Invented in the early 1900s, muesli is a power breakfast that's packed with fiber, whole grains, and protein. What is muesli, you ask? Muesli is essentially granola's cousin. Like granola, it can go on top of your yogurt or smoothie bowl and can also be made into bars. But although they sound extremely similar, there are some key differences between muesli and granola. Here's what you should know about this breakfast all-star before enjoying your first bowl of it.

What is Muesli?

banana, muesli
Avery Kelly

WTF is muesli? Muesli (pronounced myooz-lee) is very similar to granola. It is a sweet mixture of whole grain cereals (possibilities include rolled oats, ancient grains, and quinoa), nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. You can even add sugar, honey, cinnamon, or nutmeg to bump up the sweetness and flavor. 

Just like you can mix different fruit, nuts, and sugars into granola, you can do the same with muesli. Sprinkle muesli on top of yogurt, toast, or a smoothie bowl. You can make it into bars and even eat it like cereal. With granola's cousin, the possibilities are truly endless. 

Origins of Muesli

cereal, granola, sweet, muesli
Caitlin Shoemaker

Muesli is super popular in Europe, but it's now gaining popularity in the US as well. In the early 1900s, a group of hikers in Switzerland gathered for breakfast at the historical Schatzalp Hotel in Switzerland. They were served rolled oats with apples, cinnamon, nuts, and yogurt, and kept going back for seconds. One of the hikers was Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, and he was highly inspired by the meal. 

Bircher-Benner started preparing this dish for patients in the hospital. He soaked muesli overnight with water and lemon juice, and served it with a dollop of yogurt. He called the meal "d'Spys" (which in Swiss German means “the meal”). Later on, it was referred to as “Birchermüesli” or just “Müesli” (derived from the German word Mues, which means "puree" or "mash-up"). 

Granola vs Muesli

Yasmine McCroden

Muesli is uncooked cereal, but granola is usually baked. Granola typically combines grains with a sweetener and an oil in order to bind the ingredients together. Both muesli and granola are traditionally made with rolled oats, although other grains like quinoa and ancient grains can be used. Granola is often made in clusters. However, muesli is softer and tends to crumble a bit more. 

When choosing between the two, granola is the simpler choice because it's easier to find at the store. However, some brands of granola cereal are loaded with sugar and oils. Therefore, muesli is often the healthier option. But if you make your own granola or muesli, you can control the amount of sugar being added. You can even eliminate sugar altogether and use more dried fruit instead. 

I have nothing against granola. In fact, I love it. But I'm willing to put it on the back burner for a day and give muesli a try. With such a unique history and endless uses, muesli may just become your newest breakfast staple.