Apple muffins, with both shredded and chopped apple, are made a little bit extra special with the addition of brown butter! Brown butter gives these moist apple cinnamon muffins a rich, nutty flavor.
Note: this post was originally published in September 2019 and updated in October 2020 with new photos and improved instructions.
Let's get real, I have never met an apple muffin I didn't like! But, these brown butter apple muffins just happen to be my absolute #1 favorite apple muffin. First of all, they are extra moist and full of apple flavor throughout, because they have both shredded and chopped apple. I tested this recipe with only chopped (not enough apple flavor throughout the muffin, could be moister) and only shredded (not enough intense bursts of apple flavor), and ultimately, a mix of both was the clear winner!
But, ultimately, it’s the brown butter that really makes these muffins extra special - it adds a nutty, toasty quality that really complements the slightly tangy apple flavor. These muffins take a little bit of extra work to brown the butter, but the results are definitely worth it!
- Apples: you can use your favorite type, but I recommend a firmer apple that will hold its shape while cooking (i.e. not Red Delicious). I’ve made these muffins with Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Honeycrisp, and I really preferred Granny Smith the most. It added a nice tang that offset the sweetness of the brown sugar better.
- Brown sugar: dark or light brown sugar will work here. Dark brown sugar will give the muffins a slightly moister, deeper flavor. The choice is yours!
- Eggs: best if room temperature (or closer to room temperature), even if you just take them out right when you first start to cook that will help.
- Milk: same as above, should be at room temperature or pretty close. I used whole milk, but 2% or skim would also work.
Are you are running short on time but still craving an apple dessert? Try my recipe for Apple Cinnamon Mug Cake!
Step by step photos
1. Brown the butter and place in a bowl to cool down.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
3. Peel, shred and chop the apple.
4. Whisk the brown sugar, milk, and then eggs into the cooled brown butter.
5. Add the apples and dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
6. Whisk or stir together until just incorporated, do not overmix!
7. Fill a greased or lined muffin tin with the batter.
8. Top with extra brown sugar and cinnamon (optional), and bake!
Tips and tricks
How to make brown butter
It should take the butter about 6 - 7 minutes in a saucepan over medium heat to make its glorious transformation into brown butter. During only the first few minutes of the cooking process, you can do other things (peel and dice your apples, for example), but you need to keep an eye on the pan and swirl it around frequently. During this time, grab a large heat-proof bowl to have nearby. That way you can pour the butter into it as soon as it's ready.
Once the butter fully melts and starts to foam up, you should turn your full attention to it! It will bubble and foam, and then die down a bit. Then you should start to see the color deepening and little dark brown bits forming at the bottom. These brown bits are the milk solids cooking. It will also start to smell amazingly nutty and toasty in your kitchen! Keep swirling the pan so it cooks evenly and so you can see just how dark the butter is getting underneath any remaining foam. For this reason, it's helpful to use a lighter colored pan so you can see what's happening at the bottom.
As soon as you reach a nice, deep brown (but not burnt!) color, yank the pan off the heat and pour it into a large heat-proof bowl to cool down. You don’t want to dawdle here, you can go from nice, dark and nutty to burnt pretty quickly. That’s why it’s helpful to have your bowl already set out.
Other tips & tricks
Temperature of eggs, milk and butter
- The eggs and milk need to be at room temperature, or close to room temperature. If the eggs and milk are straight out of the fridge when you add them to the brown butter, it will seize up the butter and your mixture will get all lumpy. If this happens, it’s not the end of the world! You can just let the mixture come back to room temperature and whisk again. Or you can heat the mixture in the microwave at 50% power for 15 second bursts, whisking in between, until smooth again. Be extra careful with this trick though, you do not want to scramble the eggs!
- The butter will still be warm when you are ready to add in the milk, brown sugar and eggs. This is ok, just make sure the butter isn’t super hot. Otherwise you may risk cooking the eggs. That’s why it’s helpful to whisk in the milk and brown sugar first before adding in the eggs. This will help reduce the temperature a bit more.
- As you can see from the pictures, these muffins are a hearty size! The tops will overflow a bit and you’ll have that nice crispy edge all around that I love. If your muffin tops glued together a bit in your tray, when you are ready to remove them from the pan, run a small knife between the connected edges first. This will separate the muffin tops so they don’t rip when you take them out.
- Or, if you prefer more “normal” sized muffins, you can make 13 or 14 instead of 12. This would be a good use for small ramekins. That way you can bake the extras at the same time as the rest. This would also be a great way to treat yourself to a fresh muffin or two while still bringing a full dozen to your work or school function. No one would be the wiser!
As I mentioned in the Ingredient notes section, my favorite apple to use is Granny Smith. But, if you don't have or don't like Granny Smith, you can use any apple that is good for baking. Check out this article on the best apples for baking for some more ideas!
These muffins are wonderful for breakfast or brunch, just eaten as-is, or warmed (my preference!). Top with butter, jam, or peanut butter for an even more indulgent breakfast treat!
These muffins are so special, that I also think they make a great dessert or afternoon tea accompaniment. For dessert, try splitting a warm muffin in half and topping with vanilla ice cream!
You can store these muffins at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. (Wait until they are fully cooled before storing.) Or, you can freeze them for 2 - 3 months! Here is a great article about how to freeze muffins.
To reheat the muffins, either from room temperature or after they have been thawed from the freezer, I recommend using a toaster oven rather than the microwave if you have the time, because the toasting will crisp up the sugar on the top again!
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!
Deliciously nutty brown butter adds a warm dimension to these cozy apple muffins. These muffins have both shredded and chopped apple for lots of apple flavor and extra moisture!
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (scooped and leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed shredded apple
- 1 cup chopped apple (about ½ inch pieces)
- extra brown sugar and cinnamon to top the muffins (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Add the butter to a medium saucepan. Heat on the stove over medium heat, swirling the pan frequently, until butter has bubbled and foamed, then turned a deep golden brown with bits of dark brown residue at the bottom. This should take about 6 - 7 minutes. As soon as the brown color has been achieved, remove from the heat and pour the butter into a large heat-proof bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl, set aside.
- Peel, chop and shred the apples, set aside. (See note 2.)
- Whisk the brown sugar and milk into the brown butter, then whisk in the eggs. The brown butter should be warm, but not hot, before you add in the eggs.
- Add the flour mixture and apples into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Evenly distribute into a 12 cup muffin tin that has been greased or lined with cupcake liners. (See note 3.) Sprinkle the top of each muffin with additional brown sugar and cinnamon. This step is optional but recommended!
- Bake for 19 - 22 minutes, or until the muffins are firm on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
- Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. If the tops of the muffins are connected, run a small knife between the seams of the muffins to separate them. This will prevent the muffin tops from ripping when you pull them out of the tin. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to continue cooling.
- The eggs and milk should be at room temperature, or close to room temperature, before they are added to the brown butter. If you add the milk and eggs in cold, they will chill the butter and create lumps.
- Pack down the shredded apple into the measuring cup to get an accurate amount; it should take approximately 1 large apple to equal 1 cup packed shredded apple.
- These muffins are quite large when made in a 12 cup muffin tin. If you want slightly smaller muffins, you can make 14 instead of 12.
- Once muffins are fully cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days, or frozen for 2 - 3 months.
Keywords: apple muffins, brown butter muffins, brown butter apple muffins