We set out to make a blueberry muffin recipe that was tasty, allergy-friendly and uncomplicated. With the help of recipes from Organic Authority and America's Test Kitchen's Vegan For Everybody cookbook, we came up with our new favorite blueberry muffin recipe.
The applesauce in this recipe takes the place of oil while it shares the duty of gluing the other ingredients together with the baking soda and baking powder; these two powders are responsible for the rise and fluff of the muffin.
Traditional blueberry muffins actually originated in the colonial era of America around the early 1700s. Blueberries are native to North America along the east coast from North Carolina to Nova Scotia and when the recipe traveled back to Europe the berries were usually replaced with bilberries and it was called (and sometimes still is called) 'American muffins'.
Mixing the blueberries with the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients is supposed to keep them evenly disbursed in the batter and keep them from sinking. Alternatively you could add the berries in at the very end, after dividing the batter into the baking cups; they will most likely all congregate to the top of the muffins (like in our photos) but there's also less chance of the berry juice bleeding throughout the whole batter and making it slightly blue or purple.
We've used both frozen and fresh blueberries for this recipe. While frozen blueberries allow for the recipe to be made when blueberries aren't in season, they tend to bleed more into the batter. That's really the only downside for the frozen blueberries, but it's nice to have the fresh blueberries if for no other reason than to usher in the spring season!
We've found the baking powder and baking soda do a good job of fluffing up our muffins but if you'd like fluffier muffins we suggest using aquafaba - 3 tablespoons of chickpea water and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter, whisked for about 10 minutes and added right before dividing the flour into the baking cups.
We suggest sifting the dry ingredients as you combine them to produce a lighter, less dense muffin but if you don't have a sifter or you don't mind slightly dense muffins you can skip this step.
These muffins are great on their own but you can also use butter-like spread (like Wayfare brand) or fruit spread on them, or have them with coffee, tea, or flavored milk. Try having a muffin with a smoothie or a bowl of fruit salad for a rounder breakfast. Frozen muffins can be taken to work or school and eaten after they've thawed out as a mid-day snack.
Weighing your dry ingredients makes for an even batter and a more uniform muffin result each time you make the recipe. Also, you can use the same weight of flour and sugar, even if using different brands, and get the same or at least similar results - 2 cups of King Arthur's Gluten-Free flour might be 10 ounces but it might only be 1 3/4 cup of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free flour, for instance.
Don't have applesauce? You can use 4 tablespoons of melted then cooled coconut oil. It'll work like butter in the recipe but it may also make the recipe slightly denser.
You can substitute brown rice flour for King Arthur's Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour but the muffin will be thicker and denser (the muffins in our pictures were actually made with brown rice flour; when made with King Arthur's they are fluffier and rise more). If you substitute Bob's Red Mill for King Arthur's your muffins may have a slightly beany flavor and possibly a denser crumb.
Switch up the fruit and replace the blueberries with frozen or re-hydrated cranberries, raisins or cherries. If using dry fruit soak in a heat-safe bowl with two cups of boiled water for about 30 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Pat dry with a cloth or paper towel and add into the dry ingredients before mixing in the wet ingredients.
Try replacing coconut or orange extract for the vanilla extract in the recipe for a different, brighter flavor.
We prefer rice milk for this recipe but you could use another type of plant-based milk. We suggest oat milk, hemp milk or coconut milk (not canned), which will provide only slight changes in the flavor - the crumb may be a bit denser and it may be slightly less sweet when not using rice milk but will still produce a tasty muffin.
The zest of the lemon is for a brighter flavor but if you don't feel like grating a lemon peel or you only have lemon juice you can skip this ingredient and still have a delicious muffin. You can also substitute orange or lime in place of the lemon zest for a different flavor.
To take the place of the lemon juice in the recipe you can substitute white distilled vinegar or rice vinegar without disrupting the flavor (we suggest staying away from more flavored vinegars, although coconut or sherry vinegar would probably be fine; definitely don't substitute the lemon juice in this recipe with balsamic or red wine vinegar as the taste will be very noticeable).
Recipe: Blueberry Muffins (Allergy-Friendly, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free)
Cuisine: Colonial American
Skill Level: Intermediate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6 (2 muffins per person, 12 muffins total)
2 cups (10oz) King Arthur's Gluten-Free All-Purpose flour
¾ cup sugar (5 ¼ oz)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp xanthan gum
1 cup rice milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup applesauce
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 400F.
Sift gluten-free flour blend, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Mix with a spatula to completely combine.
In a separate bowl or large glass measuring cup mix together rice milk, vanilla extract, applesauce, lemon juice and lemon extract until well combined.
Toss blueberries in dry ingredients and gently mix until all blueberries are evenly distributed in the flours and coated with flour. Be careful not to mash any blueberries while mixing to avoid blueberry juice bleeding into the batter.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and thoroughly combine with spatula until all ingredients are well-incorporated and there are no flour patches.
Using a table spoon or ice cream scoop divide muffin batter equally into lined cupcake pan.
Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until the muffins rise, the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you think your oven runs hot you can alternatively cook the muffins at 350F for 30 minutes, checking after 20 to make sure they don't overcook.
Let muffins sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for several months and reheated for about 10-15 minutes in a 300F oven. Do not store leftovers on counter top or in the refrigerator as they will dry out and go bad quickly.
Like this recipe and wish we would do more like it? Let us know in the comments below!