Raw or Roasted Grains
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
The bracha on granola bars involves complex halachic questions regarding the complex ingredients of granola bars. For the sake of preserving the depth of the issue, we present some background of the topic, however, the bottom lines are explained below. Also, see our chart for the bracha on granola bars.
- The gemara Brachot 37a states that the bracha for raw grain is HaAdama.
- What is considered raw grain? Tosfot (37a s.v. HaKoses) writes that a kernel of grain is considered raw even if it is cooked or roasted whole and the Bracha is HaAdama. Rabbenu Yonah (Brachot 25b s.v. Chavitz), Rosh (Brachot 6:9), and Rambam (Brachot 3:2) agree. The idea of Tosfot is codified by the Tur and S”A 208:4.
- When are grains considered Mezonot? (1) Tosfot (37a s.v. HaKoses) explains that if it the grain was thoroughly crushed in the process of cooking it is Mezonot. (2) Rabbenu Yonah (Brachot 25b s.v. Chavitz) adds that the Bracha is only Mezonot if the kernels are crushed and stick together. (3) Rambam (Brachot 3:4) writes that grain is only mezonot if it was crushed and then cooked. In essence, he agrees with Tosfot, however, the Magen Avraham 208:2 posits that the Rambam would consider grain that was dehusked and then cooked to be mezonot, whereas others (cited by Shaar Hatziyun 208:20) disagree with this conclusion.
- What’s the halacha? (1) The S”A 208:2 rules like the Rambam that grain which was crushed and cooked is Mezonot. Mishna Brurah 208:3 adds that even if the grain started out whole but was crushed in the cooking process the Bracha is Mezonot. (2) The Mishna Brurah 208:15 writes that if one removed the shell and then cooked it, it is a halachic doubt. Shaar HaTziyun 208:9 writes that if the shell was removed and the grain stuck together the Bracha is Mezonot.
If the grain isn’t whole
- If the grain is split or crushed and then cooked the Bracha is Mezonot.  If the shell and a large piece of the grain was removed it is the same as if it was split or crushed. 
- If the shell of the grain was removed and either the grains were crushed in the cooking process or the grains stuck together, the Bracha is Mezonot. However, if the shell was removed and the grains weren’t crushed and didn’t stick together, the Bracha is a halachic doubt. 
If the grain is whole
- If the grain is whole (the shell of the grain wasn’t removed) before cooking the Bracha is HaAdama unless it was crushed well in the cooking process in which case it is Mezonot. 
- According to Ashkenazim, the bracha on raw barley is shehakol, while according to Sephardim the bracha is haadama. 
- Because there’s a dispute concerning Bracha Achrona, one should be strict not to eat it except as part of a meal.  Some suggest that one may avoid the doubt about the Bracha achrona by having two foods, one that requires a Boreh Nefashot, and one that requires an Al HaMichya. 
- However, if one did go ahead and eat a Kezayit of raw wheat (or any of the five grains) one should make a Boreh Nefashot. 
- Most authorities are of the opinion that puffed wheat is HaAdama (regarding Bracha Achrona see above). However, some say that one could make Mezonot. 
- Many poskim rule that granola (made from toasted grain) is HaAdama (regarding Bracha Achrona see above) while others consider it to be mezonot. Some say that if the particles adhere together the Bracha is Mezonot, and if they do not the Bracha is HaAdama. 
- According to Sephardim the bracha on granola is haadama.
- Wheat flour is shehakol. Since the main ingredients in raw cookie dough is wheat flour, sugar, and oil or margarine, the bracha is shehakol.
- S”A 208:2, Mishna Brurah 208:3, Vezot HaBracha (Birur Halacha 27, pg 282)
- Aruch HaShulchan 208:17, Sh”t Igrot Moshe 1:68
- Mishna Brurah 208:3 writes that if the grain is crushed the Bracha is Mezonot even if the shell wasn’t removed. Shaar HaTziyun 208:9 adds that if the shell was removed and the grain stuck together the Bracha is Mezonot. However, Mishna Brurah 208:15 writes if just the shell was removed and the grain wasn’t crushed or stuck together the Bracha is dependent on a dispute between the Rambam and Talmidei Rabbenu Yonah. Vezot HaBracha (Birur Halacha 27, pg 282) concurs. [See also Sh"t Igrot Moshe 1:68.]
- S”A 208:4 writes that grain which was roasted or cooked whole is HaAdama. Mishna Brurah 208:3 adds that it's only HaAdama if it wasn't crushed well in the cooking process, however, if it was it would be Mezonot. The Shaar HaTziyun 208:18 writes that it would be a safek (halachic doubt) if the grain was whole and was only crushed slightly, however, it's possible that one may make Mezonot. Vezot HaBracha (Birur Halacha 27, pg 282) concurs. [It is for this reason that the Piskei Teshuvot 208:3 writes that chulent is Mezonot because the barley is crushed well even if it is whole.]
- The gemara brachot 36a does hint to this distinction between barley and wheat. However, in terms of halacha, Shulchan Aruch 208:4 writes that the raw grains are all haadama when they are raw. The Rama quotes the Kol Bo as saying that since raw barley isn't really edible it is shehakol. Nonetheless, the Bet Yosef explains that he included barley with the other grains since the Tur didn't make any distinction. In any event, there is certainly some bracha on all raw grains as long as one benefits from it even minimally (see end of that bet yosef). Mishna Brurah 208:16 writes that if the whole barley grains were cooked the bracha would be haadama.
- S”A 208:4 in name of Tosfot writes that since there’s a doubt about the Bracha achrona one should be strict to only eat in a meal where the Birkat HaMazon will exempt it from Bracha Achrona. Sefer Brachat HaNehenin pg 147 writes the name of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman that it’s only a preferable and proper but not necessary. However, Zvot HaBracha (pg 103) argues that it’s certainly necessary to have it in a meal since we really do follow this opinion of Tosfot.
- The Aruch HaShulchan (208:9) and Or Letzion (vol 2, 14:21) suggest that an advise to avoid the doubt of which Bracha to make is to have two foods, one that has the Bracha of boreh nefashot and one that has the Bracha of Al HaMichya. VeZot HaBracha (pg 379 note 8) brings Rabbi Binyamin Forst who argues that this advise isn’t helpful to remove oneself from the doubt (since Tosfot’s opinion wasn’t to make an Al HaMichya on the raw kernels but an Al HaPri, an emended text of Al HaMichya.) Nonetheless, VeZot HaBracha defends this advise of the Aruch HaShulchan and quotes Rabbi Elyashiv who also says one may rely on it after the fact (that one didn’t have it in a meal.) The suggestion of the Aruch Hashulchan seems to be explicitly supported by the Raavan (Brachot n. 190). See Birkat Hashem (vol 2, 2:8) who writes that it’s enough just to have a food that requires a Boreh Nefashot to cover the kernels.
- Magen Avraham 208:7 writes that since Bet Yosef really holds like the Rambam one should make a Boreh Nefashot. [Birkat Hashem (vol 2, pg 128) comments that from Bet Yosef it seems the opposite, however from S”A it seems that we hold like Rambam.] This is also the opinion of the Mishna Brurah 208:18 and Kaf HaChaim 208:29. However, Birkat Hashem (vol 2 pg 112 note 8), Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 482 note 7) and Or Letzion (vol 2, 14:21) hold that there’s no Bracha achrona since there’s a doubt as to the proper Bracha and we follow the rule of Safek Brachot LeHakel. Nonetheless, Rabbi Ovadyah Yosef in Chazon Ovadyah (Brachot pg 183) rules that one may make the Bracha since the majority of Rishonim hold like the Rambam including S”A. [This ruling on it’s own is very strange considering that Rabbi Ovadyah holds of Safek Brachot LeHakel even against S”A. Therefore,] Halacha Brurah 208:18 adds that really there’s a Safek Safeka here considering that 1) perhaps we hold like the Rambam and we should make a Boreh Nefashot, and 2) even if we hold like the Tosfot perhaps Boreh Nefashot covers the Bracha of Al HaMichya (like Sh”t Ginat Veradim 1:15 unlike most achronim as in Sh”t Yabia Omer 1:12). Based on this Safek Safeka and the fact that S”A holds that a Bracha should be made, one may make Boreh Nefashot. [This ruling seems to be in line with Sh”t Chazon Ovadyah vol 2 pg 866 that by a double Safek with S”A holding one may make the Bracha, there’s enough to rely on to make the Bracha.] [It seems that Yalkut Yosef would retract after seeing the Chazon Ovadyah.]
- VeZot HaBracha (pg 103) quoteds Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rabbi Elyashiv, and Rabbi Sheinberg that the heating process isn’t considered cooking and so the Bracha is HaAdama just like raw wheat (S”A 208:4). VeZot HaBracha adds that Igrot Moshe would agree based on Sh”t 4:46 that heat alone isn’t considered cooking. Veten Bracha (Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Bodner pg 527, Addendum five part A), Pitchei Halacha (Rabbi Binyamin Forst, pg 148 note 125), Rabbi Ovadyah Yosef in Chazon Ovadyah (Brachot pg 183), Chacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul in Or Letzion (vol 2, 14:21), Birkat Hashem (vol 2 pg 129), and Halacha Brurah 208:16, and Piskei Teshuvot 208:8 all agree to the above conclusion. http://www.berachot.org/foods/cereals.htm goes by this opinion.
- Sh”t Igrot Moshe 4:44-46 writes that sugar crisps which are cooked and whole kernels have the Bracha of either Mezonot or HaAdama. Rabbi Dovid Heber of the Star-K writes that for Honey Smacks one may make a mezonot or HaAdama like the Igrot Moshe. (http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-brochosforbreakfast-fall06.htm) The Kof-K holds similarly. (Kof-K) Similarly, Vayamod Pinchas (pg 160) quotes Rabbi Elyashiv as retracting from the earlier ruling (as quoted by Vezot HaBracha) that one makes a HaAdama on puffed wheat and after seeing the cooking process he held the Bracha was Mezonot. [Interestingly, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu (VeZot HaBracha pg 384) writes that the Bracha is HaAdama unless one crumbles it, puts it in milk or water (especially if the water is hot) in which case the Bracha is Mezonot.]
- Veten Bracha (Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Bodner chapter 4, pg 67 and chapter 27, pg 505) quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman, and Vezot HaBracha (chap 12, pg 103) quotes Rav Elyashiv saying that granola is HaAdama because it’s considered a roasted grain. Rav Hershel Schachter in a shiur on yutorah.org explained that it is Haadama since it is mostly from oats or it is the primary ingredient and since it isn't cooked regularly it is considered like raw grain.
- Rabbi Heber from star-K in explaining the opinion of Rav Heinemann
- Laws of Brachos (Rabbi Forst, pg 369)
- Chazon Ovadia (Brachot p. 183) wrote that puffed wheat is haadama based on the ruling of Rav Shlomo Zalman and Rav Elyashiv (as cited in Vezot Habracha p. 105). Additionally, Rav Moshe in Igrot Moshe OC 4:44 writes that since the grain went through some process of cooking but not completely it retains its status as haadama. Vezot Habracha (p. 105) quotes Rav Elyashiv and Rav Sheinberg as saying that the bracha on granola is the same as puffed wheat since it is a similar process of a semi-cooking. Granola is rolled oats which are dehusked, steamed, and roasted when rolled thin. Yalkut Yosef (English Brachot p. 194) writes that granola which was steamed (which is the common case) is haadama, though there is no bracha achrona. Rav Avraham Yosef on moreshet.co.il and Rav Yakov Sasson on halachayomit.co.il write that granola is haadama. See Sh"t Rishon Ltzion 2:20 who discusses granola which is mezonot. There is referring to cooked oats as is evident in the English Yalkut Yosef.
- Shulchan Aruch 208:5
- Vezot HaBracha (p. 376 pn. 75) writes that the bracha on raw cake batter is shehakol since the wheat is no longer in its original state, making haadama inadmissible, but it also didn't reach its ideal state in which it is normal to eat, making it undeserving of mezonot of hamotzei.