Cinnamon and nutmeg add warmth and depth to these simple pear muffins, alongside a crunchy-sweet pecan crumb topping. Buckwheat flour adds a nutty twist, while yogurt keeps the muffins light, tender, and moist. Pair them with a mug of coffee or chai for a perfectly cozy grab-and-go breakfast - that's prepped in just 25 minutes!
This post is sponsored by Sprouts. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Once upon a time I thought I hated pears... and then I tried baking with them. Be it tucked into a flaky galette, poached in a champagne syrup, nestled underneath the sweetened oats of a crumble, or folded into a warmly-spiced muffin batter, their juicy flesh bakes up like a dream.
Of course, the busier I get, the more I find myself gravitating towards those quick and easy muffin recipes - especially of the no-mixer variety. And when you add fresh pears to the mix, a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a sweet, crunchy, pecan-studded crumb topping -- ahhh. Does a fall breakfast get any cozier?
Why this pear muffin recipe works!
- We start with a good, thick muffin batter - one that's leavened with baking powder for a perfect rise. This, along with filling your muffins tins, is key to making classic bakery-style muffins with gorgeously domed muffin tops.
- Greek yogurt keeps the muffins light and moist, without thinning out the batter like milk would. Remember, we want it to be thick! Dark brown sugar - with its high(er) liquid content - also pitches in here to keep the muffin moist. Finally, using oil instead of butter keeps the muffins extra-tender. (This trick is great for cake recipes too!)
- Additions like cinnamon, nutmeg, buckwheat flour, and brown sugar contribute warmth and richness to the batter, giving these muffins a distinctly "fall" vibe.
- And of course, pears add natural sweetness and moisture, plus just a hint of fruity tang to bring all of the flavors to life!
Ingredients and substitutions
There's nothing worse than a recipe that involves shopping at five different stores just to buy all of the ingredients. Lucky for you, everything you'll need for these spiced pear muffins is available at Sprouts!
A few items of note:
- In most recipes (including this one) the type of brown sugar you use won't make or break the finished product. But if given the choice, I love the Sprouts brand of dark brown sugar. Its high molasses content will give your muffins better texture and flavor.
- If you're on the fence about nuts in your baked goods, I highly recommend chopping your pecans up nice and small to use in the crumb topping. You still get the good, maple-y flavor, minus the in-your-face nut texture. Of course, if you LOVE nuts, feel free to add pecans into your muffin batter as well! If you want to substitute, I'd suggest using walnuts.
- Salted butter can be used in the crumb topping - just skip the added salt.
- I used gluten-free all-purpose flour in these spiced pear muffins, but regular all-purpose flour should do the trick too. You can also swap half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour if preferred. If you do opt for a gluten-free blend, make sure it contains xanthan gum, which helps with binding, moisture, structure, and texture - all important things!
- These muffins also contain buckwheat flour, which is a naturally gluten-free flour made from ground buckwheat berries. It has an earthy, nutty flavor that plays so well with the other flavors in this muffin. If you want to skip it, just replace it with more all-purpose flour, gluten-free or otherwise.
- Avocado oil can be swapped with any neutral-flavored cooking oil (like canola), or even melted coconut oil. I've found that the Sprouts brand avocado oil is much more affordable than some others!
- Using whole milk Greek yogurt in these muffins is preferable (more fat = better texture), but any plain Greek yogurt will do. You can also sub sour cream, which works wonders in these lemon poppy seed muffins and double chocolate muffins.
- For the pears, you can use D'Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett, or a combination of the three; just make sure they're on the firmer side, and not overripe. No need to peel them!
For the cinnamon-pecan crumble:
Can we just agree that muffins with a crumb topping instantly become ten times better? We've got a crunchy, brown sugar-sweetened, pecan-studded crumb topping situation here that complements these not-too-sweet pear muffins perfectly. We'll make this first to give the flour time to absorb the butter in the mixture before crumbling it over the muffins.
To make it: Grab a small mixing bowl and whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, chopped pecans, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in melted butter and vanilla extract until the mixture is evenly moistened. Then, fold in gluten-free flour, working just until everything is well-combined. Finally, use your hands to clump the mixture into a single ball of dough. Set this aside while you prep your muffin batter.
For the spiced pear muffins:
These yogurt-enriched pear muffins are tender, moist, and lightly sweetened, with juicy bits of pear in every bite, and perfectly-domed muffin tops. Here's how you make 'em:
Step one: Start by preheating your oven to 350ºF, and greasing a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.
Step two: Whisk your dry ingredients together in a medium bowl: gluten-free flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
Step three: Get a second bowl that's about the same size, and whisk together the oil, sugars (brown and white), and eggs. The mixture should have an even consistency, and be slightly paler in color than it was when you started. Then, whisk in Greek yogurt and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.
Step four: Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet, just until the two are almost evenly incorporated - it can still be a little streaky. Then, fold in finely-chopped pears, working just until everything is evenly combined; always avoid over-mixing! The batter should be thick.
Step five: Spoon the muffin batter into your prepared muffin pan, making sure each cup gets a fairly equal amount. Keep in mind that they'll be nearly full. Use a fingertip to gently smooth out the top surfaces if needed. Then, grab your ball of streusel dough and use your hands to break it into crumbs, pressing those crumbs into small clumps as you go. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the muffins; go ahead and pile it on high so you use it all.
Step six: Bake your muffins for 23-27 minutes; they're done when a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs. Set the pan over a wire rack and let them cool for 20-25 minutes. Then, remove them from the pan and place them directly on the rack to finish cooling.
You can serve them as-is, with a schmear of butter, or even with a dollop of cranberry sauce. That last option may sound strange, but I promise the flavor combo is killer!
How to store these muffins
Once the muffins have cooled completely, I recommend storing them in a single, flat layer, either in a zip-top bag or an airtight container. Placing a sheet of paper towel above and below the muffins will help prevent them from getting soggy over time. They'll keep for two to three days at cool room temperature (the preferable option), or up to five days in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, I prefer to reheat them in the microwave before serving.
Are these pear muffins healthy?
While I wouldn't call this recipe "healthy" they do have a few redeeming qualities compared to your average muffin! In fact, I'd say that if you skip the cinnamon crumb topping and opt for a sprinkle of raw sugar on top instead, you could even call them healthy-ish. Here's why:
- Buckwheat is a complex carbohydrate - technically a seed, although it resembles a grain - that's high in protein and fiber.
- Greek yogurt is also high in protein, while also being much lower in fat than a typical baking alternative like sour cream.
- Avocado oil is low in saturated fat and relatively high in monunsaturated fats. It goes through much less processing than your average vegetable oil.
- And pears, of course, are particularly nutrient-dense, and high in both fiber and vitamin C!
Long story short - as far as muffins go, these won't completely break the nutritional bank.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Yes - they freeze quite well! Just follow the instructions above for storing the muffins (you can skip the paper towels), but place them in the freezer instead of the refrigerator. They should keep for at least a few months. Muffins can be defrosted at room temperature, or using the defrost option on your microwave.
Definitely. Feel free to use regular all-purpose flour, or equal parts all-purpose and whole wheat. (Whole wheat pastry flour is preferable.)
Sure! Just replace it with an equal amount of regular or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
More muffin recipes
Like I said before, I love an easy muffin recipe! Here are a few other favorites:
Spiced Pear Muffins with Cinnamon-Pecan Crumb Topping
Cinnamon and nutmeg add warmth and depth to these simple pear muffins, alongside a crunchy-sweet pecan crumb topping. Buckwheat flour adds a nutty twist, while yogurt keeps them light, tender, and moist. Pair these muffins with a mug of coffee or chai for a perfectly cozy grab-and-go breakfast - that's prepped in just 25 minutes!
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 12 muffins 1x
- Category: muffins
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
Cinnamon-Pecan Crumb Topping
- 1 ¾ ounces (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 1 ounce (¼ cup) pecan halves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons, packed brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- heavy pinch of salt
- 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ⅛ ounces (½ cup, spoon and level) gluten-free or regular all-purpose flour
Spiced Pear Muffins
- 8 ½ ounces (2 cups, spoon and level) gluten-free or regular all-purpose flour
- 2 ⅛ ounces (½ cup) buckwheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 ounces (½ cup) neutral-flavored cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
- 3 ¼ ounces (7 tablespoons, packed) brown sugar
- 3 ounces (7 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 9 ¼ ounces (1 cup plus 2 ½ tablespoons) whole milk plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 9 ½ ounces (1 ⅝ cups) peeled and finely chopped pears (about 1 ½ medium pears)
- 4 ounces (1 cup) pecans, chopped (optional)
Cinnamon-Pecan Crumb Topping
- Make the crumb topping: In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, chopped pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract; mix in until incorporated. Add the flour and fold in with a rubber spatula just until all ingredients are evenly combined. Use hands to clump into a single ball of dough. Set aside.
Spiced Pear Muffins
- Oven and pan prep: Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.
- Whisk the dry ingredients: In a bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
- Whisk the wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the avocado oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and eggs until well-combined and slightly paler in color. Add the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk in until smooth.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold in until mostly incorporated - a few streaks of flour are fine. Add the chopped pears (and pecans, if using). Fold in just until all ingredients are evenly combined, being careful not to overmix. The batter will be thick.
- Transfer to muffin pan: Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, dividing evenly among each muffin cup and smoothing out the tops lightly with your fingertip if needed. Note that the muffin cups will be nearly full. Break the ball of crumble dough into crumbs, pressing into small clumps as you go, and sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the muffins.
- Bake: Bake muffins in preheated oven for 23-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20-25 minutes before moving the muffins directly onto the rack to finish cooling.
Ingredient notes and substitutions:
- Salted butter can be used in the crumb topping - just skip the added salt.
- If using gluten-free all-purpose flour, make sure your blend contains xanthan gum. Alternatively, you can swap half of the all-purpose flour in these muffins with whole wheat flour.
- Buckwheat flour can be substituted with all-purpose flour, gluten-free or otherwise.
- Although I wouldn't consider coconut oil "neutral-flavored", it does work in these muffins if melted first.
- Any type of plain Greek yogurt will work, or swap with sour cream.
- D'Anjou, Bosc, and Bartlett pears are all good options for baking; just make sure they're on the firmer side, and not overripe. No need to peel them!
- Once completely cool, store muffins in a single, flat layer, in a zip-top bag or an airtight container, with a sheet of paper towel placed above and below the muffins to prevent them from getting soggy. They'll keep for a day or two at cool room temperature, or up to five days in the refrigerator. Muffins can be reheated in the microwave before serving.
- Following storing instructions above, minus the paper towels. Muffins should keep in freezer for at least a few months, and can be defrosted at room temperature, or using your microwave's defrost setting.
- Nutrition facts are for muffins made with gluten-free flour, and do not include the optional pecans in the muffin batter.