Make Ahead

What I Do For Love All Bran Cereal Muffins

January 24, 2010
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 12
Author Notes

One of my husband's favorite breakfast foods is a bran muffin. He had been buying them at the grocery store (ick). So I set out to make a bran muffin he would really like. I tried a bunch of recipes, but couldn't really capture the sweet moist character of a mass-produced muffin (even though mine tasted better and were certainly healthier). I found a recipe in "Cook's Illustrated" called Better Bran muffins (May 2007), and started making that one, with some variations. While I still use its not-so-secret ingredient--All Bran cereal-- I've modified the recipe to make it my own. My husband adores these muffins, so now I'm making them nearly every week. I call them "What I Do For Love" because when the muffin tin goes into the oven, there's a huge mess to be cleaned up--multiple ingredients to put away, many dishes to wash, a food processor to clean. But these are delicious and they freeze well. (And in the photo, the pumpkin seeds are a little dark because I overcooked them--oops!--they still tasted good!) —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: drbabs, an optometrist from Huntington, NY who cooks up a storm of deliciousness in her spare time.
WHAT: A better bran muffin, created to cure her store-bought muffin-eating husband of his bad habit.
HOW: As drbabs mentions, these muffins are a bit of a process -- large bowl, medium bowl, small bowl, whisk, spoons, muffin tins -- but you would do anything for love, wouldn't you?
WHY WE LOVE IT: Light, airy, and chock full of wheat germ, All-Bran and other oldy and goody all-stars of the 80s health food movement, these muffins are a yummy and virtuous way to start the day. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 2 cups All Bran cereal
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins or sultanas, plumped in microwave (30 seconds) with 1/4 cup of orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plain yogurt (don't use greek yogurt or the muffins will be too dense.)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  1. Melt butter and allow it to cool.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400° F. Toast pumpkin seeds on cookie sheet while oven is heating, removing them when they are lightly toasted and beginning to puff a little.
  3. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  4. Process 1 cup of All Bran cereal in food processor until finely ground, about a minute.
  5. In large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, clove, cocoa powder and wheat germ. Set aside.
  6. In medium bowl (see what I mean?), whisk eggs till blended. Add brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and orange zest. Whisk till mixture is thick, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter. Whisk to combine. Add yogurt. Whisk to combine. Stir in processed cereal and 1 cup of unprocessed cereal. Let mixture sit until entirely moist—about 5 minutes.
  7. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently fold with rubber spatula until batter is combined and evenly moistened. Stir in raisins and juice if using.
  8. Using a 1/3 cup measure, drop batter into muffin cups forming soft mounds. Don't level surface. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over the tops of the muffins.
  9. Bake 16-20 minutes, until muffins are dark golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anne Patrick-Daley
    Anne Patrick-Daley
  • JOEY
  • Joyce Parkes
    Joyce Parkes
  • Manhattan Tart
    Manhattan Tart
  • nannydeb

80 Reviews

Martha F. April 21, 2023
This recipe turned out great, but I did make minor modifications: swapped in cardamom for cinnamon, since it goes so well with oranges, and used honey instead of molasses. Like another reviewer, I used All Bran Buds. Rather than pull out another implement and dirty more bowls, I skipped the grinding step and soaked in buttermilk (cut down to 1.5 C). I confess to increasing the salt to 1 tsp.
This made 18 regular sized muffins in my pans.
drbabs April 21, 2023
Thanks so much. I’ve streamlined some steps, too, but I worry about editing the recipe because so many people have made it this way.
Annie October 9, 2022
I make these exactly as the recipe reads. They are perfect Everytime. No need to make any adjustments.
drbabs April 21, 2023
Sorry I missed this. Thank you!
myob October 31, 2019
I used All Bran Buds which I had on hand and skipped the food processor. Soaked the Buds in buttermilk, used ground flaxseed instead of wheat germ, and got 17 muffins from this recipe. These bran muffins are delicious -- as are all Drbabs recipes I have tried!
drbabs October 31, 2019
Wow, thank you!
annecancook October 12, 2019
Help! I've been baking for nearly 50 years and cannot believe how dry and dense these were. The flavor is out of this world but we couldn't eat them without a swig of coffee after each bite to wash it down. Did not use Greek yogurt. Did not overmix. Would love to make again if you guys can figure out what went wrong.
drbabs October 12, 2019
Ouch. These are way too much work to not turn out well. I’m sorry. Here’s my guess. I wrote this recipe long before I used a scale for most baking, so the measurements are by volume. I suspect that your flour may have been too tightly compacted. If you make them again and you have a scale, weigh out 120 grams of AP flour and 90 grams of whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a scale, stir the flour to aerate it before you measure it, then scoop and sweep the excess off the top of the measuring cup. Also, I have made the mistake of forgetting the leavening (baking soda in this case) when I bake, and it’s a disaster. Make sure you have all the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Good luck. Please let me know how they turn out.
Manhattan T. October 15, 2019
I love these and make them frequently (and am a huge fan of Drbabs's recipes) but with modifications that make for less work and more moisture. I use ALL buttermilk, no yogurt, and use vegetable oil, not butter. Cookies - and some cakes - need butter for flavor, but most varieties of muffins need oil for moisture. I skip the pumpkin seeds and skip the whirring of half of the cereal. I love the humor of Drbabs's recipe writing, acknowledging that they're kind of a pain; the name is genius! But when you make them LESS of a pain you make the muffins way more often! Thanks, Drbabs, and please, annecancook, try them again. They're too delicious to be without.
drbabs October 15, 2019
Thanks, Manhattan T. I love your variations! I’m going to try them your way next time.
T April 21, 2019
Okay, I honestly thought these were made specifically for tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones - with the reunion of Jaime Lannister and Bran Stark.... I think I’ll make them anyways!
drbabs April 21, 2019
Haha, I've never seen Game of Thrones, so I don't get the reference! Enjoy.
anita March 4, 2018
The fun of these muffins is the varying of ingredients. This time i swapped dates for raisins; toasted pecans for pumpkins seeds (on top); and a sprinkle of brown sugar on top. Hands down the best recipe for bran muffins on food 52...again.
drbabs March 4, 2018
So glad you like them!
Anne P. February 17, 2018
Just made these w/ a couple of changes/necessary improvises . . . 1/2 Greek yogurt & 1/2 Siggi’s vanilla kefir since it was in the fridge. . . took into consideration your note about that so added @1/2 c hot water. Also substituted Trader Joe’s Superseed & Ancient Grain blend for wheat germ, then added dates to reduce sugar, swapped walnuts for pumpkin seeds. Sometimes you just have to try a recipe but you don’t have all of the exact ingredients - thanks for inspiring me with your recipe and the tips!
drbabs February 20, 2018
I'm so glad you enjoyed them! I love your modifications.
Marie T. August 8, 2016
In any bran muffin recipe add some maple flavouring and you will love them...have not tried this yet, but sure looks good! The store bought muffins are tasteless...also orange zest is great. I have even used abit of tang crystals if out of zest...try it, you will love it.
Kerry G. February 20, 2016
I've made these twice now and would buy all bran cereal again JUST for these muffins. I was rushed for time today, so I actually put everything in the food processor, except for raisin/OJ mix (folded these in afterward). Worked really really well. I baked for 17 min at 375. I think the addition of chopped apples and maybe some pecans or walnuts would be great too. Oh, I also used orange extract instead of rind. Thought about soaking raisins in OJ with splash of apple brandy too ... Maybe next time :)
drbabs February 20, 2016
What a great idea! I have to try that!
JOEY October 3, 2015
Can't remember who remarked these would come out "light and airy" or some such, but my skepticism was HIGH, especially upon *thwock*ing the heavy batter into each muffin liner. But sure enough, they came out light and airy-- and full of deliciously complex flavor. I am thrilled to have found this-- it's a keeper, FOR SURE!
drbabs October 3, 2015
I'm so glad you liked them. Thanks for letting me know.
Joyce P. January 26, 2015
Double nom nom! Wonderful recipe..thank you. I subbed low fat margarine for the butter; treacle for molasses; orange extract for zest, and it all came together perfectly. Next time I shall add a goodly amount of ginger and up the extract for a stronger taste. UK muffin tins must be smaller that USA ones as I filled almost to the top and made 22. Gorgeous and well risen. Had to freeze as too tempting.. oh I also pushed in a few blueberries and they are a surprise explosion of moistness.
drbabs October 3, 2015
Just saw this--sorry! I'm so glad you liked them.
nina November 17, 2014
I have made tons of different recipes for bran muffins and i think these are the Most Delicious, by far…..maybe not the most heart healthy, but they are the most soul healthy:-)
I'm not the best baker and was sure i ruined these when i substituted 1 c. of buttermilk for the yoghurt and then when I assembled the dry and the wet ingredients, decided they were too dry so i just added another cup of buttermilk at the last minute and worked it in…..and i wondered about the wisdom and chemistry of that action…..but they came out perfectly fabulous in spite of that:-) Yay!! and I did do it for love…...
drbabs November 17, 2014
I'm so happy you like them.. Thanks for letting me know.
Ethan W. December 9, 2014
Hey, what would you say the best, most healthy one is? Thanks :)
Manhattan T. October 15, 2014
Made these (for the umpteenth time) and only figured out I was 1/3 c. shy of All Bran when it was too late (I do NOT go back out after picking the kids up from school, so that counts as "too late" in my book). Having made a whole grain bread using them before, I substituted that final 1/3 c. with Grape Nuts, which I soaked for the full 10 minutes. The muffins turned out fabulous! I also used 4 Tbs. molasses, no seeds, no raisins and my (picky) eaters are happy as clams with the result. Thanks, DrBabs, for a fabulously adaptable recipe!
anita May 18, 2014
A huge hit at my house. (1) Used less brown sugar than called for; (2) soaked both cups in buttermilk; (3) omitted yoghurt; (4) substituted dates for raisins, using same method of soaking in orange juice. Result: chewy, flavorful, not too sweet, good texture. Dutch cocoa adds lovely depth.
nannydeb May 1, 2014
Hey drbabs! I made these with honey instead of molasses (which I didn't have at the time) and they came out great! Love 'em! Thanks!
Manhattan T. March 20, 2014
Used buttermilk and soaked 1 cup of All Bran in it (thanks, Bluemoom!) then added the remaining bran a minute before adding to other wet ingredients. I skipped the raisins (bleck!) and the pumpkin seeds (nut-hating children in the house) but went heavy on the molasses and vanilla. The texture is really nice & moist and the Dutch cocoa, though not readily distinguishable, adds a really nice depth of flavor. I'll happily make these again and add some walnuts for when my daughters aren't around. I (somehow?!) got 17 nicely-filled muffins out of this batch, using a #16 levered ice cream scoop.
drbabs March 20, 2014
So happy you liked it!
Blumoon January 26, 2014
small suggestion that saves some clean up- use buttermilk instead of the yogurt and soak the all-bran in it for 15 minutes rather than processing it in a food processor. Add your liquid ingredients, mix and then add your dry. Love the cocoa powder- it adds richness!
drbabs January 28, 2014
Great suggestions. Thanks.
Mianna July 1, 2012
Congrats on the win! These look wonderful. A great update on the recipe that was a basic for me when I learned to bake many years ago. We added walnuts to that recipe also. Love your changes and additions. Thank you for the inspiration!
drbabs July 1, 2012
Thanks, Mianna!
ctgal May 8, 2012
I needed to tell you that I made a batch of these muffins and I adore them! I froze most of them and just pop them in the toaster oven to defrost for a quick, delicious, and nourishing breakfast when I'm on the run, or just so totally sick of bran cereal that I can scream. Thank you so much! Fiber is my mantra!! (Yes, I know. Too much information.)
drbabs May 9, 2012
Thank you for letting me know! I'm so happy that you like them.
crazyblues April 11, 2012
Made a special trip to get Bran cereal. TOTAL yum. Used buttermilk cause I didn't have yogurt. Filled 12 muffin liners. Nice and full, kinda overflowing. Kids will love them, I've been looking for some sweet snack for them to take to school that I can get behind... thankyou!
drbabs April 11, 2012
Oh, I'm so happy you liked them. I made them this past weekend with my niece. They're good to make with children! Also was thrilled to find out that All Bran is no longer made with hi fructose corn syrup. So I didn't feel too bad about these. They're almost healthy! Buttermilk is a great alternative to yogurt. Thanks for letting me know that you tried them.