Tired of searching for a hearty, delicious, and healthy breakfast? Look no further! We explain what muesli is, how to eat muesli, and why you’ll want to every morning.
Mr. Kellogg may have had ulterior motives when he popularized the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but he still wasn’t far off from the truth. According to the Better Health Channel, breakfast is crucial for storing energy, gaining important vitamins and minerals, boosting brainpower, reducing the risk of illness, and even controlling weight gain. That’s a lot of benefits!
Of course, the value of breakfast depends entirely on what you eat. If you gobble stacks of pancakes, piles of bacon, or Kellogg’s own ultra-processed cereal flakes, you may be doing more harm than good during your most important meal. The good news is, you can change all that by choosing a breakfast that is easy to make, economical, and incredibly delicious—muesli.
So, what is muesli, anyway?
What Is Muesli?
“Muesli” is a term that describes a general range of granola mixtures that primarily include rolled oats. It is often mixed with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and even puffed or flake cereals. Muesli was created in 1900 by a Swiss physician named Maximilian Bircher-Benner, and its name roughly translates to “mush” or “puree.” Bircher-Benner’s inaugural recipe (Bircher muesli) includes raw oats, grated apples, chopped nuts, a splash of lemon juice, water, and sweetened condensed milk.
Today, answering the question “what is muesli?” isn’t as easy, because the century-old breakfast has morphed into a more versatile form. There are endless recipes to choose from, each with its own medley of grains, seeds, nuts, and fruit. The oats can be soaked overnight, for a half-hour before eating, or not at all.
Some enjoy muesli in a bowl with milk a la traditional boxed cereal, while others serve it over yogurt instead for a creamier mouthfeel and probiotic benefits. In truth, as long as it has a base of rolled oats and avoids sugary sweeteners—muesli is generally what you make it to be.
Muesli vs. Granola
Granola is often made with nuts, oats, and dried fruit too, so what is muesli if not just hyped-up granola? While the ingredient lists overlap in a major way, the main difference between muesli and granola isn’t in what they’re made of—but how their ingredients are prepared.
The oats, nuts, seeds, and fruit are raw and loose in muesli. They aren’t baked together like granola is, meaning there is no oil or sugar to bind them together. Granola relies on sugary sweeteners like maple syrup or honey and is baked into infamously crunchable clusters.
The nutrition gap between the two varieties of cereal isn’t substantial, thanks to their nearly identical ingredient lists. However, muesli tends to be less sugary since it doesn’t include added sweeteners. According to Healthline, Muesli has about 5 grams less sugar for a ½ cup serving—but keep in mind that you can find sweetened muesli and less sugary granola, giving you some control over sugar intake.
How Healthy Is Muesli?
Though it may look unassuming, muesli is packed to the brim with a bevy of versatile nutrients like whole grains, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. The oats lay the groundwork for its impressive nutritional resume, providing ample amounts of healthy soluble fiber known as beta-glucans. This fiber has been found to improve gut health, encourage weight loss, lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. But muesli is just getting started.
The nuts and seeds provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids—or healthy plant-based fats—that can help reduce heart disease factors. Some seeds, like chia seeds, even provide omega-3 fatty acids which the average American is under-consuming.
Muesli is generally unsweetened (but watch out for brands that add sugar), however, it can still rack up high sugar content depending on the dried fruit it contains. For many, this doesn’t outweigh the health benefits described above but should be noted nonetheless. You can, of course, look for varieties with less fruit than others or no fruit at all. Or, make your own muesli at home!
How to Make Muesli at Home
Want even more control over the nutrition values of your muesli? Learn how to make muesli at home! It’s easy to do, requires only a few simple ingredients found at any major grocery store, and lets you tweak the proportions to your liking. For example, add more nuts in place of dried fruit to keep the sugar content down. Your options are limitless when it comes to making muesli at home!
We recommend starting with a simple recipe containing the basics—rolled or whole oats soaked in water or juice and a few of your favorite nuts, seeds, and dry, fresh, or grated fruit. Once you get the hang of a simple recipe, start exploring other grains, seeds, and healthy ingredients like coconut flakes—which bestow a delicately sweet crunch to any homemade muesli! Soon enough, you’ll be a muesli pro and put your own spin on the century-old breakfast staple.
Every home cook makes muesli differently, but a good ratio to start with is four parts grains, three parts nuts and seeds, and one part dried fruit (more if fresh). Using this ratio, you can make as much or little muesli as you want, but we’ll show you how to prepare enough for the week ahead since it keeps well and is an easy weekday breakfast.
What You’ll Need
- 4 cups rolled grains: Rolled oats will provide the best texture for your muesli. From there, experiment with whole grains like rye and barley, flakes like quinoa and sorghum, and puffs like millet.
- 3 cups nuts and seeds: It’s hard to go wrong here, so stick to your preferences. If you need inspiration, try nuts like pecans, almonds, and pistachios; and seeds like poppy, chia, and sesame seeds.
- 1 cup dried fruit: Some dried fruit contains added sugars, so when shopping for muesli ingredients, get in the habit of checking nutrition labels. If you’re concerned about the sugar content of your muesli, look for low-sugar options like organic dried cranberries.
- Combine grains, nuts, and seeds: In a large mixing bowl, combine your rolled oats, other rolled or whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Add dried or fresh fruit: Add the dried fruit of your choice to the bowl and toss to thoroughly combine. Try substituting dried for fresh or grated fruit if you plan to enjoy your muesli right away!
- Store in an airtight container: Place muesli in a tightly sealed container and store it at room temperature. It will retain freshness for about one month.
- Eat: For each breakfast or whenever you hear your stomach growling, scoop out roughly ½ to one cup of muesli. Enjoy throughout the week and beyond!
Pro Tip: For a quick version of muesli on those days where you just don’t have time (we get it), add a few nuts, seeds, and dried fruit to our premium organic oatmeal cups. Their only ingredient is organic rolled oats, making them the perfect base for a wholesome muesli-like breakfast. Just add boiling water or milk, your chosen toppings, and enjoy!
How to Eat Muesli
Muesli is as varied in how to eat it as it is how to make it. It can be eaten over yogurt or with a splash of milk, or it can be soaked in milk or juice overnight and served cold—as is the traditional way. Muesli is about experimentation as much as it is nutrition, so don’t be afraid to try new things when it comes to how to eat muesli.
The Overnight Soak
The traditional way of preparing muesli, sanctioned by Bircher-Benner himself, is to soak the oats overnight. Simply place your desired serving size (around ½ cup) into a bowl and add an equal amount of milk—or enough to wet all of the dry ingredients. Cover with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator until morning.
But just because muesli is globally considered a cereal and we’ve been conditioned to eat cereal with milk, you’re not confined to dairy when it comes to soaking muesli. Try soaking your oats in water, coconut milk, or other plant-based milk—even orange juice or coffee are delicious soaking ingredients! Your creativity—and the contents of your fridge—are the limit.
The 30-Minute Soak
Soaking softens the texture of the muesli. While some love the pillowy delight produced by an overnight soak, others prefer muesli to have more structure. If you want to retain a bit of crunch, soak your muesli for just 30 minutes when you wake up in the morning. If even that is too mushy for your iron jaw, try eating your muesli as soon as you pour the milk or juice!
Over Yogurt and Beyond
Soaking your muesli is only one way to enjoy a healthy and hearty breakfast. Although a departure from the original creation, it’s popular to top a bowl of yogurt with your own muesli creation! Once you’ve mastered the basics, branch out and see how many ways you can enjoy muesli. Some ideas include blending it with your favorite smoothie ingredients or folding it into baked goods.
Add Your Favorite Fresh Toppings
However you prepare your muesli, consider adding extra fresh ingredients for a burst of flavor and nutrition. A squeeze of lemon and grated apple emulate Bircher-Benner’s classic, but any fresh fruit will do. For example, sliced strawberries, whole blueberries, and banana chips can make any muesli sing. A dab of organic agave syrup will add decadent sweetness as well, even though it contradicts muesli’s role as a low-sugar alternative to granola.
Merge Health and Home with Public Goods
Breakfast has been a fiery topic of much debate for what seems like forever. Muesli is here to change all that. Delicious, hearty, healthful, and incredibly easy to make—muesli has what it takes to be the top choice on your early morning menu. Now that you have an understanding of how to make and how to eat muesli, we’re excited to see what unique and creative recipes you come up with next.
For other ways to invite health into your diet and your home, visit the Public Goods blog. We regularly post practical articles and how-to guides on everything from how to make your own electrolyte beverages to natural hangover remedies that actually work (and go great with muesli!).
Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.
From reducing waste to recycling and upcycling, our e-book shows simple ways to make choices you can feel good about.