These healthy cinnamon apple muffins are made healthier with whole wheat flour, olive oil (or another oil of choice), and less sweetener than a typical muffin! Despite that, they’re so moist and flavorful. They can also be made gluten-free and dairy-free.
I’m super excited about these muffins! If you prefer cupcakes, check out my Applesauce Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
These apple muffins don’t taste at all healthy and have the most amazing texture. Super light, fluffy and far, far from dense or cardboardy, like some other whole wheat or gluten-free recipes.
I’ve been making the whole wheat version for about 10 years. You can use whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, or whole spelt flour.
You can alternatively use all-purpose flour. Each version tastes the same.
And yesterday, I finally tried it out with my favorite gluten-free baking flour and it worked perfectly! I’ve used that flour in so many recipes, like these Chocolate Orange Scones and Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes with great success.
I should say that the gluten-free baking flour is equivalent to all-purpose flour in terms of health. So it’s not exactly healthy but even using that or AP flour, these cinnamon apple muffins are still healthier than your average apple muffin with butter, white sugar, etc.
You can make these honey-sweetened apple muffins plain – with no topping at all – or with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar or with streusel on top.
Obviously, I chose streusel. The muffins really don’t need it but I’m a streusel fiend, so…
The streusel recipe makes quite a bit. No dinky sprinklings of streusel here!
By the way, I really do not like the above photo but had to include it to try to show you how fluffy these are. But it doesn’t do these muffins justice!
If you make them plain, then the muffins are totally honey-sweetened. I used brown sugar for the topping. Coconut sugar also work. It’s hard to make streusel with honey. 😉
No matter which version you make, you can taste the olive oil in the batter (like in my Healthy Chocolate Cake and Healthy Applesauce Muffins). And just like in those other recipes, it disappears post-baking!
For the gluten-free and all-purpose flour versions, you can taste the olive oil a little even after the muffins have been baked. They need to cool completely and then the taste somehow disappears.
I used extra-virgin olive oil so if you use a lighter olive oil, the muffins likely will be olive-oil-taste-free straight from the oven. But I thought they still tasted amazing, even with the slight olive oil taste!
It’s just a warning for the people who want to be sure they can’t taste it at all.
The spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice – do a great job of covering up the whole wheat and olive oil tastes so I don’t recommend skipping them.
If you don’t want to use olive oil, you can use whatever oil you’d like. If using coconut oil, I recommend using refined coconut oil, unless you want some coconut taste. I haven’t tried unrefined coconut oil so it could be that the spices cover up the coconut taste, but I’m not too hopeful about that.
Instead of yogurt, I’ve used buttermilk a few times. Vanilla yogurt would work, too. The muffins will just be a little sweeter.
To make them dairy-free, you can use whatever type of dairy-free yogurt you’d like. I made my last batch with coconut milk yogurt, expecting a slight coconut taste, but they didn’t taste at all coconutty.
You can also make homemade dairy-free buttermilk. Add 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to a 1/4-cup measuring cup. Fill with dairy-free milk and let sit for 5 minutes.
Strangely enough, the whole wheat apple muffins are moister on the second day, but they’re still awesome straight from the oven. I do love it when things turn out better on the second day!
If I’m having people over for breakfast, I make it hard on myself and get up super early because I want the baked goods to be as fresh as possible. That’s definitely not necessary with these!
The muffins you see in the photos above are the gluten-free version. If you make the whole wheat ones, the muffins are darker in color. Here’s an old photo of the whole wheat version (this recipe used to be over on my other blog and that’s why it’s watermarked as texanerin.com).
The streusel also looks different because the gluten-free version has a different streusel recipe. I find streusel difficult to convert to gluten-free so I just used a recipe that I know that works.
After I took these photos, I picked the streusel off all the muffins and was so happy. 😀 I do the same with this Roasted Banana Almond Butter Streusel Bread. It’s really good stuff.
If you love apples and cinnamon as much as I do, try this great looking apple cinnamon oatmeal for an even healthier option.
Questions about these healthy cinnamon apple muffins?
Can I use a different flour?
I’ve tried these muffins with “only” the 4 flours listed. That’s all I can guarantee to work. You could probably use a different gluten-free baking blend that’s meant as a 1-to-1 sub for all-purpose flour but they probably won’t have such an awesome texture. With the one listed, they’re not at all gummy, gritty or anything. They’re just perfect!
Can I omit the spices?
I really recommend using at least the cinnamon and nutmeg! If you don’t want to use nutmeg, increase the cinnamon to 2 teaspoons. You can omit the allspice if you want.
How can I replace the egg?
I unfortunately didn’t think to make these with an egg replacement. I’ve always had issues with egg subs in muffins and cakes. As these healthy cinnamon apple muffins only call for 1 egg, I think a chia or flax egg would probably work, but I haven’t tried it.
Can I use something other than honey?
Maple syrup would very likely work (but I haven’t tried it). If you used a granulated sugar, you’d have to add a little more liquid but without trying it myself, I can’t say how much you’d need to add.
I really recommend honey or maple syrup!
Can I reduce the sweetener?
You could probably get away with 1/4 cup instead of 1/3 cup. They’ll be a little less moist but I still think they’d be good.
Can I use a different oil?
I think any oil would work. I’ve used extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil and refined coconut oil without issue. Butter would reduce the amount of fat in the recipe, though (as it’s 80-82% fat versus 100%) so I don’t recommend that unless you’re okay with the muffins being a little drier.
Can I use something other than yogurt or buttermilk?
You can make homemade buttermilk (with dairy or dairy-free milk) but you need some kind of acidic ingredient here for the baking soda to do its work. So yes, please use yogurt or buttermilk!
Can I use a different fruit / omit the apples?
Blueberries or raspberries would probably be great. I’m hesitant to recommend other fruit because they’re already very watery and these muffins are already super moist. If you want something different, try my Spelt and Oat Pear Muffins or Apple Cranberry Bran Muffins.
Can I use applesauce / grated apples?
You’d need to rework the whole recipe to include applesauce, so no to applesauce. I’m not sure about grated apples because again, you’d be adding a bit of liquid to the recipe. I’m 50 / 50 on that one.
Can I use something other than butter in the wheat version streusel?
That’s the only way I’ve tried it. If you want to use coconut oil, you’d probably need to use a little less. I’m guessing half a teaspoon less, so 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons for a total of 23 grams of coconut oil. But it’s just a guess!
Can I use something other than coconut oil in the gluten-free streusel?
That’s the only way I’ve tried it. If you want to use butter, you’d probably need to use a little more. I’m guessing an extra teaspoon for a total of 51 grams of butter. But it’s just a guess!
Any other questions? I think I have every ingredient covered. 😀 If you try out these healthy cinnamon apple muffins, I’d love to hear what you think!
Healthy Cinnamon Apple Muffins
- 1 cup (125 grams) whole spelt, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour or for a gluten-free version, use 1 cup (138 grams) Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice, optional
- 1 large (50 grams, out of shell) egg
- 1/3 cup (106 grams) honey
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil* or another neutral-tasting oil (if you want to use coconut oil, use refined for no coconut taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (60ml) plain yogurt or buttermilk (use dairy-free yogurt or homemade dairy-free buttermilk** for a dairy-free version)
- 1 cup (120 grams) diced apple, preferably from baking apples like Granny Smiths (I needed one medium / large apple and diced chunks about 1/4" in size)
- 1/3 cup (45 grams) whole spelt, whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) melted unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (69 grams) Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
- 7 tablespoons (88 grams) brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (47 grams) melted coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Mix the streusel ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. ***
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a muffin tin with 9 muffin liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through salt).
- In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients (egg through yogurt).
- Add the flour mix to the wet mix. It just needs to be combined, so be careful not to overmix.
- Then fold in the apples, being careful not to overmix.
- Fill the liners with the batter, filling them about 2/3 full.
- Divide the streusel between the muffins. If you like being exact, that's 20 grams per muffin for the wheat version and 23 grams for the GF version. It's a little more than a tablespoon.
- Bake for about 15 – 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I needed 15 for the wheat version and 17 minutes for the GF version. But all ovens vary so have an eye on them.
- Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
- When the muffins are completely cooled, place them in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 4 days. Anything past that, store in the refrigerator.
* If you want to make the gluten-free version and eat them straight from the oven and have no olive oil taste, you'll likely want to use a lighter olive oil and not extra-virgin. See post for more notes on olive oil type. ** To make dairy-free buttermilk, add 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to a 1/4-cup measuring cup. Fill with dairy-free milk and let sit for 5 minutes. *** If you don’t want to make the streusel, add some cinnamon sugar (1 tablespoon raw sugar or granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon) to the top of the muffins. It adds a wonderful crust and a little extra sweetness.