Friday, October 28, 2011

The Best Mini Pumpkin Muffins for Fall

Being from the Midwest, I think I have a soft spot for Fall in my heart.  

When the seasons change, the cool breeze whips through my hair with just enough of a chill to make me feel alive and breathe a little deeper, but not enough to force me to rush back to the warmth of the indoors.  I want to be cozy, but I also don't want to miss a minute of nature's last hurrah.  The scattering of gorgeous leaves on the ground is a treat for the eyes, and is almost always accompanied by the scratching and scurrying sounds of dried leaves blowing across the ground. The combination of rustic, muted colors together with crimson and yellow leaves is always spectacular, and the first arrival of bright orange pumpkins is a cause for celebration.        

So if you are like me, when Fall comes, you want to get outside and soak up the fleeting clean, cool air with hikes, late afternoon picnics, and hayrides.  But at the same time, the urge to warm up indoors beckons.  And naturally, the best way to warm up inside is to bake.  

Lately, my urge to bake has been insatiable - I have definitely baked more in the last three weeks than I have in the last three months combined, and I think that is directly related to the arrival of Fall and the warm comforting flavors it brings with it.  But let me tell you who has totally out-baked me: my sister.  I told you before that she has fallen in love with baking, and that affair just continues to blossom as she has been baking up fantastic sweet treats almost every other day.  And now it is sort of ironic because the tables have turned - she is recommending baking recipes to me instead of the other way around!  

So she told me she had found this pumpkin muffin recipe on Smitten Kitchen, adapted it for mini muffins, made them for friends, and they loved them.  I was happy for her (because it is an awesome feeling when people love your food), but I have never been all that interested in muffins so I didn't give the recipe itself much thought.  But then she told me she made them again, multiple times.  As in, she made them four times.  Four times.  Well then, that got my attention.  

Since they were full of fall-inspired spices and great pumpkin flavor (and mini! who doesn't love miniature things?) I decided to give them a shot.  And whoa.  Let me tell you.  

First of all, this is a one-bowl recipe that can be made with just a whisk.  All the ingredients can be mixed together and the muffins can be in the oven within 5 minutes.  In fact, I think it takes longer to grease the muffin tins than to prepare the ingredients.  I am not exaggerating, it is really that easy.  And then guess what - the muffins are done baking in about 12 minutes, which by my estimation, means I have warm, fluffy mini pumpkin muffins in about 20 minutes total.  The muffins released from the pan easily, and when I popped the first little baby muffin out of the pan and into my mouth, I was in heaven.  It was moist and soft.  It was perfectly spiced and perfectly sweet.  And it was bite-sized. 

Which meant I could eat two.  (Or more than two.  Shhh... don't tell.) 

I took the muffins into work, and they all disappeared in a matter of hours.  In fact, my co-workers were scrambling to get the last ones before they were gone. (Seriously, someone said, "Oh yeah, there is only one left," and another co-worker immediately jumped up from her chair and pretty much ran to the office to get it. Totally awesome.)  

Then I followed in my sister's footsteps and made them again.  And again.  Three times.  Will you think I am crazy if I am planning to bake another batch this weekend?  They are just so easy and sooooo good that is tough to find an excuse not to make them.  

So this weekend, in the midst of your halloween celebrations and mid-Fall events, take out 20 minutes and bake.  Bake by yourself, bake with your kids, or bake with friends.  But please, just make sure you bake these mini pumpkin muffins.  I don't have any reservations about tell you that they are the best. 

You might also like: Pumpkin Bread, and Rum Raisin Pumpkin Bread Pudding (with Butter Rum Glaze!)

The Best Mini Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

This recipe makes between 24 and 28 mini pumpkin muffins, depending on the exact size of your mini muffin pan and the amount of batter you add to each. Overall, this recipe is very flexible, and I have tried a few different variations: you can substitute brown sugar for some of the white sugar, applesauce for some of the vegetable oil, and you can add or subtract the amount of spice you use.  I also decided to sprinkle turbinado sugar on the top of mine, but you could think about using crumbled nuts or extra spices.  Oh, and don't hesitate to buy the big 24oz. can of solid-pack pumpkin - then you will have enough on hand to make multiple batches of this recipe, because trust me, you will want to.

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
About 1 tbsp turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
About 1/2 tsp extra cinnamon for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease the cups of a mini muffin tin very well.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, all spices, baking soda and salt.  Then whisk in the flour until the batter is just smooth.  

Divide the batter among the greased muffin cups, filling each one just a bit more than 3/4 full.  Sprinkle the top of each mini muffin with a bit of turbinado sugar and bake in a preheated oven for about 10-14 minutes, or until they are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Watch them and check them often, because they go from still wet in the inside to fully baked in just a matter of minutes.  Mine were the most moist at about 12 minutes. 

Cool the mini muffins on a rack until cool enough to handle, and then remove them to cool fully.  Eat immediately or store muffins in an airtight container and keep refrigerated if storing longer.


  1. Those look so delicious! I love puimpkin muffins, especially when they are as spicy as yours.



  2. cute these pumpkin muffins look! Plump and yum treat. Ginger and cinnamon flavors would have a wonderful addition to them.

  3. Wow, they really do sound like amazing muffins!

  4. I need to buy a mini muffin pan. These sound great!

  5. I like how you added extra sugar on top. This is very simple look, but I'm sure they are the best pumpkin muffins.

  6. Amazing... they look amazing! I knew I loved following you :)

  7. Oh, we are huge pumpkin bread fans here...and your mini muffins look spectacular. Love the extra sprinkle on top...and all your photos are just plain gorgeous!

  8. Yummy---I love pumpkin in all sweet things.

  9. Those mini muffins look so cute! I don't know why but all things mini make me happy. And isn't fall baking just delightful? Welcome to the club ; )

  10. Just the perfect size to enjoy my fav muffin and not feel guilty.

  11. These look beautiful! I've been craving a good homemade pumpkin muffin for a while, but have just been too busy to get around to whipping up a batch... but these look so easy that I can't possibly say no. :)

  12. These are so sweet and lovely! I agree with Gwen above - they're such a nice size for a sweet bite without going overboard. I've been compiling lists of baked goods to make for my colleagues who have never celebrated Thanksgiving. These muffies is going on that list :)

  13. The midwest definitely instilled a love for fall in me as well. Now that I'm living in Phoenix, it's one thing I always miss. These pumpkin muffins would definitely bring fall to me in spirit :) They look fantastic!

  14. it Amanda!! I prefer tiny muffins any time of the day :)

  15. These look so delicious! I love that you made them minis - I'd be going back for seconds guilt-free. ;)

  16. These look so pop-able and delicious! Can't wait to make them.

  17. Happy Halloween Amanda!
    I love baking in small batches, makes me feel a little less guilty for eating two:)
    These muffins scream fall. I love baking year round, but when the fall comes there some pumpkin love in lost of my dishes. I jjust love it!
    Thanks for sharing these delicious muffins, they look amazing. Love the sugar sprinkle on top!

  18. Gorgeous! Delicious! I want one... better get in the kitchen.
    Love your photos too!

  19. Mmm, I love pumpkin. The batter looks really pumpkin-y, too. Thanks for posting the process pics! I love those.

  20. Oooh, the batter looks delicious already! And I love the granulated sugar on top, mouthwatering!

  21. Happy Halloween to you and i hope you are enjoying the festival in full spirit. These muffins are looking superb and pictures are gorgeous. thanks for sharing. regards, sonia !

  22. i found your muffins on foodgawker & made them this afternoon for halloween snacking. wow! they were delicious! i took a plate to the neighbors' house, and they were all gone before we went into the house- eaten in the driveway! thanks for a great fall treat...i will certainly be making these again.

  23. Maybe it is fall who I can blame for my recent spurt of extra hikes and picture taking. These mini muffins look perfect. I finally broke out my first can of pumpkin and things didn't go as well as I wanted but I may have to remedy that with these.

  24. i love turbinado sugar the way it looks, tastes, and feels. I sometimes don't like to dissolve it completely in beverages b/c i like the mini crunch. is that weird? this was a wonderful introduction to fall. thanks for sharing the recipe and crediting the source(s)

  25. Please let me know the weight of the canned pumpkin used. It's not easy to get them where i am so I will probably steam up some fresh pumpkin and puree it.

  26. This recipe has definitely become a fall staple for me! I did make them multiple times already and plan to make them again a few more times through the fall season! So easy to make and everyone loved them!

  27. Wow, those were delicious--and so very easy to whip together. The balance of the spices was spot-on. Can't wait to make another (and another) batch. I'm thinking a little swath of cream cheese frosting might be heavenly...

  28. I just made these, with a few subs: Extra virgin olive oil, brown sugar and added chopped walnuts and mini choc chip. They are really tasty! My 5 year old triplets will love them for after school snack!

  29. You had me at one bowl and of course, turbinado sugar :)

  30. Oh, from one midwestern girl to another (former) midwestern girl, pumpkins and fall make my heart sing, too. I've been cooking up a pumpkin storm over here in southwest Ohio and can't think of anything better for breakfast than a pumpkin muffin. You're from Ohio aren't you? I'd love to talk Ohio sometime.

  31. Mary Elizabeth: Glad you made your way over here from Foodgawker and that you enjoyed these muffins! I had the same experience as you - mine disappeared right away. :)

    Holly: Yes, that is what I love about these - that they are so easy to make!

    Marlena: Oh wow, I hadn't even thought of adding chocolate chips! Genius. What a perfect little snack for your five-year olds.

    Jen: I am from O-H-I-O. :D Glad to have a fellow midwestern gal around here!

  32. And Holly: Cream cheese frosting = aaaamazing. :D

  33. these are so cute amanda ! baking always makes me feel good :)

  34. I just made some pumpkin muffins from a Trader Joe's mix because I couldn't find a good Pumpkin Muffin recipe. This one is GREAT. Printing now!

  35. I was looking for a mini pumpkin muffin recipe that I could make the day ahead for my son's class birthday celebration, and these ones caught my eye. I was going to make these pumpkin poppers that we love, (so good) but they are best eaten on the day they are made and I don't have time to make them before school tomorrow morning. I can't wait to try this recipe and I will be sure to let you know how they turn out.

    BTW, I lived in Minneapolis for 3 years as my hubby grew up there. I love the midwest!

  36. Oh my goodness!! So good!! I wanted to make something without icing for my 1year olds daycare class for the daycare Halloween party. I decided to do a trial run and I'm so glad I did...because that means I have a whole batch to eat! Haha!! They are so moist that at first I didn't think they were cooked thru, but they were!! I can't wait to make these weekly thru the fall!

  37. These were perfect for my kids' classroom Halloween parties! Extra delicious with a dab of real whipped cream on top...

  38. Very tasty. I'm sending these in for my son's preschool Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. They will be devoured, I'm sure! :)

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  41. Your close-up photo of the pumpkin muffin in the tray with sugar crystals on top looks irresistible. I'll take a baker's dozen please!

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  44. Made these today! They were/are excellent. I topped each one with a dried cranberry. :)


  45. Did these and then on the 2nd batch added butterscotch chips to half and white choc chip to the other half. The butterscotch chip ones went first and a lady told me she would pay me to make her a batch of them. Great recipe, thank you.

  46. Wonderful recipe! We substituted whole wheat flour, used a little less sugar and put in mini chocolate chips instead of anything on top and they were gone in a day (should have take your advice and made a extra batch!)

  47. Such fun photos! These look fabulous!

  48. These ARE really, really good! Made tonight for Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner guests. Easy and quick to whip up, as you said. I did use the extra, optional cinnamon and ginger. Also added a 1/4 tsp vanilla. Don't ask me why... 12 minutes was spot on for mine too. They don't need it, but I made a butter/cream cheese/cinnamon frosting for them... because I love having an excuse to eat frosting. Here's the frosting recipe:
    1 stick salted butter, softened
    5 oz cream cheese, softened
    creamed together then add:
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    pinch of salt
    then sift:
    2 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1 tsp cinnamon
    beat half of sugar in at a time until all incorporated and creamy smooth
    frost cooled muffins
    This is a very nice crusting buttercream frosting, not to hard, still creamy under thin crust. This makes enough for two 24 count batches of mini muffins.

    Well, thanks so much for this recipe! Note: we are roasting our turkey ahead of Thursday also, using an overnight method in a bag. It is in the oven now. Instructions are from Christy Jordan's Southern Plate website:
    Tried this for the first time last Thanksgiving, but I can't tell you it's good... yet... because we woke up to a raw turkey. The oven broke sometime during the night! So, trying it again this year, even an extra day ahead, just in case LOL
    Happy Thanksgiving Day everyone! ;^)

  49. I added some raisins and they were great! My two-year-old loves them too!

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