Made with brown sugar and cinnamon, these zucchini muffins are tender and flavorful. This easy recipe is easy to customize. Use whole wheat flour for a nutty flavor. Or add chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit to the batter to make them your favorite.
Zucchini muffins rank right up there with banana and blueberry muffins. They’re easy to make, flavorful, and not too sweet. This recipe is a great way to use up summer’s bounty of zucchini. It doubles or triples nicely.
The key to this recipe is letting the batter rest before baking. While it’s tempting to skip that step, it makes for light, tender muffins.
Ingredients and Substitutions.
- Zucchini. You need one small zucchini to make a batch of these muffins. After shredding, you want about 8 ounces (2 cups.) Use fresh zucchini that’s moist. If the zucchini is dry, the muffins will be too.
- Flour. Use all-purpose flour for a light and tender texture. Substitute with whole wheat flour or a blend of half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat. Don’t use cake flour. It makes for soggy muffins.
- Brown Sugar. The molasses in brown sugar adds a nice flavor and sweetness. For a mild, almost caramel-like molasses flavor, use light brown sugar. For a deeper molasses flavor, use dark brown sugar. If you don’t have brown sugar in the house, substitute it with granulated sugar.
- Cinnamon. Ground cinnamon combines with the brown sugar to make these muffins deeply flavorful. For a spice cake-like flavor, use pumpkin pie spice.
- Baking soda and baking powder. Helps the muffins rise and gives them a light texture. Always use fresh baking powder and soda.
- Salt. A little salt brings out the flavors of the brown sugar, cinnamon, and zucchini. Use table (fine) salt. It dissolves easily in the batter.
- Eggs. Provides structure and keeps the muffins moist.
- Oil. Adds richness and keeps the muffins from drying out.
- Vanilla extract. Adds a lovely floral flavor that pairs great with zucchini.
An oat-based crumb topping adds a nice flavor, crunch and sweetness to the muffins. Add chopped almonds if you’d like or omit the topping. It’s up to you!
- Butter. Melted butter makes it easy to make the crumb topping together.
- Brown Sugar. Adds sweetness and a light molasses flavor.
- Flour. All-purpose flour helps to hold the crumb topping together.
- Oats. Use instant or quick-cook oats. Don’t use steel cut or sweetened/flavored oats in the recipe.
- Cinnamon. A little ground cinnamon adds flavor.
- Salt. Enhance the flavors. Use table salt.
How to Prep Zucchini for Perfect Muffins.
Follow these steps and your zucchini will be ready in minutes.
- Wash it. There’s no need to peel zucchini. Wash it thoroughly to remove any dirt that’s clinging to the skin.
- Trim. Cut off the stem and the bud end.
- Remove the seeds. (optional) Large and overgrown zucchinis have big seeds. It’s best to remove them before making muffins. Cut the zucchini in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. If you’re using a small zucchini, skip this step.
- Shred. Use a box grater or the large grating disk of a food processor. Grate the zucchini, skin and all. Don’t use a small-holed grater or the zucchini will get too watery.
Note: There’s no need to drain the zucchini for these muffins. The moisture in the shredded zucchini helps keep the muffins moist.
How to Make Zucchini Crumb Muffins. Step-by-Step.
Preheat the oven and prep your pan.
Muffins bake best when the pan is placed into a hot oven. Before measuring the ingredients, turn the oven on. Then prep your muffin pan. Line a pan with paper muffin cups or grease it. Use nonstick cooking spray or oil.
If you use paper cups, grease the top of the muffin pan. As the muffins bake, they touch the top of the pan. Greasing it keeps the muffins from sticking.
Make the batter.
You’ll need two bowls to make this batter. A small one for the dry ingredients and a large bowl for the batter.
Whisk the flour with the other dry ingredients in a small bowl. This helps to distribute the cinnamon and baking powder evenly throughout the flour.
Grab a large bowl and whisk together the brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. You can do this with an electric hand mixer or handheld whisk. Once it’s smooth, add the shredded zucchini.
Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until a batter forms. If you see some lumps, that’s fine. If you’re adding nuts or chocolate chips, add them now.
Let the batter rest while you prepare the crumb topping. If you’re not topping the muffins, let the batter rest (sit in the bowl) for about five minutes.
Make the Crumb Topping.
Stir together oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Add the brown sugar. If you see clumps of brown sugar, break them up with a fork or your fingers. Add the melted butter. Stir until combined. That’s it!
Fill the Muffin Cups
Grease 12 standard muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or line them with paper liners. If you’re using liners, spray the top of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. This keeps the muffins from sticking to the top of the pan as they bake.
Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. My favorite tool to use to fill muffin cups is a large spring-handle muffin scoop. Look for a scoop that holds about 1/2 cup of batter. (Sometimes these are labeled as muffin scoops. It depends on the maker.)
Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of crumb topping on each muffin.
Bake and Cool the Muffins.
A pan of these muffins takes about 25 minutes to bake. To test the muffins for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin. It should come out clean.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for about five minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Muffins Your Favorite. Add nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruit.
Customize this recipe to suit your tastes. Add up to one cup total of mix-ins. Here are some mix-ins that taste great in zucchini muffins.
- Chocolate chips. Chocolate and zucchini taste great together. Add chocolate chips or your favorite chopped chocolate.
- Dried Fruits. Raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries or dried blueberries.
- Shredded Coconut. A half cup of sweetened, shredded coconut adds a nice pop of flavor.
- Nuts. Toasted and chopped nuts add a nice flavor and texture. Use walnuts or pecans.
Flavor Booster: Toast nuts before adding to the batter.
Why You Should Toast Nuts.
Toasting nuts brings out their flavor and makes for a tasty addition to muffins. Whether you toast the nuts in a skillet or oven, keep your eye on them. Nuts burn very quickly.
How to Toast Nuts.
Use a Skillet.
Place the nuts in a dry skillet. Turn heat to medium-low. Stir the nuts until they’re fragrant and lightly brown. This takes about three to four minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to stop the cooking.
Use the oven.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts into one layer on a baking sheet. Toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the nuts on a plate to cool.
Storing and Freezing Zucchini Muffins.
Store baked muffins covered on the counter for up to four days.
Freeze cooled muffins in a freezer container for up to three months.
Zucchini Crumb Muffins
- 1 ¾ cups flour (7 ¾ ounces; 220 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil (3 ½ ounces; 100 grams)
- 2 large eggs (about 4 ounces; 113 grams out of shell)
- ½ cup light or dark brown sugar (4 ounces; 113 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 medium zucchini, shredded (about 8 ounces; 226 grams)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (1 ¼ ounces 35 grams)
- ¼ cup oats, instant or quick-cook (¾ ounce; 24 grams)
- ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar (2 ounces; 56 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted (1 ½ ounces; 42 grams)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. Grease the top of the pan to keep the muffin tops from sticking.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Add the shredded zucchini. Mix to combine. Add the flour-mixture. Mix until a batter forms. Stir in nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate if using.
Allow batter to rest for five minutes while you prepare the crumb topping.
Stir together the flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt. Add the brown sugar. Break up any lumps with a fork or your fingers. Add melted butter and stir until combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them about ⅔ full. Sprinkle crumb topping, about two teaspoons each, onto each muffin.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cover and store at room temperature for up to three days. To freeze: let muffins cool and place them in a freezer container. Freeze up to two months.