Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins

Three recipes, that’s where I draw the line when it comes to sharing recipes from a cookbook. Anything beyond that, and I’m no longer advertising a book that you should buy and I’m just poaching recipes for my own gain. So it’s with great sadness that I post my third and final recipe from Marion Cunningham’s wonderful Breakfast Book. Together we’ve made her raised waffles (a recipe I actually got from Kim Severon’s SpoonFed but it comes from The Breakfast Book) and her Last Word in Nutmeg Muffins. Now comes another muffin recipe, but a peculiar one; a muffin that’s more fruit than muffin. And that’s what makes it great.


I’ve never been much of a muffin man (muffin man the muffin man) mostly because they’re best hot out of the oven and once they cool you’re left with a bunch of muffins that won’t be nearly as good the next day. That is until I got the idea (from Cunningham’s book) to freeze the uneaten muffins and to reheat them whenever we want a hot muffin. So those nutmeg muffins actually lasted several weeks; and I imagine these muffins will too. Popped straight from the freezer on to a cookie sheet and placed in a 350 oven you have a hot muffin in 10 minutes. That’s a good deal.


These particular muffins are so fruit-filled, they feel positively wholesome. You’ll spend most of your time chopping apples but if it’s a sunny morning and you’re sipping fresh coffee, there are worse things. You can even leave the skin on (per the recipe) but I prefer mine peeled. Up to you.


You stir the apple chunks with sugar, then pour in a liquid mixture of egg, oil, and vanilla extract, and a flour mixture that contains baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. The last two ingredients really round things out: raisins and walnuts. In its uncooked state, it reminded me of that famous Passover mixture, Haroset (which I once made here). The batter just binds all the fruit together.


I use an ice cream scoop to get the batter into the muffin tin and once that happens, you’re done. 25 minutes later you have hot fruity muffins (“Hot Fruity Muffins” is the name of my band, by the way) (that’s a joke) and whatever you don’t eat, you can freeze.

Well, Marion Cunningham, we’ve had a good run here on the blog. I enjoyed blogging your Breakfast Book recipes and maybe if I get another one of your cookbooks, I can blog more down the road. Until then, thanks for the waffles and all these wonderful muffins.

Recipe: Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins

Summary: A muffin that’s mostly fruit, not so much muffin.


  • 4 cups diced apple (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1/2 cup oil (corn oil is very good)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup broken walnuts (leave in large pieces)


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease 16 muffin tins.
  2. Put 3 mixing bowls on the counter. Mix the apples and sugar in one bowl and set aside. Put the eggs, oil, and vanilla in the second bowl and stir to blend well. In the third bowl, put the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir the mixture with a fork until blended.
  3. Stir the egg mixture into the apples and sugar, and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the apple mixture and mix well. (Marion uses her hands because “this is a stiff batter.”) Sprinkle the raisins and walnuts over the batter and mix until they are evenly distributed. Spoon into the muffin tins.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a straw comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin. Serve warm.

Quick notes

I used Granny Smith apples which offer up a nice amount of tartness. I’m pretty sure any apple will work here, though. A variety from the farmer’s market might be best.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

23 thoughts on “Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins”

  1. My husband is diabetic so he can’t exactly handle large amount of sugar. But he loves any sort of pastry with apples. While I love baking, I’m tragically not clever enough to know how to appropriately reduce the amount of sugar in a baked good like muffins. Would cutting back on the refined sugar to 1/2 cup wreck this?

    1. It’s tricky because the sugar helps provide the structure to the muffin; it’s hard to play with the formulas while baking. That said, these ingredients are so cheap, give it a try and see what happens. Good luck!

    1. The apples are not cooked before being added it to the mixture. That’s why it’s raw apple, Mona. Not “raw diet” suitable.

  2. I was inspired by the very same recipe a couple of weeks ago. My husband gobbled them down. Needless to say, they didn’t last in the freezer too long.

  3. I love a muffin or biscuit for a weekend breakfast treat, but I’m usually just cooking for two. I often freeze cooked muffins or un-baked biscuits (from your great recipe). For muffins, I just pop the frozen one in the microwave for 30 seconds or a minute. They are moist enough that the texture doesn’t suffer, and it’s super easy.

  4. What do you think about making these a bit healthier by decreasing the oil some and using applesauce to compensate, as well as decreasing the sugar a bit.

    1. I mean I wouldn’t do it (if I’m trying to eat healthy I wouldn’t make muffins) but you should give it a try and see what happens. But that amount of oil divided into 16 muffins is negligible.

      1. ‘Negligible’ is a value-laden judgement call, as someone who doesn’t care to make muffins healthier, perhaps that’s not a helpful addition? These muffins as written have 262 calories per muffin (at your two muffins per serving) thats 524 calories per serving – so … if you bring the oil down to 1/4 cup, they’re 237 calories per muffin. If you then bring the sugar down to 1/2 cup, they’re 213 calories per muffin. (With so much apple providing sweetness, i’d think that would actually be an improvement?) And if you also reduce the walnuts to 1/2 cup, it’s 188 calories per muffin.

        Granted – those muffins probably won’t taste as delicious. But it’s not a negligible difference in health, so it may be worth it to some people.

        1. I politely disagree. 50 calories difference is not worth eating an inferior muffin unless you have a very specific health issue where you have to watch calories extremely carefully. In that case, I could understand it.

          1. well, thanks for both of your responses. Adam, I’m happy you pointed out that the 1/2 c of oil for 16 muffins is not that much. But I don’t agree that if one is trying to eat healthy, s/he shouldn’t make muffins!! (50 calories also makes a dif. If one took your approach to every item eaten throughout the day, those 50s would add up quite quickly.)

            While I wouldn’t normally cut back on the fat and sugar in a decadent dessert that is meant to be decadent, this recipe, to me, actually seemed very conducive to the types of tweaks I mentioned. Since the oil and sugar are doing little work here, I thought it might make sense. I still think I’ll try it. I make an apple cake with unsweetened applesauce in place of half of the oil and with a decreased amount of sugar; it’s still delicious, even if not exactly the same.

        2. So lets get to the point. If we cut out the vanilla extract which we all know is mostly alcohol, how much could we lower the calorie count? I use 2 vanilla bean ( happen to live in Madagascar) And they come out superb. I would say if a muffin is not worth the calories (NWC) then eat something else. I always follow the NWC rule and it keeps me healthy. I love the muffins. Sometimes we add dried cherries, nutmeg and cardamom. I have never had a bad batch of these muffins in the last 10 years I’ve made my 50 plus batches. Go Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins

  5. Mike Inkansascity

    I’ve had some problems freezing an apple cake containing chunks of ‘raw’ apple; freezing caused the structure of the apple chunk to collapse and leach liquid inot the surrounding cake. Presumably, the cells of the apple pieces burst upon freezing/thawing. So, I’d really like to know just how well these muffins stand up to freezing.

    1. These stand up great to freezing after baking. Been making this recipe for 20 years and since it’s just two of us, we freeze them and thaw what we want to eat.

  6. Made these today – very good. I used a mix of Granny Smith and Gala apples – I think I could have cut back on the sugar a little bit but left it at a cup for the first try. I love the amount of fruit and the crunch of the walnut pieces. I will share this recipe – thank you for the intro to it and the “Breakfast Book”.

  7. Turned out so sickly sweet that no one could eat them – even though I added slightly less sugar. One of my biggest disappointments.

  8. “Hot Fruity Muffins” – dude, you’re hilarious. Why have I not been following your blog before? Also, so genius with the sharing of 3 recipes. I have been doing it all wrong! And thanks for sharing an apple muffin recipe that is not an apple “flavored” muffin recipe – you know, with like, one apple for 12 muffins?

  9. I used to make a version of these at a bed and breakfast where I worked almost 20 years ago. I lost the recipe but was able to recreate it using this one. I’m not a fan of sweet when it comes to muffins these days so I used 1 cup of date sugar (Date Lady brand) and whole wheat flour. I lowered the flour to 1-3/4 and used avocado oil (makes softer muffins and is healthier than corn oil). The date sugar is a milder sweetener and has more vitamins/minerals than cane sugar. It doesn’t have the overwhelming date flavor you get with using whole dates. For the apples, I used Granny Smith because I like the tartness and they hold their rawness better than most others I’ve tried. For an easier to spread batter you could use 1/2 cup maple syrup and it would also be less sweet.

    1. Glad to see another fan of this recipe. Been making it for years yet the recipe is more of a guideline for me, too. It’s a nice jumping off spot.

      Half the sugar, and I use brown sugar. White whole wheat flour. Maybe some wheat bran or oat bran if I’ve got leftovers from breakfast. I might toss in some ground flax seed.

      Funny you mention the avocado oil as that is what I used in the batch that’s in the oven. I usually use olive oil as I don’t have corn oil in the house very often.

  10. My copy of the cookbook is in a box somewhere. Thanks for posting this. I had a couple of apples that were getting past best fresh eating quality and wanted to use this recipe.

    This is a nice, spicy, competent recipe that happens to be non-dairy if that’s needed. I did use avocado oil today since I’m out of corn oil. I’ve also used the old “flax egg” sub for the eggs when I’ve been short of eggs. I’ve sometimes added a half cup of wheat bran and a little apple sauce to help with hydrating that. Ha ha.

    When made as written, it works nicely. This just has been one of my fave recipes for about 20 years. It’s really malleable.

    Thanks for posting this.

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