Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins and 5 Tips for Successful Muffins

Breakfast and Brunch, Fall Recipes, Muffins, Seasonal Recipes, Winter Recipes | 17 comments

On a cold Saturday morning, I had these Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins baking so I could send Eric off to the airport with something tasty and warm to eat. The delightful smell of apple and cinnamon permeated the entire house.

The true test would be if the muffins tasted as good as they smelled. Lucky for all of us the Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins were a success.

They were a welcome treat reheated the next morning as we awoke to snow. I think they would be fantastic served with a cup of steaming Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider.

rustic cranberry apple oatmeal muffin

I haven’t always had success with baking muffins. I’ve had some real busts and some real wins. One time, about 2 years ago, I even left out the butter because I got so distracted. That batch went straight to the trash.

So, through my trials, errors, and successes over the years, I bring you 5 Tips for Baking Great Homemade Muffins that apply to this recipe for Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins as well as any muffin recipe you would bake at home.

5 Tips for Baking Great Homemade Muffins

1. Unless specified in the recipe, don’t use an electric mixture. Muffin batters are best mixed by hand with a wooden spoon and should be slightly lumpy. Batter mixed until smooth, like cake batter, will result in tough muffins.

2. Not all muffin pans have the exact same fill capacity. Your results may produce more or less muffins than listed in the recipe. If you have empty cups, fill them halfway with water to help the keep the heat evenly distributed.

Rustic Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

3. If you are baking more than 1 dozen muffins at a time, space between the muffin pans will allow the heat to circulate in the oven and produce more evenly browned muffins. Additionally, it is helpful to rotate the pans halfway through baking.

4. For muffins that are easily removed from pans, grease the pans – even if they are nonstick – prior to baking. Then allow muffins to rest for 5 minutes in their pans after baking before removing. Alternatively, you can use muffin tin liners.

5. Bake extra and freeze them to enjoy muffins all week (or month) long. The instructions for freezing muffins are essentially the same as my instructions for freezing pancakes and waffles.

Rustic Apple Cranberry and Oatmeal Muffin

Bonus Tip for Baking Great Muffins at High Altitude:

High altitude baking is more successful when acidic liquids are included in the batter. This gives a better rise and enables the cupcakes set more quickly in the oven rather than rising too high and then collapsing.

Buttermilk, Greek yogurt, sour cream, or added lemon juice are good sources to make the batter more acidic. Don’t have buttermilk? Try making your own with these Homemade Buttermilk Substitutes.

More Muffin Recipes:

What are your best tips for delicious homemade muffins?

Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

Yield: approx 3 dozen

Prep Time: 10 - 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 - 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 - 40 minutes

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4 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
4 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted and cooled
4 large green apples, grated
8 ounces chopped fresh cranberries


Grease three standard 12 cup muffin tins. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place oven rack in the center position.

In a large bowl, combine flour, quick oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cardamom. Whisk until well sifted. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the 4 eggs. Add the buttermilk, melted butter, and grated apples. Stir until combined.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk mixture to the well and stir until moistened. Do not beat. Batter will be very thick. Once moistened, gently fold in the chopped cranberries.

Divide the batter between the 36 prepared muffin cups. Cups should be 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. If you aren't able to get a full 3 dozen out of the batter, don't worry. Just fill the empty cups halfway with water.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 - 25 minutes (rotating half way through), or until done and golden on top.

Let muffins cool for 5 minutes in their tins before removing to cook on a wire rack.


This recipe also makes 2 dozen standard muffins plus 2 miniature bread loaves. Baking time will need to be adjusted for the bread loaves, approximately 20-35 minutes, or until done and golden on top.

3 muffin tins do not fit at the same time in most standard sized ovens. Bake 2, then bake the remaining.

Don't have buttermilk? Try making your own with these Homemade Buttermilk Substitutes.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty - December 04, 2012 @ 9:58 am

    These look so hearty and, just, perfect! I love that these have lots of good stuff in them so they’re not just glorified cupcakes for breakfast (which do have their place, don’t get me wrong).

    I would have never thought to fill empty muffin cups with water. Thank you for that tip! My tip for most muffin recipes is to fill the cups to juuuuust below the top. Helps ensure a nice, tall crown.


  • 2
    Aimee @ Simple Bites - December 04, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

    Apples & Cardamom is one of my favorite combinations ever. Love these muffins, Katie!


  • 3
    Meal Makeover Mom Janice - December 05, 2012 @ 5:36 am

    Love your tips. Have a wonderful holiday!


  • 4
    Alyssa | Queen of Quinoa - December 05, 2012 @ 5:42 am

    Lovely muffins Katie. These sound like the perfect bit of fall. And thanks for the tips on how to make beautiful homemade muffins :)


  • 5
    Liz - December 05, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    I made these yesterday and they turned out great but they were much flatter than yours! Maybe because I used a buttermilk substitute? Or because we are at sea level? They were still delicious though.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — December 5th, 2012 @ 5:06 PM

      I really can’t say why. There are so many factors that affect baking: altitude, age of leavening ingredients, buttermilk substitute as you mentioned, or even differences in how we measure our flour scoops (measuring with cups the US way rather than in ounces is actually not 100% consistent in the amount each time), or how much batter was contained in each muffin cup – mine were about 3/4 of the way full. Glad you enjoyed them despite not being flatter. Off the top of my head with you being at sea level you could try playing around with adding extra leavening – if you have a certain recipe that you know turns out exactly how tall you like you could try using the same proportions of leavening to flour as that recipe. Also, you could try lowering the baking temperature 25 degrees F so the muffins have a longer rise time before developing their crust. With high altitude they can often rise too much too fast before the crust is developed and then they collapse in on themselves leaving a huge sinkhole. Sorry to be so wordy but I hope that helps.

  • 6
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel - December 06, 2012 @ 5:08 am

    These would make me SO happy. The flavors are just perfect. Now I’m really wishing I had one of those instead of what I just had for breakfast!


  • 7
    Carla @ Carla's Confections - December 06, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

    I really love all of these tips :) I didnt realize some of them, like filling the empty cups with water. Great ideas :) These muffins look perfect too!


  • 8
    Kristen Hathaway - December 07, 2012 @ 9:34 am

    Katie, Thanks so much for this great recipe and the tips. My kids are coming home from college next weekend and I can’t wait to wake them up with the amazing smell of these baking :-)


  • 9
    vanillasugarblog - December 07, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    excellent line up for tips!
    i wish cranberries didn’t have such a short season (and I live on cape cod!)


  • 10
    Kerstin - November 13, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    They were so yummy! I calculated the calories for them (through My Fitness Pal) and came up with 154 cal/muffin. The only change I made is that I reduced sugar to 1 cup, so I cut out 1/4 cup. No guarantee that my calculation is right, but it’s a good benchmark I think. And at 154 per muffin, that’s not bad at all :)


  • 11
    JavaJenny - December 02, 2013 @ 7:23 am

    This recipe turned out fantastic! (I live in a western Pennsylvania river valley for those collecting altitude baking info) I finely chopped my apples instead of grating them and left the cranberries whole because I like chunks of surprising flavors in my food. For me, this recipe made 64 mini muffins and 18 regular sized muffins. The minis I baked for 10 minutes, larger muffins for 17. I sprayed the pans with olive oil and encountered absolutely no sticking. I sprinkled extra cane sugar on top when they were still warm from the oven. I will definitely make these again. Beautiful AND delicious!


  • 12
    Heather - December 15, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    I made these with my toddler. Loved them! The only changes we made were to drop the sugar down to 1 cup, and I used 2 cups plain flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour. This was perfect to use up my remaining cranberries!


  • 13
    Jodee Weiland - September 11, 2014 @ 9:10 am

    These muffins look awesome…so delicious! Love the tips as well…thanks for sharing!


  • 14
    Mylene - October 23, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

    I just love this recipe and made it many times already. Since the last time, I had a wonderful baby who has, unfortunately, an egg allergy. Can I substitute eggs in this recipe with something else?

    Many thanks!


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie Goodman replied: — October 24th, 2014 @ 11:35 AM

      I am glad you like them. Congratulations on your baby. I have not done any experimenting with egg alternatives. I would suggest doing a search for egg substitutes in baking or something along those lines. Good luck!

  • 15
    Kat - December 14, 2014 @ 9:56 am

    Hi, my child is also allergic to eggs. You can replace the eggs in baking with these.
    T = tablespoon, t = teaspoon
    1. for each egg, replace with: 1 1/2 T water + 1 1/2 T oil + 1 t baking powder, stirred together
    2. Ener-G Egg Replacer – for each egg replace with: 2 T hot water + 2 t Ener-G egg replacer, stirred together (the box says 1 1/2 t but I’ve found 2 t to be more reliable) – it’s in most supermarkets these days and lasts for a long time


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