Sunday, January 13

100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffin Recipe Made with Honey (and Baking With Your Mom)

Moist and healthy bran muffins made without bran cereal and sweetened with honey. Going whole grain never tasted so good. Overripe pears are the secret!

November 2012 update: Click here to read rave reviews about these muffins from Farmgirl Fare readers, along with some great sounding recipe variations. And you'll find the original version of my wildly popular 100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins here (recipe includes four different flavors, plus all sorts of other ideas in the comments section).

"I'm getting tired of trying take pictures of bran muffins," I complained to my mother. "I love them, but they're just not photogenic."

"Why don't you take a picture of a perfect—oh wait, we don't have any perfect pears. I know! You can take a picture of that last overripe pear sitting next to a muffin!"

I pulled the pear in question out of the crisper drawer of the fridge and examined it.

"I can't put a picture of a bruised and battered piece of fruit on my blog. Nobody wants to see that."

"Why not? It's the secret to the muffins."

When my foodie mom was visiting for ten days last November, we experimented with all sorts of new recipes I'd been wanting to try. Because neither of us could yet lay personal claim to these recipes, we both held fast to our usually opposing opinions while we were making them.

But it felt as if I'd been eventually giving in a lot more than she had, so I decided not to use her pear picture idea. Instead, I tossed the lone pear back into the crisper drawer and promptly forgot about it.

Three days later I pulled it out, noting that it had become a lot browner and significantly mushier. I realized it was now or never for the photo shoot, so I secretly snapped a few pictures while my mother was in the other room.

"I'm putting these last few muffins in the freezer," I called out once I'd cleaned up all the evidence. "I got the photos I needed."

You should always listen to your mother, but you don't always have to let her know you were actually paying attention.

Over the past ten months, I think my mother has made the super popular (and very adaptable*) bran muffin recipe I shared last year even more times than I have.

She bakes them for everyone from out-of-town houseguests to the staff at her dentist's office and says they're the best muffins she's ever eaten. Not just the best bran muffins, but the best muffins, which I consider quite a feat since there are plenty of so-called muffins out there that look and taste just like cake.

She usually adds frozen mixed berries to the basic recipe but has declared these to be her new favorite.

When I told her I hadn't gotten around to sharing the carrot zucchini raisin version I'd fallen in love with and promised to write about last summer she said, "Don't bother. These are way better."

The secret to this recipe really is to use very ripe pears. Like bananas, pears become much more flavorful as they ripen. The ones I used were so soft I simply mashed them up with a fork after peeling them with a vegetable peeler. (I am so head over peels in love with my new OXO Good Grips Y Peeler that I've actually cast aside the beloved ancient peeler I've been using for more than 20 years. How can I have lived this long without a Y peeler?)

As we were mixing up our first batch of this muffin batter, my mother wondered aloud if it would be possible to use canned pears instead of fresh ones. I said I thought they would work fine, but you'd probably have to purée them in a food processor. "Or you might be able to just smash them up with a potato masher," I added.

A week after my mother had returned home, I received an e-mail announcing that she'd made the muffins with canned pears. They were good, she said, but next time she would use two cans of pears. I wrote back and asked how she'd smashed them up.

With a potato masher like you told me to! was her reply. I guess mothers always listen to their daughters, too.

These muffins are so moist and flavorful I just eat them plain.

Ginger Pear Bran Muffin Recipe
Makes about 12 large muffins

**Click here to print this recipe**

Did you and your loved ones resolve to eat healthier and add more whole grains and fiber to your diet this year? Then this recipe is just what you need. Nobody will ever guess that these moist and flavorful muffins are so good for them.

They contain no processed sugar (although there is some in the candied ginger) and are made with 100% whole grains, including hefty portions of both soluble fiber (oat bran) and insoluble fiber (wheat bran). Whip up a batch before you go to bed because they taste even better the next day.

Last year I discovered small bags of something called uncrystallized candied ginger in the dried fruit aisle at Trader Joe's. It was love at first bite. The little chunks have a smoother texture than crystallized candied ginger, and they taste like ginger rather than sugar.

I've included the weights of each of the ingredients, so if you have a digital kitchen scale
you can simply place your bowl on the scale and pour stuff in without having to mess with measuring cups. Just be sure to zero out the scale after adding each ingredient.

Over the past few years I've noticed that the texture and weight of wheat brans can vary considerably, and some are much heavier than others. This can also happen with oat bran. If you're weighing your brans, you might want to also portion them out in measuring cups the first time (which is how I measured them when I created the recipe), and if you've weighed out significantly more or less bran than the recipe calls for, consider altering the amounts.

Liquid ingredients are listed by weight—not fluid ounces—so you can pour them straight into the bowl on the scale, too. When adding the baking soda, baking powder, and salt, I recommend weighing in grams or using measuring spoons, as most home kitchen scales are not precise enough to accurately weigh such tiny amounts in ounces.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference. Look for organic wheat bran, oat bran, and whole wheat flour in the bulk bins at natural food stores and supermarkets.

2 cups (5¾oz/164g) organic wheat bran
1 cup (5oz/141g) organic oat bran
1 cup (6oz/170g) organic whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons (12g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (6g) baking powder
(make sure it's fresh!)
1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (5½oz/156g) yogurt

1/3 cup (2¼oz/65g) safflower oil (or other neutral oil)
2/3 cup (7½ oz/216g) honey
1 teaspoon (6g) pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled & mashed very ripe pears (about 3 pears or 17 oz) or 2 15-oz cans of pears, drained and mashed + 1/3 cup of the pear syrup
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger, preferably uncrystallized

Place oven rack in middle of oven and heat oven to 375°. Grease or spray a standard size muffin pan or use unbleached baking cups.

Combine wheat bran, oat bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Combine eggs, yogurt, safflower oil, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl and mix well. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined.

Gently stir in the pears and candied ginger.

Generously fill the muffin cups with batter. I use stainless steel scoops, which are also great for portioning out cookie dough.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and serve warm, or let cool on a wire rack.

Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze. Defrost muffins at room temperature, or in the microwave if you're really in a hurry.

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index. Enjoy!

* Many thanks to all of you who took the time to write and let me know that you made and enjoyed my original bran muffin recipe. I've loved hearing about the yummy variations you came up with!

If you wrote about making them on your own blog and haven't already, I invite you to leave the permalink to your post in the comments section either here or on the original post

©, the freshly baked foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. Well, man am I red. I posted my comment about this post in the kitty spot.

    What I meant for this post is:

    It looks tasty, the pear looks like what a good pear should look like, but, I love the plate!!!

  2. The pears were the perfect addition for the pictures.

  3. Hi Susan,

    I love the TJs candied ginger too! But in chopping them up for some cookies recently, I realized they REALLY stick to my knife! Any ideas for fixing this? Oiling the knife perhaps? Hmmm.

    Can't wait to try these muffins!

  4. Those muffins look marvelous and very tempting! Yummy!



  5. Yum, and healthy! I'm not a big muffin-maker, but I love love love pears. And maybe if I put some in the freezer I won't be as tempted to eat the whole batch... :-)

  6. Muffins in general are my favorites to make and these look so tasty! Can't wait to test this recipe!

  7. I'm not a fan of bran muffins. My husband loves them. I do love ginger and pear. I'm going to have to try these and see if we both can enjoy them! :)

  8. Could I please have my warm with a little country butter?

  9. A very nice mother/daughter story and some delicious looking muffins to boot. :)

  10. Everything on that plate looks amazing!

  11. I saw these and had to try your recipe. I only used ingredients I had on hand so I ended up making a few substitutions, but they turned out well! :)

    Thank you for sharing it! It's all whole grains and I'm excited about all the possible ways it can be modified.

  12. It has become apparent that I've not been adventurous enough with this recipe.

    Perhaps that is because the original recipe is so good. Perhaps that is because I am so anal.

    It's a toss up.

    Either way, I VOW to try a new spin on this. Perhaps this weekend. And maybe I won't level the measuring cup EVERY time.

    Whoa. That'd be crazy.

  13. Susan - found this link you might like:

    Something new in the farming community.

  14. I just found you! I've always wanted to move to the country, and am getting closer with a wee piece of land purchased in a country village. I grew up on a farm, and know what it is like to be midwife to a sheep and to milk a cow by hand. I am going to enjoy going back over your previous posts. The muffins look yummy and healthy. Best wishes XXX

  15. What would we do without moms? I rarely bake with pears, but I really should. Thanks for the recipe, Susan.

  16. Sometimes the planets align right over my kitchen pantry. I have nearly expired pears crying to be put out of their misery and into muffins. And I have a bag of candied ginger leftover from a Thanksgiving cranberry chutney. Now, off to the kitchen! Thanks for inspiring me.

  17. I am sitting in my chair, drinking my coffee and eating this fabulous Ginger Pear Bran muffin! Excellent recipe and I loved the photo of the bruised and battered pear!!!

  18. Just found your blog a few days ago, and was inspired to try these muffins- your mom is right; I think these are the best muffins I have ever eaten. I used TJs' pear halves in a bottle, and used a cheese grater to mush them up because I don't have a potato musher. It worked really well. I can't wait to try your other recipes! Pics and commentary are here:

  19. I love the mother-daughter story. So very true. :)

    Oh and a very remiss wish for a wonderful 2008!

  20. We made these tonight. I thought they were quite tasty and addictive. M, however didn't approve of ginger as a muffin ingredient (?) so I'll be trying the plain version tonight. Such a boring guy.

    I too had problems chopping the ginger. We tried putting it in the food processor, which was even less effective than using the knife. Sprinkling some of the flour over it might have helped some, or it could just be we were past the worst at that point. Next time I may try freezing the ginger first? Or lisa's idea of an oiled knife. Anyone have better solutions?


  21. Hi Everybody!
    Thanks for all your comments. I' thrilled that so many of you are enjoying this recipe. I really appreciate your taking the time to let me know.

    Lisa & Ellipsisknits,
    Sorry for the delay getting back to you re the problem you're having with the candied ginger sticking to your knife when you try to chop it. I'm sitting here eating some fruit salad that includes bits of candied ginger, and I finally remembered to pay attention to how I cut it up.

    Here's the deal: putting several pieces of ginger on a cutting board and then trying to chop it with a chef's knife seems like it should work but doesn't. The ginger sticks like crazy to the knife.

    What I do instead is use a paring knife or my favorite little 5-inch serrated knife. I hold a piece of ginger with my left hand (carefully, with just the fingertips) while I basically saw it into bits with the knife. This is the same way I cut up the dried plums (is that new name for prunes ever going to catch on?) for the fruit salad. It sounds tedious but really doesn't take very long, and the ginger and fruit don't stick to the knife. Even the amount of ginger needed for the muffins shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to cut up. Hope this helps! : )

    Pink Sky,
    Your muffins look fantastic! Thanks for sharing the link - and the idea of adding strawberries. I can't wait until there are strawberries in the garden so I can try these; I bet the berries and the bran is a perfect combo!

    Very interesting about the vertical farming. I'd never heard of it. Thanks for the link!

    Thanks so much for the lovely write-up about these muffins. Yours look wonderful, and using a grater to mush up the pears was a great idea!

    And now I need to sign off because Topaz is demanding not only my lap, but both of my hands as well! : )

  22. I fell in love with the idea of these muffins, and Trader Joe's is one of my favorite stores, so I went to TJ's and made these today. They're in the oven right now. I am wondering though, how did you only get 12 muffins out of that batter? I got 24. Are you using standard muffin pans or the big ones?

  23. These muffins are fabulous. I need to go out and get some more pears so I can make them again. I do confess, I ate all of them within a couple of days and it was an, ahem, *cleansing* experience.

  24. These are fantastic! I read it when you first posted the recipe but didn't do anything until some pears I bought went soft.

    I didn't have any candied or fresh ginger on hand, but had some rhubarb ginger preserve I didn't much like spread on toast. Used it in the muffins and left off the sugar. It worked really well!

    I'm in rapture... Thank you!

  25. I just tried this finally but I used pineapple instead of pear. I had no pears and I had no canned pears so I had some canned, in their own juice, pineapple and I subbed brown rice syrup for the honey. These are so good. I just nuked 2 of them this morning and melted a bit of butter on them. They were so good. Thanks for the excellent recipe.

  26. I stumbled across this site while looking for a bran muffin recipe. I made the version with orange flavored craisins, subbing orange juice for the milk and Cointreau for the vanilla. I made these for my quilt group and they were a bit hit! A local bakery makes a cocoa bran muffin that I am experimenting with trying to re-create. Thanks for this base recipe, it has been popular with my grandchildren also.

  27. I made these today. I didn't have quite enough pear so I added a 1/2 a finely chopped apple and subbed 2 T fresh grated ginger and about 1 T natural sugar for the candied ginger.

    A big hit with me, the roomie and our dinner guest (who was randomly noshing in my kitchen while I cooked).

  28. Yea a new recipe for bran muffins for me to try. I usually make more unhealthy-type muffins so this will be a better breakfast with my coffee alternative. Just found your blog - I'll be back to read often.

  29. I just stubbled on to your website today..lucky for me. Enjoyed your story (I'm a farm girl also) and after a bout with cancer 8 years ago, we eat healthy. So, I'm always on the lookout for delicious new healthy recipes. I'll be trying all the muffin recipes (I have pears and my husband and I picked 13 gallons of blueberries a month ago in Seattle. Sherry in Montana

  30. I found your website while looking for a bran muffin recipe. I've made these muffins four or five times now, with different variations, and they never cease to be a crowd pleaser. Thanks for the recipe, and for the blog. It's lovely escapism for those of us living the more traditional (re: office bound) lifestyle. Thanks for sharing!


  31. I tried making them with oat bran only (increased soluble fiber)and agave nectar (low glycemic). I also added cinammon, cardamon and nutmeg. They are delicious and super healthy.

  32. I love the berry version, I'll have to try this one the next time I can get my hands on some candied ginger.

    I've found luck with freezing candied ginger and bashing it with my rolling pin (a job my preschooler is only to happy to help with) or putting it in the food processor frozen.

  33. Your muffin looks so....good. I can't wait to make it for my family. They are all muffin eaters. I can't wait to try your other recipes as well.

  34. I made this with about half the ginger and half the honey. Still very yummy! Thank you for the recipe.

  35. I love these muffins. The changes I make are I used 3 cups of oat bran, use agave nectar instead of honey and walnuts instead of ginger. Lower glycemic and delicious!

  36. Wonderful muffinks! I added a tsp of powdered ginger and used half molasses, half honey. Super yum. Thanks for a great recipe to play with.

  37. I've been making these all summer with blueberries & bananas. I'm going to substitute pumpkin for the banana & add some spice in the next batch. And I always add walnuts. You really can't mess these up.

    Any guess of what the nutritional breakdown is? Calories, fat, fiber, sugar?

    Love all of your stuff, Farmgirl! Everything i've tried has been yummy.

  38. I can't wait to make these! First though, I have a few questions I hope you might be able to answer.
    Have you ever tried leaving the batter in the fridge so you could just make a couple of fresh-baked muffins every day? I was reading something about the leavenings losing their magic powers after a couple of days.
    And do you think it would go all right if I substituted half the wheat flour for rye flour? I've never used rye flour before.
    Onslaught! So sorry; I'm just eager, I guess.
    Great blog!

  39. Hi Allison,
    So glad you're having fun with this recipe and others of mine. Apologies for the delayed reply. I don't know the actual nutritional breakdown for these muffins, but I do know they're pretty low in sugar and very high in fiber! :)

    Hi Amanda,
    I have kept muffin batter in the fridge before, though not this specific recipe. It should keep for a couple of days, though my friend Alanna swears by her Five Week (!) Bran Muffins.

    As for using rye flour in place of some of the wheat flour - it will probably work okay, though I'm not sure about the flavor. And the reduced gluten may affect the texture of the muffins. You might want to try just using 1/2 cup at first and see what you think. If you do try the rye flour, we'd love to hear about it! :)

  40. I just made these muffins and they are SOOOO DELICIOUS! I followed the recipe but used vegetable oil instead of canola oil and crystallized ginger simply because that's all I had in my pantry. The muffins are still ginger-y good and so moist you don't need butter. Thanks Farmgirl! I'll be trying your other recipes soon.

  41. Thank you thank you for such a scrumptious and healthy muffin recipe! I have been accumulating several whole grain muffin recipes for the last three months for quick breakfasts, and this one has for sure been added to the list of "keepers." I used half canned peaches and half canned pears (that my grandma canned), since I didn't have enough pears. I also didn't have enough honey, so I used 1/2 C. brown sugar plus 1/4 C. molasses, because I enjoy the flavor of molasses in baked goods. I can't tell you how many times I said "This is so GOOD!" while eating my first two. My husband probably thought I'd discovered gold. Thanks again!

  42. Argggggggghhh! Found this recipe AFTER I threw away brown-spotted pears (last week) and I am the Queen of recycling leftovers! Next time, I will know better. I assume if you aren't ready to make the muffins that you can also freeze your pears (whole and unpeeled) without any degradation of flavor.

  43. Hi Anonymous,
    Oh my, peaches in these sound great! Thanks for taking the time to let us know how you made this recipe your own.

    Hi Jane,
    It's always fun to hear from another Queen of recycling leftovers. My bruised and battered pears that I use for these muffins are pretty soft and messy, so instead of freezing them whole, I'd recommend peeling, coring, and mashing them up, then putting them in a small freezer container. The raw 'pear sauce' should defrost just fine.

    If you try this, I hope you'll come back and let us know how it went. Happy Baking!

  44. These are the best muffins around, I found the recipe a few days ago...and have enjoyed eating them and can't wait to try some other variations...they are good for diabetics, no refined sugar.

  45. I just found your site...and this amazing pear muffin recipe and I am hooked! I used vanilla yogurt and added some cranberries and WOW! The best bran muffin I have ever eaten. I can't wait to discover some of your other recipes. Thanks!

  46. My girlfriend just made this recipe in a muffin style loaf, all the better for smearing peanut butter on... truly scrumptious!

  47. I'm a big fan of your blueberry bran muffins, so I thought I would give these a try, as well. They were delicious - very moist with the right amount of pear & ginger, and not overly sweet. Thanks for the recipes!

    1. Hi Marisa,
      So glad you're enjoying the recipes. Thanks for the feedback! :)


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!