These are savoury dairy free cornbread muffins, but I think they’re just as good a mid-day snack as regular muffins (though a great classic side for chili, too). Zucchini is used to keep them from turning out dry, a common pitfall with healthier cornbread. It also sneaks a bit of veg in there, so you can feed it to your kids and they’ll never know – a bit like these chocolate beet muffins.
If you have a garden, there’s often a glut of zucchini (courgette) at the end of the summer. I think we all run out of ideas for it at some point, and this is one of my favourite ways to use it, along with a roasted summer vegetable soup.
Many of the recipes on OE are made with a garden in mind, this being one of them. This means they may use a lot of something that takes off at a certain time of year – this swiss chard frittata and super green pasta are good examples, and both also use zucchini.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
If you’re a gardener or even if you frequent farmers’ markets, you’ll know very well how zucchini goes wild in late summer. We all need more ways to use it up, and zucchini cornbread is an excellent recipe for that summer squash. Other than that, it’s also:
- Made with whole grain flour: this recipe calls for whole grain spelt flour, which adds extra protein and fibre along with a nice nutty flavour.
- In muffin form, so no risk of soggy cornbread: with cornbread baked in a tray bakers will sometimes get a soggy middle and baked outer edges – it’s just part of baking! Muffins will reduce this risk almost completely (barring almond flour subs – see below).
- Uses equal parts cornmeal to flour: proper cornbread should use plenty of cornmeal. Gram for gram, this recipe uses just as much cornmeal as flour for the best texture and flavour.
- No need to squeeze: the recipe is specifically developed using the liquid from the zucchini, so you don’t need to salt or squeeze the water out of the grated vegetable. Just grate and add.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Spelt flour: whole wheat flour or light spelt can be used interchangeably as a substitution for whole spelt here. A good GF blend might work, but I haven’t tried. Don’t use almond flour.
- Oil: another light-tasting oil can be used in place of olive oil if you prefer. Melted coconut oil (or even butter, if you eat it) might work, but I haven’t tested that. I like the flavour of the olive oil here.
- Eggs: add some much needed lift and a better texture here. My vegan zucchini cornbread tests were questionable at best, though there’s a nice orange cornmeal muffin on OE. You may be able to use a store bought egg sub.
- Oat Milk: use another dairy-free milk if preferred (make sure it’s unsweetened). I’m sure dairy milk works too.
Step by Step
1. Mix dry ingredients: add to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
2. Grate zucchini: use the large side of a box grater. For speedy grating, some food processors have a specific attachment.
3. Mix wet ingredients: in another bowl, mix the zucchini with the wet ingredients.
4. Mix the batter: add the zucchini mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to just combine.
5. Scoop into muffin tin: scoop the batter evenly into lined muffin cups.
6. Bake: for about 20 minutes, or until they pass a toothpick test.
Cornmeal has a range of options in how coarse or finely ground it is. I go for a middle of the range one, rather than very coarse polenta cornmeal. This does make a slight difference to the recipe – more so if you’re using a very fine cornmeal – so keep that in mind.
In general, smaller zucchini is better! I know you might see a huge zucchini at the market and think ah, I’ve really lucked out here, but if they’re all the same price, you’re still getting more value with a smaller vegetable. This doesn’t matter so much for cornbread or baking with zucchini – if you have one that’s gotten away from you in the garden and has turned out the size of a small cat, that’s the one to use here.
How to Store
Storage: since these muffins have quite a lot of zucchini in them, they will spoil quickly at room temperature, especially in a warmer house. In the summertime I recommend keeping them in a sealed container in the refrigerator, where they should last several days.
Freezing: these freeze well. Cool fully and place in an airtight container to freeze for up to 6 months. Individual muffins can be thawed at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I recommend thawing with a bit of space above the muffin (nothing touching it) to avoid any sogginess.
- Don’t make unlisted substitutions: a really common one is almond flour. It doesn’t contain any gluten and doesn’t absorb much liquid like other flours do, so it can’t be subbed 1:1. I can very highly recommend my friend Aysegul’s site for almond flour recipes and encourage you to use almond-specific formulas.
- Try not to over mix: as spelt flour contains gluten, when over-mixed it can make for tough muffins. Mix until just combined – a few small streaks of flour are fine.
- Check oven temperature: this is a common problem. Home ovens often run 10-20°C off from what they’re set at (I’ve had an oven that was often 50°C too hot!) so a small oven thermometer works wonders. If you find that your bakes are often failing despite following the recipe exactly, you may need to check this.
- Cool before disrobing: the muffins have a tendency to stick to the liners until they’re fully cool. To mitigate this, allow them to cool completely before serving.
More Muffin Recipes
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Zucchini Cornbread Muffins
- 150 grams whole grain spelt flour
- 150 grams cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 180 ml oat milk
- 60 ml olive oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 180 grams shredded zucchini
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Make a well in the centre.
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs until slightly frothy. Add the milk, olive oil, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar, and mix until fully combined. Mix in the zucchini to evenly incorporate.
- Stir the zucchini mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until just combined and no streaks or flour remain.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each as evenly as possible. Bake the cornbread for 20-22 minutes, or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
- Cool the muffins for five minutes in the tin before removing and cooling fully on a rack. These will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days and freeze well.
This post was originally published in August 2015. It has been updated most recently as of August 2022.