the moveable feasts

Mom’s Bran Muffins

with 59 comments

bran 14

My mom sent me this email last week:

“Okay, so after reading and thinking about your latest post, I think you should do the next recipe with BRAN MUFFINS…what a follow up from your last post about not being health conscious!  But really, you do have to make my muffins because there are NO recipes like it out there, and it really is THE BEST bran muffin recipe EVER.  It will make you famous :)”

buttermilk and branbran 2

But really guys, she isn’t lying–I grew up on these humble little muffins and as far as I know they are the best of their kind. And yes that’s right, bran muffins didn’t have a negative conotation in my house growing up. Rather, my siblings and and I looked forward to these things coming out of the oven as much as we looked forward to watching pokemon on weekend mornings (and that was quite the big deal). When I left home for college, it was one of these muffins that I craved to come home for. And I’m not making that up to sell this recipe–one time when I was walking through the hallway of my school I craved them so much that I swear I smelled their familiar, comforting scent.

flour + bran mixture

bran 1

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bran 7
I’m sure that part of the appeal of these muffins is due to that biased fact that my childhood was fueled by them. But still, the recipe produces a classic bran muffin that is objectively pretty darn delicious. Textured by the nutty bran, the top and edges get almost chewy while the whole muffin stays fluffy and moist because of the tangy buttermilk–even when made with whole wheat flour. Unlike the dense, heavy bran muffins most of us have come to know, these are surprisingly tender. Furthermore, they’re sweetened entirely with honey and molasses which I suppose is a bit of a virtuous and delicious touch. My siblings and I have always enjoyed them best warm, right out of the oven, with a pat of butter on top. (By the way, when I made these my brother ate nine, yes NINE, in one evening. And he usually scorns “health” things. Told you my family eats them up like candy.)

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My mom said she got this recipe from one of her friends, “another hippie,” during her days as a park ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park. Ever since, she’s been making these muffins in triple batches in her largest stainless steel bowl every few weeks on Sunday mornings. When she visits my brother, twin sister or me at college she brings a large ziplock bag full of bran muffins, ready to be kept in the fridge or freezer to be reheated for a quick breakfast or snack. This is the first time I’ve made them and I was a bit worried about them not turning out just like hers. (I’m guessing this is a fear common to most daughters and sons–it’s always so hard to make them just like our mothers!) But lo and behold, they turned out just the same as always. As my mom asserts, “these are foolproof–healthy, foolproof bran muffins.” Who knows, maybe one day I’ll become my mom making triple batches of these things, famous because of them. Unlikely… but no matter, I’ll still have my bran muffins.

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Mom’s Bran Muffins
Makes about a dozen

Amy’s Notes: These are not overly sweet, so if you want a sweeter more “treat” of muffin you might want to increase the honey a bit. This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and muffins freeze and reheat well.

1 cup bran
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour (any kind will do)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: golden raisins, walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with baking cups (always easier, I think).

In a large bowl, combine the bran, buttermilk and baking soda. The baking soda should activate and begin to create bubbles through the mixture. While this is soaking, mix the egg, vegetable oil, molasses, honey and vanilla in another smaller bowl until smooth. Add this to the bran mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt (and raisins and walnuts, if using). Pour flour mixture over the bran mixture and stir until combined and no flour streaks remain, but make sure not to overmix. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are deeply golden and the edges are beginning to brown. Serve warm with salted butter.

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Written by Amy

January 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Posted in Breakfast

Tagged with ,

59 Responses

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  1. I love this story, especially the fact that your brother ate NINE of them! (he sounds like my brother!) They look absolutely delicious though and can totally understand why. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best, especially ones that make us think of home :-)


    January 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm

  2. I love that last picture of the recipe card!

    I am always worried whenever I cook any of my mother’s recipes that they are going to turn out differently and she’s going to disown me (so far, so good!) but these look amazing! I love that they are healthy and I reckon they would be perfect to have on hand for when the need for cake becomes overwhelming!


    January 10, 2012 at 1:10 am

  3. Maybe you will be famous ;) Never know who’s looking at this blog of yours. I’m bookmarking these for sure, you know I’m a sucker for a healthy version of most anything-muffin included. I too love the photos in this one, especially the recipe card and the buttered muffin.


    January 10, 2012 at 4:46 am

  4. These look great. I will try them out tomorrow. Love the honey, molasses combo.


    January 10, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    • Oh great, let me know how they turn out for you! :)


      January 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    • I’ve tried them three times tweeking as I go.I use 1/2 cooking and 1/2 fancy molasses,3/4 cup golden raisins and 3/4 cup walnuts or pecans (pieces),and for flour I substitute 3/4 cup whole wheat +1/4 cup all purpose. The muffins are moist, and you have the full flavor of the molasses.These muffins are full of fiber.

      William Brown

      May 8, 2015 at 10:15 am

  5. I love a good bran muffin, especially with a nice pat of butter. I’ve got a crazy week, but I hope there will be time for these soon. I’m supposed to bake for one of my classes sometime this quarter, and I have lot of unhealthy ideas…but I’ve been thinking that I should make something else for the health-conscious members of the class. These bran muffins sound like they’ll do the trick! Thanks, Amy.
    I love that your mom emailed you thinking that you needed to follow up your last post with something healthy!


    January 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm

  6. The girl ain’t lying, these things are awesome!

    Also. I don’t want to insult mom, but did you make the ones Jimmy brought back up to Seattle? Because I think those are the best yet.

    Also, true writing. I approve, I enjoyed reading it a lot. Kudos am.


    January 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

  7. Yum, these do look good. Recipes from mom are always the best, right?


    January 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

  8. I love love love bran muffins so will definitely have to give these a try… they look wonderful…
    Great photos, by the way… x


    January 12, 2012 at 4:57 am

  9. These look great! I love bran muffins, but sometimes the recipe isn’t really that healthy. These look perfect! Can’t wait to try them :D

    Heidi @ Food Doodles

    January 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

  10. These look really really tasty. When I was in high school, one day out of the week the cafeteria would have the best bran muffins for breakfast. I would look forward to it practically all week. If these are even half as good I will crown you my new queen. I can’t wait figure out the calories/nutritional info on these later when I have time!


    January 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    • Ah thanks, haha what a nice comment. Hope these go over well for you. :) If you figure out their nutritional info you should let me know!


      January 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      • So, I finally popped these into my fitness/food app and figured out the info on these. Of course it will vary slightly depending on what brand you use and such…

        168 cal
        7g fat
        26g carbs
        4g protein
        1g sat. fat
        18g cholesterol
        275g sodium
        2g fiber
        12g sugar

        I am curious how these would turn out subbing in almond milk and vinegar for the buttermilk, or another kind of oil, or wheat flour instead of ap. All in all though, pretty low cal as far as muffins go and most of the fat is the good kind.


        January 19, 2012 at 11:09 pm

  11. For once, i know this is going to be good for me :) Definitely will help digestion too…

    Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen

    January 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm

  12. I don’t know how I missed this post, must have been the haze of the holidays. I love bran muffins so I have to try your mother’s to compare it to my signature recipe ;) I’m so impressed by your photography, it’s a pleasure to check in on your blog.

    • Wow, such a compliment coming from you! Thanks, Sue. Haha, and let me know how they compare. :)


      January 15, 2012 at 10:03 am

  13. These were delicious! I mini bite-sized muffins and added chocolate chips, I can’t seem to make muffins with out chocolate chips!

    Samara Kapich

    January 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    • I meant I made mini bite-sized :)

      Samara Kapich

      January 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      • Glad you liked them Samara! I’m about to make another batch already myself… And chocolate chips are never a bad idea, I might just throw some in this next time!


        January 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    • How much chocolate chips did you add?


      May 14, 2014 at 9:15 am

  14. Oh my gosh these are good! I ade some other healthy ones tht were terrible so I was shocked and tickled that even my kids loved these!


    August 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm

  15. Great recipe! Will be linking back to this in my post tomorrow.


    August 26, 2012 at 7:20 am

  16. I can’t wait to try these. I lost my recipe for high protein bran muffins, which I used to make all the time back in the 70s, This sounds almost identical to the recipe I used, especially what is on the recipe card at the end of your story. Because of a wheat allergy, I used soy and/or rye flour. The local health food store loved them…

    Bev Chesanek

    October 11, 2012 at 3:29 am

    • That’s too funny– this recipe comes from my Mom who used to make them constantly when she was in college during the 70’s. Let me know if you try them out and how it goes!


      October 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm

  17. I tried these plain and with chocolate chips and they were amazing! Very fluffy and moist with a top that is a little chewy, exactly as you had described:) but the plain was just too plain…it had a lot of flavor, but it needed a contrasting flavor…should bave used walnuts as stated in your recipe. The chocolate was great, but next time I’ll go for the classic: raisins:) thank you for sharing your recipe:)


    January 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

    • How much chocolate chips did you add?


      May 14, 2014 at 9:15 am

  18. I recently tried other recipes but I was disappointed. I began to search for a recipe that was different from the rest. Behold, I found it!

    It fit all my qualifications. 1. The recipe yielded exactly 12 muffins (with the use of my trusty ice cream scoop). 2. They came out of the muffin papers with no muffin goodness left behind ( perfect muffin test). 3. Lastly and most importantly…the taste…excellent!

    I did change up the recipe somewhat. I had no bran so I substituted bran buds cereal, leaving it in the liquid mixture until the cereal softened. I had no buttermilk but I did have some Greek yogurt, so I watered it down with some milk to the consistency of buttermilk. I was also out of honey, therefore I subbed real maple syrup. I noticed you didnt have any measurements for the raisins and nuts. I used 1/2 cup raisins and 1/3 cup walnuts (a must!). Oh yes, one more thing, I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon. The end result was wonderful. I can’t wait to try it with buttermilk and honey. My husband and son weren’t satisfied with just one muffin each out of the oven. Thank you so much for sharing your delicious family recipe.


    February 10, 2013 at 7:44 pm

  19. Hi Amy. I’ve just made a batch of these and they are fluffy, moist and so, so delicious! Thank you for the recipe.


    February 20, 2013 at 9:32 am

    • Your welcome, Julie, and thanks for commenting!


      February 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

  20. Just made these muffins! I’m soooooo impressed. Thank you!


    March 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm

  21. I am 38 weeks pregnant and wanted to find a bran muffin recipe to make and freeze. I just ate two muffins – they are on their way to the freezer! Everyone should try this recipe.


    March 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

  22. This might be a dumb question– is the bran in the recipe oat bran or wheat bran or… I want them to come out as great as they look in your picture so wanted to be sure. Thanks!!


    June 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

    • Not a dumb question! It’s wheat bran, although trying them out with oat bran might turn out interesting. Hope yours turn out well — let me know!


      June 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      • Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! I made them with the wheat bran and they are AMAZING! My mother-in-law and I were searching for a recipe to duplicate the best bran muffin we have ever had at a restaurant so we could make them at home. This is it! I may try them sometime with oat bran and will let you know, but, I also am not sure I want to mess with this recipe at all! Thanks so much! I am making a triple batch next time and freezing them.


        June 17, 2013 at 9:15 am

      • I’m so glad to hear that! Yeah, at my house we always make at least a double batch—during my dorm days in college my mom would send me back to school after a weekend home with a big ziploc bag full to freeze and snack on. They are good warmed up in the microwave after being frozen. :)


        June 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm

  23. I made your muffins today, they are fantastic!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe. I love your blog and will be back to try more of your delicious looking recipes!


    August 2, 2013 at 5:46 am

  24. Made these today and used liquid honey. Very good but the centers sank. Any ideas?

    Patricia Popescul

    August 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

  25. A mega fabulous recipe!


    August 30, 2013 at 3:05 am

  26. Just the recipe I wanted. Beautiful and beautifully written tribute to your mom and her bran muffins. Sincere thanks to you both.

    Cindy Denny

    November 16, 2013 at 1:03 am

  27. Hi Amy.

    Just made your bran muffin recipe with some added blueberries and cranberries. They turned out! … despite a few mistakes. I hope my daughter will enjoy them. She’s just over a year and really likes bran muffins.

    btw…Great blog, recipes and photos.

    Many thanks,

    Squamish, BC


    November 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

  28. Made them yesterday in a mini-muffin tin. They are stupendous. Baking time for minis is 15mins and yields about 30 delectable little treats. Only change I made was 1/3 cup honey. Golden raisins are perfect for this recipe.

    Sam K. December 8, 2013 11:40 am

    Sam Kamilos

    December 8, 2013 at 11:38 am

  29. You have made my day. I lost this recipe in 1980 and have been looking for it ever since. Thank you; thank you; thank you!!!!

    Grateful Person

    January 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

  30. We just made these a few days ago after finding them through a google search. They are not only the best bran muffins I have ever had, but hands down the best muffins I’ve ever had. Period. And because they are relatively healthy (for a muffin, anyway) and very filling, we’ll be making them a lot from now on.

    Thanks for the terrific recipe! And a huge thanks to your Mom!! These really should make both of you famous.


    January 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    • What a sweet comment !! Thank you and I’m glad you loved the muffins. x


      January 26, 2014 at 2:57 am

      • We’re about to make our third batch, if that’s any indication of just how much we love them. I think we found the recipe about 2 weeks ago…


        January 26, 2014 at 7:31 am

  31. these are without a doubt the best bran muffins. I added lots of raisens.


    May 4, 2014 at 11:26 am

  32. I am not a techie, so I would like to print the recipe, however no icon for printing.


    May 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

  33. Still the best! :) <3


    May 25, 2014 at 6:17 pm

  34. Just made these, definitely the best bran muffin recipe I’ve tried. Thanks!


    September 3, 2014 at 12:40 pm

  35. I have to say this is the VERY BEST bran muffin recipe! I have been looking for the type of Bran muffins I used to get at a bakery and I found it! Thank you for this recipe, this puts all the bran cereal muffin recipes to shame!


    October 29, 2014 at 6:01 pm

  36. having trouble printing recipes…


    January 11, 2015 at 5:22 pm

  37. I was on a muffin mission today, made blueberry, orange cranberry and these bran muffins, the batter was kind of thin and I was a little worried about that, most likely because I use real butter milk from my cows, and making butter, but they came out delicious, the muffins were for my Dad who is 89 and not used to cooking but has a sweet tooth. Great recipe!


    February 25, 2015 at 1:25 pm

  38. Will blackstrap molasses work or should it be fancy molasses? Also, I don’t usually have buttermilk around but use milk soured with lemon juice as a substitute, anyone else try that with success? I hope to try these tomorrow!


    March 11, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    • I’m sure blackstrap molasses will work just fine, but I always use that “Grandma’s” one with the orange label because it’s the one my mom always had (not even sure what type of molasses that is). And I rely on that lemon-milk trick to fake buttermilk more often than I’d like to admit! But it works. Hope you enjoy the muffins.


      March 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      • Just a quick update — the muffins came out really well with the blackstrap molasses! I actually used a little more honey and a little less molasses to compensate for the slightly bitter taste that blackstrap molasses can impart. The muffins are moist and really tasty.


        March 14, 2015 at 4:10 pm

  39. Hullo..i’m feom Australia and we hav what we call, plain flour or self raising flour..what should I use plse

    Marion shaw

    May 9, 2015 at 1:38 am

  40. These muffins are delicious! Crunchy on the top, full of flavour, moist and dark with molasses. I could see adding anything. Thanks to your Mom for a fantastic recipe. (I made mine with whole wheat flour and I used 2/3 cup of brown sugar instead of the honey.) This one is going on a recipe card as “The All Time Best Bran Muffin Recipe! : )


    October 2, 2015 at 11:03 am

  41. I have a question on your recipe the paper that came from your mom’s handwriting I noticed she had three sections (1) soak (2) combine (3) mix there was circle (1)-egg circle (3)-1 cup Buttermilk are the circle (3) for a larger mix if so I want to know how much flour, balking powder and salt I would need. You only see the front of the paper with an arrow to see back I can’t wait to make these Love bran muffins but it is hard to find good ones I hope you have an answer for mw

    grace soto

    October 25, 2015 at 6:37 pm

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