These pumpkin muffins are a tasty fall treat. Each muffin is dotted with cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate chips, plus there’s an optional glaze made of white chocolate and maple syrup. They’ll be a welcome sight at the breakfast table, as a snack at tailgates, or as baked goods for a fall festival bake sale. These pumpkin muffins will have you daydreaming about pumpkin patches and all the other things you love about autumn!
A Fall Classic
There’s a reason why fall gets visually represented by things like leaves, turkeys, and pumpkins — it’s because these things take center stage during the season. Fall has even gained the nickname “Pumpkin Spice Latte Season.”
Pumpkin is a food that has a strange “invisibility” for me during winter, spring, and summer. I literally have no appetite for it whatsoever during those seasons. But once fall rolls around? Then almost everything seems like it could be better by adding pumpkin!
Expanding My Pumpkin Horizons
I’m definitely a fan of pumpkin food. For years I kicked off the start of fall by making pumpkin pancakes on the first weekend of fall (and for many weekends throughout the season). If I had to guess how many pumpkin pancakes my boys and I ate, it would be well into the hundreds!
My other favorite pumpkin baked goods include pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread pudding, and pumpkin soufflé. Pumpkin muffins are new to me. But after making cherry muffins recently, muffins have kind of been on the brain for me and I welcomed the opportunity to see what I could come up with for pumpkin muffins.
Creating This Pumpkin Muffin
I’ll come clean — I was tempted to cheat and just use muffin tins to bake my pumpkin bread recipe and call them pumpkin muffins. Not only would that be way easier, but the bread is REALLY good and I’m sure it would be great in muffin form! However, I can’t seem to resist the challenge of coming up with new recipes, so I nixed the pumpkin bread idea.
Instead, I’m drawing on what I learned from the research I did for my cherry muffins to make actual pumpkin muffins and not little pumpkin breads in muffin shapes.
Use the Right Kind of Canned Pumpkin
I have a few cans of pumpkin puree in my pantry, so that’s what I’m using in this recipe. Pumpkin puree is different from canned pumpkin pie filling. They are not substitutes for one another because pumpkin pie filling has sugar and spices in it.
So if you use pumpkin pie filling instead of pumpkin puree, your pumpkin muffins could end up being overly sweet — maybe enough to make your teeth hurt. In other words, I wouldn’t suggest it.
A Hint of Thanksgiving
I noticed that raisins are a popular addition to pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread recipes, so I did consider using them. But as I was browsing through my pantry cupboard, I noticed a bag of dried cranberries and I was reminded of the traditional cranberry relish and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.
That sounded way better to me than raisins, so I decided to add cranberries to my pumpkin muffins as a nod to The Best Food Holiday ever.
This Was A Surprise
I was all set to use walnuts or pecans for the recipe, when I made another discovery in my pantry (I really need to organize the pantry because I’m always “finding” things I didn’t realize were in there). It was a bag of pistachios tucked away among bags of sugar and chocolate chips.
A little Googling revealed that it’s not unheard of to use pistachios as the nut ingredient in pumpkin recipes. Pistachios have a pretty mild flavor, so as long as I didn’t go crazy with the amount, it seemed like they’d do well in these pumpkin muffins.
So Was This Ingredient
I wasn’t planning to use white chocolate chips — I thought the cranberries and pistachios were the extent of the “extras” in my pumpkin muffins. But once upon a time I made pumpkin cookies with white chocolate chips in them and they were pretty amazing. I never would have guessed that pumpkin and white chocolate work together, but those cookies proved they do.
So I couldn’t help myself and I decided that white chocolate chips would go into this muffin recipe — in two different ways, no less.
And that’s the process of how I selected the “star” ingredients for this pumpkin muffin recipe.
Glazing (Even Though I’d Rather Not)
For the record, I am not Team Glaze when it comes to muffins. My personal preference is for muffins to go au natural. I associate glazes with my sheet cakes or cakes I make in loaf pans. Putting a glaze on a muffin starts to blur the lines between muffins and cupcakes too much for me.
But as I shared, my cherry muffins got a critical review from my husband for not having “icing” on them (although it didn’t stop him from eating them, I noticed). However…life is about picking your battles and which hills you want to die on (ask any marriage counselor). I decided to head off another “Mongo not happy” complaint before he filed it on these pumpkin muffins by making a white chocolate and maple syrup glaze to put on some of the muffins.
That way he gets glazed pumpkin muffins, while I’m happy with naked pumpkin muffins. At times our life feels like a version of Dr. Seuss’s story about the Sneetches — plain-belly muffins and glaze-belly muffins.
Storing and Freezing Pumpkin Muffins
Once your pumpkin muffins have cooled, you can store them in large resealable storage bags or in an airtight container to keep them moist. If they’re still around after a few days, then they’ll need to go in the freezer (but why would they still be around?).
For freezer storage, place the muffins on a tray and then put the tray in the freezer. Once the muffins are frozen, if you want to wrap them individually in wax paper before putting them in freezer bags, you can…or you can put them directly in the freezer bags and skip the wax paper. Muffins will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months..
Unwrap frozen muffins before putting them on the counter to thaw.
Making Pumpkin Muffins
I was all set to congratulate myself on finally getting an “ingredients photo” that wasn’t missing anything….and then I realized the maple syrup isn’t present. But I’m consoling myself with the fact that the glaze is optional and every ingredient for the pumpkin muffins IS in this photo.
The first thing I had to do was “process” my pistachios since they were still in the shells. I still haven’t got a nut chopper yet, so you can see I have my nut crushing tools handy — a sandwich bag and a rolling pin. (Food blogging is so glamorous.)
These are the crushed pistachios I was rewarded with.
Next, chop the dried cranberries to be half their original size — use kitchen shears or a knife. I do this because I’m not using a ton of cranberries and I like to evenly distribute dried fruit throughout muffins. I also don’t really care for getting a whole dried cranberry in a bite of a baked good. It’s a texture thing for me.
Now that crushing and chopping are done, put the dry ingredients in a sifter and sift everything into a small mixing bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg well. Then add the pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, molasses, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, using a spatula to fold the dry into the wet in batches until just mixed. This is the muffin method, so I can’t stress how much you want to NOT overmix the batter.
Fold in the pistachios, cranberries, and white chocolate chips.
Use a spoon to fill muffins tins about ¾ full.
Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes — test with a toothpick at the minimum time to see if the muffins are done yet to avoid overbaking. Your kitchen will smell better than any pumpkin muffin scented Yankee candle and, unlike a candle, you get to eat what smells so good!
The way you know you’ve nailed the muffin method is when you see the cracked tops on your finished muffins. Gently remove the muffins from the tins and place them on a rack or on a plate to cool.
Something to note is that these pumpkin muffins didn’t bake up as “high” as the cherry muffins I made. The can of pumpkin makes these muffins a little more dense, but it also makes them unbelievably moist and delicious!
Now for the glaze (which is TOTALLY optional!).
In a microwavable bowl, heat the butter and syrup for 1 minute.
Add the white chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth.
Use a spoon to drizzle glaze over the muffins after they are removed from the tins.
Here’s a plate of plain pumpkin muffins (the way I’ll be eating them at breakfast in the morning).
And here are some pumpkin muffins all dressed up in glaze.
I will absolutely concede that the muffins are prettier with glaze on them. And, yes, I’ll eat one of these just so I can comment on how the glaze tastes on the muffins (I know it tasted really good on the spoon when I sampled it).
These pumpkin muffins make me wonder why I don’t make muffins on a regular basis. They turned out exactly as I was hoping they would: moist and not-too-sweet. The combination of the cranberries, pistachios (the thing I was worried about), and the white chocolate worked great as accompaniments to the pumpkin and spices.
I’ve had four of these so far today — two for breakfast and two as a snack while I’ve been working. I’m giving these pumpkin muffins a 9, possibly even a 10, out of 10 stars.
My husband’s “review” was so bizarre I had to share it. We were in the car and he knew I had a couple bags of muffins with me, so he said “Alright, let’s try them.” I handed him an unglazed muffin (the glazed ones are still at home, untasted yet as of this writing) and he took a sizable bite out of it.
He did the Man Thing when they try something new and get that “Well, what do you know?” look on their faces while nodding their heads appreciatively. I thought to myself “SCORE!”
He said (with a full mouth) “I love pumpkin stuff. What’s in it?” I began to tell him “Pistachios, cranberries –” and he cut me off with “NO!”
I asked “No…what?” and he said “I don’t like cranberries! I don’t like any fruit in muffins or cakes. It’s why I won’t eat fruit cake.” He said this while he was still finishing the muffin he was eating, a fact I refrained from pointing out to him.
So I don’t how many stars out of 10 he would rate these pumpkin muffins, but I was amused at his mixed message review!
- 2 tablespoons powdered buttermilk
- ½ cup water (or ½ cup buttermilk, leaving out the powdered buttermilk)
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 egg
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 5 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- ½ cup crushed pistachios
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- Glaze (optional)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- Shell the pistachios and chop/crush enough to make ½ a cup.
- Using kitchen shears or a knife, cut/chop the dried cranberries in half to make ¾ cup.
- If using powdered buttermilk, whisk it into ½ cup of water and set aside.
- In a small-to-medium size mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Using a whisk or fork to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg well.
- Whisk in the pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix with a spatula or spoon until just combined.
- Add the cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate chips. Fold into the batter.
- Lightly spray cooking oil in the tins of the muffin pans you are going to use.
- Spoon the batter into the tins, to roughly ¾ full.
- Bake at 400 for the suggested times below, depending on your muffin tin size. Check all muffins with a toothpick at the minimum time to determine if they are done.
- Once done, remove the muffins from the muffin tins right away. Place on a rack or a plate to cool.
For regular size muffins, bake for 18-20 minutes.
For mini muffins, bake for 10-12 minutes.
For jumbo muffins, bake for 24-26 minutes.
- In a microwavable bowl, heat the butter and syrup for 1 minute.
- Add the white chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth.
- Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the muffins after they are removed from the tins.
Can’t get enough pumpkin in your life? Try some of these other recipes for more pumpkin goodness!
There’s even something for the family dog: