Pumpkin “Bran” Muffins (a gluten- and dairy-free adaptation of an FAK favorite)

By Ann Fulton

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Bran muffins are a seemingly wholesome way to start the day, yet so many bran muffins rely on sugar and oil to create moisture and flavor. Enter pumpkin!

My original recipe for Pumpkin Bran Muffins is a family and reader favorite.  Over the years, however, I have received many requests for a gluten-free version.  However, a gluten-free version of any favorite recipe can’t just be good for being “gluten-free.”  To make the cut, even gluten-eaters should want to eat it and not actually notice a difference.  This version took a little fiddling, but last year I came up with a muffin that tasted every bit as good as the original. It’s equally moist, flavorful, and healthy.  The beginning of a new pumpkin season seemed like the perfect time to pass it along!

I love that this recipe uses the whole can of pumpkin and that the batter may be mixed the night before and baked in the morning.  In my house, there are always boxes of the kids’ favorite cereals available for a quick meal. Proof of a successful breakfast recipe occurs when the kids choose it over their go-to cereal. I’ve made countless batches of these muffins–both the original and the gluten-free counterpart– and they’re the winner every time.

Pumpkin "Bran" Muffins

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bran Muffins, above, and the original recipe, below.

Pumpkin Bran Muffins
Pumpkin “Bran” Muffins (a gluten- and dairy-free adaptation of an FAK favorite)
When using melted coconut oil or butter, it is helpful to bring the ingredients to room temperature prior to mixing. This will prevent the oil or butter from solidifying again.

Yield: 12 muffin
  • 1 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free multi-grain flake cereal (see notes for specifics), lightly crushed
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or coconut oil for dairy-free)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or 2 1/4 teaspoons white or apple cider vinegar plus milk of choice–dairy-free if needed–to make 3/4 cup; allow to sit a few minutes before stirring into batter)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free baking flour (I tested these muffins with Bob’s Red Mill’s 1-to-1 and my Homemade Blend
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • *Optional:* 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts; 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened or sweetened according to preference); coarse sugar for sprinkling or optional *Speedy Maple Cream Cheese Frosting* (see notes)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.  (If using paper liners, I recommend spraying them with cooking spray so the paper doesn’t stick to the muffin.  This is somewhat common with gluten-free flours.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, crushed cereal, raisins, butter or melted coconut oil, and sugars. Stir in the eggs and the buttermilk.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (Stir in the optional nuts and/or coconut at this point.) Add to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups. I like to use a large ice cream scoop. The cups will be rather full but they will not overflow.
  5. Sprinkle the tops with a little coarse sugar or shredded coconut, if desired.  (The muffins will still be delicious if omitted.)  Then bake for 23-28 minutes or until the muffins pass the toothpick test and do not feel mushy in the center when the top of the muffins are gently pressed. (Check a little early as all ovens vary.)
  6. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
  7. Once cool, frost with the maple cream cheese frosting, if using.  Store the muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • I use Mesa Sunrise by Nature’s Path. This cereal is a wholesome combination of organic corn, flax, quinoa and amaranth.  (It also tastes great by the handful as a quick crunchy snack or mixed with dried fruit and nuts for an easy snack mix.)  One Degree offers a similar cereal, although I have not tested it in this recipe.
  • For a slightly decadent topping option (the frosting isn’t dairy-free), stir approximately 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup into a quarter cup of cream cheese (the mixture will be creamier if the cream cheese is softened first; if not, just keep stirring until smooth). This amount will provide a speedy cream cheese frosting for about 6 muffins. Feel free to adjust the amount of maple syrup up or down to your liking and double the recipe if you’d like to frost all 12 muffins.
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  1. Dianne Lasky

    The bran ceremony recommend has buckwheat in it, so not totally GF.Also, the allergy warning indicates product containsxwjeat. What can you recommend to replace this cereal..?maybe Oat bran, & how much? Thank you. Recipe sounds great!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Dianne, I believe the last brand I used was Mesa Sunrise. It does contain buckwheat, but despite the confusing name, buckwheat is, in fact, gluten-free. I have not used oat bran, so while it may work, I would have to experiment. Because the cereal is lightly crushed rather than finely ground, you’d likely need less than 1½ cups of oat bran. They are delicious, so I hope you find a good option and enjoy them!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Amy, They don’t have to be. That said, I’ve found over time that when using a GF blend with rice flour, a brief rest (as little as 10 minutes) give the rice flour time to absorb some moisture and eliminates the hint of graininess that is sometimes detectable in gluten-free baked goods.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Thelma, I note an option for the buttermilk beside the ingredient, and there is also a mention in the recipe notes that the optional frosting is not dairy-free.

  2. Emily

    I made these and they were–notice the past tense–outstanding. Didn’t last long around here. They taste better than most bran muffins and I love that they’re so healthy. A keeper of a recipe!

  3. Pingback: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen – Pumpkin Bran Muffins (with optional 2-ingredient frosting)