Coconut Garam Masala Muffins are vegan, oil-free, naturally sweetened, and made with just 9 ingredients. Coconut milk serves as both the fat and liquid for this batter, and you can use either lite or full-fat. The Indian spice blend garam masala provides a warming aroma and subtle spice and is balanced by the sweetness of maple syrup.
I'm not sure when or why I first had the thought to make a "coconut milk muffin," but I'm so glad it happened. I know I'm not the only one who loves using canned coconut milk in a variety of ways, from savory to sweet (it's awesome, right?). So one day I was thinking about some of my healthier, oil-free muffin recipes, like these Banana Walnut Cinnamon Swirl Muffins and Loaded Breakfast Muffins, and it hit me... coconut milk could be a way to achieve a moist and fluffy muffin in those times when you don't have, or don't want to use, bananas, applesauce, or oil. I also wanted to stray from my usual favorite muffin base of oat flour for these by using white whole wheat.
Lite or full-fat? Which type of coconut milk to use
The first test batch turned out great! The wet-to-dry ratio was just right, and the muffins were moist and satisfying without being heavy like a muffin made with oil. I used full-fat coconut milk in the first test batch, so I wanted to try them again with lite coconut milk to see if the results were just as good (while reducing the fat and calories significantly).
Not only did the batch made with lite coconut milk turn out just fine, there really wasn't a noticeable difference in flavor or texture. How great is that? So feel free to use whichever type of coconut milk you prefer or have on hand when the muffin mood strikes.
What is garam masala?
In case you're not familiar with garam masala, it's a ground spice blend used in Indian cooking, primarily in savory dishes. The blend varies from region to region, which means there really isn't one specific recipe for garam masala. This is something to keep in mind when making recipes that call for it. It's probably a good idea to check whether the recipe author mentions a specific brand or mixture of spices so that your dish ends up tasting as intended.
For these muffins I used Frontier's garam masala, and the ingredients are: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander.
You might come across garam masala blends that have spicy elements like chiles, or different spices altogether. I've seen some that don't include cloves (I really like cloves in these muffins; smells all warm and cozy like baked goods during the holidays). So my point is, I can't vouch for the tastiness of the muffins if you use a different garam masala blend. But who knows.... it might be fantastic! I'm always one to encourage experimentation in the kitchen.
You could also put on your DIY hat and create the blend yourself based on the ingredients listed above. After checking quite a few recipes for garam masala online, I've noticed that most seem to prioritize the savory spices, like cumin and coriander, while the sweet and aromatic spices like cinnamon and cloves are used in lesser amounts. In other words, I tried to find a helpful resource for you that I could link to here, but I failed. My best advice is to find a simple recipe that calls for 6 or 7 ingredients, and then decrease the coriander and cumin and increase the cinnamon and cardamom. And make sure you include a small amount of cloves. Yum!
Ingredients aside, the most important thing you can do to ensure a light, fluffy, and delicious muffin is NOT overmix the batter! It's so important when using flours that contain gluten (as opposed to oat flour muffins, for example, which are a more forgiving). You want to stir the wet and dry ingredients together until just incorporated. The batter will look lumpy, and that's okay. Never whisk. And even if you spot a bit of dry flour while spooning the batter into the muffin pan, don't worry! It will all come together in the oven.
Ideas for customizing your Coconut Milk Muffins
- Not sure you'll like garam masala in a muffin? Try using half the amount listed, and add a teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Enjoy your Coconut Garam Masala Muffins with dried coconut mixed into the batter or without. That's totally up to you!
- You can also sprinkle a bit of coconut on top of each muffin just before baking. I do this sometimes but not every time.
- If your prefer a sweeter muffin, you might want to replace the coconut flour with granulated sugar. These muffins are only lightly sweet.
- Adding raisins or chopped dates to the batter is another way to add wholesome sweetness, if desired.
P.S. Definitely consider topping these with the coconut butter glaze from my Loaded Breakfast Muffins recipe. It's so easy, decadently delicious, and would take these coconut muffins to the next level.
More vegan muffin recipes and coconut treats:
Coconut Garam Masala Muffins
- 2 cups (240 g) white whole-wheat flour If you don't have a kitchen scale, measure the flour by first whisking it in its container, then spooning it into a measuring cup, and leveling the top with a knife.
- 3 Tbsp coconut flour For a sweeter muffin, sub granulated sugar of choice.
- 4 tsp garam masala Tested with Frontier brand, specifically. TIP: Not sure yet whether you like garam masala? Cut the amount to 2 tsp, and add 1 tsp cinnamon.
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup dried unsweetened coconut, optional
- 1 can (13.5 ounce) coconut milk, lite or full-fat
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp garam masala
- 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar of choice, such as coconut, brown, or cane sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin pan, or use liners or a silicone pan to prevent sticking.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Combine the topping ingredients (garam masala and sugar) in a small bowl, and set aside.
- Pour wet into dry, and gently stir to incorporate. Do not overmix the batter (it's okay if it's a little lumpy).
- Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with the sugar-spice mixture. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until the centers are firm when lightly pressed.