Gluten-Free Pear Polenta Muffins

Gluten-free pear polenta muffins
Tender and sweet pear polenta muffins.

Ripe juicy pears and a polenta flour base make this new muffin recipe an instant favorite. I'll mention right off the bat- it's not low carb. It uses a moderate amount of sugar and some rice flour with organic corn meal. But if you're pining for a gluten-free vegan muffin recipe that you will absolutely love and devour with relish and lick your fingers and say softly (in your best Lauren Bacall voice), You know those pear muffins you got over there, Steve? You wanna toss me another?

These are it.

Pear Polenta Muffins Recipe

This recipe is vegan, meaning no eggs or dairy are used. But you'd never know it. These muffins are grainy and tender with soft sweet bites of pear that almost melt in your mouth.


2 cups peeled, cored and diced ripe pears- 2-3 pears- depending upon size
3/4 cup gluten-free cornmeal
3/4 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 soft ripe banana, mashed well
1/3 to 1/2 cup hemp or rice milk, as needed
2/3 cup organic brown or raw sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
A sprinkle of organic raw sugar for topping, if desired


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a twelve muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients- cornmeal, rice flour, tapioca starch, sea salt, baking powder and cinnamon; whisk with a fork to blend. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat the light olive oil with the mashed banana; add 1/3 cup hemp milk, sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.

Add the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and beat lightly until well blended; but do not beat it to death. The batter should be like a thick muffin batter (not as thin as a cake batter). If your batter is dry or stiff add a tablespoon of hemp or rice milk at a time and stir until it loosens up.

Stir in the pears.

Drop the batter into the muffin cups by spoonfuls; distribute evenly among the twelve cups. I like to make sure there are a few pear pieces sticking out of the tops. Sprinkle with a dusting of raw sugar.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or so until the muffins are firm to the touch on top and a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean. Try the pick method twice- you might hit a moist pear.

Set the pan on a rack to cool for a couple of minutes; then liberate the muffins from the hot pan- this keeps the bottoms from steaming and getting soggy. Cool the muffins on a wire rack.

To store- wrap and freeze cooled muffins in the freezer. They thaw easily and taste tender and sweet when still a wee bit chilled. They also are delicious warm.

Makes 12 muffins.

Tip: Room temperature pears help keep the baking time even; room temperature ingredients work best in gluten-free baking.

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heatherfeather said...

Hmm... Sounds delicious and like I would make them ten minutes ago! Except for my banana allergy...

Not being vegan (or knowing the baking ways of vegans), can I sub an egg for banana? or does the banana serve another function?

Karina said...

HeatherFeather- For not being a vegan you grasp vegan baking techniques, Darling. Cool. ;)

Yes, the banana subs the eggs. So if you leave it out add 2 large happy eggs.


SusanV said...

These aren't on my diet either, darn it, but they look so good they're tempting me. This is why food blogging makes me fat--reading other people's blogs!

Sarah said...

Funny you should mention making it lower carb. I just recently made a phenomenal (in my husband's opinion, too) blueberry peach muffin. Using the same amount of flour in your pear polenta muffin recipe, substitute 1/2 cup of almond meal for 1/4 cup each of the cornmeal and rice flour - even more if you want. I also substituted a couple of tablespoons of fat for unsweetened applesauce (low glycemic, right?) so as not to make the muffin too dense. You still get a delicious moist muffin with a little cornmeal crumble. Excellent reheated directly from the freezer, too!

I'll definitely be making your recipe once my mother-in-law's home grown pears ripen up a bit. :-)

Bebe said...

This muffin looks so yummy I have to make some!

Do you use medium grind cornmeal? I just had a recipe disaster recently using cornmeal (too damp) so I want to make sure I'm using the right type. I have Bob Redmill's organic medium grind cornmeal in my pantry right now. Thanks!

Janice said...

Using pear and/or apple does make the muffins very moist and that's definitely a plus in gf baking.

These look yummy but sweet and what I'm really wanting is a low carb gluten free savoury muffin using nutritional yeast instead of cheese. Something I can have for breakfast instead of quinoa porridge every day. Anybody found a recipe like that?

Klay said...

As usual the lead in makes me want to fire up the the oven right away. Add that to the virtual guarantee that the recipe is delicious, because all of your's are, the muffins can't be too far off in my future. Yumm!

ps. I made your vegan cheese sauce last night and it was soooo good!

glutengal said...

I'm definitely going to try these! Now I'll have to go to bed HUNGRY!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Perfect -- the pear trees in my yard are just about to yield more than a hundred pears -- all at the same time! I love cooking with pears, and though I don't bake often, I think I'll try these muffins because they look so darned delicious.

Reeni said...

I hear you on food blogging makes you fat, I've added on 7 pounds in a month!! No muffins for me-but I can still ogle them and dream of a day when I can indulge again...

Matin said...

Looks like the perfect combination, pear and polenta:-)

Lynn said...

Hi, Karina! Wow, this recipe looks delectable! I can't wait to try it. I've been blogging about my husband's gluten-free baking adventures (we do use oats, though, which I know is problematic for some folks); I know that this will give him fresh inspiration. Thanks!

Marsha said...

I was looking for a way to use all the pears from my pear tree and was pleasantly surprised to find your blog here on blogger! I posted this recipe on my blog with a link to your's. I am excited to find you!

Cherylharris said...

This looks like fun My understanding is that polenta is a much coarser grain than cornmeal. Will regular cornmeal work, or does it work better with polenta? Thanks!

Karina Allrich said...

Cheryl- If you have a stone ground cornmeal, that should work.


Cherylharris said...

I made the muffins this morning, the smell was heavenly! I ended up using BRM stone ground cornmeal. But their cornmeal has big chunks, and it ended up leaving rock-like pieces in the muffins. What brand do you use? Thanks a bunch.

Karina Allrich said...

Cheryl- First- for the sake of my readers, Bob's Red Mill Corn Meal and Polenta is NOT gluten-free (unless they've changed their packaging to include the GF symbol).

Big chunks? Weird, regardless. I'd consider returning it.

I use Arrowhead Mills at the moment.

These muffins were fall apart tender and only a bit grainy- not heavy at all. I'm sorry the cornmeal you used had a large chunks- that's just wrong!


Cherylharris said...

Thanks so much for pointing that out! I have a sensitivity to corn, and so I only use corn for DH, friends, etc. That's why I know little about baking with cornmeal. I don't buy products from a dedicated facility for foods that I can't eat. I should have been more careful in how I put that. Sorry for confusion.

moonwatcher said...


I just made these and they are delicious! Since I need to be very low fat for the management of my MS symptoms (which really works!), I used 1/4 cup of my homemade apple pear sauce instead of the oil, and a combination of pear and apple. I added a 1/4 teaspoon of allspice and a splash of cardamom on the top with a splash of the sugar. I also experimented with lowering the sugar to 1/2 cup and adding 1 1/2 tbs of agave nectar. . .they came out beautifully, and now I will look forward to making these again when the pears on my own tree are in season. Thanks so much for all your great recipes and VERY helpful tips about gluten free baking. Between you and Susan at FFVK, I am eating like a queen and feeling better than I have in a long, long time. All the best to you!

Carin said...

i loved these muffins! I added 2 eggs and left the banana in. I am wondering why there's no xanthan gum in this recipe. Will the muffins fall apart in a day? I guess I will find out, if any of mine are left in 24 hours.

Thanks for another great recipe!

Karina Allrich said...

Moonwatcher- So glad you enjoy these. Thanks for sharing your changes. xox

Carin- I always freeze my gluten-free baked goods after the first day- actually, on the first day (after we've eaten our first fresh portion). Wrap individually and bag.

I didn't think this recipe needed the xanthan gum.


Megan said...

Karina, I just made these and they are soooo yummy! The only thing I changed is that I added walnuts and cinnamon egg nog instead of the milk. We have a local dairy that makes flavored egg nog at this time of year, and I always use it in baking when it's available (since I can have dairy). Everything else I kept the same.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karina,

My daughter may be allergic to bananas and we don't eat eggs. Is there another substitute for the banana in this recipe?

Jennifer said...


Oh sweet Krishna and all the other various deities, you do it again with yet another amazing recipe that you can make alluring and seductive through nothing more than text and a really good photo. My new epilepsy medication has made food less than interesting these days, so this one sounds like a winner. I'll let you know how it enlivens my dulled taste buds and numbed out olfactory centers....

amy said...

Every time I get my hands on some pears, I think about these muffins (and usually end up making them...) Out of rice flour at the moments, so subbed millet; no pears, so using a cubed banana. They should be great anyways.

I've used a medium-grind cornmeal before (from the bulk foods section at the local co-op--looks identical to the BRM stuff), and have noticed large, hard grains in each bite, too. There are two ways to eliminate these, both involving a little patience: either soak the cornmeal in your milk overnight, or let the muffins sit a day before eating. Both methods seem to soften up those unevenly large grains. I've also been throwing in 3/4 tsp. xanthan gum, as these are a delayed gratification product with the "letting them sit a day" method. The gum keeps them from crumbling while I wait for the cornmeal to soften.

Shaay said...

These are wonderful! Thank you so much. My sister has celiacs and I'm always looking for something yummy to make for her. These were winners with everyone!

I subbed out the flours listed for 1 cup of Pamela's baking mix, which is sorghum based without those bitter bean flours. I cut back the salt by half.

These were a breeze to make and such a pleasure to eat. Thank you.

Shaay said...

Oh, btw: I used the GF cornmeal from Arrowhead Mills - very happy with their product! No uneven corn grains here!

Anonymous said...

It turned out great - thanks! These were my first ever gluten free muffins.

I subbed an all-purpose gf baking flour (which was a mixture of various flours Namaste brand) for the rice flour + tapioca flour, 2 eggs for the banana, and soy cream for the rice milk.

I'm thinking of adding nuts/seeds next time.

- Kristin

kelsbels said...

I have an allergy to eggs and bananas. What would the best substitute for those ingredients for this recipe?



Lana said...

These are great! Super delicious warm from the oven with home-made cashew butter, too. :3

Emma said...

I just made these, but with an egg replacer instead of a banana, due to allergy. I also used raisins, because my pears looked perfect, but sadly were off! I also used soy milk, because it's what was in the fridge. Stuck them in a ziplock bag with a teaspoon of icing sugar, then had them after lunch :)
I also halved the recipe, because although I don't eat most of the foods in the world (or so it sometimes feels, what with no wheat, gluten, yeast, egg, dairy, lactose, or nuts), food blogging still makes my clothes shrink!

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