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These easy Apple Muffins are made from scratch with plenty of grated fresh fruit, warm autumn spices, and a cinnamon-sugar topping. The moist and tender apple cinnamon muffins are perfect companions for steaming mugs of hot coffee, a great make-ahead breakfast, and even a nice side dish for the bread basket at dinner. Serve them with a roasted chicken, a bowl of pumpkin chili, or a pot of beef stew.

Hands serving a basket of easy apple muffins on a dinner table

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

After a trip to the orchard last weekend, I instantly knew that some of our sweet, juicy, apples would make their way into the best apple muffin recipe! You just can’t beat the aroma of fresh fruit baking with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. These apple cinnamon muffins are cozy, moist with a tender crumb, buttery, and bursting with fall flavor! You can jazz up the base recipe with walnuts or cranberries, or make them even more decadent with a streusel topping.

Side shot of apple muffins with cinnamon sugar topping on a wooden table

The Best Apples for Muffins

Look for softer baking apples for this recipe, since the softer apples break down more easily in the oven and blend into the muffin batter. You get less of the grated texture, and more of the fresh apple flavor. Good options include Golden Delicious, Cortland, Macoun, Jonathan and McIntosh.

Do you peel apples for muffins?

This is purely a matter of personal preference. I always peel the apples to remove the tough skin, which can add an unpleasant texture to the muffins. Peeled, grated apples bake smoothly into the batter. That said, if you don’t mind the peel, you can certainly leave it on.

Close overhead shot of a bin of apples

How to Make Muffins Lighter and Fluffy

These muffins get their light and fluffy texture from:

  • The perfect amount of leavening (baking powder);
  • Buttermilk, which gives the muffins a moist, tender crumb and reacts with the baking powder for a little bit more “lift”;
  • Not over-mixing. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients just until they’re combined. Too much mixing will activate the gluten in the flour, resulting in dense, tough, or dry muffins.
Mixing batter in a white bowl with an electric mixer

How to Make Tall Muffin Tops

There are a few key steps to creating that nice, rounded dome on the muffin top:

  • Use a thick batter (you’ve got that here, thanks to the sour cream!)
  • Fill the muffin cups to the top (I like to use an ice cream scoop, large cookie dough scoop, or 2 ¼-inch dough scoop like this to equally measure the same amount of batter into each cup)
  • Start the oven at a very high temperature to help the tops rise, and then lower the heat right away to allow the rest of the muffins to cook through without burning.
Bowl of grated apples

Ingredients for Easy Apple Muffins

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of cinnamon apple muffins. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • All-purpose flour: the base of the muffins. Make sure that you measure it properly by spooning and leveling or weighing (not scooping directly from the bag).
  • Baking powder: the leavening agent that helps the muffins crown and rise.
  • Salt: enhances the other flavors in the muffins and balances the sweetness.
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves: warm fall spices that give the apple muffins their classic flavor.
  • Butter: make sure that it’s softened at room temperature so that it easily mixes with the sugar.
  • Granulated sugar: for just the right amount of sweetness.
  • Eggs: for structure.
  • Vanilla extract: for even more flavor.
  • Buttermilk: a little bit of extra fat and acid for a moist, tender crumb.
  • Apple: peeled and grated.
Dipping muffins in cinnamon sugar topping

How to Make Apple Muffins

These muffins are so decadent, moist and rich — they’re basically cake disguised as muffins! Instead of folding together the wet and dry ingredients as you would normally do for a classic muffin recipe, we’re using the electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar, then adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in the same method that you would use to make a cake batter from scratch. The end result is simply the best apple muffins you’ve ever tasted!

  1. Mix together the batter.
  2. Fold in the grated apple.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between 12 prepared muffin cups.
  4. Place the muffins in a 425°F oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 375°F. This initial burst of high heat will help the muffins rise, while the lower temperature allows the muffins to cook through without burning.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Brush the tops of the warm muffins with melted butter, then dip in cinnamon-sugar.
The best apple muffins in a muffin tin

Serving Suggestions

The muffins are tasty on their own, but they’re also delicious when served warm and spread with butter, honey butter, cream cheese, peanut butter, or a dollop of apple butter.

Pair the apple muffins with any of these cozy meals:

Side shot of apple spice muffins on a table

How to Store Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Allow the muffins to cool completely. Store in a large Ziploc freezer bag or other airtight container. The muffins will last for 2-3 days at room temperature.

Can Apple muffins be frozen?

Yes! Wrapped tightly, these grated apple muffins will keep in the freezer for at least 3 months.

To Reheat

If the muffins are frozen, allow them to sit on the counter for a few minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°F. Frozen muffins will require about 10-12 minutes in the oven; room temperature muffins will only need about 5 minutes to warm through.

Alternatively, you can microwave one or two muffins at a time for 15-30 seconds, or just until warm.

Overhead shot of two plates of apple muffins

Recipe Variations

  • Don’t have buttermilk? While the buttermilk gives the muffins a slightly tangy, moist, tender crumb, regular milk will also work in this particular recipe. The baking powder doesn’t need the acid in the buttermilk in order to activate.
  • Mix-Ins: A handful of chopped walnuts or pecans would be a great addition to this recipe. Dates, raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries or shredded coconut would also be delicious.
  • Swap out the spices for about 2 ½ teaspoons – 1 tablespoon of apple pie spice (a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and sometimes cardamom and ginger). So convenient!
  • Make Apple Crumble Muffins by swapping the cinnamon-sugar topping for a streusel topping that you add before baking.
Square shot of arms serving a bowl of apple muffins

Tips for the Best Apple Muffin Recipe

  • Properly measure the flour. Always spoon and level the flour or weigh it on a kitchen scale — do not scoop it out of the package. Incorrectly measuring the flour packs it too tightly into the measuring cup and results in dense, dry muffins.
  • The key to a perfect muffin is just barely mixing the ingredients. You want them to come together, but a few lumps are fine. This way they’ll stay moist and tender!
  • Fill the muffin cups nice and full. I like to use an ice cream scoop to make sure that each cup has an equal amount of batter, so that the muffins bake evenly in the oven.
  • To check if the muffins are done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out.
Bowl of apple cinnamon muffins on a table with milk and apples in the background

More Muffin Recipes to Try this Fall

Hands serving a basket of easy apple muffins on a dinner table

Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 12 muffins
Calories 237 kcal
These easy Apple Muffins are made from scratch with plenty of grated fresh fruit, warm autumn spices, and a cinnamon-sugar topping.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and coarsely grated (about 1 cup total)

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and spritz with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl; mix on medium-low speed just until combined. Add the buttermilk; mix just until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture; mix just until combined.
  • Fold in the grated apple.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.
  • Place the muffins in the preheated oven, then immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake the muffins for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Transfer the muffins to a wire rack.
  • When the muffins are cool enough to handle (but still warm), prepare the topping.
  • Place the melted butter in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.
  • Brush the top of each warm muffin with the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar.

Notes

  • Don’t have buttermilk? While the buttermilk gives the muffins a slightly tangy, moist, tender crumb, you can substitute with regular milk in this particular recipe. The baking powder doesn’t need the acid in the buttermilk in order to activate.
  • Mix-Ins: A handful of chopped walnuts or pecans would be a great addition to this recipe. Dates, raisins, or dried cranberries would also be delicious. Try dried cherries or shredded coconut, too.
  • Swap out the spices for about 2 ½ teaspoons – 1 tablespoon of apple pie spice (a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and sometimes cardamom and ginger). So convenient!
  • Make Apple Crumble Muffins by swapping the cinnamon-sugar topping for a streusel topping that you add before baking.
  • Properly measure the flour. Always spoon and level the flour or weigh it on a kitchen scale — do not scoop it out of the package. Incorrectly measuring the flour packs it too tightly into the measuring cup and results in dense, dry muffins.
  • The key to a perfect muffin is just barely mixing the ingredients. You want them to come together, but a few lumps are fine. This way they’ll stay moist and tender!
  • Fill the muffin cups nice and full. I like to use an ice cream scoop to make sure that each cup has an equal amount of batter, ensuring that the muffins bake evenly in the oven.
  • To check if the muffins are done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out.
  • Recipe adapted from AddaPinch.com

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffinCalories: 237kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 4gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 187mgPotassium: 119mgFiber: 1gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 302IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: apple cinnamon muffins, apple muffins
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in March, 2019. It was updated in October, 2021.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Hi Blair
    Could these be baked in a mini muffin pan? If so, what temperature/bake time would you recommend?

    1. Hi, Joy-Dawn! Yes, I think that would work fine! I would bake them in a 350°F oven for about 12-15 minutes. Hope you enjoy!