Apple Butter Muffins are the essence of fall. Warmly spiced with cardamom and cinnamon, they’re loaded with fresh, tender apple slices. These are lovely with coffee for breakfast and brunch, and maybe even more so with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Imagine if you will, something between a luscious apple pie and warm spiced cake.
That’s exactly what these Apple Butter Muffins taste like.
Maybe make a double batch, because I promise, you won’t be able to get enough.
Ingredients for Apple Butter Muffins
(I often suggest brands I love and use — these are only suggestions and this is not a sponsored post.)
Please don’t be daunted by the somewhat lengthy ingredient list. These are easy to put together and you’ll be so happy when you pull them out of the oven.
- apples – I always make these with Fuji apples. While they soften beautifully, they hold their shape when they bake. Choose firm apples without bruising. (More variety suggestions are below.)
- brown sugar – You can use dark or golden.
- lemon juice
- unsalted butter -I always bake and cook with unsalted butter so I can control exactly how much salt is in the recipe.
- ground cinnamon
- ground cardamom
- granulated sugar
- pure vanilla extract – Nielsen-Massey vanilla is excellent.
- unsalted butter – It’s best to bake with unsalted butter so you can control exactly how much salt is in the recipe.
- buttermilk – For this recipe either whole or low-fat is fine.
- apple butter – I use this homemade Cinnamon Apple Butter. If you purchase one, this one is great. (See substitutions below.)
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder – If you don’t bake regularly, it’s a good idea to check to be sure your baking powder is still good. To do so, pour a couple of tablespoons of boiling water over about 1/4 teaspoon of the baking powder. If it starts to fizz, it’s still good.
- baking soda – Like the baking powder, If you don’t bake regularly, it’s a good idea to check to be sure your baking soda is still good. To do so, pour a couple of tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice over about ¼ teaspoon of the baking soda. If it starts to fizz, it’s still good.
- salt – I almost always bake and cook with Kosher salt. (It’s coarse and salts foods in a subtle way that enhances their flavor without making them taste salty.)
- golden raisins – My favorite are Trader Joe’s brand.
- pecans or walnuts
What are the best apples to bake with?
The best apples to bake with are apples that will keep their structure when heat is applied. Use apples that will stay in pieces, rather then turning into applesauce. Here are a few (of several) that work really well.
- Granny Smith
- Pink Lady
How to Make Them
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
– Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners, preheat the oven to 400°F, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
– In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Peel, core and slice the apples very thinly and add them to the bowl. Drizzle the melted butter over them and mix gently until all of the slices of apple are well coated. Now add them to the parchment-lined sheet pan and spread them out in a fairly even layer.– Place the sheet pan back in the oven and bake just until the apples are soft, about 10 minutes. Turn the oven heat down to 375°F.
– In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla. Then add the eggs and mix until they’re incorporated. Add the buttermilk and apple butter and mix to blend.
– Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and use a large spoon or rubber spatula and mix just until you no longer see dry spots. Now fold in the softened apples and the raisins.
– Fill the prepared muffin cups evenly — each should be about to the top. Set aside.– Make the topping in a small bowl. To make it, combine brown sugar with the nuts and cinnamon. Then use your fingers to incorporate the butter so the mixture becomes crumbly. Evenly distribute the topping on the surface of the muffins.– Place the muffin tin on a sheet pan and then bake until they’ve risen a bit above the top of the cups and are golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Let them cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
- Make sure you begin with fantastic apples — they should be sweet and crisp.
- Slicing the apples thinly is key. That and keeping them in big pieces.
- If you’re not into nuts with your baked goods, just leave them out.
- I love nice, plump golden raisins in muffins (and cookies), but you can use any raisins you like.
- Apple Butter adds a wonderful caramel-like flavor to the muffins. However, if you’re in a pinch, you can substitute it with a smooth applesauce.
- Gluten-free? If you’re gluten-free, or baking for someone who is, use Cup4Cup gluten-free all-purpose flour. It’s an equal substitution.
- It will seem like a lot of batter per muffin cup — and it is. It will rise above the tin and maybe spread a bit onto the top of it. The muffins will separate from each other easily if this happens. (If you want, use a pastry brush to add a bit of melted butter or a neutral oil, to the top of the muffin tin, just around each opening — for insurance.)
- When the apple butter muffins are done baking, the cupcake liners will be greasy. It’s nice to place them in a second, dry liner, so they can be held easily.
How to Store Them
- Room temperature. You can keep them at room temperature if you know the muffins are going to be eaten the next day. The best way to preserve their freshness is to let them cool completely, and then put them in an airtight container. They will last longer this way (two to three days) if you place a dry paper towel below and on top of the muffins.
- Freezer. The muffins can be frozen for about three months. The easiest method is to place them in Ziploc freezer bags, in a single layer. Let them defrost at room temperature.
- Refrigerator. Refrigerating muffins is not ideal, as it can change their texture and dry them out.
I hope you think these Apple Butter Muffins are as amazing as my family and I do.
More delicious fall apple recipes:
- My Mom’s Ginger Applesauce
- Fall Chai Spiced Apple Cake
- Caramelized Apple Brie Melt
- Dutch Apple Bread
Apple Butter Muffins Recipe
For the apples
- 1 pound apples (2 to 3 large apples)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (golden or dark)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the batter
- 1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup apple butter (click here for the recipe)*
- ¾ cup golden raisins
For the topping
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup raw pecans or walnuts, very finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into small chunks
- Prepare a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.
To prepare the apples
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, and adjust a rack to the center. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Peel, core and slice the apples very thinly. You should have 3 cups. Add them to the bowl and then drizzle the melted butter over them and mix gently until they're well coated. Now add them to the parchment-lined sheet pan and spread them out in a fairly even layer.Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake just until the apples are soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Turn the oven heat down to 375°F.
For the batter
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla. Mix for about 1 minute on high. Then add the eggs and mix until they're incorporated. Add the buttermilk and apple butter and mix to blend.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and use a large spoon or rubber spatula and mix just until you no longer see dry spots.
- Now fold in the softened apples and the raisins. (Be sure to get as much of the butter as you can off of the parchment paper.)
- Fill the prepared muffin cups evenly -- each should be about to the top. Set aside.
For the topping
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar with the nuts and cinnamon. Then use your fingers to incorporate the butter so the mixture becomes crumbly.Evenly distribute the topping on the surface of each muffin.
- Place the muffin tin on a sheet pan and then place that in preheated 375°F oven. Bake until they've risen a bit above the top of the cups and are golden, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Let them cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
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