Cozy holiday flavors shine in these small batch spiced molasses gingerbread muffins. Six soft and fluffy muffins are assertively spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and topped with turbinado sugar for bakery-style muffins you can enjoy all winter long. This easy gingerbread muffin recipe is egg-free, requires no mixer, and is ready in 30 minutes.

easy spiced molasses gingerbread muffins piled on top of each other

If you like these spiced molasses muffins, you’ll also want to check out my soft molasses cookies, single layer gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting, and gingerbread bundt cake.

Why you’ll love this recipe

If it isn’t already apparent, I’m obsessed with dark and spicy molasses and gingerbread flavors. I don’t understand why these bold flavors are confined to December and the holiday season! I think they should be a year-round thing, or at least an all winter thing. January and February require some spiced muffins for that morning cup of coffee.

a round cake pan on a white surface containing 6 gingerbread muffins, some fallen over and some upright

You’ll love this easy recipe because:

  • Recipe makes just six muffins – the perfect amount to have around for a day or two and not be overwhelmed with muffins.
  • The muffin batter takes 10 minutes to throw together, and under 20 minutes to bake
  • No mixer required because we’re using melted butter – plus, heating the molasses with the butter in the microwave helps the thick molasses loosen up, eliminating the typical requirement to use hot water or hot coffee in the batter!
  • No eggs needed – instead we’re using the reaction between baking soda and vinegar to create the rise!
  • Bold flavors – reminiscent of gingerbread cookies, molasses and warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves make for dark and robust muffins!
  • Soft texture – the muffins are soft, squishy, and close textured, but not heavy. The turbinado sugar adds a slight crunch to the muffin tops, and the molasses keeps them moist so they won’t dry out the second day.

Recipe Development

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I tested this recipe at least 10 times over the past year!

recipe testing showing different variations of the muffins stacked on top of each other

I kept having problems with the gingerbread spice level and molasses flavor not being robust enough, or the muffins being too dry. I tested the recipe with and without eggs, baking powder, vinegar, milk, coffee, yogurt, maple syrup, and various kinds of molasses…which led me, finally (much to my husband Brian’s relief), to this very adaptable and flexible spicy molasses muffin recipe! They really are my new favorite muffins despite being up to my ears in them for weeks.

close up of a completed baked molasses muffin sitting on top of others with a white background

Ingredients

Only a few simple ingredients needed for these spiced molasses gingerbread muffins, and you can substitute or customize as noted below to make these your own! See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full ingredient list and measurements.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Cozy winter spices: ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Molasses (I use Grandma’s brand or Wholesome brand; see below for an explanation)
  • Unsalted butter (coconut oil, olive oil, or another neutral oil would all work)
  • Brown sugar (did you know brown sugar has molasses in it too? Double the molasses, hehe – use dark brown sugar if you like, or granulated sugar will work in a pinch)
  • Milk, coffee, or water – any of these liquids will work
  • Plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream or a thick plant-based yogurt)
  • Vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white vinegar will both work – the vinegar reacts with the baking soda to produce the rise and replace eggs in the recipe)
  • Turbinado sugar or granulated sugar for coating the tops of the muffins and making them crinkly and sparkly

Type of molasses to use in gingerbread muffins

Any unsulphured or dark molasses will work for these gingerbread muffins (most commercial molasses is unsulphured). I frequently use Grandma’s Original brand with the yellow label, but have also used Wholesome organic molasses with success. I didn’t realize this when I bought it, but be aware that Wholesome actually is a blackstrap molasses – the label isn’t very clear.

Blackstrap molasses is more bitter and has less moisture than regular molasses because it is a later byproduct of the sugar-making process (the third boiling of sugarcane juice, whereas regular/dark molasses comes from the second boiling). I like the darker color and less sweet flavor of blackstrap in these molasses muffins, but others may not find it sweet enough — so use the molasses you like best. I have tested the recipe with blackstrap molasses and regular unsulphured molasses, and it works both ways!

Equipment Needed

  • 12-cup muffin pan – the recipe makes 6 muffins but for the best rise in our muffins, we use every other muffin cup
  • Large glass bowl or other microwave-safe mixing bowl, and medium bowl for mixing dry ingredients
  • Whisk (or fork) and rubber spatula
  • Kitchen scale – I highly recommend weighing your ingredients for most accurate results, especially the flour! This is the primary way I bake these days as it is much more precise than using measuring cups (and there are fewer dishes to clean).

How to Make Spiced Molasses Gingerbread Muffins: Step by Step

Like many of my recipes, the method here is streamlined and simple. No mixer needed! See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line or grease every other cup of a 12-cup muffin tin (recipe makes 6 muffins; using every other cup creates better air flow and taller muffins). These are the parchment muffin liners I use so the muffins never stick to the paper liners.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter and molasses together in a large bowl in the microwave (or on the stove if you prefer).
  4. Whisk in the other wet ingredients: brown sugar, liquid of choice (milk, water, or coffee all work), vinegar, vanilla extract
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until a mostly smooth muffin batter is formed. You may notice some foaming or bubbling happening – that’s the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda, and is correct.
  6. Using a 1/4 cup or ice cream scoop, spoon the batter equally among the 6 muffin cups. Top each muffin with a generous pinch of turbinado or granulated sugar.
  7. Bake molasses muffins for 18-20 minutes until domed and set. A cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with just a couple crumbs attached.
  8. Let muffins cool for a few minutes on a wire rack, and enjoy!
a baked spiced molasses muffin in the muffin pan in bright afternoon sunlight

Storage

Small batch molasses gingerbread muffins can be stored as follows…

  • Room temperature: 1-2 days in an airtight container, or individually wrap in plastic wrap for a quick breakfast on the go. I think the gingerbread flavors intensify on the second day 🙂
  • Fridge: up to a week in an airtight container; microwave individual muffins for 15-20 seconds to reheat
  • Freezer: up to 3 months, well-wrapped individually in plastic and stored in a freezer bag. Microwave muffins for 30 seconds to reheat or allow to come to room temperature for 1-2 hours before enjoying.
small batch molasses gingerbread muffins piled in front of a white background

Tips, Additions, and Substitutions

Here are some options to customize the recipe and make it your own:

  • Even taller muffins: try baking the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C), then decrease the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) WITHOUT opening the oven door, and bake for 12-14 more minutes until domed and set. In testing, I preferred the softer texture of the muffins with a steady temperature of 375°F the whole time, but try this if you like!
  • Double the recipe for 12 muffins instead of 6.
  • Mini muffins: this recipe will make 12 mini muffins; bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees F (check often for doneness as they will bake quickly).
  • Make it gluten free: substitute an equal volume (1 cup) or equal weight (125g) of a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix that contains xanthan gum. I tested and like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour.
  • Make it vegan: use non-dairy milk (any will work) or water or coffee for the liquid, and use a thick Greek-style plant-based yogurt.
close up view of a gingerbread muffin with a bite taken out, showing the texture of the muffin crumb

I’d truly enjoy these muffins for Christmas morning breakfast, or for a random Tuesday night dessert. They’re that versatile. I hope you love them!

Recipe

easy spiced molasses gingerbread muffins piled on top of each other
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5 from 11 votes

Spiced Molasses Gingerbread Muffins

Cozy holiday flavors shine in these small batch spiced molasses gingerbread muffins.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, ginger, gingerbread, holiday, molasses, muffins
Servings: 6 muffins
Author: Katiebird Bakes

Equipment

  • 1 12-cup muffin pan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) molasses (unsulphured, dark, or blackstrap all work, depending on your sweetness preference)
  • 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter (4 Tbsp; can substitute with a neutral oil)
  • 1/4 cup (56g) plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream or plant-based yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, water, or coffee (non-dairy milk works too)
  • 2 Tablespoons (25g) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon (12g) turbinado or granulated sugar (optional, for sprinkling on top)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line or grease every other cup of a 12-cup muffin tin (recipe makes 6 muffins; using every other cup creates better air flow and taller muffins).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and molasses together in 20-second increments. Once melted, whisk in the Greek yogurt, liquid of choice (dairy or non-dairy milk, water, or coffee all work well), brown sugar, vinegar, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet and stir together with a rubber spatula until a batter forms. Stir until just incorporated and no flour lumps remain; do not overmix. Batter will be thick and you may notice some foaming – that's the baking soda and vinegar reacting!
  • Optional: Let batter sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before scooping for tallest muffins.
  • Spoon the batter equally into the 6 muffin cups. Top each with a generous sprinkle of turbinado or granulated sugar.
  • Bake for 375°F (190°C) for 18-20 minutes until domed and set. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with just a couple crumbs attached.
  • Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Video

Notes

    • Storage: baked muffins keep well when covered at room temperature for 1-2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze muffins for up to 3 months; thaw at room temperature for an hour or warm for 30 seconds in the microwave.
    • Even taller muffins: try baking the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C), then decrease the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) WITHOUT opening the oven door, and bake for 12-14 more minutes until domed and set. In testing, I preferred the softer texture of the muffins with a steady temperature of 375°F the whole time, but try if you like tall crackly muffins!
    • Double the recipe for 12 muffins instead of 6.
    • Mini muffins: this recipe will make 12 mini muffins; bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees F (check often for doneness as they will bake quickly).
    • Make it vegan: use non-dairy milk (any will work) or water or coffee for the liquid, and use a thick Greek-style plant-based yogurt.

Like this recipe for small batch spiced molasses gingerbread muffins? Please RATE it and LEAVE A COMMENT below.  Your feedback means so much and helps other bakers too!

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27 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These are seriously SO GOOD! I’ve tried a lot of gingerbread muffins, as gingerbread is my favorite flavor, and these muffins are the best out of all of them. They are super soft and fluffy, with a strong, perfectly spiced gingerbread flavor. I will say I messed around with the spices a bit- I added in some fresh grated ginger with the wet ingredients, as well as doubled the dried spices, as I like a lot of spice. After scooping the muffins into the 6 tins, I sprinkled the tops with brown sugar and turbinado sugar to get some delicious crunchy tops! I’ll be making these on repeat from now on…

  2. 5 stars
    These remind me of muffins I ate in my college days. A vendor sold them near the law school parking structure for around $3. The black strap molasses and spices are an instant portal to the holiday season, rainy college mornings full of youthful vitality, promise and freedom of mind, and cozy moments in the making. Thank you, from a cancer survivor in her mid-50’s on her day off from work and keto/paleo. These morsels remind me that I am living the dream. 🌱☔❣️🕊️

  3. This recipe looks great! If I don’t have any yogurt or sour cream, would it work to substitute buttermilk?

  4. HELP I tried to make these this morning and they collapsed while baking. No rise at all. I don’t understand what happened. I followed the recipe except for the all purpose flour. I used almond flour.

      1. thanks for the update! you’re right, almond flour will not work here because it performs completely differently in recipes from all-purpose flour. if you’re looking to make the muffins gluten-free, I recommend using an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix instead. thanks for the review!

  5. 5 stars
    These muffins are fabulous! I topped them with the maple vanilla glaze, and it was absolutely delicious! One of my most favorite recipes. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious!! I used unsulphured molasses, water, unsalted butter and plain greek yogurt in the muffins. Topped the muffins off with turbinado sugar, loved the crunch. I followed the instructions for taller muffins, but they didn’t rise more than usual. I would definitely make these again!

  7. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe and really appreciated the substitutions listed. I used coffee for the liquid, with avocado oil and plant-based yogurt to make them vegan, and they worked really well. Will definitely make these again!

      1. Hi! I’m so excited to make these! I don’t have any vinegar. Could I use eggs instead, and if so, how many?

  8. 5 stars
    Yum, these are so tasty. I saw your post on Instagram and knew I had to try these. I made them this morning and had them with tea. I will make these again for sure. I love all your recipes. One of my favs is double chocolate banana bread.

  9. 5 stars
    THESE ARE INCREDIBLE!! saw you posted these on insta and I had to make them immediately. I LOVE gingerbread and hate how it’s only featured during the holidays. I used the high heat trick and they were so tall and a bit crisp on the edges!! Thank you!