Orange-Spiced Whole Wheat Muffins

Lightly sweet with orange and spices, these Orange-Spiced Whole Wheat Muffins are good for breakfast, lunch, or snacks. Cut them open and slather them with honey or butter, and you're in muffin heaven.

Whole Wheat Nut Muffins
Alison Conklin

Little in life is better than a muffin. It’s basically cake you can eat for breakfast, and that can’t be bad.

In this case, I combine whole wheat pastry flour with all-purpose flour to create a light fluffy texture with the nutty flavor. I also tossed in chopped walnuts, a little orange zest, and all those great warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

The result is a breakfast treat that pairs perfectly with cold mornings and hot tea.

Whole Wheat Muffin with Buttermilk
Alison Conklin

Why Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

The folks at Bob’s Red Mill offer a pretty good explanation of flours.

Basically, whole wheat pastry flour is milled from soft white wheat and has less protein than its whole wheat flour counterpart, which is milled from hard red wheat. The lower protein content in the whole wheat pastry flour creates a light nutrient dense crumb, which is why I use it in my whole wheat baking. (See my love of eating cake for breakfast above).

Whole Wheat Muffin with Buttermilk combine the flours
Alison Conklin

Swap in Your Favorite Flour!

If you want a 100 percent whole wheat muffin then by all means get crazy with the whole grains.

In this recipe you can comfortably replace equal amounts of all-purpose flour with 100 percent whole wheat flour.

The texture will be chewier and the color of the muffin will be a bit darker, but the flavor will still be rich with nuttiness, warming spices and just bit of brightness from the orange zest. I’ve made muffins both ways, and I like them both ways.

Whole Wheat Muffins with Nuts
Alison Conklin

Muffin Tops Are the Best Part

I believe every muffin should be topped with something. For this recipe, I added a mixture of walnuts, cinnamon and sugar to add a little extra sweetness and a slight crunch.

More Favorite Muffin Recipes!

Orange-Spiced Whole Wheat Muffins

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 12 muffins


  • For the muffin topping:
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • For the muffins:
  • 1 1/2 cup (195g) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (164g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (from about 1 large orange)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Prep the pans and oven:

    Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Make the muffin topping:

    In a small bowl, combine 1/4 walnuts, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.

    Whole Wheat Nut Muffins make the topping
    Alison Conklin
  3. Combine the flours and spices:

    In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, nutmeg, and orange zest.

    Whole Wheat Muffin with Buttermilk combine the flours
    Alison Conklin
    Whole Wheat Muffins with Nuts combine the flours with spices
    Alison Conklin
    Whole Wheat Nut Muffins add the zest
    Alison Conklin
  4. Make the batter:

    In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The batter should be mostly combined with a few streaks of flour.

    Add 3/4 cup walnuts, stir until incorporated. Do not overmix the batter; it will result in dense muffins.

    Whole Wheat Muffins with Applesauce add the buttermilk
    Alison Conklin
  5. Fill the muffin cups:

    Fill muffin cups to the top with batter—don't worry, this is exactly how full you want them. Sprinkle with walnut and cinnamon sugar topping.

    Whole Wheat Nut Muffins fill the muffin cups
    Alison Conklin
    Whole Wheat Muffins with Applesauce top the muffins
    Alison Conklin
  6. Bake the muffins:

    Bake for 18 minutes until the muffins have crested over the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. They may show a combination of loose sugar and melted sugar.

    The muffins should release from the just fine, but they may touch in a few places on the sides. Not to worry. Just use a knife to cut them apart before lifting them out of the pan. If the muffins are difficult to release from the pan, run a knife horizontally between the muffin top and the top of the muffin pan, taking care not to cut through the body of the muffin.

    Serve warm with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey. Or just eat them. Either way.

    Store in an airtight container on the countertop for up to five days or freeze in a zip-top plastic bag. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.

    Whole Wheat Muffins with Applesauce bake the muffins
    Alison Conklin