Whole Grain Applesauce Muffins

These muffins may not look like much but trust me when I say they are taaaaaasty. Remember the applesauce oat muffins from almost exactly two years ago? The ones that are also a little shy in the looks department but judging by the 200+ positive reviews are a great lesson that it’s what’s on the inside that counts? Well, today’s cinnamon and sugar dusted muffins are similar…but different, too. Heavy on the unsweetened applesauce, light on the sugar and oil, the slightly sweet, tender muffins are baked and then brushed with tiny bit of coconut oil (or butter) and dusted with a hint of cinnamon and sugar.

Whole Grain Applesauce Muffins

And all I can say is, it is impossible to eat just one. The first time I made them, I had to go back for more, just to make sure they really could be this delicious when whole grains and healthy-healthy were in full force. Quality control and all that.

Official disclaimer: please keep in mind that despite my raving reviews these muffins do not taste like a donut. Or a cupcake. Or a fluffy bowl of cotton candy. Or…well, you get the picture. They taste like a really yummy, lightly sweet, healthy-ish muffin. If you are just starting down the road of incorporating whole grains into your baking, you might try using half whole wheat/half all-purpose flour to start and increase the whole wheat flour gradually with subsequent batches. I prefer baking with white whole wheat flour – it’s lighter and less dense than hard red wheat (there’s more info in this whole wheat tutorial) but has nearly the same nutritional content and it tends to sub pretty well for all-purpose flour in many baking recipes.

Whole Grain Applesauce Muffins

Phew. I feel better now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.

I’m excited about these babies and hope you are, too. I’ve been packing them in lunch boxes, making them for after school snacks and I even froze a batch last week to open up as part of a quick breakfast. Basically, what I’m saying is – these muffins already have a permanent place with us.

As with all really great muffins, remember not to overmix the batter. Doing so spells death (harsh but true) to all the muffins of the world that deserve to be light and fluffy. I have a quick video tip coming tomorrow, complete with my faithful 3-year old assistant, to show exactly how much (or rather, how little) to mix muffin batter, which is especially important for 100% whole grain muffins like these.

I’m done talking. Now go make some applesauce muffins!

Whole Grain Applesauce Muffins

Cinnamon and Sugar Dusted Applesauce Muffins

Yield: Makes 12 muffins

Cinnamon and Sugar Dusted Applesauce Muffins

I evenly portion out the batter to all 12 muffin cups which makes for slightly shrimpy muffins (not super tall). You could probably scoop the batter evenly into just 10 of the cups if you want the muffins a bit higher/larger (or double that batch and go for about 20-22 muffins).

I am almost always using freshly ground whole wheat flour which is quite fluffy right out of the grinder. If using whole wheat flour that's been compacted (storebought or from the freezer after being ground), fluff it up VERY well before measuring if you don't have a scale to double check exact amounts. This post talks a little more about measuring flour accurately.


    Muffin Batter:
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Topping:
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups (lightly grease the muffin liners with nonstick cooking spray - since the muffins are low in oil, it will help them not stick to the paper liners).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and applesauce. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet batter, mixing just until combined - it will look slightly lumpy; that's ok and better than overmixing which can cause the muffins to be dry and dense.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes until the tops spring back lightly and the muffins are baked through; don't overbake or again, the muffins can be dry.
  6. Remove the muffins from the tin and let them cool completely. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. When the muffins are cooled, brush the tops with a bit of the melted butter or coconut oil and then immediately sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon and sugar (you may not need to use all of the cinnamon/sugar topping).

Recipe Source: adapted from this recipe after my friend, Heather, told me I needed to make them immediately (I healthified and lightened them up a bit, decreasing sugar, oil and using whole grains)

41 Responses to Cinnamon & Sugar Dusted Whole Grain Applesauce Muffins

  1. Becki says:

    I love muffins that are a little less sweet and I love using the white whole wheat,too. I will have to try these as they sound like a great lunch treat!

  2. Sheila says:

    I made your healthy applesauce oatmeal muffins on Saturday. As always, they were devoured leaving none leftover for Sunday morning. I had to go shopping on Saturday so took the leftovers with us in the car as part of lunch. These sound so good. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I will probably “not just sprinkle” on the topping. 🙂

    • Sheila says:

      I spent a wonderful cool weekend making Mel recipes. Moist, flavorful and delicious and felt good in creating something a little bit healthier for my family. Thank you for an enjoyable weekend!

  3. Kim in MD says:

    These look delicious, Mel!

  4. Perfect timing. Just picked 144 lbs of apples from our orchard. I spent Saturday making three different muffin/bread recipes and none of them “knocked my socks off”. I wanted them to. I’ll give this one a try. I have plenty of apples to keep trying.

  5. Charlotte Moore says:

    When I started grinding my own wheat I started with hard red wheat. Loved it form the beginning. I use more hard white now and also soft white for a few things. We had no trouble at all adjusting to the wheat.

    I am surprised this calls for baking soda instead of baking powder since there is no buttermilk or yogurt in it.

  6. Jen T says:

    Your applesauce oat muffins are one of our favorite. I seriously make them once a week and keep them in the freezer. So easy for kids leaving for early morning seminary to grab on their way out the door. These look awesome! Thanks so much!

  7. Kate says:

    These were fabulous! The perfect amount of healthy and sweet. Thank you, Mel!

  8. These look awesome, I’ve been trying to find a good healthy-ish muffin.
    For anyone wondering, these are about 150 calories each if you make 12 muffins, and about 180 calories each if you make 10.

  9. Michelle says:

    Hi Mel, I’m curious why there’s the step of cooling completely before adding the topping. Seeing as how I wouldn’t have patience for that 😉 I’m trying to decide between adding the cinnamon/sugar before baking, or doing the topping while they’re still warm. They look great and I’m excited to make them!

  10. Jenny says:

    I am sooooo excited for your mixing tutorial!!!!

  11. Aimee says:

    Can I just say thank you for all your wonderful recipes?! I really love how your healthy recipes are healthy without being weird-healthy, you know? Your blog is one of my favorite go-to sites for reliable yumminess! Can’t wait to try this one!

    • Rachel says:

      100% agree! My idea of healthy still includes some sugar and fat and all. Can’t stand when blogs have ultra-healthy recipes and insist that they taste exactly like their full-sugar, full-fat cousins and then I try them and they taste like a kitchen sponge.

  12. I love how healthy these are! Whole grain applesauce muffins are one of my favourite muffins to make – definitely need to try your version soon!

  13. Anne says:

    You’re Applesauce Oat Muffins are in regular breakfast rotation at our house. Can’t wait to give these a try. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Anne says:

    Oops! “Your” not “you’re”

  15. Teresa says:

    I love your many muffin recipes, including your other applesauce muffin. I made these this morning (10 muffins) and they were delicious as an after school snack. Very moist and I loved the sprinkle on top. I should have doubled the recipe–next time. Thank you!

  16. Amy Vincent says:

    Oh my goodness! These are one of my all-time favorite muffin recipes! Thank you so much for sharing!

  17. Morgan says:

    Just made these and they are amazing!! My two year old loves muffins and these did not disappoint! So tender and light with the perfect amount of sweetness. This is a keeper for sure! Thank you Mel for your dedication to this website! I have followed you since I was first married (7 years ago) and don’t know what I would have done without all of your amazing recipes!

  18. Karina says:

    These look delicious! Do you think it would work to replace the apple sauce with finely grated apple? Thank you so much!!!

  19. Emily says:

    do you think I could use spelt flour instead? It’s typically cakier in a good way

  20. Jenice says:

    Baked these muffins yesterday and they were delicious. I did add a simple strusel topping which added to the sweetness. Making more today as gifts.

  21. Maureen says:

    Checking out the blog while on my lunch (brought your Jambalaya — yum). Thinking I will definitely have to start up with your muffin recipes now that the weather has started turning colder — it makes me all “bakery”. :o) Thanks for great recipes!

  22. Rachel says:

    I just pulled a double batch of these out of the oven–so delicious! I used 2/3rds wheat flour and 1/3rd white (because we’re wimpy). Thanks for the tasty recipe!

  23. We made these this morning! Yum – I think my four-year-old ate 3(?) throughout the day, and I might be ahead of her! I made a double batch and made 2.5x the recipe so they would be a little taller (although given our consumption levels maybe that was a bad idea). :o) Really good and I almost always have the ingredients! Love!

  24. Thuy says:

    I made these just now with all purpose flour and used a jar of Apple peach baby food (no added sugar) we had sitting in our pantry for some reason. Worked a treat! And because I used all purpose flour, they rose beautifully. Great recipe as always.

  25. Brandy says:

    Oh my! These are my new favorite muffin. I have made them two days in a row! Two of my four children (6 and under) love them also. One of those is a six month old so he doesn’t count since he is not eating table food! I think they are just sweet enough. Thanks for the recipe. As always, another great recipe from Mel!

  26. Dina says:

    I haven’t baked won’t count oil yet. Does it leave any taste? Also, can you recommend a type of cocunut oil? Can I combine the count oil and butter?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Dina – unrefined virgin coconut oil does have a coconut taste (the degree depends on brand). I like the nutiva brand and the Kirkland costco brand (although that one has a stronger coconut taste).

  27. Anne says:

    Tried these today and the muffins were easy and tasty and healthy! What a winner recipe. My youngest said “These are the best muffins ever!” Needless to say they passed my 4 children’s test. My sons even asked to watch more of your videos after watching the muffin mixing one. I think your adorable daughter was a hit!

  28. Susan says:

    No surprise here — these were another winner. My 13-year old easily made these on her own and they were super yummy. She doubled the recipe and we froze half to pop in lunches. Thanks!

  29. Sarah says:

    Just made a double batch of these and tossed in some raspberries I had. Very well received at work.

  30. Linda C says:

    Have you tried parchment muffin liners? I buy mine at Target for around $2 (paper chef brand). They are seriously amazing. They fall right off the muffins, even the no oil one like your whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffins. I won’t ever go back to regular ones again. 🙂

  31. Angela says:

    So so yummy. I just ate 3 straight from the oven. I would’ve eaten 12 but I guess my family needs some, too.

  32. Amy says:

    Can I use regular (not white) whole wheat flour? Love your recipes so much! Excited to try these.

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