These healthy bran muffins are deliciously moist and easy to make! Naturally sweetened with maple syrup and made with 100% whole grains—these bran muffins are the perfect fiber-rich start to your day.
Healthy Bran Muffins
Not all bran muffins are created equal, and a little PSA, not all bran muffins are actually healthy. Most often they’re packed with sugar and oil to cover up the dryness of bran.
But if you employ a few whole-wheat baking strategies (like our soaker method in our Whole-Wheat Muffin recipe) and focus on quality of 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, moist, and packed with flavor while also being much healthier than other recipes or packaged muffins out there.
What is Wheat Bran?
Wheat bran is the outermost layer of the wheat kernel and is a byproduct of wheat milling. But it’s a healthy byproduct! Wheat bran is rich in insoluble fiber and other important nutrients.
What Type of Wheat Bran to Use
Many bran recipes use Bran Cereal (infact, our old recipe used it!). But I wanted to create a recipe that used the real deal. By using straight up wheat bran you’re getting more fiber, more nutrients and less sugar.
Ingredients in Bran Muffins
Wheat Bran: wheat bran is the outermost layer of the wheat kernel and is a byproduct of wheat milling. It’s used in baking (and as a nutritional supplement) due to being rich in dietary fiber. This is our favorite wheat bran in the test kitchen.
Whole Wheat Flour: I was committed to developing a muffin recipe that uses standard whole-wheat flour. I love me some recipes that use whole-wheat pastry flour and white whole-wheat flour, but it’s time we have a muffin that uses good ’ol regular whole-wheat flour.
Buttermilk: What used to be the liquid left after churning butter is now a thick and tangy cultured milk product. The slight acidity helps activate the baking soda, and the tanginess adds a nice balance of flavors to the muffin.
Cornstarch: a common ingredient in cakes and helps to create a light and tender crumb. If you can’t have corn, you can try arrowroot starch, though we have not tested that (yet).
Leaveners: You’ll need a bit of baking soda and baking powder for these muffins. We like double acting baking powder.
Olive Oil: I love baking with olive oil, and when it’s one of the main flavors I will often use extra-virgin olive oil, like in this lemon tart recipe. However for this recipe, I often prefer regular olive oil for its mild flavor which allows the vanilla, cinnamon and whole-wheat flavor to come through.
Maple Syrup: make sure to use pure maple syrup here! Don’t sub it out for anything other sweetener as this recipe was developed with maple syrup.
Egg: Make sure to use egg labeled as “large.” If you’re using farm-fresh, you can weigh the egg (out of shell) to verify you have the right amount. It should weight 50 grams.
If the egg weighs less than 50 grams (out of shell), crack another egg, whisk the eggs together then weight out 50 grams. Save the rest for a breakfast scramble.
Flavorings: you’ll need a bit of ground cinnamon (for warmth) and a dash of pure vanilla rounds!
Walnuts: toasted and chopped walnuts add a lovely flavor and texture. Feel free to skip them or sub in pecans.
How to Make Bran Muffins
These bran muffins are so easy to make! With a little planning ahead, these come together in just 30 minutes.
1. Soak the Flour and Bran
In a medium bowl combine the bran flakes, whole wheat flour and buttermilk. Mix it until it’s combined then cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. This is KEY to make a moist and tender bran muffin. If you skip this step the muffins will come out dry and with little structure.
2. Mix Up the Wet Ingredients
When you’re ready to bake, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl.
3. Add the Soaked Bran Mixture
Add the soaked bran mixer to the olive oil mixture and whisk to combine. Be patient, it will come together! It’s easier if you use the whisk to first break up the soaker mixture then start whisking to combine.
4. Add the Leavener
Whisk together the cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in. a small bowl. Add the starch mixture to the batter and whisk to combine.
5. Add the Mix-Ins
Stir in the walnuts just until combined. You can skip this step altogether or substitute with a different type of nut!
6. Divide the Batter Between Muffin Wells
Divide batter evenly between 10 paper-lined and greased muffin wells. Make sure you grease the paper liners! This will make it so the paper liner releases from muffin after baking.
7. Bake the Muffins
Start the muffins at 425ºF for the first initial 8 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF and continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Starting the muffins at a high temperature jump starts the baking process and gives them height. Then dropping the temp allows them to bake through without burning.
8. Cool & Enjoy
Substituting Oil With Applesauce
We’ve been asked a few times if you can substitute the oil in this recipe with applesauce. We have not tested this recipe with applesauce so we can’t guarantee it will work.
However, if you would like to try it, sub part (no more than half) of the oil with applesauce.
More Healthy Muffin Recipes To Try
- Our Whole-Wheat Muffins are truly the best whole wheat muffin recipe out there. It uses our foolproof soaker method (as does this bran muffin recipe)!
- 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.
Store these muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage you can pop them in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheat the frozen muffins in the microwave for 40 seconds on 70% power.
Yes, you can freeze these bran muffins. Transfer the cooled muffins to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheat the frozen muffins in the microwave for 40 seconds on 70% power.
We love to add chopped nuts, but any chopped dried fruit is also delicious. Chocolate chips, and cinnamon chips would all be a delicious addition as well.
Many bran muffin recipes call for bran cereal (flakes or strands). Do not use bran cereal in his recipe. If you would like to make bran muffins with bran cereal, check out the older recipe listed below the recipe card.
Try our whole-wheat muffins!
No, this recipe cannot be made gluten-free. Try our gluten-free blueberry muffins.
If you make these muffins be sure to leave a comment and rating below. We love to hear from you!
Bran Muffin Recipe
- 1 cup (120g) whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 ¼ cups (75g) wheat bran
- 1 ¼ cup (315g) buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons (20g) cornstarch*
- 2 ½ teaspoon (11g) baking powder
- ¾ teaspoons (2g) ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
- ½ cup (160g) maple syrup
- ⅓ cup (76g) olive oil
- 1 large egg (50g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (56g) chopped toasted walnuts
- For the soaker, combine 1 cup (120g) flour, 1 ¼ cups (75g) bran flakes and 1 ¼ cups (315g) buttermilk. Stir to combine then cover with plastic or a tight fitting lid and refrigerate overnight (8–10 hours).
- When ready to bake, heat oven to 425ºF (218ºC). Coat a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line 10 muffin wells with paper liners and coat liners with nonstick spray.
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons (20g) cornstarch, 2½ teaspoons (11g) baking powder, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together ½ cup (160g) maple syrup, ⅓ cup (76g) oil, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth.
- Add soaker to maple syrup mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined (start by using your whisk to break up the firm bran mixture—keep working it. It will loosen and come together.).
- Whisk in starch mixture until combined then stir in ½ cup (56g) walnuts.
- Divide batter evenly between 10 prepared cups.
- Bake muffins for 8 minutes (at 425ºF) then turn oven down to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking until tops are set, center looks done and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 15–17 minutes more (start checking them at 13 minutes to be safe).
- Total bake time will be between 21 and 25 minutes.
- Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin tin and let cool 5 minutes longer. Serve.
Looking For The Old Recipe?
The original recipe was published in May of 2018—since then it was updated to be easier and more straightforward. If you are looking for the original recipe, it is written out below:
2018 Bran Muffin Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Makes: 12 standard muffins
Description: Naturally sweetened with dates, these 100% whole grain bran muffins are light, fluffy and absolutely delicious. Enhanced with vanilla and orange, this recipe is flavorful and flexible—stir in nuts, fresh blueberries, dried raisins, or dried cherries for different variations.
- 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.
Notes: If you are watching your fat/oil intake, feel free to sub part (no more than half) or the oil with applesauce.
Nutrition per muffin: 220 calories, 24g carb, 5g pro, 13g fat, 8g sat fat, 28mg chol, 165mg sod, 5g fiber, 10g sugar