Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Berry Muffins

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Berry Muffins

You're gonna love the taste of these winter berry studded pumpkin muffins. They taste tart and sweet and grainy-tender all at once.

Yesterday we woke up to a surprise. The mesa and distant hills were powdered in white. The first snow of the season (am I ready for this?). The Kokopelli thermometer read twenty-two degrees. Extra thick toasty socks were needed. Steve made a morning fire in the kiva to warm us. Lucky for me, we had baked some pumpkin muffins this week. Tender, comfy break apart soul food for this bone-shivery goddess to nibble with her tea.

Vegan Pumpkin Berry Muffins

Originally published November 2007.

Use two cups of your favorite gluten-free flour combo, if you prefer. I just happen to like the combo of buckwheat and corn meal. It gives these little gems a whole grain texture that reheats like a charm.


1/2 cup extra light olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup canned organic pumpkin puree
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornmeal
1/2 cup GF organic buckwheat flour or GF millet flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch or potato starch
1/2 cup sorghum flour or certified gluten-free oat flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
4-5 tablespoons organic apple juice or apple cider, as needed
1 1/4 cups berries- I used frozen cranberries and blueberries


Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups.

In a large mixing bowl, add the oil, pumpkin puree and molasses, and whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; and whisk to combine.

In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal, buckwheat, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, sea salt, baking powder, and xanthan gum.

Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients into the wet; and stir by hand just enough to make a smooth batter. Add the apple juice a tablespoon at a time to make the batter less stiff. You want a batter that is thicker than cake batter, and not runny. We live at high altitude in the desert, so our flours are very dry- if you live in a more humid climate, you may need less liquid in your batter.

Fold in the frozen berries and quickly combine. (If you use room temperature berries, pat them dry first; and decrease the baking time by five minutes.)

Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the twelve muffin cups.

Decrease the oven temperature to 350ºF and bake the muffins on a center rack for about 20 to 25 minutes or so, until the tops are firm to the touch and golden. Check with a wooden pick, if necessary; if it emerges clean, the muffins are done.

Remember, Dear Reader, I bake at high altitude, so please use your own tried-and-true guidelines for baking times.

Place the muffin pan on a wire to cool for five minutes, then remove the muffins from the baking tin and pop them on to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Serve warm.

Store leftover muffins (wrapped individually and bagged in a freezer bag) in the freezer. Thaw and reheat by toasting or grilling.

Makes twelve muffins.


Dianne said...

These look very good Karina! Almost too good to eat!


Torrey said...

Quick question:

If you use a GF flour mix, do you still need the xanthan gum, the baking powder, and the salt?
(Sorry, I'm a GF baking newbie over here!)


Katrina said...

These were DIVINE as usual! I substituted brown rice flour for the buckwheat. It made them a bit more dense than I prefer, but they were still delicious! Thanks again for the great recipes. They are always delicious and fun and easy to make.

Cakespy said...

Yes, these do look very good. But too good to eat? No way! I could do some damage here. :-)

Thank you for commenting on Cakespy!

Karina said...

Hi Dianne!

Thanks- they are pretty. And tasty, too. ;)

Hey Torrey,

Excellent question. You could halve the baking powder and baking soda, and perhaps the salt, too (most baking/pancake mixes contain those).

Hello Katrina!

My pleasure. Have you tried the white rice based GF flour mix from Whole Foods? It's excellent for all purpose baking (as a blend- it's not a leavened pancake mix).

Cakespy- You know it, Sweet One. These gems are gone!


Sheltie Girl said...

Hi Karina - Your muffins look delicious. You are adapting so very well to baking with your new allergies. I saw a link to a new cook book that I thought might interest you. The cook book is by Linda Lundy at Her daughter is allergic to just about everything. Her book is called The Super Allergy Girl: GF, CF, NF Allergy & Celiac Cook book.

Take care & I hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Anonymous said...

Hi Karina
These look fab. I made cranberry and pumpkin muffins a week or two ago and considered molasses but thought it would not work, now I'm going to give it a shot in your recipe! Keep up the tasty work.

Karina said...

Hi Theresa!

I especially like molasses in egg-free baking recipes- I think it may help in binding the batter a bit. And it adds flavor- and iron. So what's not to love?

Take care!


Carrie said...

I LOVE pumpkin in everything! Cakes, breads, pancakes... mmmmm!!! I can never get enough pumpkin! Those are some beautiful muffins Karina!! How is that hip coming along?

barb said...

I made these for my GF clients (I'm a personal chef!) and they were so very delicious. Made them at home but couldn't find my muffin pan so used a bundt pan and my family flipped. Thank you for your great recipes, everything I've tried has been outstanding. I love the blueberry babycakes and the shrimp and spinach bake. So do my clients!

Karina Allrich said...

Hi Carrie- Thanks- and thanks for asking about the hip. It's mending. In fact, I can walk without looking like Walter Brennan now. ;) Progress.

Barb- Great- thanks for sharing. I'd love to know how you baked this batter as a bundt cake. If you get a minute, stop by and share your experience; I'll add it to the recipe.

Muchas gracias!


Anonymous said...

Karina--whenyou use apple juice in a recipe, is it ok to use water? I don't keep jiuce on hand--what should i use instead?

Thank you for this blog--it's literally saving me from gluten-free despair!!
--Joyce in Tucson

Karina Allrich said...

Hi Joyce- I keep juice boxes on hand (because I don't drink juice either). That said, water will work; or rice milk. It may change texture and taste a little bit- or not at all. I have had the best luck using water with cornmeal based recipes.

And boy am I glad my recipes help keep despair at bay! xox


Anonymous said...

Karina--thanks for the quick answer! Some followup questions:
1) I was never into baking (or cooking either, for that matter!) until my food allergies have recently forced me into it rather than forgo treats. I must say, I am actually enjoying creating yummy treats at home! But, I don't really understand when you would use, say apple juice vs. water vs. rice/hemp/nut milk. Is it only a flavor thing, or will it affect texture? If so, I may need to start making juice and rice milk "ice cubes" so I can keep it around w/o it going bad! It'd be a lot easier to just use water (maybe w/a bit of agave added)...your professional feedback, please!!

2) I recently used coconut butter (rather than oil) when using Pamela's choc. chip cookie mix (which is excellent, in my opinion)--this turned out pretty well. Nice coconut sweetness w/o the oiliness of the coconut oil, plus it adds fiber. I know you use spectrum shortening, but I haven't gotten hold of any yet. DO you ever use the coconut butter?

3) The hardest part of gluten-free treats for me is the "smooth" texture--sort of like overly-mashed potatoes that are shiny. I know a lot of people like that, but I prefer more texture. Have you ever used cooked grains, like millet, in your baked goods? I wouldn't begin to know how to do this, but I've been wondering if it'd add some nice texture or "roughness." Don't know if I'm explaining this well...any comments?

Thank you so much--you really are a Goddess!
--Joyce, from AZ

P.S. maybe if enough of us ask, Pamela will stop using dairy/nuts in her Baking Mix! I can't do dairy either, so I can't use it.

Jade Lam said...

Hi Karina, thanx again for having your recipes available for us to try and to delight our senses. I made these tasty morsels this morning but used blackstrap molasses and what a strange but more-ish flavour it gave it. I didn't even know there were 3 different types of molasses so just grabbed an organic blackstrap one. Might half the amount I use next time i think. My family liked it but there were some comments about how different it tasted :) Should I not use it again I wonder..?

Karina Allrich said...

Jade- It's true, molasses is a strong taste. You could use just 1 tablespoon instead and sub the rest of the amount with agave, honey or maple syrup. In fact, I'll mention that in the recipe.

Thanks for the feedback! :-)


Sarah said...

Yum, yum!!! I made this recipe this morning. For simplicity, I subbed 2 cups Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose GF Baking Mix instead of the 4 flours called for in the recipe. So delicious! Sweet and slightly tart from cranberries. Didn't even taste gluten-free or crumble like lots of GF treats. I was gifted 3 bottles of molasses by someone who doesn't use it... now I finally know what to do them (and will soon need more). So good! Thank you! Keep rockin' out in the kitchen!

Charla said...

I didn't have tapioca starch, so I ground granulated quick cooking tapioca in a coffee grinder. I used dried cranberries instead of fresh. It turned out dense and very moist and sweet. I had a few crunchy un-ground tapioca pieces, but it didn't affect the outcome. The texture reminded me of molasses gingerbread. Excellent recipe, thanks Karina. You rock!

Charla said...

Oh, and I think I over-mixed the batter bc they didn't really rise too much. Mine are also darker, I'm not sure if Karina uses whole buckwheat flour or white, but I use whole.

Kim said...

I've made this recipe a few times and it's just so yummy! I don't think I've ever used the exact same ingredients, either! Today I used corn meal, corn starch (for tapioca) and used 1/2 cup quinoa, and 1/2 cup brown rice/sweet rice mix. I just love how forgiving this recipe is - and my daughter absolutely adores it.

Veronica said...

Karina, let me start by saying, you are nothing short of a goddess for making such an awesome recourse for us gluten free folks (im also vegan, and i was able to make an entire Thanksgiving feast from your ingenious recipes!)
As for these darn pumpkin muffins, I can't seem to get the execution right. I have made them twice now and they have turned out very small (hardly rise at all), dark brown and wet on the inside (despite baking them for almost 40 mins)... I'm not sure what to do because I am a perfectionist and I really want to get these right! In the directions you say to add potato starch but it isn't listed on the ingredients section so I dont know what amount to use... likewise, the sorghum flour which is on the ingredients list is not included in the baking directions.. Ive tried a little bit of everything and the outcome is still lackluster.
I live in Seattle, Washington and I'm wondering if my ultra-humid, rainforest atmosphere is messing with these beautiful confections...
If you have any thoughts or advice, please let me know!
Thanks so much and please keep up the extraordinary work.

Karina Allrich said...

Hi Veronica, I fixed the directions. Thanks. I made this recipe when we lived in New Mexico. Very dry - and high altitude. So I would say, it is definitely an issue if you're having trouble with the batter being too wet.

Why not try my newer Pumpkin Muffins recipe, developed here in California? It will probably be a better fit for you.

In general, if the batter/dough is too wet (too thin) and your humidity is high - it spells trouble. Start mixing your batter with less liquid. Adjust it to your weather.

Also- - I assume you are using liquid measuring cups for the wet ingredients, and dry nested cups for the dry? And also- allowing your oven to come to full temperature before baking? Perhaps, too, your oven runs on the cooler side? An oven thermometer can help you find out. For instance, our current apartment has a very *hot* oven. I have to be careful not to burn everything! For 350 degrees, I have to set it at less than 310 degrees.

xox Karina

Veronica said...

All of that information was so helpful. I really like the way you describe your instructions. You make it clear that culinary satisfaction is about having an intrinsic understanding and passion for the craft.
Thank you so much for all the advice.

Laura said...

Hi Karina!

I am a vegan and while I do not adhere to a gluten-free diet, several of my friends do. So the other day I decided to make your muffins and they turned out beautifully. They were a perfect winter treat! Like you, I especially liked the texture the cornmeal gave the muffins. I tried to upload some photos I took of my muffins but I can only leave a text comment.

Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes :) Stay warm!