Vegan Oat Muffins with Dried Fruit and Nuts

And just like that, I’m fully acquainted with the Muffin Man.

Vertical image of a small stack of muffins with an oat crumble topping on a wooden cutting board in front of bowls of nuts and dried fruit, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

No, that’s not the name of the new Sex & The City reboot. It’s simply my thought process as I sit here yet again, regaling you with a tale about magnificent muffins.

If you’ve followed along closely, you may have noticed that I was lucky enough to play with pumpkin muffins in the fall and more recently dabbled in the colorful world of carrot muffins.

I’m no muffin mastermind, and I’ve certainly never considered myself an expert in the very technical world of baking. As a matter of fact, if you know me well, you’re fully aware that I strongly prefer the savory end of the cooking spectrum.

You can taste as you go when you’re cooking, adding a dash of this, a splash of that. Baking doesn’t really conform to those rules.

But with a multitude of muffin recipes close at hand, I’ve actually started to enjoy the process of baking too.

Vertical image of muffins on a wooden cutting board next to a colorful napkin and bowls of assorted ingredients.

Don’t tell my friends I said that or I’m going to have to start baking cakes for their one-year-old’s birthday parties instead of being able to whip up cheesy sliders at the last minute!

In this recipe, the rolled oats (folded into the batter and sprinkled on top) add a generous portion of fiber – not to mention vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Instead of butter, we call on coconut oil to keep with the vegan theme.

Freshly grated Granny Smith apple adds moisture, sweetness, and a little tang, and applesauce also parades around in the batter like butter (so you don’t miss any of that tasty fat).

When it comes to dried fruit and nuts, I often just grab whatever is nearby. If you’d prefer to use pecans and dried cherries, I won’t be offended. And if some chocolate chips happen to fall into the batter, these healthy goodies might even appeal to your kiddos. Play with what you have.

Now that I’ve got your attention (you, who isn’t fully comfortable conjuring up any sort of baked good but was intrigued enough by the words “vegan” and “oat” to take a look), I’ll give you the top two secrets I’ve learned along the way in my muffin-baking adventures.

Vertical image of a plate with fallen over muffins in front of bowls of ingredients.

First, there’s the step that no one ever talks about: letting the batter rest in the fridge.

This resting process (which can be done in as little as one hour or overnight) isn’t a requirement, but boy does it make a difference if you have the time. Also, this only works if your ingredient list calls for double-acting baking powder.

If you’re using other leavening agents, this trick won’t have the same effect.

Luckily, these vegan oat muffins call for a hefty tablespoon of baking powder, so the longer the batter sits, the more the starches in the flour absorb the liquids and swell. This happens regardless, but since the baking powder reacts twice – once when you mix the wet and dry ingredients and again when the pan goes into the oven – it helps facilitate the gluten’s relaxation process.

Developing gluten overnight is something I never would have cared about in the past, but here we are.

And what are we left with? Muffins that are sturdy without being tough.

My second secret is simple.

Vertical image of a hand holding a half-eaten muffin over other baked goods, a colorful towel, and a bowl of oats.

Stop filling the wells in your pan only two-thirds or three-quarters of the way full if you want bigger end results. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but in the past when I’ve followed the recommendation to avoid filling the pan up all the way, I’ve been disappointed.

Do you want majestic muffins that are grand and high-domed like the ones at your local bakery?

No need to get crazy, but being a little more lavish when distributing your batter will result in a more impressive final product that I guarantee you’ll be inclined to bow down to.

Print
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Horizontal image of two rows of streusel-topped muffins on a cooling rack on a baking pan.

Vegan Oat Muffins with Dried Fruit and Nuts


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 muffins 1x

Description

Naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and apples, these oat muffins studded with dried cranberries and walnuts are a healthy vegan treat.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats, divided
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (plain or vanilla), plus more for thinning as needed
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled, divided
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners (or spray with non-stick cooking spray).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, 3/4 cup of the oats, the baking powder, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the coconut sugar. Whisk to combine. 
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, applesauce, and 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil.
  4. Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet, making sure not to overmix. Fold in the grated apple, walnuts, and cranberries. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  5. Just before baking, preheat the oven to 400°F and prepare the muffin topping. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining rolled oats, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and oil to combine.
  6. Spoon even amounts of the batter into 8 muffin cups, filling them to the top. Evenly sprinkle with the oat topping.
  7. Bake until the muffins are golden-brown and a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached, about 20-25 minutes.
  8. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  9. Store leftover muffins in an airtight container on the counter, or tightly wrap and freeze individual portions.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Muffin
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Baked Good

Keywords: muffin, vegan, oat, apple, walnut

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Gather, Prep, and Measure Ingredients

Measure the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, coconut sugar, almond milk, applesauce, coconut oil, walnuts, and cranberries.

Horizontal image of prepped ingredients, an apple, and a box grater on a white surface.

Melt the coconut oil by placing it in a small microwave-safe container and microwaving on high for about 30 seconds. The oil will cool to room temperature while you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients.

Horizontal image of grating peeled green apples.

Peel and then grate the apple on the large holes of a box grater. Rotate the apple as you grate until you end up with just the core. Read up on how to use a box grater properly, so you stay safe in the kitchen!

The grated apple is packed with moisture, so using a cutting board with a juice groove around the edge is a great way to make sure you don’t lose any of that flavorful liquid!

Step 2 – Mix the Dry Ingredients

Horizontal image of whisking together dry ingredients on a wooden cutting board next to a colorful towel.

Using a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup of the oats, the baking powder, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the coconut sugar.

Step 3 – Mix the Wet Ingredients

In a separate small bowl, whisk the almond milk, applesauce, and 3 tablespoons of the melted coconut oil together until combined.

Horizontal image of wet ingredients in a small metal bowl on a wooden cutting board next to a colorful towel.

Keep some extra almond milk nearby in case you need to thin the batter in the next step. When you mix the wet and dry ingredients together, if your batter seems especially thick or dry, you may need another splash of milk.

Step 4 – Fold All Ingredients Together

Gradually pour and fold the dry ingredients into the wet, making sure not to overmix so the batter doesn’t get tough.

Horizontal image of a thick batter in a bowl mixed with a blue spatula.

The oats really soak up the liquid, so if the batter looks a little too dry and cakey, splash in a few tablespoons at a time of the almond milk until the consistency feels like cookie batter but a bit less sticky.

Delicately folding the ingredients into the batter so you don’t overmix, add the grated apples, walnuts, and cranberries.

Step 5 – Rest the Batter and Make the Topping

Cover the bowl of batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight. This helps the finished product to be thicker and more robust.

Horizontal image of making an oat streusel topping in a bowl mixed with a pink spatula.

Just before baking, preheat your oven to 400°F and prep the topping.

In a small bowl, add the remaining rolled oats, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and oil and stir to combine. I use a soft rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together, then use either a fork or my fingers to break up the sugar if it’s clumped together.

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (or spray with non-stick cooking spray). If you use a heaping 1/3 cup of batter to fill each cup, you’ll end up with 8 muffins. If you use exactly 1/3 cup, you’ll end up with 9. Either way, you won’t need to spray or line all 12 cups.

If you’d prefer to make 12 smaller versions, go ahead and spray or line all 12 cups, fill 3/4 of the way to the brim, and be sure to reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes.

Step 6 – Fill the Tin, Top, and Bake

I use a heaping 1/3 cup measure to fill about 8 of the wells a little over the top. The batter is firm enough that it will hold its shape and stay somewhat raised in the middle.

Horizontal image of unbaked portioned batter with an oat topping in a pan.

You want to fill each well a bit over the brim, but not excessively so since they would spill over while baking. This results in larger, more bakery-style, higher-domed versions.

If you’d prefer to make 12 muffins, evenly distribute the batter to each well so it’s 3/4 of the way full.

Using your fingers, evenly sprinkle the oat topping over the batter.

Horizontal image of baked muffins in two rows on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

Bake until golden-brown and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached, for about 20-25 minutes. If the toothpick is entirely clean, that’s fine, but they will be on the drier side.

If you’re making 12 muffins, do the toothpick test after about 18 minutes. Smaller muffins will require less time in the oven.

Allow them cool in the pan for no longer than 10 minutes or the bottoms will steam and get soggy. Transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Horizontal image of two rows of streusel-topped muffins on a cooling rack on a baking pan.

Store leftover muffins in an airtight container on the counter or wrap and freeze individual portions.

Mix, Mix, Then Mix Again

Like with many recipes, achieving the best results is all about grasping a certain technique. Once you learn it, you can start getting more creative with your flavor combos.

Horizontal image of a white plate with four oat-topped muffins next to bowls of dried fruit and nuts.

And when it comes to muffins, we’re just talking about a few simple steps.

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix them together. Fold in the fruit and nuts. Bake. Voila.

And while there’s so much more richness to the story of each specific recipe when it’s broken down, understanding that basic procedure is all you need to become the maestro of muffins.

Served up nice and warm with a cup of coffee, these vegan oat muffins have no need for extra condiments. But if you’ve got a suggestion for a sweet dairy-free spread, dish it out in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

There’s a lot to love about apples, and applesauce is a rock star ingredient in the wide world of baking. Here are a few more recipes that rely on the sweet stuff to keep things moist for you to try next:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Sarah Hagstrom on June 21, 2015. Last updated on June 24, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

29 thoughts on “Vegan Oat Muffins with Dried Fruit and Nuts”

  1. I haven’t encountered coconut sugar yet, so I will have to look for it next time I go to the grocery store. This recipe sounds very tasty, and I like the idea that I can use whichever flour I prefer, even gluten-free. These would be good to keep on hand for healthy snacks, rather than grabbing pre-packaged treats that don’t have much nutritional value.

    Reply
  2. Oh my gosh! I’m drooling just by looking at the pictures haha 🙂 And yes! Adding chocolate chips would tremendously amplify the awesomeness of these muffins (I just love chocolates, that’s why). For breakfast, I really prefer something heavy because I need the energy until lunch, so I think if I’m going to eat this, it will be during my movie time, and I’ve been eating a ton of potato chips now, so this is a great alternative.

    Reply
  3. The fact that there are two layers to this muffin, makes it so scrumptious to me. It is a really healthy recipe with the coconut oil and sugar, and I just know the almond milk will add such a nice flavor. I have learned that applesauce is a egg replacer. I love to see I can make and enjoy healthy sweets.

    Reply
  4. I always look for new ways to make a healthy breakfast without meat. Being a vegetarian, this is very helpful for me because I can eat it just how it is. I don’t have to bend the rules to make it free of animal products. These muffins do sound delicious and the recipe steps seem very easy to follow. I look forward to trying this and maybe I’ll add some organic dark chocolate.

    Reply
  5. These look yummy, definitely going on my to-bake list! I just have a few questions. Can the Almond milk be subbed out for water? Due to an allergy, I can’t use it. I am wondering if subbing it out will create a different texture in the muffins. Also, where can you buy Coconut sugar? I knew about the oil, but I was not aware that they made a sugar. I am excited to go out and find some!

    Reply
  6. Aww yes, I need more healthy snacks in my life. These look delicious. I’ve never used coconut sugar, so I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on some and try this recipe out. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  7. I’ve been enamored with granny smith apples since I was little. I look forward to trying this tomorrow as a late Father’s Day gift for my grandfather who is coming from out of town. Thanks so much for this recipe; it’s perfect for him as he is lactose intolerant. I do not have almond milk, however. Would Lactaid work the same for the recipe, or would the taste be thrown off?

    Reply
  8. These look really simple to put together. I can’t wait to try this recipe because I love anything that tastes like apple. It looks like it would taste good and take care of immediate hunger. I also figure that these would make a good gift idea with fancy transparent wrapping or presented in a basket. I can imagine how it tastes. Thanks for sharing, I will give it a try.

    Reply
  9. Ever since some friends and family members of mine started to go vegan, we all had a hard time looking for recipes that they’d like so I’m really thankful for easy and delicious vegan recipes like these that would save us time and effort in looking for the perfect dish to cook. Dried fruits are a favorite so I’m sure this’ll be a hit for them!

    Reply
  10. Literally drooling at this recipe, even before I read it. The picture alone got me hooked! I’ve been in need of some new breakfast ideas and healthy but delicious options are always a great thing to give a try. The ingredients sound like a tasty combo, but I’ve never heard of Coconut Sugar before. I’ll have to look into that! If it ends up not being something I can find in stores here I sure hope I can replace it with some other sort of sweetener. I’d hate to miss out on this recipe.

    Reply
  11. Okay, these look really good. They’re definitely something to be on the lookout for ingredients wise. Never heard of coconut sugar though!

    Reply
  12. This recipe looks delicious. I often times avoid milk because of my asthma. Is there another oil you could replace the coconut oil with in case someone is allergic to it?

    Reply
  13. I love muffins, oats and dried fruits, so this sounds delicious! They look like the kind of thing you’d make on Sunday and then use throughout the week. I’m trying this out for sure. I’ve never used coconut sugar though, so I may need to look up where I can find that.

    Reply
  14. This is something I would make. They are going to be so filling. Kind of reminds me of granola bars the way they look. I’m going to say they probably taste ten times better though. Walnuts, cranberries, and apples is a really great mix. Lots of fiber in this one which is something that I try to keep up on. It’s really good for you.

    Reply
  15. Wow these look amazing!! It’s a struggle to come up with different breakfast ideas, and this is something I would like to try. I love muffins and I’ve never seen a recipe like this before. I’m also obsessed with dried fruit, so this is right up my alley! These will be good to take on the go. I’m looking forward to trying these out!

    Reply
  16. Wow! These look good! I have seen soooo many recipes about healthy muffins on Pinterest (I’m trying to guide my family into eating healthier without losing out on taste) and this recipe looks like a winner! Packed with flavor and texture.. Not something that you can get bored with because you can keep swapping out ingredients… adjust the recipe according to everyone’s likes and dislikes… I have no complaints!

    Reply
  17. I’m partial to sweet muffins and pastries at breakfast, and I’ve been looking for healthy alternatives for a while now. This recipe looks easy, and as these muffins are loaded with yummy yet healthy ingredients, I know I’ll love them as much as my family will.

    Using coconut oil is something I’m using a lot of in my cooking lately; the next step is to get using it in baking too. And even though I am not vegan, it makes sense to to look to healthier options for more balance in our diets.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  18. Oh, this sounds so good, and it’s something I know my daughter could eat even with her tummy issues. I’ll have to give this one a try! For all the new recipes I’ve been trying, vegan is something I haven’t specifically searched for yet. We had a vegan muffin on our last vacation and she’s still talking about how she thought she wouldn’t like it, but loved it. 🙂

    I’ve used almond milk, but I’m finding that I like the refrigerated cashew milk (unsweetened) better in recipes. Do you see a problem with switching that for the almond milk? I’d assume not?

    I *think* I can get the coconut products at my regular supermarket, but I’ll be checking on Saturday. This is exciting to think about making… I assumed that something like vegan muffins would have ingredients that I can’t find in my area, but that doesn’t seem to be true, at least with this recipe!

    Reply
  19. Thank you so much for the recipe!! I have a couple vegan friends and I’m always looking for recipes to give them. My friend loves fruit so this will hopefully be the perfect muffin for her. Even though I myself am not a vegan this sounds delicious and I will be making them for the both of us! My friend always has trouble finding delicious vegan alternatives, but based on the recipes I think she will like this one.

    Reply
  20. I love the way these muffins look. Great pics! My girlfriend is vegan, so I think I am going to try to make these for her. Admittedly, I am a terrible baker, and my girlfriend makes fun of me for it. Hopefully this recipe will redeem me!

    Reply
  21. Yes! These look absolutely AMAZING! I’m on the plant based whole foods boat, and these would just fit perfectly into my diet. I was surprised when I saw flour listed as an ingredient; gluten free flour? I didn’t know that existed! I guess that’s another thing I need to keep my eye out for at the store! This muffin though. I love the raw look of the muffin, it’s really eye catching. You don’t see many bakery items that resemble whole foods like that.

    Reply
  22. I have made these muffins and they are great for a quick ready-made breakfast! They kept well in the fridge for about a week and half. To add a little variety, I used banana chips and sunflower seeds in one batch. They were just a moist and the banana held up nicely to add a bit different flavor. Another idea I had was to add peanut butter. I am definitely going to make these again!

    Reply
  23. These muffins look scrumptious and filling!! You can never go wrong, in my book with oats, granny smith apples, cranberries and walnuts.

    Reply
  24. This looks absolutely divine and looks like something I’d definitely try making this weekend! This would make a really cute, delicious breakfast for some of my vegetarian friends 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  25. These little muffins look like what I wish I could buy with my tea at Starbucks! I am a big fan of “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” ingredients in my muffins for flavour, texture, and nutrition, and believe that these muffins fit that bill. I would also use a gluten-free flour blend and we have a big bag of coconut sugar in the cupboard. I like it for its caramel hints and the fact that it is sweet without being high glycemic.

    Reply
  26. I’m not a vegan myself but my dearest friend is and what a better gift for her birthday than a delicious vegan muffin! Wow, this recipe looks easy to make and delicious. I might end up eating all of them myself when I make them. I’m sure my friend is going to love these, thanks.

    Reply
  27. Well I am not a began but I keep coming here and finding some delicious recipe that fit the mold, so I am starting to rethink my choices here. I do not plan on changing anything, but I guess the more that I can include these types of meals in my diet, the better off I am. I do love having muffins on hand to snack on, and fruits and nuts always spice things up. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  28. Coconut sugar? Haven’t seen that one around – I have coconut flour though so I wonder if I could use brown sugar and coconut flour for a similar effect?

    I will pass this recipe onto my daughter to try out for us as she is vegan and loves cranberries. And she may just add in some vegan choc chips as well as we are a family of chocoholics!

    Reply

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