These cozy, delicious (and EASY) Vanilla Bean Zucchini Muffins are like little bites of heaven – sweet vanilla bean icing sits atop a spice-filled, zucchini-packed mini muffin.
Vanilla Bean Zucchini Muffins
I’ll be honest, a big reason I made this recipe is to confirm that I’m not the only one who frequently forgets about that lone zucchini in the back of the fridge. Now, we love zucchini, and I always buy it with the best intentions. Stir fry with some bell peppers? Yes! Add it to my spaghetti sauce? Of course! Bake it into a sweet cake, cookie, or muffin? OBVIOUSLY. But days go by, weeks get busy, and that one remaining zucchini gets pushed to the back of the veggie drawer to only be forgotten about until fridge clean-out day. Well, not today. I’m here to remind you of that zucchini…and to give you this delicious recipe to fulfill the need to use your produce before it goes bad. You’re welcome. ILY. Let’s bake!
Here’s Why You’ll Love These Muffins
- Quick & easy to bake
- Cinnamon + cardamom = a winner every time
- Mini size for perfect snack-ability
- Perfect icing to muffin ratio
- Guaranteed not to last too long in the fridge
What You’ll Need + Possible Substitutions
- Coconut sugar is a low-GI granulated sugar that can replace white granulated sugar 1:1. It tastes less sweet and is better for you than cane sugar, which is why I love baking with it in recipes that have a sweet icing. For these muffins, you can use raw sugar, unrefined cane sugar, or white granulated sugar in place of coconut sugar (all a 1:1 swap). NOTE: the gram measurement will vary depending on the kind of sugar.
- Olive oil adds moisture. You can also use melted butter or plant-based butter, avocado oil, or melted coconut oil – if using melted coconut oil, be sure the rest of your ingredients are room temperature so the coconut oil stays liquid.
- Almond milk also adds moisture to the muffins and gets the icing to the right consistency. Any plant-based milk will work (for both the batter and icing). Regular milk will also work.
- Eggs help bind ingredients together. I’ve had success making this recipe with flax “eggs” in place of eggs: mix 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal with 6 Tbsp warm water and allow to thicken for 5 minutes.
- Vanilla bean paste makes these muffins. There’s just something special about seeing the little specks of vanilla bean…and tasting that classic vanilla bean flavor. This recipe will definitely work with vanilla extract as a 1:1 replacement – just call these Zucchini Muffins with Vanilla Icing instead 😉
- All-purpose flour is my go-to baking flour. Feel free to use a bleached or unbleached variety. For healthier muffins, you can replace up to 1/2 of the AP flour with a whole wheat flour.
- Baking soda + baking powder work together to lift these muffins to the perfect height. I don’t recommend any substitutes.
- Salt enhances the flavor of the muffins. You don’t want to skip it.
- Cinnamon adds flavor to the muffins. Feel free to add more or less, depending on your taste preferences.
- Cardamom has a lovely flavor that pairs perfectly with the cinnamon. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use ground nutmeg, or more ground cinnamon, in its place. I highly recommend stocking your pantry with ground cardamom – it’s amazing in so many bakes!
- Zucchini (duh) really makes these muffins. You’ll need a whole cup and a half of shredded zucchini, and, no, you can’t taste it!
- Powdered sugar is used to make the icing. I don’t recommend any substitutes. For a slightly healthier muffin, you can drizzle the icing over the muffins instead of dipping them in the icing.
More Zucchini Recipes
- 1/2 cup (83g) coconut sugar (or other sugar - see Note 2)
- 1/4 cup (45g) olive oil
- 1/4 cup (60g) almond milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 cups (195g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (275g) finely shredded zucchini (~1 large zucchini)
- 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- ~4 tsp almond milk
Bake the Muffins
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare a mini muffin pan (see Note 1 for standard muffins) with paper liners or non-stick spray.
- Place the shredded zucchini on a cheesecloth or paper towel and squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can (NOTE: zucchini should be measured pre-squeeze); set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, olive oil, almond milk, eggs, and vanilla bean paste (or extract).
- Whisk in the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add the flour and gently mix with a large spoon until nearly combined.
- Add the shredded (and squeezed) zucchini and gently mix, breaking up the zucchini as you mix until all is combined.
- Scoop/spoon the batter into the prepared muffin wells, filling to the top. Bake at 350°F for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
- Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Ice the Muffins
- Once the muffins are totally cool, you can make the icing. In a small bowl, add the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste (or extract) and mix.
- Add almond milk 1 tsp at a time until the icing reaches the proper consistency - it should take 4-5 seconds for the icing to disappear into itself when drizzled from a spoon.
- Carefully dip the top of each muffin into the icing, allowing the excess icing to drip off. Immediately turn each muffin over and onto a cooling rack to set.
- Once the icing is set (no longer looks shiny), you can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If left at room temperature, the icing may melt into the muffins.
- Standard Muffins: fill 7-9 prepared muffin wells to the top with batter. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
- Sugar: you can use your favorite granulated sugar in this recipe. Find some of the gram measurements below.
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar = 113g
- 1/2 cup raw sugar = 107g
- 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar = 120g