Molasses Bran Muffins

July 4, 2017
Molasses Bran Muffins - These aren't just a bran muffin; with molasses and buttermilk, they're wholesome, hearty, incredibly moist, and barely sweet.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

Molasses Bran Muffins - These aren't just a bran muffin; with molasses and buttermilk, they're wholesome, hearty, incredibly moist, and barely sweet.

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Not long ago I spent a lazy summer afternoon in the company of two of my favorite women;  my Mom and my Aunt  (who happened to be visiting for the weekend)

There aren’t many things I enjoy more than talking about food and nutrition with them. We’re all passionate about feeding ourselves well, though at the same time, defining what feels right for each of us

I couldn’t resist posing my favorite question, “What are you cooking out of lately?”

“A couple of garage-sale finds; they’re amazing!”

An Amazon order later, and the same cookbooks lay on our kitchen counter.  I can’t help but smile and wonder if this is a recipe she’s tried; deciding there’s more than one way to cook with someone you love

Molasses Bran Muffins - These aren't just a bran muffin; with molasses and buttermilk, they're wholesome, hearty, incredibly moist, and barely sweet.

If you’re like me, there are a couple of types of muffin recipes in your repertoire; those that we make for special occasions and those that are consistently put to use.

Around our house, bran muffins fall into the latter category.

They’re an easy and healthy breakfast treat; ready-to-go on a busy work or school day (don’t forget to have yours with some protein on the side).  The trouble is that even the best recipes for bran muffins produce something wonderful the day they’re baked and not so much the next.

No matter how streamlined you make the process, there’s nothing quick or relaxing about baking from scratch on a busy weekday morning. I’ve always wanted something I could bake ahead and look forward to.

One can never go wrong with molasses, and also the tang from the buttermilk

A neighbor long ago always added raisins to hers, and they quickly become an essential part. Although, when surrounded by cake-like crumbs, they’re often more distracting than comforting

Molasses Bran Muffins - These aren't just a bran muffin; with molasses and buttermilk, they're wholesome, hearty, incredibly moist, and barely sweet.

The real revelation, the key to the bran muffin puzzle, came from a recipe in one of the cookbooks on the kitchen counter and  Nancy Silverton.

To make her muffins better than ordinary, she simmered raisins in water before pureeing them.  The step stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of Kim Boyce’s recipe, which uses a prunes/orange juice combination instead

Of course

The processes reminded me of a family recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies, made legendary my grandmother. Everyone always asks what makes them extra chewy? Raisin purée

Raisin purée may not sound particularly thrilling in and of itself.  But I’m here to tell you that in baked good, especially those containing molasses, it will make a world of difference.

These aren’t just any bran muffin. They’re hefty, hearty, and barely sweet. A muffin that’s likely to prompt nostalgic memories all of its own. A breakfast bread that’s not only relatively quick and easy; it holds up for several days in the bread box (or fridge).

My favorite way to eat them is straight out of the oven, with the slightest drizzle of honey or maple syrup. I love to break them open and watch the little curl of steam come out

Molasses Bran Muffins - These aren't just a bran muffin; with molasses and buttermilk, they're wholesome, hearty, incredibly moist, and barely sweet.

A quick side note on the subject of favorite cookbooks: this month’s Food Network Magazine has such a fun article about Ina Garten’s collection, and she shares her favorites

What a treasure; a glimpse into where a culinary icon turns for inspiration.



( ** Note from Ali:  This post originally appeared on September 5, 2014 .. back when The Veggies was just getting started. I originally set out to update the photos .. but decided an updated post was in order for those who maybe haven’t ventured through the archives)

~ Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce and Bread from La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton

Molasses Bran Muffins


  • 3 large oranges
  • 1 ½ cups pitted prunes
  • 1 ½ cups wheat bran
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry (or spelt) flour
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup molasses (I probably wouldn't use blackstrap)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg


Prune/Orange Juice Puree

  • Finely grate the zest of 1 orange to yield 1 Tbsp and set aside
  • Squeeze enough juice from the oranges to yield 1 cup
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the prunes and juice. Bring to just barely a boil, then cover and turn off the heat.
  • Let sit for about 30 minutes, before blending the mix into a smooth puree. The yield will be about 1 cup; with ½ cup being used for this recipe. (Reserve the rest for your next batch)

Bran Muffins

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F
  • Use a little butter to grease 10 alternating muffin wells in the muffin pan or pans
  • Measure the wheat bran into a medium bowl.
  • Warm the buttermilk in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat setting ( it will separate if overheated). Pour the warm buttermilk over the bran, stirring to combine
  • Sift together the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a mixing bowl
  • Whisk together the molasses, melted butter, egg, the ½ cup of prune puree and the orange zest in a medium bowl, making sure the egg is well incorporated.
  • Add the mix to the buttermilk-bran mix, stirring, then add the resulting mixture to the flour mixture and mix well to form a batter.
  • Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to portion the batter evenly among the 10 prepared muffin wells. (The batter should be slightly mounded)
  • Bake for 15 to 17 minutes before rotating the pan(s) front to back (and top to bottom as needed). Bake an additional 15 to 17 minutes, or until the tops spring back to the touch.
  • Place the muffin pan(s) on top of the stove and gently twist out the muffins, letting them cool on their sides halfway out of their individual wells (this will help keep them from becoming soggy)
Serves: 12
Nutrition + Show
Calories 303
Total Fat 4.6g
Saturated Fat 2.3g
Carbohydrates 62.5g
Fiber 9.7g
Sugars 23g
Protein 7.1g
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  • Reply Jen S July 4, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    These muffins look delish even though I’m usually not a fan of bran muffins. My favorite cookbook is called Layered and it’s got all sorts of really pretty cakes with unusual flavors 🙂

  • Reply Natasha Fedderman July 4, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I am copying this recipe right now. And I cannot wait to try it myself! It looks really different and yummy and a little bit crunchy? I love its texture. I love that you took the time in adding the Nutrition Info!

  • Reply Ania July 4, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I love a good healthy hearty muffin. I make most of mine at home because all the store ones are stuffed with so much sugar. They’re great for a quick breakfast, I will try this recipe.

  • Reply Laura Dove July 4, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Oh these sound lovely! I love that they seem relatively healthy, I could convince myself that they were a healthy option rather than regular cake! My kids would love these too!

  • Reply Cassie July 4, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    I’ve actually been wanting to make a bran muffin for awhile but always worried they’d come out bland! These look anything but! I definitely want to try and make this recipe and will let you know how I go! Can you believe I don’t have any muffins other than banana in my repertoire

  • Reply Nelu Mbingu July 4, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Your blog is so calming. I want to sit and drink tea while reading. I just started blogging and a friend said, “Look at Veggies By Candlelight, it’s fabulous.” So, I did, now there are eight million recipes I must try. Thanks for a great example of what a blog can be.

  • Reply Sheena Tatum July 5, 2017 at 12:19 am

    5 stars
    I think that most women, if they grew up in a pretty good home, have a cookbook or recipe that means a lot to them. I sure have one of those cookbooks!

  • Reply Rhian July 5, 2017 at 5:35 am

    I don’t tend to make muffins although bran muffins do sound good. I do like following recipes although I don’t have a favourite cookbook and tend to get most of my finds online x

  • Reply Charlotte July 5, 2017 at 7:17 am

    5 stars
    OH WOW! those muffins look so yummy! And your photographs look stunning too! I’ll keep this recipe in mind when I have time to bake. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Tiffany July 5, 2017 at 10:10 am

    I struggle to find cookbooks we can use because we have several food allergies (Dairy, corn, granola, cocoa, Dye)… any recommendations? I have never worked with molasses, but I want to add Bran into our world. I’ll be trying this with some variation.

  • Reply Heather Johnson July 5, 2017 at 10:54 am

    This has become one of my favorite recipes! I make a double batch and freeze them for quick and easy breakfasts for my husband and kids on the way out the door. Lately, I’ve been mixing in grated apple and add a little cinnamon. Love Love Love this recipe!

  • Reply Sierra July 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I’ve made these several times now. They’re a wonderfully easy and delicious bran muffin. So addictive and I like to keep my freezer well-stocked for whenever the mood strikes. In my opinion, wheat bran is far tastier than oat bran. I really like to mix in some fruit and usually use a frozen mixed berry blend from Trader Joe’s and orange zest makes the muffins extra tasty.

  • Reply Betsy July 5, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve never made homemade muffins before but this looks like a great place to start. My best friend makes muffins almost every week so I’m pretty spoiled! These molasses muffins sound delicious!

  • Reply Jade July 5, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    4 stars
    I just made these as written to include in a new baby care package. I used chopped, frozen peaches for a fruit and only wish I’d had a few blackberries to include as well. Love that they aren’t too sweet and I’ll definitely be making them again. Excellent share!

  • Reply Eddie Kedge July 5, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    5 stars
    I know this seems random, but using an ice cream scoop to make sure all the muffins are the same size….oh my gosh. I wish I had read this years ago. It seems so simple, and yet all my muffins are overflowing off the pan or too small.

  • Reply Lisa Lisa July 5, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    4 stars
    Do you know I do not have a muffin recipe at all. I have yet to make any muffins, but I would love to try out your Molasses bran muffin recipe. I do have a few nice cook books, one is from Paula Dean , I love how you made them so healthy!

  • Reply Melanie July 5, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Cookbooks have always been a “thing” in my family. My grandmother used to collect church cookbooks. She stated that the best recipes that she had ever found were in those church cookbooks! She recently moved, and she handed them all down to me. I have to admit, though, that my favorite one is a Pioneer Woman cookbook.

  • Reply Censie Sawyer July 5, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I love finding inspiration in traditional recipes. I think the best recipes are those that are passed down to family members. This looks like such a great recipe. I love baking with Molasses it brings such great flavor to the baked goods.

  • Reply Stacy July 6, 2017 at 12:19 am

    4 stars
    Great story! I guess you can call those molassess bran muffin heirloom and filled with love.

  • Reply Erinn Sluka July 6, 2017 at 12:29 am

    5 stars
    Oh wow! The tops of those look so delicious I can eat just the top of the muffins

  • Reply Blair July 6, 2017 at 3:07 am

    5 stars
    Sometimes what I do is print a muffin recipe online and pass it on to my friend who knows how to bake. I love to eat, but cooking is not in my forte. xo

  • Reply Nadine Cathleen July 6, 2017 at 6:28 am

    5 stars
    OOOH, they are looking lovely! I’m trying to cut down on the sweets but I guess by baking myself I can just reduce the sugar.. 🙂

  • Reply Chelsea July 6, 2017 at 7:15 am

    I love baking, I’m not good but I still enjoy it! When I was younger my mum bought me a bero cook book, I still have it now and love it. It’s old, stained and has definitely seen better days but I could never part with it! Your muffins looks yummy!

  • Reply Emma July 6, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Oooh! Stumbled across you somehow here on the internet. Love your writing, recipes and that shot of the muffins ….berloody great. – Emma

  • Reply Lisa Favre July 6, 2017 at 7:50 am

    My favorite cookbook is called A Kitchen in France. You should definitely check it out – there’s this onion tart in there that’s absolutely delicious – I don’t make it enough! Also, no joke, I’ve been wanting to make all-bran muffins for the longest time: what good timing!

  • Reply Cecilia July 6, 2017 at 9:49 am

    5 stars
    I don’t have a favorite cookbook but I find a many good recipes online. It’s good these muffins aren’t so sweet. I’ve been looking for good muffin recipes so I’m happy I found this recipe, which I really like!

  • Reply S.R July 6, 2017 at 10:16 am

    5 stars
    Growing up, muffins were a staple at our house. My favorites were always bran. I’m going to have to give these a try. It would be fun to recreate the tradition with my own kids

  • Reply Tami July 6, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I baked these muffins over the weekend and it’s a no surprise that they were more than just fantastic. Thanks for another keeper of a recipe!

  • Reply Tina Butler July 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Yum!!!! I love a good muffin and I make plenty of them for my Muffin Man. Ever since he was little I could get away with hiding any veggie inside a muffin and he never knew. I have some prunes that need to be used, so looks like I will be making the Molasses Bran Muffins.

  • Reply Andrea July 7, 2017 at 10:02 am

    I think it’s brilliant that you blended the prunes, I really got to try that. Love the ingredients combo you used, I’ll have to give your muffins a try!

  • Reply Allison July 9, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    These look delicious. My boyfriend loves muffins to accompany his morning milk. It’s a way for me to get my baking fix in. Will definitely give these a try.

  • Reply Jack Martinez July 15, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    5 stars
    I don’t have a favourite cookbook, and I always like to ask friends and look around on the web to collect interesting recipes, and this is definitely one of those.

  • Reply Crystal July 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Love muffins, I’m vegan so I’ll definitely have to make a vegan version of these!

  • Reply Saidy July 15, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Wow! I definitely have to make these! They look amazing! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Reply Teagan July 15, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    5 stars
    When I was a kid, there was a corner bakery that my mom and I stopped at every morning on our way to school. Even though I really wanted the chocolate donut, she always insisted on something healthy. I can still remember the taste their warm bran muffins with butter. Yum

  • Reply Cecilia July 16, 2017 at 1:55 am

    5 stars
    I’ve always looked for recipes that I could prepare ahead and find it ready-to-go on a busy work or school day!! And I think this is the perfect one!! and your recipe seems easy to follow, will make it for sure, and let you know how it turned out for me, Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Saurabh tiwari July 16, 2017 at 5:12 am

    Thank You for all those wonderful tips and recipes – at no cost!!!! I’m very new to making foods, I love making new recipes and very apprehensive, so I needed these tips Very Badly!!

  • Reply Elizabeth O July 18, 2017 at 6:20 am

    5 stars
    Okay, as much as one of my daughters is the muffin bake goddess in my houshold, I have not heard of raisin puree. I will have to give that a try the next time I bake as I love all things raisin and yes, in bran muffins too

  • Reply Sienna August 11, 2017 at 3:45 am

    5 stars
    Every time I walk over to my mom’s house to check on her, she always throws the standard question – “What are you going to cook for my grandchildren today?” My mom is almost 80 years old and is still sharp, though hard of hearing. We also discuss recipes, grocery store prices of goods, and cooking hacks. Oh, BTW, I like your Molasses Bran muffin recipe. I will try and make some this weekend.

  • Reply Anatoliy Simeonov October 10, 2017 at 5:59 am

    5 stars
    Our favorite bran muffins ever! Make them exactly as the recipe states & they never fail. The perfect sweetness for breakfast 🙂

  • Reply Damond Nollan January 5, 2018 at 6:28 am

    As a kid, the idea of a bran muffin never excited me. I’m thinking dry, bland, and a waste of good breakfast food. However, your pictures reveal a moist and potentially sweet alternative to what I’ve grown up with!

  • Reply Sage January 9, 2018 at 3:26 am

    5 stars
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Made these this morning – my very first bran muffins, ever — and they were absolutely divine. I felt like a queen while we ate breakfast. It’s moments like this one that remind me why I love this blog so much!

  • Reply Cora February 17, 2018 at 2:57 am

    Delicious with chopped dates as the fruit and, as extra, chopped pecans (because it’s been a long week). Topped with pearl sugar. Yum!

  • Reply Kendra February 20, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Made these this morning with Medjool dates (soaked in English breakfast tea to soften) and a scant handful of chopped pecans. SO GOOD!!! Went back for another after dinner and found they had all disappeared. Darn, guess I’ll have to make some more tomorrow!

  • Reply Jessica Joachim February 28, 2018 at 7:23 am

    5 stars
    Oh man these muffins look delicious! I have been into baking lately, especially since my daughter has been loving helping me. I think we will have to try these guys out!

  • Reply Amber Myers February 28, 2018 at 7:38 am

    5 stars
    Ooo I haven’t had a good muffin in ages. I must try these out. I’ve always like molasses. I would love one for breakfast! I could see how adding raisins would be tasty too.

  • Reply Jessica Taylor February 28, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Another thing to add to my to-do list…

    These sound delightful – just the job for a chilly winter morning.

  • Reply Joanna February 28, 2018 at 9:44 am

    5 stars
    I have actually just got a new cookbook that I can’t wait to start using. It’s been written by an older Masterchef winner and it has been recommend to me by a friend who cooked a curry out of it for me once. It’s called “Spice” and I am already thinking of cooking the fennel and garlic pork chops recipe soon. 🙂

  • Reply Natalie February 28, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    They’re in the oven right now, in Madeleine pans. I just peeked in and they have the perfect little hump. So excited to taste them!

  • Reply Joan Cajic February 28, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Best muffin in the world, hands down: Bongo Java, a coffee shop in Belmont, outside of Nashville, has an almond shortbread concoction the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Crisp and crunchy on the outside, super moist and soft on the inside. Kinda like a Cadbury Easter egg. Only with totally different. I’ve never run across anything like before or since.

  • Reply Joanna February 28, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    I know bran is supposed to be really healthy, and this is loaded with healthy stuff, but it screams dessert muffin! Which is all good in my book!

  • Reply Heidi February 28, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Ooh! These muffins look amazing! I love to eat baked goods fresh out of the oven, too. I burn my fingers, but it’s worth it!

  • Reply AnnMarie March 1, 2018 at 4:34 am

    5 stars
    The raisin puree is probably the secret to making this perfect. I love a good muffin recipe because they’re easy to make and they’re filling. I agree, they’re perfect for busy morning when you have to run out of the door!

  • Reply Claudia Krusch March 1, 2018 at 8:28 am

    5 stars
    Hubby loves bran muffins! I can’t wait to make them for brunch this weekend! We have company coming up and this recipe will be a huge hit!

  • Reply Sarah Bailey March 1, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Oh now those are some delicious sounding bran muffins. I am definitely going to have to try making some for myself.

  • Reply Aashima March 1, 2018 at 11:40 am

    I made these in mini form and brought them into work this morning, needless to say, an entire community of booksellers was huddled around them for a good twenty minutes after we opened ?

  • Reply Aubree March 1, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Would it be weird to make these when I live with someone who doesn’t eat breakfast? I love the idea of one of these as a mid-morning snack at work. Yum!

  • Reply Ada March 1, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you; these look fantastic! And, sad truth though it may be, I’m definitely more of a muffin girl than a scone eater. It’s almost a cliche to say it, but it really is all about the muffin top!

  • Reply Dee Jackson March 1, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    Woke up this morning, logged into my Google Reader, saw this recipe and knew what I was going to have for breakfast, even if it would delay when we’d eat by another half-hour or so.

    They’re fantastic, absolutely amazing. I have a feeling we’ll be having them for lunch, too, on this lazy Sunday.

  • Reply Lilith March 3, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    5 stars
    I just want to say how much I truly enjoy your writing and your photographs… amazing stuff!

  • Reply Gracie March 5, 2018 at 7:25 am

    When I was growing up, my mom had a sign on the wall near the table:

    “Cheerful people eat well in my kitchen. Complainers get dismal dinners.”

    The Breakfast Book cookbook is one of my favorites. The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, Twelfth Edition, which is falling apart, and Marion Cunningham edited, is my personal go-to everyday cookbook.

    I’m more of a scone than a muffin person and Zuni’s Orange Currant Scones are my favorites. There is, however, one muffin I really like – Martha’s Tiny Corn Muffins from her book, Entertaining.

    This muffin recipe does sound great, as I have a soft spot for bran muffins.

  • Reply Tara February 27, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Can I ask why blackstrap is not recommended? I love blackstrap for its taste and iron content!

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