Have you ever been curious about how to make healthy muffins from scratch? Muffin making is easy enough for novice bakers and even kids.
All you need is a good basic healthy muffin recipe and a few tips and tools to make sure they turn out well. And that’s exactly what I’ve got for you here.
It’s probably easier buy muffins from your favorite coffee shop or bakery. But the trouble is that they’re usually huge and high in calories. (Here’s a newsflash for you – if the muffin you’re eating tastes like a cupcake, it probably has as much fat, sugar and calories as one too!)
It’s much healthier to make homemade muffins from scratch. Why?
When you mix up and bake your own muffins from scratch you’re in control of what ingredients you use and the size of the muffins you make.
But it’s important not to get too crazy when making healthy baked goods or else you can wind up with muffins that are either dry and tasteless or that have a rubbery texture.
If you like eating muffins for breakfast, use these 12 tips to mix up more healthy ones.
12 Tips for Making Heathy Muffins from Scratch
- Decrease some (NOT ALL) of the fat. Usually just 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil or butter for each batch of 8 to to 12 muffins is enough to keep your muffins tender, moist and tasty.
- Use whole wheat pastry flour. It’s much lighter than regular whole-wheat flour so it works better in muffins. Replace half the flour in your favorite muffin recipe for whole wheat pastry flour or another whole grain flour. Two of my current favorites are oat flour, which you can make by grinding rolled oats in the blender or food processor and barley flour.
- Replace 1/4 to 1/2 cup fruit or vegetable puree for the same amount of oil in your favorite muffin recipe. This will increase the nutrition, moisture, tenderness and natural sweetness of your muffins. Applesauce and pumpkin puree are personal favorites.
- Add nuts that are high in omega-3 fats. Walnuts and almonds are good choices.
- Mix together the dry ingredients well with a wire whisk or fork. Fluffing up the flour will help make your muffins more tender.
- Mix the dry and wet ingredients together gently just until blended. Over mixing can make your muffins tough and/or heavy.
- Add 1/2 to 1 cup of healthy additions. Berries, chopped fresh fruit, dried fruit pieces, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini and mini dark chocolate chips are all good sources of vitamins and minerals and extra fiber.
- Use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups. It’s much faster and neater.
- Add water to any empty muffin cups in you muffin pan. To stop your muffin pan from buckling.
- Don’t let the baked muffins sit in the pan too long. If you do, they will get soggy.
- Muffins should be golden brown with slightly rounded bumpy tops. They are tender and light to fairly dense and moist inside and easy to remove from the pan. If not, check out our tips for trouble shooting problems with your muffins below.
- Turn your favorite quick bread recipe into muffins. Most any standard (9×5-inch) loaf of healthy quick bread can be made into 12 (2-1/2-inch) healthy muffins. Just evenly distribute the batter among the muffin cups and bake in a heated 375 degree F oven until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean, somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes.
Solving Common Muffin Problems
Sometimes things go wrong when making muffins. Here are some common muffin making problems and cures…
- Pale muffins usually mean the oven was too cool. Make sure your oven is heated to the required temperature before placing your muffins in the oven to bake. (You may need an oven thermometer to check the temperature of your oven.)
- Muffins with very smooth or peaked tops means you mixed the batter too much. Be sure to only mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened being as gentle as you can.
- Tough and heavy muffins means you used too much flour/mixed the batter too much. (Be sure to fluff your flour well and then lightly spoon it into your measuring cup before leveling it off with the flat side of a knife.)
- Muffins with uneven texture and large holes/tunnels indicates too much mixing.
- Dry muffins usually mean you used too much flour, your oven was too hot or they were baked too long.
- Sticking usually means the pan was not properly greased. Grease your muffin cups well or line them with paper liners.
- Muffins that are dark on the outside but not done in the center usually means that the oven was too hot.
Basic Easy Healthy Muffin Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Yield: 8-12 muffins
This basic easy healthy muffin recipe can be varied in lots of ways. You can leave them plain, add in a cup or so of your favorite fruit and adjust the amount of sugar to suit your tastes. If you like bigger muffins, distribute the batter among just 8 of the muffin cups instead of all 12 and pour 1/4 cup water into the empty cups to prevent them from buckling.
These muffins call for a small amount of fat – just 3 tablespoons for the entire batch. Using any less can cause your muffins to have a rubbery texture.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole grain pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
1 cup milk, plus more if needed
optional additions below
Adjust an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a standard 12-Cup Muffin Pan or line the cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk tougher the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, vegetable oil, milk and any optional ingredients (such as 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries).
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined and moistened. (The batter should still be lumpy and thick, but moist. If the batter seems too dry add a little more milk.)
Distribute the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes (30 minutes for larger muffins).
Remove from the oven and let the muffins rest in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely. Or enjoy them while they’re still warm.
Many Easy Healthy Muffin Variations
Apple Cinnamon Muffins: Stir in one medium peeled and chopped apple with the milk and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the flour. Substitute packed brown sugar for the granulated sugar.
Banana-Nut Muffins: Decrease milk to 1/4 cup, stir in 1 cup mashed bananas (2 to 3 medium) and 1/3 cup chopped nuts with the milk. Substitute packed brown sugar for the sugar.
Blueberry Muffins: Stir in 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries. (Frozen blueberries may cause the batter to turn a lovely blue.)
Bran Muffins: Pour the milk on 1-1/2 cups whole bran cereal and let stand 10 minutes. Add this to the egg and oil along with 1/4 cup molasses. Decrease the flour to 1-1/4 cups and add 1/2 cup raisins if desired.
Buttermilk Muffins: Substitute buttermilk for the milk. Decrease baking powder to 1-1/2 teaspoons and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with the flour.
Chocolate Chip Muffins: Stir in 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips.
Corn Muffins: Do not use whole wheat flour. Decrease flour to 1 cup and stir in 1 cup cornmeal with the flour.
Cranberry Muffins: Stir in 1 cup chopped cranberries and 1 tablespoon finely grated orange or lemon zest with the milk. Sprinkle the tops with sugar before baking.
Date Nut Muffins: Stir in 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates and 1/3 cup chopped nuts with the milk.
Oatmeal Muffins: Decrease flour to 1 cup and stir in 1 cup quick-cooking oats, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the flour.
Raspberry Muffins: Stir in 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.
Spice Muffins: Stir in 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and a pinch of ground cloves and ground nutmeg with the flour.
Zucchini Muffins: Stir in 1 cup grated zucchini (squeezed dry to remove excess moisture) and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts with the milk.
More Great Easy Healthy Muffin Recipes
As you can see from all of these recipes, I wasn’t kidding when I said I love to make muffins, especially healthy muffins!
7 Healthy Blueberry Muffin Recipes – a collection from my files and from around the web
Banana Mocha Macadamia Nut Muffins – a great breakfast muffin for banana and coffee lovers
Banana Nut Muffins – simple, moist and delicious
Basic Muffins – a richer more cake like basic muffin recipe with more sugar, butter and eggs
Bran Muffins – a collection of recipes from my files and from the web
Cottage Cheese Muffins – simple muffins with the added protein of cottage cheese
Easy Muffin Recipes - a great collection of easy muffin recipes that all begin with one master recipe
Healthy Apple Pecan Muffins – with whole wheat flour, applesauce, apples and cinnamon
Healthy Company Muffins - full of wholesome ingredients including oats, apples and carrots
Irish Soda Bread Muffins – soda bread flavors in a simple muffin
Pumpkin Muffins – spicy and not too sweet with raisins and nuts
Whole Wheat Muffins – whole wheat banana and whole wheat pumpkin chocolate chip
Do you have a favorite healthy muffins recipe you’d like to share?
Looking for The Perfect Muffin Cookbook?
750 Best Muffin Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury is full of every kind of muffin you can think of including all the classics like blueberry, corn and bran, as well as all kinds of indulgent coffee house muffins. But, what I love best about it is its chapters full of healthy superfood, farmer’s market, vegan and gluten-free muffins. Everything I’ve made from it has been delicious. Read my cookbook review.