Pumpkin muffins can be tricky. Many recipes for this favorite are overly moist, and even struggle to bake through. While others are a bit lackluster in flavor. But these dairy-free pumpkin muffins have a delicious balance. They are rich, but a little cakey, and have prominent pumpkin spice flavors.
Perfect Dairy-Free Pumpkin Muffins for a Special Treat Any Day
This dairy-free pumpkin muffins recipe is from my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. In my cookbook, I call them “Any Day Pumpkin Muffins” because you really don’t need any special ingredients to bake them. They use basic foods that can be found in almost any kitchen. But just in case you need substitutions, I have some in the recipe FAQs below.
Can I Substitute Pumpkin Pie Spice?
You can substitute 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for all of the spices. Or if you want that higher cinnamon emphasis, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice + 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Can I Use a Whole Can of Pumpkin Puree?
One 15-ounce can contains about 1 7/8 cups, so almost double the amount called for in this recipe. You can double the recipe and use one full can + 2 tablespoons applesauce or one full can and increase the oil to a scant 2/3 cup. The muffins will be just a little less pumpkin-y. If you opt to use a whole 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree in the recipe below, your dairy-free pumpkin muffins will turn out much more dense and moist. They will need more time to bake through.
Will Pumpkin Pie Mix Work?
Pumpkin pie mix looks very similar to pumpkin puree on grocery shelves, but it already has sugar and spices added. So it won’t work as a direct substitute for the pumpkin puree in this recipe.
Will Coconut Oil Work for the Oil?
It will, but make sure all other ingredients, including the eggs and juice, are at room temperature. If any ingredients are cool, it can cause the coconut oil to solidify into little hard beads.
Will Dairy-Free Milk Alternative Work Instead of Orange Juice?
Orange juice adds a little flavor and a touch of acid. The acid helps to react with the baking soda to produce a better flavor and help the muffins rise. If you don’t have orange juice, you can use dairy-free milk alternative, like almond milk or oat milk. But I would also add 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
Can I Substitute Applesauce for the Oil?
I don’t recommend it. These dairy-free pumpkin muffins are already low fat, so reducing or cutting the oil could result in a poor texture. And I’m not personally a fan of fat-free muffins. They often taste fine out of the oven, but become gummy once cool. Substituting the oil would also result in denser, more moist, dairy-free pumpkin muffins.
Can I Substitute Butter Alternative for the Oil?
You can use melted dairy-free buttery spread or buttery sticks for the oil. Depending on the brand, this will add more salt. I might reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Keep in mind that butter alternative is also lower in fat. You might want to increase the melted butter alternative to 1/3 cup for more tender dairy-free pumpkin muffins.
Can I Use a Different Sweetener?
You could substitute regular white sugar for the brown sugar. As mentioned, coconut sugar will also work, and will just be a little less sweet. Two other tasty alternatives would be evaporated cane juice (Sucanat) or maple sugar. If you want to use a liquid sweetener like maple syrup, you might try reducing it to 2/3 cup. I haven’t tested it, but that is a common reduction when substituting liquid sweetener for granulated. I haven’t tested this recipe with any sugar-free sweeteners, so I can’t comment on how they will perform or taste.
Where’s the Vanilla Extract?
As much as I love vanilla, sometimes other ingredients need time to shine. You can add a little vanilla extract, about 1/2 teaspoon, if you must. But I don’t think it’s needed.
How Can I Make this Pumpkin Muffin Recipe Gluten-Free?
As mentioned below, I haven’t tested this recipe as gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin muffins. But if you use eggs, most gluten-free all-purpose flour blends should work well. A close friends subs King Arthur Measure for Measure whenever she bakes muffins, and she says it works perfectly. Do not substitute coconut flour, almond flour, or another grain-free flour for the wheat flour. These will not perform properly. If you opt to use a single gluten-free grain flour (like gluten-free oat flour, rice flour, or sorghum flour), the muffins will be a little more crumbly.
How Can I Make this Pumpkin Muffin Recipe Egg-Free?
See the fully tested egg-free and vegan pumpkin muffins option in the post!
Can I Use Less Salt?
I use more salt in sweet spiced muffins as the salt really helps to emphasize the seasonings in each bite, and it also helps to merge the flavors with the pumpkin. You can reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon and it will only reduce the flavor a little. That will reduce the sodium per muffin to 220 milligrams. Less than that, and the flavor will become more sweetly dull. If you’ve ever had pumpkin muffins where they taste sharply sweet and are lacking in pumpkin and spice flavor, then you know what I mean.
Batter is Too Dry – Many recipes are tested in somewhat humid and low altitude environments. If you’re in a dry climate or season, the batter can be a little dry. If this is the case, simply add a little more liquid to make the batter easy to scrape into your muffin cups. If you’re at higher altitude, you likely need less baking soda. You can add a little more liquid, which might work fine …
Muffins Collapsed when Baking – If the muffins rose up quickly and domed mid-way during baking, but were concave and dense when the time was up, there was too much leavener for your climate or altitude. If they were flat or slightly concave, reduce the baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon. If they were quite concave, reduce the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.
Muffins Never Rose – If you checked in midway through, and they weren’t rising up, and they came out short and/or flat when finished, check your baking soda. Yes, it can fizzle out! To test it, put about a 1/2 teaspoon of the baking soda in a bowl. Add a little lemon juice or vinegar. It should vigorously fizz and bubble. If not, it’s on the way out. Try these dairy-free pumpkin muffins with fresh baking soda.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Pumpkin Muffins
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, optionally vegan, and vegetarian.
For gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin muffins, you can try substituting your favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. My friend swears by King Arthur Measure for Measure, but we haven’t tested this recipe without gluten. I recommend using eggs, and not the egg-free option, if trying gluten free.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, or a combination of the two
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup packed brown sugar (can sub coconut sugar for less sweet)
- 2 large eggs (see Vegan & Egg-Free Option below)
- ¼ cup oil
- ¼ cup orange juice
- Preheat your over to 350ºF and grease 12 muffin cups or line them with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, allspice or nutmeg, and cloves.
- Put the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, oil, and orange juice in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix; some small lumps are okay.
- Divide the muffin batter between your prepared muffin cups. They should each be about two-thirds full. Level the batter out with a spoon or by tapping the muffin pan on the counter.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes in the cups, before carefully removing the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or individually wrap the muffins and freeze to enjoy later.
High Altitude Options: If baking above 4000 feet, reduce the baking soda to ½ teaspoon. For the egg-free and vegan option, add just ⅛ teaspoon baking powder.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Option: Fold ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips into the batter before transferring the muffin batter to your muffins cups. I like to use Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips.