Apple Muffins: Giving an Everyday Fruit the Attention It Deserves

One of the things I love most about baking is how it can elevate simple ingredients to mouth-watering treats.

Take the humble apple. It’s tossed into handbags, crammed into school lunchboxes, and always present in fruit bowls. It often gets passed over for something more tempting, like a pear or freckly banana. But once that apple becomes part of a pie, tart, or – better yet – apple muffins, it becomes irresistible.

Our Apple Muffins recipe is a year-round favorite of mine. Apples, even local ones, are typically available during each season since they can be stored for long periods of time.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Cortlands on the left, Pink Lady apples on the right. Both are great for baking.

I like using a combination of Cortland and Pink Lady apples in this recipe for their juiciness and crunch. They make these apple muffins the perfect morning treat or afternoon snack: moist, slightly sweet, and packed full of freshness.

King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat Flour

Another reason to love this recipe? It’s 50% whole grain. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of white whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. But since I can’t get enough of the earthy, nutty flavor of our white whole wheat flour, we’re going to see what happens when we use only white whole wheat to make 100% whole wheat muffins.

And we won’t forget about white whole wheat’s counterpart: traditional red whole wheat flour, a.k.a. King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour. We’ll see how that holds up in a 100% whole-grain muffin as well.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

To get started, preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin pan or line it with papers.

Spraying the inside of the papers with non-stick spray will ensure an easy release. Our Everbake Pan Spray is a lifesaver when it comes to getting baked goods out of the pan.

Next, use a large mixing bowl to beat together the following ingredients until light and fluffy:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) room-temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, you choose)

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

It will take about 2 to 3 minutes for the mixture to turn a light, creamy color using a stand mixer. (A hand mixer may take about a minute more.)

Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl at least once during mixing to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Add 1 large egg and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl after about 30 seconds. The mixture will turn golden yellow and should look smooth.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Next, mix in 1 cup of buttermilk or 1 cup plain yogurt. I like to make my own yogurt using our yogurt maker, but you can use any store-bought 2% or whole-milk, plain, unsweetened yogurt. Higher fat content makes the muffins more tender.

If you stock your fridge with Greek yogurt, you can use that, too; just thin it out by combining 3/4 cup yogurt with 1/4 cup milk.

The batter may look a bit curdled after you add the yogurt or buttermilk. This is OK. Once the dry ingredients are added, it’ll smooth out.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Notice the white whole wheat flour on the right side of the bowl is slightly darker in color than the all-purpose flour on the left.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients below.

Why dirty another bowl, you ask? Stirring the dry ingredients together first allows you to mix the final batter less. Less mixing = more tender muffins.

1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Mix on low speed just until the ingredients are incorporated. Don’t forget to scrape!

Now it’s time for the star of the show – the apples. You’ll need about 2 cups of peeled, cored, and chopped apples. Depending on the size of your apples, it will take between 2 and 3 apples (about 3/4 pound of whole apples).

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Don’t worry if a bit of the skin stays on the apples after peeling – it adds crunch.

To save yourself time and energy you can use an apple peeler, which not only peels, but also cores and slices the apples in one go.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Fold the chopped apples into the batter.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Our scone and muffin scoop is just about the right size (or use a heaping 1/4 cup of batter for each muffin). You can wet your fingers with water and smooth out the tops to make smooth, nicely domed muffins.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Did I mention these apple muffins have a sweet crunchy topping of brown sugar? Sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar evenly over the top of the muffins, making a streusel-like topping. Biting into the crackly top is my favorite part.

Bake the muffins for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the brown sugar turns a caramelized golden color.

Apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

There’s so much to love about these apple muffins as they are: just the right amount of sweetness with a tender, moist crumb. But some of you whole grain-lovers may not be satisfied using only 50% whole wheat.

I was curious, too, about what would happen if the recipe was made using only whole wheat flour. I put both of our whole wheat flours to the test by making two versions of the recipe: one batch using our White Whole Wheat Flour, milled from white wheat; and the other using our Premium Whole Wheat Flour, milled from red wheat.

The results? The batters were similar in texture: a bit thicker than cake batter, but still easily scoop-able.

How to make apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Notice the dark, slightly reddish color of the batter made with traditional whole wheat flour.

One difference between the two test batches was the color. Red whole wheat flour is known for being less discreet than its lighter relative, white whole wheat. It’s more assertive in “wheaty” flavor, and has a slightly reddish-brown hue.

Apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

Compare all three versions side by side: 50% all-purpose flour on the left, 100% white whole wheat flour in the middle, and 100% red whole wheat flour on the right. All rose nicely.

Not only was the red whole wheat batter darker in color, but the resulting muffins were notably darker, too.

Let’s check out the rise: the 100% white whole wheat version rose slightly less than the 50% all-purpose version did, but the color, texture, and flavor of these two were almost identical. (And equally delicious!)

The two batches made entirely from red whole wheat or white whole wheat rose about the same amount. For a whole-grain muffin, they were unexpectedly light – pleasantly delicate I’d say, and just as moist as the original. Whole-grain success!

One notable difference: the 100% whole wheat muffins were a bit more crumbly than those made with 50% all-purpose flour. That’s because the bran that’s present in whole wheat flour damages the gluten, the network of proteins that holds everything together. I would recommend using paper liners if you’re making 100% whole wheat muffins, to help you catch (and then eat!) any crumbs.

What about the flavor of the red whole wheat apple muffin? The earthy, nutty flavor of the flour made it stand out from the other two. The whole wheat complemented both the sweetness of the apples, and the molasses flavor in the brown sugar topping. This muffin won the taste contest in my book.

Bottom line: if you love whole wheat flavor, our Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour is for you. But if you’re not a fan of whole wheat’s assertive taste (though still want its nutritional benefits), choose our milder, lighter White Whole Wheat Flour.

The same goes if you’re trying to sneak more whole grains past skeptical kids or picky eaters: definitely choose the white whole wheat apple muffins. In a blind taste test, it’s hard to tell the difference between muffins made 50/50 with all-purpose and white whole wheat flours, and those made entirely of white whole wheat.

Apple muffins via @kingarthurflour

In the end you really can’t go wrong, no matter which version you choose: a whole wheat/all-purpose flour blend, or 100% whole wheat, either white or red. Anyone lucky enough to get their hands on a few apple muffins will gobble them up with no complaints, guaranteed.

If you find yourself hooked on using our white whole wheat flour in your baking, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to White Whole Wheat Flour for information on how to use it in your favorite recipes.

And the next time you see a few lonely apples in the fruit bowl, give them the treatment they deserve. These brown-sugar topped apple muffins are a treat you’ll keep coming back to, no matter what season it is.

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Apple Muffins.

Print just the recipe.

Feel free to share your favorite way to elevate the everyday apple into mouth-watering treats in comments, below.

Kye Ameden
About

Kye Ameden grew up in Fairlee, Vermont and has always had a love of food, farms, and family. After graduating from St. Lawrence University, she became an employee-owner at King Arthur Flour and is a proud member of the Digital Engagement Team.

comments

    1. Kye Ameden , post author

      Glad to hear you’re inspired to take on this recipe at home! Let us know which version you end up making and how you (and all your taste testers) like the results. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  1. Nancy Rauch

    These look and sound wonderful. My mouth is already watering. Can’t wait till tomorrow so I can make them. I want to try the WW version for two reasons, one I Love WW and I don’t have any WWW. Thanks for your wonderful post.

    Reply
  2. Melanie Bengtson

    Sounds like a great recipe! I have made blueberry muffins with all whole wheat flour that were delicious. But I used half whole-wheat pastry flour and half kamut flour. The pastry flour made them more tender and the kamut, being sweeter than regular whole wheat flour, definitely makes a tasty muffin.

    Reply
  3. Vikke Jas

    Thanks again for a whole grain recipe… I am a long time baker, newly diagnosed with type II diabetes, and I am trying your whole grain recipes with reduced/substituted sweeteners…it is challenging to find healthy, real food (baked goods recipes specifically) as many diabetics switch over to lots of artificial sweeteners, colors and additives to cut carbs.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Drew, 1 tablespoon cinnamon is correct. It does seem like a lot, but these muffins are assertively (though still nicely) cinnamon-y! PJH

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Leigh,
      The nutritional facts are under the recipe’s At a Glance section on the right hand side. Below the times, yield, etc. ~ MJ

  4. alan

    Great blog post, with great pics demonstrating what they are “supposed to look like”. The exploration of wheat flours is also great.

    I have been looking for a lower sugar variety of quickbreads and muffins and this is one which looks interesting. Have you substituted applesauce or bananas for the sugar in your experimentation? Or even lowered the sugar to 1/2 c total? I am just concerned that per muffin, the eater is getting quite a bit of sugar in there, not to mention the tops.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Alan, we suggest you try cutting back on the sugar by about 25 percent. Any more than that and it could greatly impact both the flavor and texture of this tasty treat. We haven’t tried using bananas or applesauce with this recipe, but I bet it would be a fine substitute. Just keep in mind the muffins will be less moist and more cakey if you go that route. Happy baking! Bryanna@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Diane,
      If you use canned apples, be sure to drain them completely before adding to the batter. If they were soaking in a simple syrup, you may want to reduce the sugar so the muffins aren’t overly sweet. You’ll want to use about 3/4 a pound of your apples to ensure each bite is packed with delicious flavor. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Cynthia,
      You can view the full nutritional profile by clicking on the recipe link and then looking for “Nutritional Information” in the At a Glance box on the right hand side of the page. You’ll see there are 40g of carbohydrates in 1 muffin (if you use this recipe to make 12). I hope that helps! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Ask and ye shall receive, Sandy: http://bit.ly/2cxu9lQ You should also feel confident using our Sprouted Whole Wheat in any recipe calling for whole wheat flour, or substitute it for up to half the amount of all-purpose flour. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  5. Joanna Way

    Really? You peel the apples and rob the muffins of even more great taste and nutrition. The red peel looks good and leaving it also saves time in the prep!
    Try it, you will agree.

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden , post author

      Hi Joanna,
      When I’m baking with apples at home, I often include the peels in the recipe, too. I love a good crunch and don’t mind the texture of the peels. However, some people like a more melt-in-your mouth texture when it comes to muffins, so for this recipe we suggest peeling the apples before adding to the batter. By all means, include the peel if you wish. It’s the bakers choice. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  6. Kim Kiernan

    I generally use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour in quick breads and cookies. Since I have this on hand (and no WW or WWW flour), do you think this would work? Thank you! Wonderful recipe and just what I was looking for to serve as a snack for a meeting I’m hosting.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kim, your whole wheat pastry flour should work fine in this recipe, although you may want to hold back on about a tablespoon of liquid, since this lower protein flour won’t absorb quite as much liquid as regular whole wheat. Barb@KAF

  7. Gene Hill

    How about this for gluten free: substitute the 1 to 1 Gluten Free flour for the all purpose flour and substitute Gluten Free Ancient Grain flour for the white whole wheat flour?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gene, for best results we’d recommend using our new Measure for Measure Flour (http://bit.ly/1XYkpWt) as a 1:1 substitution for the full amount of flour (All-Purpose and White Whole Wheat) called for in this recipe. Measure for Measure does contain 12g or more of whole grains per serving, so you will still be getting a dose of whole grain goodness with this substitution! Mollie@KAF

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