of muesli and granola. Thus, both types should be enjoyed in moderation.

In addition, keep in mind that typical serving sizes vary from one product to another, which could end up increasing — or decreasing — your overall calorie and nutrient intake.

For example, a typical serving size of granola ranges from 1/4–1/2 cup (28–56 grams) when used as a topping, providing roughly 7–15 grams of sugar per serving, respectively.

In contrast, a typical serving size for muesli when eaten as porridge or breakfast cereal is slightly larger at 1/2–3/4 cup (43–65 grams), meaning that it could pack about 11–16.5 grams of sugar per serving.

Moreover, although the muesli and granola listed above have a similar amount of fat, you may find that some commercial brands range widely in fat content.

This is because differences in their nutritional values depend on additions like seeds, nuts, and dried fruits. Thus, remember to read the nutrition facts label to choose the one that best meets your needs.


Granola has a higher calorie, carb, and sugar content than muesli due to its added sweeteners. However, they share a similar overall nutritional profile and should both be enjoyed in moderation.

Being oat-based cereals, both muesli and granola provide healthy beta glucans (3).

Beta glucans are the main type of fiber in oats. They’re soluble, meaning that they form a gel when mixed with water, and known to improve gut health, promote weight loss, and lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels (4, 5, 6, 7).

Both these kinds of cereal also contain nuts and seeds, which provide heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs and PUFAs) that help reduce risk factors for heart disease (8, 9).

However, both muesli and granola may also come with some downsides.

First, added sweeteners like honey or syrup significantly increase the sugar content of granola. Plus, while muesli isn’t typically sweetened, you may find that some brands are sweetened.

In addition, dried fruit — an essential ingredient in both products — further increases their sugar content.

This is worth keeping in mind, as an excessive sugar intake — regardless of the source — may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, excess weight, and heart disease (10, 11).

Second, the raw oats in muesli are a source of phytic acid. Phytic acid is an antinutrient that binds to minerals like zinc and iron, which can impair their absorption (12).

Fortunately, soaking muesli in water, milk, or juice — as is done in the traditional preparation method — significantly reduces oat’s phytic acid content and improves mineral absorption (12, 13).


Granola and muesli share most of their benefits due to their shared ingredients. Still, they each have some downsides of their own, including a high sugar content and the presence of antinutrients.

Both muesli and granola have their share of benefits and drawbacks, although granola tends to contain more calories than muesli.

Ultimately, you should consider their ingredients when choosing one over the other.

Check the ingredient list of muesli to find out whether the type you’re considering has been sweetened, and try to stick to one that hasn’t. As for granola, opt for a type that doesn’t contain candied fruits or chocolate, as this will further increase the sugar count.

Alternatively, you can make a homemade version of your favorite muesli or granola to reduce the sugar content.

Try this recipe for a sugar-free granola alternative, or this one to give homemade muesli a try.


Make sure to read the ingredient lists to chose the best muesli or granola. You may also make a homemade version of either for a sugar-free alternative.

Granola and muesli have many similarities, including most of their ingredients and health benefits.

The main difference is how they’re made. Granola is baked and usually contains added sweeteners — such as honey or syrup — along with dried fruits, while muesli is enjoyed raw and sweetened with dried fruits only.

Although they’re both considered healthy breakfast options, they each have some downsides of their own.

While granola tends to be higher in calories than muesli, they’re both relatively high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation. Ultimately, checking the labels and ingredient lists is key to choosing the best option for you.

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