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Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I recently stopped in at a local cafe and ordered a tasty looking apple muffin to go with a cup of coffee. That muffin only had about two pieces of apple in the entire thing, and was pretty disappointing overall. Naturally, this set me on a mission to make a simple, tasty apple muffin.

Apple and cinnamon is always a great pairing, so I started with that as the flavor base for this muffin. There is cinnamon in the muffin batter,  and the muffins are also topped with a cinnamon sugar mixture. While I do like a streusel topping for apple muffins as well, adding a simple sugar topping saves a lot of work and still gives them a nice little crunch and finishing flavor. I used plenty of diced apples in the batter, but these are high-rising muffins and there is enough batter around the apples that you won’t mistake these muffins for a miniature apple crisp or crumble.

The muffins are moist and tender – thanks in large part to the apples, but also because they include oil in addition to butter. Oil not only mixes in to a quick bread easily, but it helps the muffin to retain moisture, even if you end up storing these for a day or two before finishing the batch. The melted butter adds a lot of flavor that oil alone wouldn’t provide. These mix up quickly and are much more satisfying than the apple-less “apple” muffins from the coffee shop, if I do say so myself!

 Apple Cinnamon Muffins, top view

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups diced apple

3 tbsp coarse sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and egg. Whisk in melted butter, vegetable oil and vanilla. Working in two or three additions, alternately stir in flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with an addition of flour and mixing only until no streaks of flour remain visible in the batter. Stir in diced apple.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups filling each to the top, or slightly over.
In a small bowl, stir together coarse sugar and additional 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Sprinkle generously over muffins.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool muffins on a wire rack.

Makes 12.

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  • Emily
    February 16, 2009

    This recipe looks fantastic! About the buttermilk, though: do you think I’d be able to substitute something like yogurt? The buttermilk I’ve been able to get at the store has been… questionable in the past.

  • Nicole
    February 16, 2009

    Emily – I would substitute 1 cup of milk + 1 tbsp vinegar for buttermilk. It comes out to be closer to the consistency of buttermilk than yogurt does and still has a little of that tang from the vinegar. The mixture will curdle a bit (kind of like buttermilk), so don’t worry if it looks odd before you add it in.

  • sara
    February 16, 2009

    Yum, these look really terrific! I will have to give it a try. 🙂

  • Katie
    February 16, 2009

    These look amazing. I wish I could have that for breakfast tomorrow.

  • Amy
    February 16, 2009

    Wow, looks yummy~ I will try to bake it soon & let you know the result.

  • Sophia
    February 16, 2009

    These look really good. I recently bought some new baking cups, so I have an excuse to bake these 🙂

  • raidar
    February 16, 2009

    Looks great. Perfect snack muffin!

  • Elyse
    February 16, 2009

    I’m in complete agreement: if you’re going to call a muffin “apple,” it should have lots of apple! Looks like your muffins have passed the test by far! Their high domes look fabulous, and I love a muffin made with oil for the tenderness. Can’t wait to try these!!

  • Becky
    February 16, 2009

    These look great! I have made apple muffins before and they turned out a bit dry! I will have to try this recipe.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Sugar Duchess
    February 16, 2009

    They’re so pretty! I’ll have to whip these up for breakfast sometime. Thanks for sharing!

  • dee
    February 16, 2009

    i totally love your website. I just started on a cooking fiend. Resolution being I will make fabulous foods and pick up the culinary thumb. Your website definitely inspires me. kudos to your cooking skills and sharing it with the rest of us! :o)

  • nadia
    February 16, 2009

    have just pop them in oven…waiting for my breakfast 🙂

  • Lizzybee
    February 17, 2009

    These look delish, I can’t wait to try them. I have been making a packaged brand that is apple-cinnamon ‘flavored’ but doesn’t have any real pieces. Yummy, this is going to be good!

  • Niki Theo
    February 17, 2009

    I love baking with apples. Pies, cakes, bread (which I am eating right now), anything… Now muffins. I made an apple cider caramel muffins once years ago and I was so disappointed on how bland they tasted. I am super excited to try these though!!!

  • Lisa
    February 17, 2009

    These look delicious. I like a cinnamon/sugar topping better than a crumb topping because I always seem to wind up wearing the crumb topping.

    I also hate fruit muffins with no fruit in them. I feel like I’ve wasted my money.

  • marguerite
    February 17, 2009


  • Debbie
    February 17, 2009

    What type of apples did you use? How many apples would equal 1 1/2 Cups? Also, I don’t have coarse sugar, would the same amount apply to regular sugar? Thanks!

  • Nicole
    February 17, 2009

    Debbie – 1 1/2 cups of diced apple could be anywhere from 1 to 2 apples, depending on the size. You can use any apples you like for these; I used Fuji.

  • Pral
    February 17, 2009

    Very tempting! Is it possible to make eggless muffins – if so what ingredient can be used to substitute? I am not very comfortable working with egg replacer available.

  • Martha in KS
    February 17, 2009

    How do these compare to your previous recipe from 2005?

  • Nicole
    February 17, 2009

    Martha – That recipe, which is linked to in the article, is heavier and even more moist, as it includes shredded apple (not applesauce) in the batter. It does not have chunks of apple in the muffin and has a minimal emphasis on cinnamon, using only a bit of it in the streusel.

  • Alisa - Frugal Foodie
    February 17, 2009

    Those look so perfect!

  • Oh, these muffins look so good (and I’m hungry, I just realized (baby has pooped and I could not finish my dinner)).
    The photo is gorgeous.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    February 18, 2009

    These look really good, Nic – and apple and cinnamon is a wonderful flavor combo. One the best.

  • vrinda
    February 18, 2009

    Best Apple muffins i ever made ,thanks a lot…

  • Olivia
    February 18, 2009

    Hm…how would these taste with toasted chopped walnuts or pecans? Or a swirl of caramel perhaps?

  • Emily
    February 19, 2009

    These look fantastic! And, I completely agree about there being looks of apple. But, I have a question. Is there anyway to use whole wheat flour instead (or maybe white wheat)? Whould there need to be any modifications to the other ingredients?

  • Judy
    February 19, 2009

    I just finished baking the muffins exactly as published. If it were not for the abundance of apple, these muffins are a total “non-starter”. If it were not for the apples, these muffins are pretty much “tasteless”. Further, there is not enough batter to fill the muffins to the top as the directions indicate. Anyone trying this recipe, should only fill the muffins tins to 3/4 full.

  • Deb
    February 28, 2009

    Hate to say it but I agree with Judy – these are a bit bland for my tastes. However I did find mine made 12 exactly

  • chumpman
    March 9, 2009

    Muffins look really tempting. Apple and cinnamon is such a perfect combination.

  • MojoMom
    March 16, 2009

    I want to try these as well, as a healthy alternative breakfast for my 3, and 18 mo old. Just wondering about the buttermilk as well – any other substitution – I like the thought of yogurt. I will also try the PB Oatmeal Banana muffins.

  • Julia
    May 15, 2009

    I just made a batch of these yesterday. The smell was wonderful! My boyfriend kept coming into the kitchen asking whether the muffins were done yet. I did find them a little bland freah out of the oven, but they were great after about an hour and even better today. I couldn’t find dried ginger, so I used very finely grated fresh ginger instead. Thanks so much for this great recipe.

  • Elise
    October 2, 2009

    I made these last night and the batter fit perfectly into 12 muffin cups. They were delicious! I love how moist they were and the apple pieces were awesome. I agree with some of the comments that the taste is quite mild – I might increase the measurements on the cinnamon and ginger when I make them again. But I think it’s a really good recipe. A lot of muffin recipes end up dry but these did not at all, even though I had to bake them for 24 minutes because my oven is slow.

  • Erika
    October 18, 2009

    This is exactly what I was craving this morning! They’re absolutely beautiful and delicious. I grated the apples coarsely instead of chunks (so my kids wouldn’t pick them out) – really fantastic. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  • Gina
    April 12, 2010

    They look so cute, like baby pies

  • Oil not only mixes in to a quick bread easily, but it helps the muffin to retain moisture, even if you end up storing these for a day or two before finishing the batch.

  • Donna Geraets
    September 25, 2010

    I’m interested in the ans. to the question above: if no coarse sugar, does regular work okay? OR would brown sugar be a better substitute? Does the powdered buttermilk work okay for this recipe?

  • Troy "Big Daddy"
    October 11, 2010


    @Donna – Granulated sugar works great. The idea is to give it a nice “crunch” on top, with a burst of flavor. Brown sugar, alone, won’t do it.

    All – In my quest of coming up with recipes to include in my future cookbook (a dream, but who knows!!), my wife asked me one day to make some muffins that she can take to work with her, so she doesn’t have to stop on the way. That was 6 months ago. I always make her a nice variety, but her favorite is apple-cinnamon.

    So, I’ve been working on my version of a “perfect” apple-cinnamon muffin (emphasis on the MY), and have made literally hundreds of variations. My final muffins are very similar to the above, with a few exceptions: Instead of buttermilk, I use 3/4 c. 2% milk and 1/4 c. olive oil. I also use a total of 3 tsp. baking powder, and no vanilla. To address the “blandness” of the inside of the muffin, I toss the diced apples in a cinnamon/sugar mix, then add them to the mix.
    And for the topping, I thinly slice an apple that is peeled & cored, then toss them in a sugar/cinnamon mix, then press into the top of each cup of batter. The sugar caramelizes nicely, and the apple slightly infuses additional flavor into the muffins.

    Finding what works for YOU can be very fun, or very frustrating. Taking the time to understand why you are adding or omitting an ingredient can make all the difference in the world.

    Happy Baking! And Nicole, keep the great ideas coming!!

  • Laurie@TheBakingBookworm
    April 19, 2011

    I have several apples that are just begging to be used so I’m going to bake these muffins right now! Thanks for the recipe. I can’t wait to check out more of your recipes!

  • Marielle
    July 11, 2011

    I saved this recipe somewhere in my computer like a billion years ago, and today i finally got the chance to make it.
    Dude!…these are awesome! They’re perfectly moist and so so so tender!
    I made some changed just because i didn’t have all the ingredients:

    – I didn’t have buttermilk so i just added lemon to milk and let it stand for a bit. I’ve never used buttermilk in a muffin recipe before, i’ve never even used that lemon milk mixture before but i’m so glad i did. It makes the cake so incredibly tender. Of course adding to the fact that i didn’t overmix the batter and i baked them for the perfect amount of time. 🙂

    – I didn’t add butter, instead i just added more oil. Reason being is because i only found out i was supposed to add butter when i started mixing the eggs and sugar. hehe. I like the moisture the oil gave but i think the butter adds more flavorful. So i’ll add butter the next time…THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME!!! 🙂 But yea, if you don’t have butter you can just use oil.

    – I didn’t have enough brown sugar so i just added white sugar instead.

    – I didn’t have ginger so i added allspice. And i also added nutmeg cause…i just love adding nutmeg to muffin batter. It just adds another flavor of awesomeness so i would highly recommend adding nutmeg.

    – I also had some white chocolate chips lying around so i sprinkled some on top with the cinnamon sugar.

    I just have to say…I’m so happy with the way these muffins turned out. I literally laughed out loud when i took the first bite cause they were that tasty.
    Thank you thank you so much for this recipe!
    I will most definitely be writing this down in my personal recipe notebook. 🙂

  • jm
    September 18, 2011

    Is it possible to substitute 1 cup of flour with wheat flour

  • Bettina
    November 13, 2011

    I’m just eating one of those with my morning coffee, and they’re really great! Not too sweet, soft and that great apple-cinnamon taste. I had to bake them slightly longer, I wanted nice big ones. Mine look just as pretty are yours 🙂
    Greetings from Warsaw, Poland

  • Trine
    January 22, 2012

    These muffins look so good! I love the combination of apple and cinnamon and in a muffin it’s just extra tempting. I’m going to make these for brunch next weekend, thanks for the recipe!

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