Gluten Free Applesauce Muffins

Satisfy your urge for a simple, tender bite of something lightly sweet with these simple gluten free applesauce muffins. Add some more warm spices, or keep them simple to serve for breakfast, or brunch!

Closeup of one applesauce muffin among many on brown paper

What makes these gluten free muffins with applesauce special?

Usually, when we describe something as “plain,” it's not intended as a compliment. This recipe for gluten free muffins made with applesauce is a true exception to that rule. They may be plain, but they're full of all the light, tender texture and light sweetness of the best snacking muffins, and never leave you feeling weighed down.

Applesauce adds a lot of tenderness to baked goods, and can even be used in place of mashed bananas in some recipes like our gluten free banana pancakes. It doesn't have the polarizing flavor of bananas, though, tending to fade into the background instead.

If you're looking for a muffin with lots of apple flavor, you'll need one that has chopped apples mixed into the batter. Luckily, we already have that one in our gluten free apple muffins, which I highly recommend and have long been a reader favorite recipe, especially in the fall.

Notes on gluten free applesauce muffin ingredients

  • Gluten free flour – I usually bake with Better Batter's classic gluten free all purpose flour blend, and this recipe is no exception. You can also use Cup4Cup, or either my mock blends for those packaged blends, which you can find on my all purpose gluten free flour blends page.
  • Baking powder – Baking powder provides much of the lift in these muffins, so be sure that yours is fresh, or they won't rise as intended.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda helps with rise, but its main job here is to help the muffins brown easily and evenly in the oven.
  • Salt – Salt offsets the sweetness and enhances the other flavors in these muffins.
  • Ground cinnamon – Since these are meant to be really simple, almost plain muffins, ground cinnamon in the muffins and in the optional cinnamon sugar topping adds a really nice flavor. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, or replace the entire amount of ground cinnamon with apple pie spice for even more complex flavor.
  • Granulated sugar – Sugar is both a sweetener and a tenderizer in these muffins. If you choose to use an alternative sugar, they tend to be quite drying, so you may have to add more liquid to reach the right batter consistency.
  • Butter – Melted butter adds flavor and tenderness to these muffins, but also makes a more compact crumb, which is helpful since the applesauce tends to make a more open crumb.
  • Applesauce – Together with the melted butter, the smooth, unsweetened applesauce in these gf muffins with applesauce adds plenty of moisture and has some pectin from the apples, which acts as a bit of a thickening agent and helps these muffins stay fresher, longer.
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds tenderness and some flavor to these muffins. It's thicker than milk, though, so remember not to replace it with regular milk (yes, even if you've soured it with some lemon juice!).
  • Eggs – The eggs in this recipe help create the structure, and the egg whites even absorb some of the moisture of the applesauce, creating the perfect crumb.
  • Vanilla – Pure vanilla extract adds some depth of flavor to these super simple, lightly sweet muffins.
Applesauce muffin with white liner peeled back

Tips for making perfect gluten free muffins with applesauce

Make sure your applesauce is smooth and unsweetened

This recipe is developed using smooth, unsweetened applesauce without any clumps. It's not smooth like a liquid, but is really consistent with minimal texture. That's what combines well with the other ingredients in these lightly sweet gf breakfast muffins.

Choose your gluten free flour blend carefully

The simpler the recipe, the more important your flour blend is. I highly recommend using Better Batter's classic blend (or our mock blend) or Cup4Cup, my favorite gf flour blends in this recipe for consistently good, light and tender results.

Measure all your dry ingredients by weight, including sugar

Measuring by weight, using a simple digital kitchen scale, is the only way to measure dry ingredients accurately, since dry measuring cups tend to vary and you can't avoid human error—no matter how experienced the baker! You can buy a simple Escali brand scale for less than $30, and it's all you really need for years of measuring.

If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, use a proper replacement

Regular milk with lemon juice isn't buttermilk, but you can replace buttermilk with half regular milk and half sour cream, by volume. There isn't a lot of buttermilk in this recipe, so it's a little harder to measure accurately by total volume, so try using 3⅓ tablespoons regular milk and 2 tablespoons sour cream for a total of 5⅓ tablespoons, or ⅓ cup.

Be sure your ingredients are around room temperature before combining them

When a recipe specifies ingredient temperature, it's important! If your butter has been melted and cooled, so it's no longer hot to the touch, but your eggs or buttermilk is cold, your butter will clump when they're combined. That means that the wet ingredients won't blend properly into the dry ingredients, and you'll have pockets of butter, rather than a homogenous batter.

Use a light-colored muffin tin

My favorite muffin tins are these light-colored Wilton nonstick tins from their “Recipe Right” line. They're light in color, don't have extra seams that would make them harder to clean, and they're so inexpensive that I don't mind messing them up! Dark colored bakeware of all kinds attracts more heat in the oven, quickly, so it can lead to your baked goods, like these applesauce muffins, to over brown and even burn.

Warm up your buttermilk and eggs to room temperature before baking with them

If your eggs are cold, you can bring them quickly and easily to temperature by floating them in a bowl of very warm (not hot) water right from the tap for about 15 minutes. Every now and again, just give them a quick turn in the water. For buttermilk, microwave it on about 50% power for 30 seconds at a time until it's no longer cold.

Raw applesauce muffin batter with cinnamon sugar in muffin wells

Gluten free applesauce muffins: ingredients and potential substitutions

Gluten free dairy free applesauce muffins

The dairy in these applesauce muffins comes from both butter and buttermilk. If you're dairy-free, try replacing the butter with Melt or Miyoko's Kitchen brand vegan butter. I've tried them with oil in place of butter, and they turned out greasy, so I don't recommend that. In place of buttermilk, try using 3⅓ tablespoons unsweetened nondairy milk and 2 tablespoons dairy free sour cream for a total of 5⅓ tablespoons, or ⅓ cup.

Gluten free applesauce muffins without eggs

There are two eggs in this recipe, and they should be able to be replaced with two “chia eggs” (2 tablespoons ground white chia seeds + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).

Gluten free vegan applesauce muffins

If use you use the dairy free and egg free substitutions in this recipe, and make sure your sugar is made without bone char, you'd have gluten free vegan applesauce muffins.

Six baked applesauce m uffins in metal tin


Can I make gluten free applesauce muffins with homemade applesauce?

Yes! You can use homemade applesauce, but please make sure it's made from peeled and cored apples, fully pureed until smooth, and made without any added sugar.

Can I replace buttermilk with regular milk with some lemon juice?

No, that age-old recommendation for a buttermilk substitute adds acid, but way too much water, to your recipes. Commercially prepared buttermilk has added thickeners and less moisture than regular milk, which is part of why it works so well in baking recipes.

Is applesauce gluten free?

Yes, most applesauce is gluten free. In fact, unless it has been contaminated with gluten or has gluten-containing ingredients added to it, like thickeners, applesauce is naturally gluten free.

Can make these into gf oatmeal muffins with applesauce?

You might be able to replace 36 grams of the all purpose gluten free flour blend in this recipe with gluten free oat flour if you wanted to add some whole grains. I wouldn't add rolled oats to the batter, but you could sprinkle a few on top of the muffin batter before the muffin tin goes in the oven. Our healthy gluten free blueberry muffins are made using applesauce, and entirely with oat flour, and without any rice flour blend.

Can I make mini gluten free applesauce muffins with this recipe?

Yes, you can use this same recipe to make miniature muffins. All the same rules apply for recipe success that we've discussed in this post. Just start checking them for doneness by 12 minutes, and reduce the time they spend at 425°F to 3 minutes.

Can I add mix-ins to these muffins?

You can add some mix-ins, but be sure they don't also add moisture. Avoid berries, but try adding no more than 3 or 4 ounces of chopped soft nuts, like pecans or walnuts. Chocolate chips might also be nice.

Pile of applesauce muffins in white liners on brown paper

Storing your gluten free applesauce muffins

These muffins will stay fresh on the counter, covered, for about two days. After that, rather than refrigerating them, which dries out baked goods, freeze them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, then pile them into a freezer-safe container. Even a zip-top freezer safe bag works well, once they're already frozen.

Defrosting your gf muffins with applesauce

We always have muffins in the freezer are our house, and my kids sometimes defrost them the night before by placing one, wrapped or covered well, on the kitchen counter. It's good to go first thing in the morning. If you're in a rush, you can defrost one of these simple muffins easily in the microwave on reduced power (try 50%) for about 1 minute. Give it a gentle squeeze to be sure it's not frozen still in the center.

Applesauce muffin broken in half sitting in liner

Gluten Free Applesauce Muffins

These gluten free applesauce muffins are simple, tender muffins made with smooth applesauce and plenty of ground cinnamon for the perfect breakfast or snack.
Course Breakfast, Muffins
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free applesauce muffins, gluten free muffins with applesauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 muffins
Calories 221kcal
Author Nicole Hunn


  • 2 cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; please click thru for more info on appropriate blends)
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • cup applesauce at room temperature
  • cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon sugar mixture for sprinkling (optional; see Recipe Notes)


  • Preheat your oven to 425°F. Grease or line the wells of a standard 12-cup muffin tin and set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well.
  • Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the large bowl and add the melted butter, applesauce, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, and mix to until just combined. The batter will be very soft.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared wells of the muffin tin. Shake the pan back and forth to distribute the batter evenly in each well of the muffin tin.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the batter in the muffin wells with a light dusting of the optional cinnamon sugar mixture. I use about 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar on each muffin.
  • Place the muffins in the center of the preheated oven, and let them bake for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs attached (about another 15 minutes). Do not overbake.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


For the cinnamon sugar
To make a cinnamon sugar mixture for sprinkling on top of the raw muffins, you can almost use as little or as much as you like. The ratio of ground cinnamon to granulated sugar should be about 1 teaspoon cinnamon to 1/4 cup granulated sugar (or 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon per full cup of granulated sugar).
Nutritional information is approximate, and is calculated without the added cinnamon sugar mixture on the top of the muffins.


Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 239mg | Potassium: 34mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 230IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 0.2mg

The post Gluten Free Applesauce Muffins appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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