Recipe Review

These Hearty Pumpkin Muffins Will Be Your New Favorite Grab-and-Go Breakfast

published Oct 7, 2022
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Some of Cookie and Kate's pumpkin muffins cooling on rack
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

As a vegetarian, I often turn to Cookie & Kate’s website (and cookbook!) when I’m in need of dinner inspiration. I love anything she does with spaghetti squash, could eat her veggie chili weekly, and refer to her in-season guides to help me with my meal plans. So when I saw that her pumpkin muffins ranked highly on Google, I was intrigued.

Upon first glance, I noticed that Kate takes the same nutritious approach to these muffins as she does to her savory recipes. They’re made with whole-wheat flour, sweetened with maple syrup or honey rather than refined sugar, and call for coconut or olive oil in place of butter. Plus, they come together in just one bowl. 

With a 4.7-star (out of 5-star) rating from more than 700 reviews, it looked like Kate was onto something. Here’s what happened when I gave her muffins a try. 

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

How to Make Cookie & Kate’s Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

Although this batter comes together quickly, you’ll need to set the eggs out in advance to come to room temperature. When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 325°F and grease your muffin tin with butter or nonstick spray. (I lined mine with paper liners instead, which worked just fine.)

Next, you’ll whisk together the oil (melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil) and sweetener (maple syrup or honey). I opted for olive oil, because I was curious how it would compare to the fats in the other muffins I was testing, and maple syrup, because I felt its flavor would complement the warm spices. Add the eggs and beat well, then add the pumpkin purée, milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond milk), pumpkin spice blend (either store-bought or homemade; Kate provides a recipe), baking soda, vanilla, and salt. 

Add whole-wheat flour and old-fashioned oats, then mix with a large spoon until just combined. The batter will be very loose, and you’ll need to be smart about divvying it up: you’ll have just enough to fill each cup about three quarters of the way full. At this point, Kate gives you the option of sprinkling the tops with oats and/or turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, then place the tin on a wire rack to cool. 

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

My Honest Review of Cookie & Kate’s Pumpkin Muffins

Although I’m a big fan of baking with whole-grain flours, I’ll admit I was skeptical about using entirely whole-wheat flour in these muffins. Would they be too dense? Would they turn out dry? But I was pleasantly surprised! These muffins were light and tender, with a beautiful dark-golden hue. The pumpkin flavor was subtle but present, and they had the perfect level of sweetness. I also appreciated all the baking tips Kate shared throughout her post, including how to measure the flour, stir the batter, substitute ingredients, and freeze and defrost the muffins. 

With that said, there were a few things I didn’t love about this recipe. Even though it comes together in just one mixing bowl, it dirties pretty much every size measuring cup and spoon, and it also leaves you with an awkward amount of leftover canned pumpkin. Unfortunately, the muffins didn’t achieve quite the same height as some of the other muffins I tried, which is likely due to the whole-wheat flour, the lower oven temperature, and the smaller amount of batter. Lastly, I couldn’t taste the raw sugar sprinkled on top at all. 

All in all, if you’re looking for a classic bakery-style pumpkin muffin, these likely aren’t for you. But if you’re looking for a nutritious grab-and-go breakfast, these are pretty spectacular.  

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

If You’re Making Cookie & Kate’s Healthy Pumpkin Muffins, a Few Tips

  1. Let the batter rest for 20 minutes before baking. Christine Gallary, Kitchn’s food editor-at-large, taught me that resting whole-wheat batters gives the liquid a chance to hydrate the bran and germ and soften it, resulting in tender, moist muffins. 
  2. Skip the turbinado sugar (or add a lot more). As is, the turbinado sugar gets lost in these muffins, and I don’t think they need it. If you really want the extra crunch and don’t mind some extra sugar, go for a full 1 teaspoon on each muffin. 
  3. Experiment with mix-ins. Kate suggests trying these with nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruit, but I personally think their earthy whole-grain nature makes them particularly well-suited to being a morning-glory style muffin. Next time, I’ll stir in grated carrots and apples, shredded coconut, and raisins or walnuts. 

Overall rating: 8.5/10

Have you tried Cookie & Kate’s Pumpkin Muffins? Let us know in the comments!