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.

ten baked muffins in a muffin tin

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.

You can usually find wheat bran near the oats in the grocery store. And you can buy it online! Shiloh Farms is our favorite wheat bran in the test kitchen, but Bob’s Red Mill is also good.

two bran muffins stacked on top of each other on a counter

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.

whole wheat flour, wheat bran, olive oil, maple syrup, spices, egg, and buttermilk measured out and set on a counter

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

thick bran muffin mix in a glass mixing bowl

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

ten muffin wells in a muffin tin filled with batter

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

ten baked muffins in a muffin tin

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

Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely.

a bran muffin split in half and spread with butter on a speckled plate. A knife set alongside it

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

ten baked muffins in a muffin tin

FAQs

How should I store these?

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.

Can I freeze these muffins?

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.

What kind of mix-ins do you recommend I add?

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.

Can I use bran cereal instead?

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.

What if I can’t find wheat bran?

Try our whole-wheat muffins!

Can I make these gluten-free?

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

Print Recipe
4.81 from 31 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Soaking time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 40 minutes
Yield 10 standard muffins
Category Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American

Description

If you're looking for a healthy, fiber-rich bran muffin that's also moist and delicious, you've found it! This recipe uses our soaker method which results in moist whole-wheat baked goods every time.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • cup (76g) olive oil
  • 1 large egg (50g)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (56g) chopped toasted walnuts

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Cornstarch substitute: If you can’t have corn, you can try arrowroot starch. We have not tested this (yet) but it should work fine.
Storage: Store muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Freezing: Freeze muffins in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Reheat them as desired in the microwave for 40 seconds on 70% powder. 
We recommend measuring by weight using a food scale. If you do not have a food scale, learn more about how we measure flour.

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffinCalories: 224kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 5.5gFat: 11.5gSaturated Fat: 1.5gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 119mgFiber: 4gSugar: 11g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
a bran muffin split in half and spread with butter on a speckled plate. A knife set alongside it

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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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176ºC). Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Spread bran flakes on a baking sheet in an even layer and toast in oven for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through; let cool.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour date mixture over bran-flour mixture and stir just until combined; fold in walnuts. Divide batter between paper-lined wells.
  7. 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

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

      1. 5 stars
        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!

        1. 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!!!

  1. 5 stars
    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.

  2. 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!

    1. Hi Sudecia,
      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!

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

  3. 5 stars
    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!

    1. 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!

  4. 5 stars
    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!!

  5. 4 stars
    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.

    1. Hi Sarah!

      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.

  6. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

  7. 5 stars
    I added blueberries and they still turned out fabulous! I love that there texture seems more lightweight than some bran muffins.

    1. Hi Kyaira! Love that you added blueberries, I need to try that next time. So glad you liked them!

  8. Hi Lauren
    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!!

  9. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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.

  10. 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?”

    1. 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!

  11. 5 stars
    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!

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

    1. Hi Jeanie,

      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!