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Dairy Free Pumpkin Muffins

These dairy free pumpkin muffins are moist and topped with a cinnamon and brown sugar strussel topped with a drizzle of maple icing.  They are the perfect touch to your fall morning.

pumpkin muffins with streusel and icing on a white marble counter

After moving to Israel I become terribly homesick every autumn. 

I become miserable knowing that I’m missing the leaves turning and the pumpkin spice season. 

Sometimes I would open up my windows to let in the crisp air and wrap myself in a blanket while drinking a warm cup of tea just to pretend it’s not totally gone.

When I lived in New York used to buy pumpkin muffins, pumpkin donuts, and pumpkin spice lattes until they no longer carried them.

On my first trip back I think the first thing I bought was a pumpkin muffin.

So, I decided to make my own pumpkin foods.

Because butternut squash is easier to get in Israel than pumpkin puree, and the taste and texture is exactly the same, I often make these pumpkin muffins using homemade butternut squash puree.

This is also a great option for anyone who would like to have organic pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie.

Or, for anyone who’d like to avoid using things that come out of metal cans when making pumpkin muffins.

There is no cure to homesickness but I discovered making pumpkin muffins are close to it. 

It’s was like bringing part of the pumpkin season to me even if I didn’t have the rest of it.

It turns out I like my pumpkin muffins even better than the ones I used to buy!

In some ways, that did cure a little bit of my homesickness. It’s one less thing to miss.

These dairy free pumpkin muffins can make a nice breakfast for Thanksgiving morning, in addition to or instead of, cinnamon rolls.

Or it can be a fun dessert after you traditional Thanksgiving spread.

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

20% of all profits are donated to a women’s shelter to support the fight against domestic violence.

WHAT YOU NEED

Dry measuring cups and spoons
Liquid measuring cup
Whisk
Rubber spatula
Ladle
Mixing bowl
Standard 12-cup muffin tin
Muffin paper
Cooling rack

MUFFINS VS CUPCAKES

You may be surprised to learn that the difference between muffins and cupcakes is actually up for debate.  In fact, every time I make muffins, my family argues about what makes a muffin a muffin and a cupcake a cupcake. 

I used to think that muffins are very large and much denser than cupcakes, but I’ve also had muffins that weren’t as big or heavy.

So, what makes a muffin a muffin and a cupcake a cupcake?  Frosting.  Yup, that is the only consistent difference.  Cupcakes have frosting and muffins don’t.

I also read that muffins have a quick bread type of batter, whereas cupcakes use cake batter. While this makes sense, I’ve seen all kinds of batters used for cupcakes so I’m not sure I buy it.

BAKING WITH OIL

In general, oil in baked goods makes for a superior texture than those made with butter.  

Oil cakes tend to bake up taller with a better crumb. They also stay moist and tender far longer than recipes made with butter.

Furthermore, since oil is lighter than butter, the texture of oil cakes is lighter too. Also, given that oil is 100% fat while most American butter is 15% water, it creates a more tender crumb.

This is due to the fact that the extra water strengthens the gluten, resulting in a crumb that’s more dense.

Which Type Of Oil to Use

I use neutral oils like canola oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil.  However, it’s not unheard of for oils with stronger flavors like olive oil or coconut oil to be used.

If using olive oil, I recommend using pure olive oil for its milder flavor and higher smoking point.

Baking with Oil Conversion Chart

If you want to convert your butter recipes to oil recipes, check out my baking with oil butter to oil conversion chart.

DO EGGS NEED TO BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?

The short answer is “no”.  While a side-by-side comparison shows that baking with eggs at room temperature makes a better crumb, it’s not otherwise noticeable.

What are Eggs used for?

Eggs do three things in most recipes: they help bind the ingredients together, act as a mild leavening agent, and they add moisture.

EGG FREE OPTION

Eggs can be substituted with 1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce per egg.  This means for recipes calling for 2 eggs, you’d need 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce.

The reason applesauce makes a good binder is that it’s high in pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring starch in fruits and berries that acts as a thickening agent and stabilizer in food.

This happens when combined with sugar and acid (if the fruit or berry isn’t naturally acidic).

Just keep in mind that it may change the flavor slightly.

ARE EGGS DAIRY?

No, eggs are not dairy.  Dairy is milk and any food products made from milk, including cheese, cream, butter, and yogurt. 

So, while eggs are an animal product, they are not dairy. In fact, eggs fall under the protein food group.

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR AND OTHER DRY INGREDIENTS

Using a dry measuring cup, scoop ingredients from the bag or spoon them into the cup.  Next, level off the ingredient by removing the excess with an upside-down butter knife.

The one exception to this is brown sugar.  Brown sugar should be packed down and then any excess should be scraped off as well.

DRY VS LIQUID MEASURING CUP

Ever wonder why measuring spoons often come with a set of measuring cups?  I used to.  I didn’t see why we needed a set when we could have one large measuring cup. 

After a quick search, I had my answer.  I discovered that the large measuring cup is used for liquids, whereas the set is used for dry ingredients.

As it turns out, if you try to measure dry ingredients with a liquid cup, the measurements get messed up. 

First, you pour the flour or cocoa in, next you shake it around to get it level, and then you add more. 

By shaking it, you are causing the powder to settle, and when you add more, you end up using more than called for.

WHY SIFT FLOUR and Other Powder Ingredients

There are a number of benefits to sifting flour and other ingredients like cocoa ingredients: 

It removes any unwanted debris and you can get a more accurate measurement than when packed tight in a bag. 

It also removes any lumps that can get into the batter and be hard to break up later, or be missed altogether before baking.

If you sift the powdered ingredients together, it helps combine them and mix more evenly with other dry ingredients like sugar.

Understanding Sugar

Sugar may seem very basic if you’ve baked before, but I’ve been asked about it before, so I’m explaining.

There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.

When a recipe – any recipe, not just mine – says “sugar” without specifying anything else, it is regular white sugar.

White Sugar

White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.

It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.

It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.

Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different depending on what you choose to use.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar”. But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”

Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.

The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.

In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea but is also used for baking.

Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and mineral.

However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.

This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.

Caster Sugar

This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.

It has a finer grain than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.

Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.

You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.

This sugar is rarely, if ever, used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting and icings.

In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar. It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.

Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar

In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.

The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used. Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.

In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.

In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.

BROWN SUGAR

Brown sugar should not be confused with raw sugar or demerara. 

What we call brown sugar is essentially white sugar that has had molasses added back to it. 

Both dark and light brown sugar can easily be made at home if you have a little white sugar and molasses.

It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

DARK BROWN SUGAR 

Dark brown sugar can be made with 1 cup white granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons molasses. 

Add both ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until completely mixed.

LIGHT BROWN SUGAR

Light brown sugar can be made with 1 cup white granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses. 

Add both ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until completely mixed.

DEMERARA

Demerara is popular in Israel and is easier to find than light brown sugar. It is a type of cane sugar with a nice toffee flavor and can be used in place of brown sugar.

HOW TO SUBSTITUTE DARK AND LIGHT BROWN SUGAR

DARK BROWN SUGAR

Dark Brown Sugar can be made with 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses. 

Add both ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until completely mixed.

LIGHT BROWN SUGAR

Light Brown sugar can easily be replaced in a recipe with half dark brown sugar and half white granulated sugar.

DOES THE TYPE OF BROWN SUGAR YOU USE REALLY MATTER?

Yes and no.

It will change the flavor and likely the color.

Dark brown sugar has more molasses which will give it deeper, more complex flavor that’s closer to toffee or caramel.

However, I tend to use what’s on hand, which for me means dark brown sugar in Israel and light brown in the States.

I also happen to love the extra flavor dark brown sugar gives, so I like using it even if I have both on hand.

Types of Vanilla

Vanilla comes from a pod commonly known as a “vanilla bean”, which comes from the vanilla orchids. Vanilla pod has been used for flavoring since the Aztecs, and was introduced to Europe by a Spanish conquistador, along with cocoa.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is created by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol for some time. This is the most commonly used type of vanilla.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is common in Europe and some parts of the Middle East, like Israel.  It is made from vanilla beans sitting in sugar, vanilla bean powder mixed with sugar, or sugar mixed with vanilla extract.

In some countries, like Italy, you can also find vanilla powdered sugar which is used for confections.

Vanilla Paste

Vanilla paste is generally a specialty item.  It is a thick paste that contains a blend of the scraped-out vanilla pod seeds and vanilla extract.  You can use it as you do vanilla extract and it will leave flakes of vanilla bean like you see in vanilla bean ice cream.

Imitation Vanilla

Imitation Vanilla, otherwise known as artificial vanilla, is made from synthetic vanilla.  This is the compound that naturally occurs in vanilla beans and gives it its flavor.

Can I use imitation vanilla?

Many will tell you that you should use high quality vanilla, just like they say you should use the best cocoa.  However, most of us will probably not be willing to pay the hefty price that comes with exceptionally high-quality ingredients.

Overall, vanilla is very expensive, so the extract is as well.  So, if you’re not going to get regular quality vanilla extract, you might as well use imitation vanilla.

BAKING POWDER VS BAKING SODA

I’ve had a number of comments asking me questions about baking soda and baking powder. 

I’ve also noticed that if the wrong one is used, things don’t come out as they should. 

Using baking soda instead of baking powder can give your recipe a terrible metallic taste, while using baking powder instead of baking soda leaves your baked goods looking flat.

BAKING SODA

Baking soda is a leavening agent, which means it helps things rise.  It does this by creating carbon dioxide when it reacts to an acid, such as cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, cocoa, and vinegar. 

When the carbon dioxide is released, it causes the familiar texture and crumb in pancakes, cakes, quick breads, soda bread, and other baked and fried foods.

Baking soda works well with sourdough because sourdough is acidic.  When combined, it makes a lighter product with a less acidic taste, since baking soda is alkaline.

A good rule of thumb is to use around 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour.

BAKING POWDER

Baking powder is also a leavening agent and it’s a mixture of baking soda, cream of tartar, and sometimes cornstarch.

Most baking powder sold is double-acting. This means that the leavening occurs in two steps.

The first time it’s activated is when baking powder gets wet, which is why you cannot prepare some batters ahead of time to bake later.

The second time is when the baking powder is exposed to heat.  This happens when the batter is being baked or fried.

Since baking powder already contains an acid, it’s most often used when a recipe does not call for an additional acidic ingredient or too little of one.

A good rule of thumb is to use around 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour.

WHY SOME RECIPES CALL FOR BOTH

Some recipes call for both baking powder and baking soda when the carbon dioxide created from the acid and baking soda is not enough to leaven the volume of batter in the recipe.  

Too much baking soda gives a terrible metallic taste, so baking powder is added to give it more lift.

WHICH ONE IS STRONGER?

You may have already guessed the answer since baking soda is used to make baking powder, and you need more baking powder per cup of flour. But I’ll tell you anyway.

Baking soda is four times stronger than baking powder.  That’s why you will more often than not see recipes that only call for baking soda rather than recipes that only call for baking powder.

HOW LONG DO THEY LAST?

BAKING SODA

Baking soda is good indefinitely past its best by date, although it can lose potency over time.  A rule of thumb is two years for an unopened package and six months for an opened package.   

However, to be honest, I’ve used very old baking soda with good results.

BAKING POWDER

Like baking soda, baking powder is good indefinitely past its best by date, and can lose its potency over time.  For both opened and unopened, it’s ideal to use it within nine months to a year.

While storing it, make sure to keep it in a dry place and away from humidity.

HOW TO TEST IF IT’S STILL GOOD

BAKING POWDER

To test baking powder, pour 3 tablespoons of warm water into a small bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and stir. If the baking powder is good to use, it should fizz a little.

BAKING SODA

To test baking soda, pour 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar into a small bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and stir.  The mixture should rapidly bubble if the soda is fresh.

GLUTEN FREE OPTION

BUCKWHEAT FLOUR 

Buckwheat flour is easy to find compared to most other gluten-free flours, and it adds a nice earthy nutty taste.  The downside is that it has a distinct flavor, so the change will be noticeable. 

It’s also darker, so the color won’t be the same. Substitute cup for cup.

RICE FLOUR

Rice flour can also be used and can be found in most Asian and health food stores.  White rice flour has a mild flavor and doesn’t change the color of the muffin or quick bread. 

Since it doesn’t have much flavor, it’s best to use it with ingredients that do. Substitute cup for cup.

OAT FLOUR

Oat flour is made from whole oats that have been ground into a powder, which can easily be done at home.  It gives more flavor and a chewier and crumblier texture than regular all-purpose flour.

Substitute 1 cup of all-purpose flour for 1 1/3 cup Oat Flour.  To make 1 cup of oat flour, blend 1 1/4 cups of oats in a food processor until finely ground.

Note: oats must be marked gluten-free because they can get cross-contaminated in the factory.

Troubleshooting

WHY IS IT TAKING LONGER THAN DESCRIBED TO BAKE?

Over time the thermostat on ovens gets a little off causing some ovens to run hot and others to run cool.  This is why recipes tend to say things like “10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.”  So, if it takes you longer than expected that’s fine, don’t worry about it, just keep baking until ready.

Why Did my Recipe come out too dry?

Just like some ovens run cool, others run hot.  If you’re oven runs hot bake these at a lower temperature.  Ideally, you should get an oven thermometer to know what temperature you’re really baking at.

How to store muffins

Let muffins cool fully. Transfer the muffins to an airtight container lined with a paper towel.  Place a second paper towel on top of the muffins before sealing. 

If using a zip-top plastic bag, line both sides of the bag with paper towels and remove as much air as possible before sealing the top of the bag. 

Store at room temperature for up to 4 days.

How to Freeze muffins

Let muffins cool fully.  Wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap, then place them in a zip-top bag.

Freeze for up to 2 months.  They will still be safe to eat after two months but their quality begins to degrade. 

When ready to eat, let thaw at room temperature or rewarm gently in a counter top oven or microwave.

Yield: 14 servings

Dairy Free Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin muffins with streusel and icing on a white marble counter

These pumpkin muffins are not only easy to make at home but taste even better than store bought!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

Streusel

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (94 grams)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (50 grams)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (50 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4.5 tablespoons oil

icing

  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar (180 grams)
  • 1 tablespoons maple syrup***
  • 1 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F or 175°C and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl
  3. Add pumpkin pie filling or butternut squash puree, eggs, oil, and water. Make sure not to leave any of the dry mixture at the bottom. Smooth out any lumps you may find.
  4. Use a ladle to pour batter into paper-lined muffin pan cups until about ⅔ full. 
  5. In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add oil and use a fork to mix until combined into a streusel.
  6. Sprinkle the streusel on top of each cup of batter.
  7. Bake for or 25 to 30 minutes or until tested inserted in centers comes out clean.
  8. In a small mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, and water until smooth.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes before moving to cooling rack.
  10. Drizzle icing over reach muffin.

Notes

* If you do not have pumpkin spice and don't want to make some, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon cloves

**Chick here to jump to notes on oil

***If you don't want to use maple syrup replace it with another tablespoon or water or vanilla extract. (I don't find the vanilla adds enough flavor to bother with it but some people do.)

Recommended Products

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

21

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 110mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 2gSugar: 23gProtein: 2g

Did you make this recipe?

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cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a bow from pumpkin spice mix
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Alina

Friday 10th of July 2020

These muffins were delicious! Crunchy on top and nice and chewy on the inside. The streusel added an amazing touch, and even without the icing they were spectacular!

ElissaBeth

Friday 10th of July 2020

I'm happy to hear you enjoyed them so much :)

Amanda Szczembara

Wednesday 9th of October 2019

When you do add the streusel topping? Won't it just fall off if it's not baked on?

ElissaBeth

Thursday 10th of October 2019

Thanks for the catch! I just tweaked the recipe to add it. You put it on the batter before baking. You're totally right, it would just fall off if not baked on and it wouldn't taste too good either.

Friday 4th of October 2019

These are A-MAZING!!!!

ElissaBeth

Thursday 10th of October 2019

I'm very glad to hear that you enjoyed them!

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