Differences Between Granola & Muesli

Updated April 17, 2017

Granola and muesli have more similarities than differences, including why and where they were created. Both cereals are made with grains, fruits and nuts. Granola is coated with oil and a sweetener and baked until it's crispy and crunchy. Muesli is made from uncooked, whole grains and is usually soaked in milk solids, making it less sweet and chewier. Dr. James Caleb Jackson of New York created "granula" in 1863 for patients in a sanatorium, a hospital or retreat for people with chronic diseases. Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner created muesli in 1894 for patients in a Zurich sanatorium. Both doctors believed diet and nutrition were essential for optimal health and healing.


Crumbled and baked in an oven until crispy, whole grain "granula" was the world's first dry, manufactured breakfast cereal. Granola's primary ingredient is whole oats, blended with other grains, bran, wheat germ, fruits and nuts. Toasted with oil and honey, syrup or brown sugar, granola is typically higher in sugars, fats and calories compared to muesli. Loaded with fibre from whole grains, antioxidants from dried fruits and healthy fats from nuts, granola breaks down slowly in the digestive system, making for a long-term energy boost. Many consumers prefer eating granola with milk or yoghurt, or as a nutritious snack food.

Dr. Jackson created "granula" as a health food for patients at New York's Jackson Sanitarium. One of America's first health gurus, Dr. John Kellogg, created a modified version of "granula" in 1881 for patients at Michigan's former Battle Creek Sanitarium. Dr. Kellogg's brother, William, was the founder of Kellogg's cereal company. Sued by Dr. Jackson, Dr. Kellogg changed the name of his cereal from "granula" to granola. In the 1960s, hippies and the vegetarian movement popularised granola as health food.


Muesli often has the same ingredients as granola, although the texture is finer. Made with raw rolled oats, barley, rye, wheat, fruits, nuts and seeds, muesli is not baked or toasted. Usually, there are no added sugars. Chopped berries or bananas are often mixed into muesli, which can be eaten with milk or yoghurt. Like granola, fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats in muesli are nutritious and digest slowly, which creates sustained energy. Muesli was originally named Bircherm├╝esli for Dr. Bircher-Benner's original recipe, which was somewhat mushy.

Store Bought or Homemade?

Granola and muesli are available in many flavours and varieties at grocery and health food stores. Making the cereal at home is simple and many recipes can be found online. If you choose to make your own recipe, select ingredients you prefer and leave out the others. Mixing and toasting your own granola allows you to control the amount of sugar and fats added. Muesli is simpler to make at home because you only need to mix the ingredients together. Not only are granola and muesli simple to make; they have a long shelf life when stored in airtight containers.

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About the Author

Cheryl A. Beller has worked as a journalist in Michigan since 1976. Her articles and newspaper columns have appeared in "The Grand Rapids Press," "The Daily Tribune," "Advance Newspapers," and numerous other publications. She has won awards from United Press International and the Michigan Press Association. Beller holds a Bachelor of General Studies degree with majors in journalism and English from the University of Michigan.