Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Crumble Topping
Topped with an irresistible cinnamon sugar crunch, these Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Crumble Topping are tender and moist, and studded with juicy apple bites. They’re slightly sweet with a hearty texture that’s perfect for crisp fall days!
Sweet and Tender Apple Muffins
Every new season that rolls around, I get giddy for some fresh new flavors. And fall with all of its apple glory is one of my favorites. There are so many great apple recipes, and so little time!!
I promise you, these Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Crumble Topping have everything going for them. They are spiced and lightly sweet, with a moist larger crumb and tender texture. I love that there’s fresh, juicy apple in every bite. And I can’t resist the topping, an amazing cinnamon sugar crunch with just a hint of salt. The perfect apple muffin!
Don’t you just LOVE a crumble-topped muffin?!
The crumble topping in this recipe was inspired by my Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping. This has been one of my favorite recipes since I was a kid. Readers have found this to be a favorite as well!
What You’ll Need
These easy muffins are made with your standard muffin ingredients, plus a few fall additions to give them the warm flavor you expect from an apple dessert!
FOR THE APPLE MUFFINS:
- Unsalted butter
- Buttermilk – This creates a more tender crumb than regular milk.
- Vanilla extract – Use pure vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla extract) for the best flavor.
- Flour – A combination of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour give these muffins a tender, yet slightly heartier flavor and crumb.
- Brown sugar – For fall vibes sweetness!
- Baking powder
- Kosher salt
- Spices – Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves give these muffins that warm spiced flavor we all crave when fall rolls around.
- Apples – Peel and finely chop the apples.
FOR THE CINNAMON SUGAR CRUMBLE TOPPING:
- Salt – Just a little bit of salt provides great contrast to the sweetness.
- Unsalted butter – Use room temperature butter (do not melt).
What are the best apples for baking?
There are many great apple varieties for baking, from Granny Smith to Honeycrisp to Braeburn. But my personal favorite is the Haralson apple. This variety originated right here in Minnesota, at the University of Minnesota, and I seek these apples out every year. Here are a few reasons why:
- They’re a great medium-sized apple to eat straight from the tree.
- I like their tart sweetness, juiciness, and crunch.
- It’s a sturdy apple that holds up very well in recipes, and has great flavor even after being cooked or baked.
- I’m overtaken with nostalgia. My parents planted Haralson apple trees on the farm I grew up on in South Dakota. So each time I twist a Haralson from the tree and taste its familiar tartness…I’m right back there on the farm. A kid again, carefree!
How to Make Apple Muffins with Crumb Topping
These muffins are super easy to make. They bake in under 20 minutes, ideal for conquering any of your apple cravings!
- Make the batter. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Whisk together buttermilk, egg, and vanilla in one bowl and the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in another. Stir the melted butter into the wet ingredients, then combine the wet and dry ingredients.
- Add the apples. Fold the apples into the batter.
- Portion the batter & add crumble topping. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Then combine the crumble ingredients with a fork, cutting in the butter until you have pea-size crumbles. Sprinkle over the batter.
- Bake. Bake for 18 to 19 minutes, until puffed and a bit browned. Move to a wire rack to cool.
Tips for Success
Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when making these muffins:
- Do not over mix the batter. Once you combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix just until there are no streaks of flour. It is normal for the mixture to be thick.
- Do not over bake. It’s very important to not over bake these muffins or you will lose some of the moistness. It’s actually better to just slightly under bake them!
- Cut the apples into 1/4″ pieces. I think that 1/4″ apple pieces are the perfect size. They’re big enough to see and have a noticeable bite, but not too big that the muffins want to fall apart. You get a little chunk or two of apple in every bite!
Of course, homemade muffins are always best on the day they are baked. Enjoy your apple crumble muffins slightly warm or at room temperature.
With the sugar crumble topping, I often just enjoy them all on their own, or with a bit of butter. But if you want a reeeeeally special treat, serve them with this gorgeous (and super easy to make!) cinnamon honey butter. Peanut butter would also be delicious, and would turn them into a more filling breakfast! (Apples and peanut butter are a delicious combo – be sure to check out my Apple Peanut Butter Cookies!)
How to Store
The muffins are best the day they are baked, as that is when the topping is the crunchiest. If you don’t eat them all the same day, I recommend storing them uncovered on the counter for a day or two. If you cover them, the moisture can cause the topping to become soft. They’ll still taste great but won’t have that delightful crunch.
You can also place the muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator. And they freeze very well – just place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months!
More Apple Recipes:
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for the apple muffins:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1.25 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1.5 cups peeled and finely chopped apple – aim for apple pieces about 1/4″ or just a bit larger in size
for the cinnamon sugar crumble topping:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature (do not melt!)
- For the apple muffins: Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a regular muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
- Gently melt the butter (microwave or stovetop) and then set it aside to cool a bit.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Stir the melted butter into the wet ingredients and then add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold until combined, taking care to not over mix. The mixture will be thick.
- Fold in the apple pieces and then divide mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cups.
- For the cinnamon sugar crumble topping: In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt with a fork. Add the butter and cut it into the dry ingredients with the same fork until you have pea-size pieces of crumble topping. Sprinkle mixture over muffins.
- Bake: Bake until muffins are puffed and a bit browned, about 18 to 19 minutes, or just until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake, or you will lose some of the moistness. I would rather just slightly under bake these muffins than slightly over bake them! Remove from oven and let muffins rest for a minute or two before removing them to a wire rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
The muffins are best the day they are baked, as that is when the topping is the crunchiest.
Adapted from my grandma’s blueberry muffins.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 170mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 2gSugar: 19gProtein: 4g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was originally published in 2014 and updated in 2021.