easy healthy muffin recipe
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Pantry friendly baking recipes are always good to have on hand, and these incredibly flexible pumpkin banana muffins are a prime example. They can be tweaked in a variety of ways depending on what you have on hand, they’re super easy, and they’re definitely delicious (not to mention fairly healthy too—but your kids won’t know that).

I am a good planner, but my mental pantry inventory is flawed. To that end, I regularly discover extreme surpluses of certain items because I haven’t the faintest recollection that I already have more than is necessary, and I keep bringing more home.

This happened to me recently when I was assessing the pantry situation and stocking up during pandemic preparations. Turns out, I’m set for canned pumpkin for a while. Then the grocery delivery arrived with four pounds of bananas instead of four single fruits. Pumpkin banana muffins to the rescue! I originally developed this recipe to encourage my fruit- and vegetable-averse child to consume any amount of this food group in any form. Much to my delight, he happily devours these.

These muffins are infinitely flexible:

  • Use whole wheat, white whole wheat, or all-purpose white flour.
  • Want more spice? Substitute pumpkin pie spice for cinnamon.
  • Use pumpkin, smashed ripe bananas, applesauce, or whatever leftover fruit puree packets your kids suddenly refuse to eat.
  • Don’t like chocolate (we are probably not friends but OK)? Skip it.
  • Add nuts if you wish.
  • Add coconut if you’re feeling tropical.
  • Use up your whole pantry. It’s your muffin party.

Related Reading: An A-Z Ingredient Substitution Guide for When You’re Out of Everything

There’s not much sugar in the batter, but I like to top them with a little cinnamon and sugar mixture, which forms a crunchy-sweet crust. If you use applesauce, you can reduce the sugar a little more if you wish.

Healthy Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Makes: 24 mini muffins and 6 additional regular muffins for the grownups (or about 18 regular size)
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour (whole-wheat or all-purpose white flour are also fine)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (coconut or white sugar); ½ c additional white sugar for topping
  • 2/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mashed bananas, pumpkin puree, and/or applesauce (or any combination to total 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini chips work best for mini muffins, optional but recommended)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts and/or unsweetened coconut, toasted (optional)
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin pan with paper cupcake cups and lightly mist papers with cooking spray. Combine flour, flax, baking soda, baking powder, 2 tablespoons cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the remaining tablespoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to ½ cup white sugar and stir to combine. If using nuts or coconut, toast them in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until golden and fragrant. Chop and put aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well-blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly before adding the next one. Beat in fruit puree and vanilla, scraping down the sides with a spatula to make sure it’s all combined.
  4. Add flour mixture to the butter/fruit batter, stirring with a spatula until no visible flour remains. Don’t overmix! Add chocolate chips (and nuts and or coconut if you prefer) and stir to combine. The batter will be thick and sticky.
  5. Using a small scoop or tablespoon, fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops with a little of the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake mini muffins for 15 minutes, regular muffins for 20 minutes or until puffed up and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack, but they are great to eat slightly warm.
  6. Once cool, store in a sealed container for 1-2 days at room temperature. Freeze for up to a month.

OXO Good Grips Small Scoop, $14 from Sur La Table

For perfectly portioned mini muffins.
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Wilton Ultra Bake Professional 24 Cup Nonstick Mini Muffin Pan, $8.99 from Target

Bake all kinds of bite-sized treats.
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Another Use for Your Mini Muffin Pan

These Glazed Chocolate Doughnut Holes Are Made from Pantry Staples Too

Header image by Chowhound

Heather is a hot sauce addict, runner, and writer who finds humor in the fact that she had frequent philosophical discussions about baby carrots in her former life as an advertising executive. She is the founder and sole-proprietor of the Chicago-based micro-bakery, Eat Like a Mother, specializing in artisan sourdough goods, and she frequently teaches bread baking classes in her home. When she's not eating or cooking, she's not-so-secretly planning the next time she is going to be eating or cooking. She lives in Chicago with her enthusiastic taste-testing sons and husband.
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