These healthy bran muffins are naturally sweetened with dates and are 100% whole-grain. They’re light, fluffy and absolutely delicious!
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works
Enhanced with vanilla and orange, this recipe is flavorful and flexible—stir in nuts, fresh blueberries, dried raisins, or dried cherries for different variations.
Not all healthy bran muffins are created equal, and a little PSA, not all bran muffins are healthy. Most often they’re packed with sugar and as dense as a brick. Nothing good there. But if they’re made right and with wholesome ingredients, bran muffins can be really good, like breakfast- and snack-worthy good.
These bran muffins are everything you love about the breakfast staple—light, fluffy, and packed with flavors of orange and vanilla—but with a healthified take. They’re with 100% whole-grain and naturally sweetened with dates, which in addition to the molasses, gives an immense depth of flavor.
What makes these bran muffins healthy?
If you’re interested in the stats, these Healthy Bran Muffins are a great source of fiber, vitamin B, Iron, Magnesium, and Manganese.
And if you aren’t interested, well, all you need to know is that these bran muffins are made with wholesome ingredients, packed with flavor, and are something you can feel good about.
How to make healthy bran muffins
These bran muffins are so easy to make! There are a few more steps to this recipe than a recipe for regular muffins would have, but I promise the steps are simple and the results are so worth it!
- toast the bran flakes (this added depth of flavor)
- combine date and orange juice in a small saucepan and simmer until juice has been absorbed (this softens the dates to allow them to process smoothly)
- in a food processor, process barn cereal into a flour.
- add toasted bran flakes, baking powder and salt to food processor and combine; transfer to a bowl.
- add cooked dates and coconut oil to empty food processor; purée.
- add buttermilk, eggs, molasses, vanilla, and zest and pulse to combine.
- pour date/buttermilk mixture over dry mixture and mix just until combined.
- divide batter between muffin wells and bake!
Substituting oil with applesauce
Also, if you are watching your fat/oil intake, feel free to sub part (no more than half) of the oil with applesauce in this recipe. Although, I think these are pretty great the way they are. But you do you!
More healthy muffin recipes to try
- Our 100% Whole-Wheat Muffins are truly the best whole wheat muffin recipe. It uses our foolproof soaking method!
- When you want a little zest and fresh fruit, make our Healthy Lemon Blueberry Muffins.
- In the fall, these Healthy Cranberry and Orange Muffins cannot be beat!
- If you’re looking for a go-to gluten-free muffin recipe, try our Whole Grain Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins.
- Turn banana bread into Whole-Wheat Olive Oil Banana Bread Muffins.
- Keep things interesting with this fun recipe for Pear & Fennel Muffins.
If you make these muffins let me know, I’d love to see your creations!
Store these muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Yes, you can freeze these bran muffins. We recommend wrapping them individually in plastic wrap followed by foil for the best results.
We love to add chopped nuts, but any chopped dried fruit is also delicious. Chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and even cinnamon chips would all be a delicious addition as well.
Actually Healthy Bran Muffins
- ½ cup bran flakes, such as wheat bran
- 1 cup pitted and chopped dates (8–9 dates)
- ¾ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 ½ cups (3 ½ ounces) original bran cereal, such as All-Bran
- ¾ cup (3 ½ ounces) whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh orange zest
- ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176ºC). Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
- Spread bran flakes on a baking sheet in an even layer and toast in oven for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through; let cool.
- Bring dates and orange juice to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce to medium-low and cook until juice has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, process bran cereal in a food processor until finely ground into a flour. Add toasted bran flakes, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Process bran mixture to combine; transfer to a bowl.
- Add cooked dates and coconut oil to now empty food processor and puree. Add buttermilk, eggs, molasses, vanilla, and zest and pulse until combined, about 10 pulses.
- Pour date mixture over bran-flour mixture and stir just until combined; fold in walnuts. Divide batter between paper-lined wells.
- Bake muffins until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in pan 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yum! Love sweetening foods with dates! Will have to try these.
Me too, so easy and so tasty! Thanks!
I was so eager to taste these muffins. They are certainly more complex than just an ordinary brand muffin. I certainly wasn’t disappointed! The first taste was orange! That little bit of orange zest really makes a difference and the flavour was “omg”! I love the sweetness without adding any sugar to the recipe. These are without a doubt the best brand muffins I’ve ever made or eaten. Thank you so much! Oh, yes, i doubled the recipe so I guess I’ll have muffins for days!
Hi Laurel! I am so glad you enjoyed these muffins—they are a favorite around here too. Great note on the orange flavor—they are pretty orange-forward! SO glad you enjoyed them!!!
I seriously can’t wait to try these!
Yay! I hope you like them!!
I made these and we ALL loved them, even the kids. These will be on heavy rotation at my house! Great breakfast for on-the-go.
Love that these are sweetened with dates. Also love the vanilla + orange combo- yum!!
The best bran muffins I’ve ever tried! Thanks ZK!!
These muffins are delightful!
The batter came out like ginger bread cookie dough. I made cookies because I didn’t want to throw away the batter/dough because it was expensive to make. Have no clue what went wrong. Bummer!
I am sorry to hear that the batter came out too thick. The batter is quick thick for a muffin recipe, it somewhat holds it shape, however it shouldn’t be anything like a cookie dough. A few things I am curious about, did you use bran flakes and bran cereal? These are two different ingredients and both are important for texture. The flakes add a lot of nutrition without too much bulk. Second, I want to make sure you used the correct amount of oil, buttermilk and eggs, as these three ingredients are important for loosening the batter. Lastly, did you cook the dates long enough for all of the orange juice to be absorbed?
These are just a few of the things that could have caused a thick batter. I hope that helps! If you need more instructions, the video is a great help!
Great flavor but mine were very thick as well. I’m trying to be dairy free so I used canned coconut milk with vinegar instead of buttermilk. I’m wondering if thats why mine are so thick.
Hi Melanie, canned coconut milk will definitely change the texture. I haven’t tested these with a dairy-free alternative, but you’re on the right path with making a non-dairy buttermilk. Instead of canned coconut milk I would try refrigerated coconut or almond milk (with the addition of vinegar) instead. I hope this helps!
The perfect bran muffin! Wow – nutritious, great flavour & moist! I didn’t have WW pastry flower so I substituted 1/4 C with white, NP with the change. Thanks Lo for a nutritious & delicious bran muffin!
Thanks Charlene! I am so glad you enjoyed them! Also, thanks for letting us know that this works with a combo of AP and whole-wheat flour—I think a lot of people don’t have WW pastry on hand, so this is helpful!
Oh my god. The photos do NOT do these muffins justice. They are SO moist and flavorful! They’re not too sweet, soft but sturdy, and perfect for breakfast. I love the addition of orange too—these are fabulous!!
I just made these but had the same issue with the mixture being very stiff.
I’m in the UK and we don’t really use cups to measure quantities so I’m not sure I got the conversions from cups to ounces/ml correct!
They don’t look very pretty but they taste delicious regardless so I’ll definately have another try.
Thanks for trying this recipe, I’m sorry to hear it was stiff as well. One thing that came to mind—I would make sure your dates are pretty fresh and not too old or dried out. If you run into the same issue again, I would add an extra splash or two of buttermilk.
These are sooooooo good. I used bran flakes instead because that’s all I had and they came out perfect. I also used concentrated orange juice concentrate to make my date puree liquid, so it was really flavorful! I was in a hurry so I put the batter in the fridge until I had time to bake them later and by then the batter puffed up – I think baking them after that made them easy to scoop into the muffin cups and they were light and airy.
Hi Gina! I love these tips, I need to try this recipe with bran flakes instead of the cereal. LOVE the idea of orange juice concentrate, I bet that was so flavorful! Thanks for sharing!
When it calls for 1/2 cup bran flakes, such as wheat bran, is that a cereal?
Wheat bran is a baking ingredient and can be found in the health food section of most grocery stores. Here is a link for reference (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VDT6OW/). These are very light flakes but pack a lot of fiber. Let me know if I can answer any other questions!
Question. Why bran flakes and bran cereal? What’s the difference?
Hi Valerie, this recipe uses bran flakes to add tons of healthy fiber and some structure to the muffin while the bran cereal contributes structure (once pulverized it acts like flour) and flavor all while also adding healthy fiber. The combination of both is important for creating the healthiest bran muffin that also tastes great and has good texture.
I added blueberries and they still turned out fabulous! I love that there texture seems more lightweight than some bran muffins.
Hi Kyaira! Love that you added blueberries, I need to try that next time. So glad you liked them!
Having given up on doctor’s remedies/meds for serious IBS issues I found that All Bran is the only thing that works for me. Looking for other ways to incorporate this great cereal into my diet, I came across this recipe. Also trying to incorporate food that helps to increase metabolic rate, I added to your recipe, some fresh grated ginger and some cinnamon.
Looking at these as “medicine” I was resigned to eating one a day.
Well……these were, like OMG , absolutely AMAZING!!! Ginger and molasses go so well together, and with the orange juice and dates and cinnamon – just fantastic. With every bite, I get all the flavours, one by one. Thank you so very much for this recipe! I so look forward to eating one every day!!
I made this recipe and you did a superior job creating it – it’s excellent. I used date molasses in lieu of regular molasses as it was all I had and slipped in a little extra orange zest which was pleasant noticed by my Wife. Thank you.
Hi John, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the muffins! Love the idea of using date molasses, I bet that added even more flavor.
So, if I’m wanting to make these ahead of company coming (up to 8 days ), do I freeze them once cooked? Or does the “make ahead” note just mean “make a couple days ahead of time?”
Hi Rosemary, I recommend freezing them if you plan to make them that far in advance. Otherwise, I do find they are best when made and served within three days (kept at room temperature). I hope that helps!
Thank you Lauren! I had been looking for a healthy bran muffin and then found you. Yeah!
I use the tinier muffin tin (24 to a pan) so I manage my caloric intake better – I eat two at a time and am sated.
I’ve also refrigerated the cooked muffins for up to a month and they’ve still tasted great and fresh.
Question: I can’t seem to get the dates to soak up the orange juice. I am using store bought OJ so maybe that’s why? Or maybe not enough dates?
I also add cinnamon.
Too lazy to zest but maybe soon 😉
Thank you again, these are healthy snacks and taste amazing!
Hi Kiki! I am so happy to hear you enjoy the muffins. Such a great idea to make them into mini muffins. For the dates, are you buying whole dates and then pitting and chopping them yourself or are you using pre-chopped dates? I recommend using whole dates and chopping them yourself as they are softer and do not contain an anti-caking agent which could interfere with the soaking up of the OJ. Store-bought OJ should be just fine! Let me know if that helps, happy to work through it some more if this isn’t the answer!
Ohhhh thank you, that’s exactly what I was using – store bought, pre-pitted. I’ll definitely change that to whole, and pit and chop myself.
What if you don’t have a food processor?
You can use a blender!
Could you make these with almond flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour?
Great question—unfortunately almond flour will not work in this recipe. We tested and developed this recipe at length using whole-wheat pastry flour. If you use almond flour in place of the WW pastry flour, the muffins will likely be very dense. I wish I could say “yes” to the almond flour!