Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
These small batch pumpkin muffins are super light and fluffy, with tall domed muffin tops with signature sugar crackled tops! Each muffin tastes like pumpkin spice with crunchy sugar. The recipe comes together quickly and easily with just two bowls—no stand mixer required. The best part? This pumpkin muffin recipe is small batch and makes only 4 muffins!
Why You Should Make Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
Here are all the reasons to make this small batch pumpkin muffin recipe:
This small batch pumpkin muffin recipe is adapted from the popular pumpkin loaf cake recipe in my cookbook, Weeknight Baking.
This recipe is based on the “Choose-Your-Own Pumpkin Spice Bread” recipe in my cookbook! The recipe is one of the most popular recipes in the book, with many readers sharing their take on the recipe on Instagram. I suspect that people love the recipe because it allows bakers to customize their pumpkin bread with different pumpkin spice mixes. You can choose to flavor your loaf with “Classic Pumpkin Spice”, “Vanilla Pumpkin Spice”, “Chai Pumpkin Spice”, and more. You can also see a variation of it on this blog with this pumpkin chocolate chip bread.
I suspect the recipe is so popular because it’s easy to make, and makes an incredibly light, moist, and fluffy bread with a sugary top. It also tastes like pumpkin pie, but in loaf cake form! And luckily, I was able to translate those beloved textures and flavors into muffins!
These small batch pumpkin muffins come together quickly and easily.
This pumpkin muffin recipe only requires two bowls, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. That’s right—you don’t need a stand mixer to make the recipe! Mixing the batter by hand only takes around 5 minutes or so.
Despite the fact that the muffins come together so quickly, you still end up with bakery-style muffins with picture-perfect, sky-high domes. It’s magic!
This small batch pumpkin muffin recipe only makes 4 muffins!
Most muffin recipes typically yield at least a dozen muffins; or, often times, more! However, this pumpkin muffin recipe only makes a grand total of 4 muffins. Pretty cool, right? It’s the perfect amount for a small family of 2 to 4 people.
Small Batch Pumpkin Muffin Ingredients and Substitutions
Now that I’ve convinced you to make this small batch pumpkin muffin recipe, here’s everything you need for it:
Shopping List For Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the exact ingredient quantities:
- all-purpose flour
- cinnamon (preferably ground)
- nutmeg (preferably ground)
- cloves (preferably ground)
- baking powder
- baking soda
- kosher salt
- canned pumpkin puree
- canola oil
- pure vanilla extract
- granulated sugar
- large eggs
And let’s talk about some key ingredients and potential substitutions:
All Purpose Flour
You need ⅔ cup all purpose flour to make small batch pumpkin muffins.
Does a 1-1 gluten-free all-purpose flour work in this small batch pumpkin muffin recipe?
I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I rarely bake with those types of flour replacements because they’re expensive and my household is fortunate not to have any gluten restrictions. However, if you replace the flour in this recipe with any gluten-free alternatives, please leave a comment so I can update this post accordingly!
You need ¼ teaspoon kosher salt to make small batch pumpkin muffins.
Why You Should Use Kosher Salt When Baking
I like to use kosher salt (as opposed to table salt) when baking. Its larger crystals make it difficult to confuse with granulated sugar. However, not all kosher salts are created equal. Some kosher salts have smaller granules than others, which will result in saltier tasting baked goods.
For consistency, I recommend sticking to one brand, and one brand only: Diamond Crystal kosher salt. It’s the only brand of salt I use when I develop recipes for Hummingbird High. Why? Diamond Crystal kosher salt is one of the few 100% pure salts in the grocery store. Other brands have additives that can add unexpected flavors to your desserts.
I can’t find Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Is Morton’s Coarse kosher salt okay?
Yes, with reservations. Morton’s Coarse kosher salt granules are much smaller, denser, and crunchier than Diamond Crystal. According to this Food52 article, the two are different shapes and sizes because of how they’re made. Morton’s is made by flattening salt granules into large thin flakes by pressing them through high-pressure rollers, whereas Diamond Crystal is formed by a patented method in which “upside-down pyramids [are] stacked one over the next to form a crystal.” You can even see a visualization of the different sizes in this Cook’s Illustrated article.
Okay, but what does that mean, exactly? 1 teaspoon of Morton’s will taste saltier than 1 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal. Wild, right? So if you follow my recipes exactly as they are written but use Morton’s instead of Diamond Crystal, the results will come out saltier. In fact, sometimes they will come out TOO salty. So if you’re using Morton’s instead of Diamond Crystal, reduce the salt in the recipe by half.
I can’t find Diamond Crystal OR Morton’s Coarse kosher salt. Can I just use table salt?
Yes, with reservations. If you use table salt, you’ll need to reduce the recipe’s salt quantity by half.
If you read my little essay about Diamond Crystal and Morton’s, you learned that Diamond Crystal kosher salt granules are larger than Morton’s kosher salt granules. The same principle applies to table salt versus kosher salt. Table salt granules are much smaller than kosher salt granules. As a result, 1 teaspoon of table salt tastes much saltier than 1 teaspoon of kosher salt… simply because it can hold more granules! Wild, right?
So if you follow my recipes exactly as they are written but use table salt instead of kosher salt, the results will come out saltier. If you’re using table salt instead of kosher salt, I recommend reducing the salt in the recipe by half.
Canned Pumpkin Puree
You need ⅓ cup pumpkin puree to make small batch pumpkin muffins.
What is canned pumpkin puree?
In the United States, most grocery stores sell canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin consists of pumpkin (or sometimes, according to this Kitchn article about pumpkin puree, squash!) that is de-seeded, peeled, roasted, and pureed. Many American recipes instruct you to use this pumpkin puree in both sweet and savory recipes. My favorite brand of canned pumpkin puree is Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin.
I can’t get canned pumpkin puree where I live. What can I use instead?
According to my international readers, canned pumpkin puree can be difficult to get outside of the United States. But no worries! You can make your own pumpkin puree at home. Simply process a pumpkin or the yellow or orange squash of your choice (my favorite is butternut squash) by peeling its skin, slicing it in half, and carving out the pumpkin/squash seeds. Cut the pumpkin/squash into 1-inch chunks and place the chunks on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. Toss with 1 Tablespoon neutral oil. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fork-tender. Then, use a food processor to puree the pumpkin/squash. Use the puree immediately, or refrigerate in a ziptop bag or an airtight container for up to 3 days. After that, freeze for up to 3 months.
If you plan on using homemade pumpkin puree to make this recipe, bring the pumpkin puree to room temperature. Using pumpkin puree that’s too cold will result in a lumpy cake batter that’s hard to whisk together. Alternatively, using a pumpkin puree that’s too hot could potentially scramble the eggs in the batter.
You need ⅓ cup canola oil to make small batch pumpkin muffins.
Can I use another oil in these small batch pumpkin muffins instead?
Yes! You can use whatever oil you have on hand instead. Vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, and peanut oil work best to replace the canola oil because they are also neutral in flavors. However, you can also use flavored oils like coconut in this recipe. Just note that your muffins might have a subtle coconut oil flavor to them, too.
How To Make Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
Here are the basic steps to make small batch pumpkin muffins from scratch:
First, prep everything for baking and make the pumpkin muffin batter.
- Prep the oven, pan, and pumpkin muffin batter ingredients. (Prep Time: 5 minutes)
While the oven is preheating, prep your muffin pan by lining the cavities with paper liners, and measure out the ingredients for the muffins.
To save myself some dishes, I like to use a digital scale to weigh out all the dry ingredients in one bowl, tare-ing the scale back down to “0” every time I add a new ingredient. This keeps me from using too many measuring cups. I do the same with the wet ingredients. The recipe will instruct you to mix all those ingredients together, anyway!
- Make the pumpkin muffin batter. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
It is so incredibly easy to make the pumpkin muffin batter. All you need to do is whisk together the dry ingredients in their bowl, then the wet ones in another bowl. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ones until just combined. Boom! You just made the muffin batter.
Then, assemble and bake the pumpkin muffins.
- Assemble the pumpkin muffins. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
Once you’ve made the batter, it’s time to assemble the muffins. I like to use a 1-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion out the batter quickly and evenly between the different cavities. But because the recipe instructs you to scoop 6 Tablespoons of batter into each cavity, you can also use a 2-Tablespoon or a 3-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop, too.
As you fill the muffin pan with batter, you might be skeptical. 6 Tablespoons of batter will seem like a lot of batter. Let me warn you now: that much batter will go all the way up the sides of the cavities, filling each cavity completely. But trust me! This is the secret to tall and domed muffin tops.
Once you fill the muffin pan, sprinkle the top of each muffin with 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Doing so gives the muffins their signature sugar crackle top. Fill the empty cavities of the muffin pan with water to ensure that all muffins will bake evenly.
- Bake the pumpkin muffins. (Bake Time: 22 minutes)
The small batch pumpkin muffins need 22 to 24 minutes in the oven. After that, cool the muffins in their pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, turn them out to prevent them from cooking further. That’s it!
Small Batch Pumpkin Muffin Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ
FAQ: Baking Equipment To Make Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
The Best Baking Equipment To Make Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
Here are my favorite tools to use when making this pumpkin muffin recipe:
- A 6-cavity muffin pan. Most muffin pans have 12 cavities to make a dozen muffins. However, because this is a small batch recipe, we don’t need that many cavities! I love using this small batch 6-cavity muffin pan from Williams-Sonoma.
Why? The recipe instructs you to fill any empty cavities of the muffin pan with water. And with this pan, I only need to fill 2 cavities with water as opposed to 8! Extra credit to you if you want to shell out for a 4-cavity muffin pan.
- A 1-, 2-, or 3-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop. I mentioned earlier that I like to use cookie dough scoops to fill the muffin pan quickly and efficiently with batter. But using cookie scoops has other added benefits, too. You know exactly how much batter goes into each muffin, ensuring that your muffins all come out the same size.
Furthermore, I get super specific in the recipe and tell you that you need to use 6 Tablespoons of batter to make each muffin. Trust me—using that much batter is the secret to bakery style muffins! You can use a 1-Tablespoon, 2-Tablespoon, or 3-Tablespoon cookie scoop to measure it out perfectly.
FAQ: Make Ahead Techniques for Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
Can I refrigerate the pumpkin muffin batter to save it for baking later?
Yes! You can refrigerate the muffin batter for up to 3 days before baking. Their muffin tops will actually come out taller and more domed when you do! There’s also no need to bring the muffin batter to room temperature or adjust Bake Time dramatically.
FAQ: Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins Techniques
Do I have to use pre-ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves? Can I grind my own spices instead?
Absolutely! If you want to score the extra credit points and end up with even tastier muffins, grind whole cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to use in this recipe. Grind them right before making the batter, too. Doing so will ensure that the spices are at their strongest and most aromatic, infusing the bread with lots of flavor.
FAQ: Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins Recipe Troubleshooting
Help! My pumpkin muffins don’t look as tall and domed as yours. What did I do wrong?
In the recipe, I instruct you to fill each muffin pan cavity with 6 generous Tablespoons of muffin batter. That amount goes beyond the conventional wisdom that states that you should only fill muffin pans up to ⅔- or ¾- full of batter! So, a lot of people tend to panic and stop at around that capacity. Many think that, if they follow my instructions, the muffin batter will overflow the pan and onto the oven floor when baked.
And I get that, I really do. But it’s also likely why your muffins aren’t as tall and domed as mine. It turns out one of the secrets to super tall and domed muffin tops is filling the muffin cavities with a generous amount of batter. Don’t worry about the muffin batter overflowing the pan!
FAQ: How To Store Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
How To Store Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
These pumpkin muffins are best the day they are made. However, the muffins can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap, or stored in an airtight container or under a cake dome, at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Can I freeze small batch pumpkin muffins?
Technically yes, but I don’t recommend it. If you do, the tops will lose their crispiness—the muffin will still be tasty and soft, with no crunch or crisp from the sugared muffin tops.
But if you insist, you can indeed freeze the pumpkin muffins.To do so, follow the recipe instructions to bake the muffins. Once you’ve turned them out of the muffin pan, cool them completely to room temperature. Once cool, individually wrap each muffin in two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Rewarm by placing the muffins on a parchment-lined sheet pan, and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.
More Pumpkin Recipes
- Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe, Elevated
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
- NOT Cakey Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
More Muffin Recipes
- Banana Cinnamon Muffins
- Blueberry Cornflake Muffins
- Copycat Levain Bakery Blueberry Muffins
- Maple Brown Sugar Donut Muffins
- Maple Pecan Muffins
- Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
More Small Batch Muffin Recipes
- Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Banana Nut Muffins
- Blueberry Muffins
- Cranberry Orange Muffins
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins Recipe
- a 4-, 6-, OR 12-cavity muffin pan
- muffin liners
- a 1-, 2-, OR 3-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop
For the Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
- ⅔ cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup plus 3 Tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (2.65 ounces or 75 grams) canned pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup (2.65 ounces or 75 grams) canola oil
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
For the Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins
- Prep the oven and pans. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line four cavities of a muffin pan with paper liners.
- Whisk the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk the wet ingredients. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, oil, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
- Make the muffin batter. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
- Assemble the muffins. Use a cookie dough scoop to fill each cavity with 6 Tablespoons of the batter. Sprinkle the top of each muffin, aiming for the batter and avoiding the pan, with 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Pour warm water into the empty cavities of the muffin pan, filling them at least ⅔-rds of the way up.
- Bake the muffins. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the muffins are domed and a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool in the muffin pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn the muffins out onto the rack to cool slightly.
- Serve and store. Serve warm or at room temperature. The muffins can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container or under a cake dome at room temperature for up to 2 days.
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NO TIME TO BAKE?!
Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.