Apple Oatmeal Muffins

Baking on Saturday afternoons has become a weekly ritual. After working on my computer from my couch all week, I like to be up on my feet on the days in between. Reaching high for bags of flour, plucking spices from the rack, grabbing my camera and hopping up onto the chair for an overhead shot, trying not to step on Cookie on the way down—it’s a dance of sorts.

oatmeal apple muffin ingredients

I’m getting steadier in my steps and also in my substitutions. Following recipes to a T is not my forté. I find a concept I like and a recipe that seems prime for adaptation, and switch things up as I go along. I’m learning what to swap for what, what can be added freely and what must be compensated by a reduction in another ingredient.

muscovado sugar

A few weekends ago, I got to thinking about those glorious gala apples in my fridge and how badly I wanted to bake with them. I decided to make apple muffins—I envisioned hearty, moist oatmeal muffins studded with red-skinned apple bits and flecked with cinnamon. I skipped a trip to the UPS store and stayed home to bake.

I searched through my evernote account and came across this oatmeal blueberry muffin recipe by Joy the Baker. Her recipe called for apple sauce, which seemed like a perfect match for apple muffins. Joy called them “surprisingly moist and delicious”, and from a girl with “the utmost respect and admiration for butter and fat”, I knew I’d found a winner. Joy never steers me wrong.

apple muffin batter

I dialed up Ella Fitzgerald on my old iPod and commenced my Saturday baking ritual. I was out of regular milk so I couldn’t make buttermilk, but I did have leftover coconut milk. I squeezed lemon juice into the coconut milk like I would for buttermilk and it seemed to have a similar reaction.

It was a game day; I looked out the window and watched traffic build on Boyd Street. I traded the brown sugar for Muscovado sugar, which I had picked up the weekend before at West Side Market in Cleveland. I chopped apples while empathizing with Ella’s sad tomato, Hannah the busted Valentine. I sprinkled cardamom and ginger into the batter; slightly exotic spices seemed like a good match for coconut.

apple oatmeal muffins

I divvied up the batter into my muffin tin as I noticed a steady stream of crimson-clad OU fans walking toward Campus Corner and the stadium. Game time approaching, it was time to sell parking. I set the timer and Cookie and I skipped downstairs. Twenty minutes later, I went upstairs and brought warm muffins down to my friends. They got thumbs up and approvals all around.

cookie the dog

healthy apple oatmeal muffins

I found that the muffins tasted even better the next day. They’re pretty big muffins—not jumbo-sized like the processed muffin monstrosities you find at coffee shops—but big enough to eat for breakfast with peanut butter, coconut butter or apple butter. Mmm, butter.

apple oatmeal muffins with apple butter

I know that your kitchen may not be stocked with coconut milk, coconut oil and Muscovado sugar, so feel free to substitute with the ingredients in parentheses. But please, dance along to Ms. Fitzgerald’s sweet jazz as you bake. It’s an experience.

Apple Oatmeal Muffins
5.0 from 11 reviews
  • 1¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1¼ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup light coconut milk with the juice of half a lemon (or low fat buttermilk)
  • ½ cup packed muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or vegetable/canola oil)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 small Gala apples, chopped into small pieces
  • turbinado (raw) sugar and nutmeg, for sprinkling on top
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin wrappers or spray with nonstick cooking spray. My non-stick muffin tin works so well I didn't need either.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.
  4. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in your applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist.
  6. Fold in the chopped apples. Fill muffin cups ⅔ to ¾ full.
  7. Sprinkle raw sugar and a light dusting of nutmeg on top of the muffins.
  8. Bake for 16-18 minutes.
  • Adapted from Joy the Baker's Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins.
  • Yields about 12 muffins.
  • Since these muffins contain fresh fruit, they will spoil more quickly than regular muffins. Try storing them in the refrigerator if you don't intend to finish them within a day or two, or store them in the freezer for longer-term storage.

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  1. says

    Baking hearty moist muffins on a Saturday morning is the best. And Ella Fitzgerald (and Billie Holiday) is my absolute favorite thing to listen to while I bake. (!) I agree with you–it’s an experience.

  2. says

    The problem with small muffins… I always end up eating two…. okay, three, who am I kidding. Love these. Love cookie. Thanks for linking, friend.

  3. says

    Ahaha… I totally relate to the “dance” of baking. I live in a small apartment, and therefore all of my cooking supplies have a specific place, usually behind or under some other cooking object, in order to make room for everything. The rhythm I have mastered of reaching, measuring, and putting things back, washing dishes and wiping counters, has become a part of the pride I have in my baking skills. Great post.

  4. says

    I have to say, I love the picture you painted in my mind of you in your kitchen :D And I know just what you mean about the “dance” of baking, although mine is rarely to music but is always around small children. Your muffins look like just my kind of muffins – lots of apple flavor and plenty of spices :D And they look delicious too.

  5. Jacqui says

    Sounds like a perfect Saturday afternoon to me! And I cannot get enough of sweet little cookie! She’s so adorable!

  6. says

    These muffins look AWESOME – wholesome enough for breakfast, but not so far gone that serving them warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream would be out of the question.

  7. says

    Apples and oatmeal = match made in heaven. These look so moist and tender and I LOVE the big chunks of apple — not something you’ll find in one of those coffee shop muffins!

  8. says

    I love Ella during a sweet Saturday baking session, although Adele has been on the rotation quite a bit these days. As for these glorious apple muffins you’ve made – I want a few right now… and then a few more for breakfast. Definitely going to dance my way through a batch of these asap :) xx

  9. says

    I love muffins like these…I might need to make some for my mama, she’d love them too!
    Also, I have to say, Cookie is absolutely beautiful kathryne…

    I’m in awe.

    A few weeks ago, my boy, the sweetest little handsome dachshund I grew up with let us know it was his time. It’s been really really hard. He had such a great life and made it to 17!!

    Here, seeing pictures of Cookie brings me happiness, such a beauty… I can truly see her gentle loyalty through the screen, she’s perfect.
    I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for your very sweet comment yesterday. It means a lot.

    Please kiss that girl for me.

  10. says

    There are so many things that are so awesome about this post: I’m with you on the weekend baking – I sit SO MUCH that I love the feeling of running around my kitchen, reaching for pans, and tiring my arms out stirring. Ella is a beautiful pairing for weekend baking..aand Cookie. She is the cutest! I love that the inspiration came from a search through your Evernote account! I have hundreds of recipes in Evernote and it’s my first go-to when I start from scratch (I’m biased, but it’s true!) xx

  11. Jessica Harris says

    These were delicious! I made 12 apple and 12 blueberry. I subbed ground flax for the oil and added walnuts. They were just sweet enough for my little boys to devour them! I put them in the freezer for quick breakfasts. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Nazly says

    hey! thanks a lot for sharing this :) mine are in the over right now and i can’t wait to taste them!

    do you by any chance know how many calories there are per 1 muffin?

    • says

      No, I’m sorry, I don’t know the nutritional breakdown of the muffins. All I know is that they are much lower in fat (and therefore calories) than the average muffin.

      • Beth D. says

        I just finished making these today and they smell delicious! I figured out the calorie count for the ones I made (I had regular buttermilk instead of lowfat and I used brown sugar and canola oil. At the end, I sprinkled on 3/4 Tbsp sanding sugar instead of the turbinado.)

        Mine came out to 168 calories per muffin, with 3.8 grams of fat and 3.3 grams of fiber. Just perfect for breakfast and it helped me use up a lonely apple! Thanks!

  13. Allison says

    Hi. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your recipe and the great advice to swing along with Ella by the oven. Muffins are in right now. I’m sure they’ll be great. Have a great day!

  14. CL says

    I followed all ingredients and instruction except used an 8×8 pan and added a streusel topping, baked at 375° for 20 mins, but nside is still wet?!

    • says

      Sorry CL, sounds like it needed some more time in the oven! I have not tried making these muffins in a square pan but whenever I make changes like that, I try to test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, I know it’s done, but if not, I put it back in the oven to bake for a few more minutes.

  15. says

    These bad boys are in the oven. Great recipe – thanks Kate. The cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and dark sugar create the most wonderful aroma while baking. Look forward to digging in to one while still warm, slathered in coconut butter.

    • says

      Good question, Ana. I don’t think they would rise as high as they would with a glutenous flour. I’m not sure how they would turn out, but oat flour definitely sounds like a good fit. Please let us know if you try it.

      • Donna says

        Yes! They can be made with buckwheat flour if you use 1/2 buckwheat and 1/2 whole wheat flour. I made a mistake & started with the buckwheat. After looking on the internet for equal exchanges, the 1/2 and 1/2 thing is what I found would work. So, I just doubled the recipe & it is FANTASTIC! I used the “normal” ingredients, not the “fancy” ones! :)

  16. says

    Okay, the verdict is in. These are fantastically delicious muffins!!! THey rose beautifully and are so yummy, not too sweet. I used a duck egg (we keep ducks) and the recipe was perfect. Thanks!

  17. April says

    These look delicious. Am going to make for my toddler and he prefers mini muffins. Could you advise on how long to bake minis?? Thanks!

    • says

      Sorry April, I’m really not sure on the baking time for mini muffins. I just googled it; sounds like the muffins will probably be done after ten to fifteen minutes.

  18. MegHoz says

    Kate you are amazing! I have tried so many of your recipes and they are always sooo good! This one did not disappoint. I used one large Fuji apple and it worked perfectly. Keep up the good work!

    • says

      Thank you, Meg! I’m really happy to hear that you enjoy my recipes. I have another idea for fall-themed muffins, I’ll try to post them soon!

  19. Roni says

    Amazing recipe! The muffins turned out just sweet enough, soft, and moist. Not dense or heavy at all from the whole wheat flour. Absolutely brilliant!

  20. Anna O. says

    I made these yesterday for an after school snack. They were a hit! I used the buttermilk option and whole wheat pastry flour (instead of regular whole wheat flour). Delicious. The chunks of apple were our favorite part.
    I mixed in a sprinkle of candied ginger into the last two muffins and it was divine. I’ll add some to all the batter next time.

  21. Megan says

    I’m late to the party, but I just made these yesterday and I’m in LOVE. I subbed out half a cup of the oats and replaced with oat bran and used Fuji apples instead of Gala. So delicious. Having one with a cup of tea as we speak :)

  22. Elisha says

    I just made these muffins, and they are amazing! I substituted oat flour for the whole wheat flour, and they came out perfectly. I think the applesauce is key when using oat flour, as it helps hold the muffin together. I also took your suggestion of serving them with apple butter. Delicious!

  23. Jennifer says

    Made these with my toddler this afternoon, and the whole family is enjoying them. I really like that they are not too sweet The almost-two year old says to say, “hanno” (hello) to Kate and has been asking to see the picture of Cookie non-stop. Thanks for sharing!

  24. says

    These are my family’s go-to muffins. My husband has pronounced them his favorite and they were my baby’s first introduction to muffins. :) Thanks for a delightful, healthful recipe!

  25. Mariam says

    I just made these with some substitutions – YUM! I used whole spelt as its my preference, 1/4 raw sugar And a generous squeeze of honey as I didn’t have either muscovado or dark sugar on hand and also realised I ran out of eggs midway through making so I used a flax egg (first time) and also used one sweet apple and one tart Granny Smith! I just had a taste out of the oven and it’s incredible, and I know they’ll taste better tomorrow morning as I have tried the base recipe before! Thanks for sharing your delicious version, perfect Winter muffin!

    • says

      Thanks, Mariam! I’m so glad the recipe turned out well for you. I have never tried making a flax egg before, it’s probably time to change that!

  26. Hannah says

    These just came out of the oven! So good. The perfect health muffin! I didn’t have any lemon or coconut milk on hand, but I did have heavy whipping cream. So, I mixed 1/2 whipping cream and half almond milk. This worked out just fine! I will definitely make them again….and again! Thanks!

  27. PinkPink says

    Yum, these muffins were excellent. I grated my apples instead of chopping it. I also sprinkled a bit of walnuts on top. I halved the recipe and got 9 muffins out of it.

  28. D says

    Made these last night, and LOVE the flavors of the different spices. But for some reasons, mine were a tad dry – not sure what I did wrong?

    • says

      Hey D, I’m sorry the muffins turned out a little dry. I’m not sure what went wrong. I’d guess that maybe they were slightly over baked, or maybe you used a little too much flour? I use the scoop and sweep flour measuring method… fluff up the flour with a big spoon, spoon flour in the measuring cup and then level it with a knife. I’m not sure what else could be the culprit!

  29. kate says

    These just came out of the oven and they are simply amazing! I cut my muffin in half while it was still warm and I added a little bit of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Perfection.

  30. Sarah Folland says

    This is THE ultimate muffin recipe. Healthy, and deliciously moist! I am so happy I stumbled upon it and will be making this one again and again. Thank you so much Kate!!!

  31. Ruby says

    Hi Kate,
    I tried a couple of your recipes recently and they have all turned out great! Thank you! These muffins were also really good, but they seem to have gone bad after 2 days– I think it might be the apples I used? Just checking to see if you’ve experienced this. Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Ruby, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes! I’m sorry your muffins went bad so quickly, though. I’ve run into that with other fruity desserts. Since they contain moist fruit, I think they are liable to spoil quickly. Try keeping your muffins in the fridge next time and they should last for a few more days, or you can freeze them for longer term storage. I’ll add a note to the recipe about that now.

      • Ruby says

        Ah, ok, should’ve stuck them in the fridge. Regardless, they were really good and a healthy alternative to the usual sugary muffin. Thanks again, and appreciate your feedback

  32. Mel From STL says

    Dear Kate and Cookie, I have so many comments…I don’t mean to bombard you.

    First of all thank you so much for telling me how to make buttermilk with coconut milk! I’m a vegan and so I usually just skip recipes with buttermilk in them.

    Secondly this recipe was beyond delicious! I highly, highly recommend it!

    Lastly, I thought of you two when I made this because my dog kept begging for apple pieces while I made this and Mommy kept “accidentally” dropping some!

    • says

      Mel, I’m sorry for the slow response! Thank you very much for your comment. I’m glad you picked up on my buttermilk trick! It’s handy. I’m glad the muffins turned out great! I “accidentally” dropped some chopped celery and yellow squash on the floor for Cookie tonight. She’ll eat anything!

  33. Lisa marcinelli says

    It’s Sunday, and I was hoping to find a great apple muffin recipe to cook with my four year old this fall morning so we can take some of the chill out of the house. This looks perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  34. Kat says

    These look great! Just a question about the oats you use: do you use quick-cooking oats, or the old-fashioned rolled oats?

    • says

      Hey Kat, I use old-fashioned oats unless otherwise specified, although either would probably work fine in these muffins. I’ll edit the recipe to clarify!

  35. Jeanne says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It has become my go to recipe when I make muffins. I make mine using the substitutions, making my own buttermilk using skim milk and lemon juice, and make my own brown sugar using splenda and molasses. I make a double batch and freeze them.

  36. suzanne says

    Thank you for this super yummy recipe! I made these for an upcoming road trip and added 3/4 cup chopped walnuts to make them higher in protein for breakfast muffins. I also only used 1/4 cup brown sugar and added 1/4 tsp concentrated stevia powder (from the nutrition store-not the kind they sell in the baking isles of grocery stores) and used regular buttermilk. They came out moist and delicious. The spice mix you came up with is very nice…. good with apples and also I made a batch with blueberries both were fabulous. Definitely a go-to recipe. I can even imagine myself swapping out the apple sauce for pumpkin come fall. Thank you so much!

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