These gluten free coffee cake muffins with everyone’s favorite crumble mixed into the batter and baked on top make any breakfast special. You can’t beat that tender crumb and nubby topping!

A muffin is not a quick bread loaf

When I share a recipe for a quick bread loaf or cake, I’m often asked if the recipe can be made as muffins or cupcakes. When I post a recipe for muffins or cupcakes, well, you get the idea.

But a muffin is not a quick bread loaf and a cake is not a cupcake—and I promise I’m not trying to be difficult! This is also not something that’s unique to gluten free baking at all. The same holds true for conventional baking.

Just so we’re all on the same page, the term “quick bread” refers to baked goods that are made with chemical leaveners such as baking powder and baking soda, not yeast. Much of baking (muffins, cakes, cupcakes, quick bread loaves) falls into this category. The difference is in the shape and size. 

A muffin batter can be less stable than a loaf of bread, since it’s being baked in individual wells in a muffin tin. Batter and dough bake in the oven from the outside in. When making a quick bread loaf, the baking process takes considerably longer to reach the inside of the baked good.

Sometimes, a recipe designed to be made in a a muffin tin will work well enough as a loaf or in a cake pan. But it’s hard to predict, so I never like to promise! That’s why this recipe for gluten free coffee cake muffins is completely separate from our recipe for sour cream gluten free coffee cake.

The best gluten free coffee cake muffins ever

This cinnamon coffee cake muffins recipe has the most tender vanilla cake-style crumb, but because it’s a muffin, it’s a little more dense and hearty. There’s no coffee in the batter, since that’s not how Americans think of coffee cake (it’s made to be enjoyed with coffee, not baked with coffee!). But I bet you could replace a bit of the buttermilk in the muffin batter with some freshly brewed coffee?

The thing that really makes these coffee cake muffins special, though, is that most of the crumble topping is, well, not just a topping. It’s baked right into the muffin batter, and holds its shape like it does when it’s baked on top. After all, the topping is everyone’s favorite part!

Key ingredients for gf coffee cake muffins

  • Gluten free flour – I use Better Batter’s classic blend gf flour here for both the crumble and the muffin batter. It’s the right blend of sturdy flours that still produces a really tender crumb.
  • Light brown sugar – The crumble topping is made with light brown sugar for tenderness, sweetness, and depth of flavor from the touch of molasses.
  • Cornstarch – To the muffin batter, we add some cornstarch to help lighten the crumb a bit.
  • Baking powder and baking soda – These are the chemical leaveners that provide lift to our muffins in the oven. Be sure yours are fresh, or they won’t activate.
  • Cinnamon – Adding just 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the muffin batter gives some warmth and depth of flavor without making this into a spice cake, which is delicious, but a different recipe entirely.
  • Granulated sugar – In the muffin batter, we use 3/4 of a cup of granulated sugar for just enough sweetness, but remember that sugar is also a tenderizer, so you can’t reduce it without making a tougher muffin.
  • Butter – We use room temperature butter, beaten together with the granulated sugar, until light and fluffy to incorporate some air into the muffins. The proper texture of the butter is where your finger pressed into it will leave an indentation, but it won’t feel greasy.
  • Vanilla extract – Pure vanilla extracts adds some depth of flavor to your muffins for a more complex taste.
  • Eggs – Eggs provide structure and rise. Make sure yours are properly at room temperature, or they’ll cause the room temperature butter to clump and the muffins will have some spots that are greasy, and others that are tough.
  • Buttermilk – Commercial buttermilk adds tenderness to the crumb and richness. Don’t try to replace it with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar added to milk, which won’t mimic the thickness of commercial buttermilk. Instead, you can use half milk, half plain yogurt or even sour cream by volume.
  • Vegetable shortening – I use shortening in the crumble because it melts more slowly and is more stable as it bakes. Shortening has very little to no moisture, so the pieces of crumble that are mixed into the muffin batter hold their shape during baking. That keeps their texture and flavor intact in the finished muffins.

Equipment for making gluten free cinnamon streusel muffins

Other than a light-colored, cast aluminum standard 12-cup muffin tin, you’ll need a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer to make the base of these coffee cake muffins. The room temperature butter must be beaten well with the granulated sugar to incorporate some air into the muffins, or they may turn out with a tighter, less pleasant crumb.

overhead image of gluten free coffee cake muffins raw in muffin tin

How to make these gluten free coffee crumble muffins

As much as I love a one-bowl recipe, these muffins just don’t lend themselves to that method. If you’re like me, once you understand the general idea of a recipe method, you can basically figure out the steps for yourself. 

We begin with a simple crumble recipe that is made first so that it has time to chill in the refrigerator. It’s made with brown sugar and shortening that have been mixed well together into a paste with a fork, to which flour and a pinch of salt are added. 

To make the muffin batter, the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon) are whisked together and set aside. Then, butter, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla are beaten well in a large mixing bowl. The dry ingredients are added in batches, alternating with buttermilk. Since the batter is quite thick, the final third of dry ingredients should be mixed by hand. 

Finally, most of the refrigerated crumble (reserving about one quarter to use as a topping) is folded into the muffin batter. The batter is divided among prepared wells of a standard 12-cup muffin tin, and the remaining crumble topping is scattered on top.

Why most of the crumble is mixed into the muffin batter

Everyone’s favorite part of coffee cake is the crumble. It’s a brown sugar shortbread-like mixture that bakes crisp tender and is best when paired with the most tender, simple yellow cake

When baked into a cake or quick bread loaf, the crumble pieces are thick and generous. For these standard-sized muffins, rather than a simple gluten free muffin with a crumble topping, most of the crumble topping is mixed into the batter. 

The crumble pieces in the batter hold their shape during baking, adding flavor and extra pockets of sweetness to the cakes themselves. The crumble pieces on top add that crisp-tender texture that let you know it’s a real coffee cake. The best of everything!

Tips for making gluten free cinnamon crumb cake muffins

Don’t overmix your batter

After adding most of the crumble topping to the batter, fold the crumble in to the rest of the batter by hand, so the crumble clumps don’t get crushed. You want them to stay whole in the oven, like chopped nuts would do.

Give your crumb topping a gentle press

After you add the remaining topping to the top of the batter in each muffin well, press it down gently to help it adhere to the batter. That way, it won’t fall off when you go to eat it, or even when you remove the muffins from the tin.

Don’t overfill your muffin wells

The muffin wells should be nearly full, but not overflowing when the batter is raw, so you leave some room for rising. If your muffin wells are too small to accommodate all the batter in a standard 12-cup tin, bake the remaining batter in another tin.

How to store gf cinnamon coffee cake muffins

These muffins, once baked and cooled, will stay fresh at room temperature when covered for a couple of days. Just be sure to enclose them in something like plastic wrap or a sealed container. Avoid refrigerating them since that will dry them out.

Freezing gluten free crumb cake muffins

For longer storage, these muffins freeze very well. Just place them in a single layer on a small rimmed baking sheet or another flat surface that can fit into your freezer. Freeze them fully, and then pile the frozen muffins into a freezer-safe container or bag. They’ll keep for at least 2 months if sealed well.

Defrost the muffins at room temperature, covered, or place in the microwave for 30 seconds or less. Try sprinkling lightly with water before microwaving a frozen muffin to help it retain moisture.

closeup image of raw gluten free coffee cake muffin batter in muffin tin

Gluten free cinnamon coffee cake muffins: substitutions

Gluten free, dairy free coffee cake muffins

The crumble topping is naturally dairy-free. There are two types of dairy in the muffin batter and should both be replaceable with dairy-free alternatives.

You should be able to replace the butter in the muffin batter with Earth Balance buttery sticks, which always seems to be the easiest butter replacement to find. If you do have my favorite vegan butter made by Melt brand, I would use that. 

In place of the buttermilk in the muffin batter, I recommend using my favorite buttermilk replacement which is great if you’re dairy-free, and also great if you simply don’t have buttermilk on hand. Buttermilk can always be replaced with half plain yogurt (non-dairy plain yogurt if you’re dairy-free) and half milk (non-dairy milk if you’re dairy-free). 

Gluten free, egg free coffee cake muffins

Since there are two eggs in this recipe, you should be able to replace each of them with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). Since they’re pale muffins, you may see some colored chia flecks in the muffins. 

Gluten free, corn free coffee cake muffins

If you cannot have corn, try replacing the cornstarch with arrowroot or potato starch.

More delicious mix-ins

In place of some of the crumble topping mixed into the muffin batter, you can try adding a few miniature chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or chopped nuts. Avoid adding anything that adds moisture, like blueberries, which these muffins aren’t designed to hold.

Gluten free coffee cake muffins baked in muffin tin image from the side to see crumble and texture close up.


What makes a coffee cake different from a regular cake?

The thing that makes a coffee cake stand out the most from other cakes is the crumbly, sweet streusel topping. In these muffins, the streusel is mixed in to the batter, plus added on top.

What do gluten free coffee crumb cake muffins taste like?

These muffins taste like a sweet yellow cake that’s studded in the middle and on top with brown sugar-sweetened, nubby crumble.

What’s the best gluten free flour for this recipes for gf coffee cake muffins?

The best all purpose gluten free flour blend for the streusel topping is my favorite all around gf blend, Better Batter classic blend. We add some cornstarch to Better Batter for the cake batter for more of a cake flour effect, which adds some tenderness.

Do coffee cake muffins have coffee in them?

No, coffee cake muffins are made to be enjoyed along with a cup of coffee, but don’t have coffee in them!

Can I use this gluten free coffee cake muffin recipe to make a single loaf?

No, this recipe is only appropriate for making muffins, and can’t be used as is to make a loaf of coffee cake. If you’d like a similar quick bread baked as a loaf, try our recipe for gluten free cinnamon swirl bread or, for a streusel topping, too, try our gluten free blueberry muffin bread. You could also try adding the streusel topping to the cinnamon swirl bread!

Can I omit the crumble topping from this gf coffee cake muffin recipe?

Yes, you can leave off the crumble from the top of the muffins, but I don’t know how the recipe will work without the “topping” that’s folded in to the muffin batter. You can try replacing the crumble in the batter with miniature chocolate chips or chopped nuts.

Can homemade coffee cake muffins be left out overnight?

Yes, you can leave baked and cooled muffins on the kitchen counter at room temperature overnight, and enjoy them for breakfast the next morning. Just make sure they’re wrapped up tightly or covered well, so they don’t dry out!



Gluten Free Coffee Cake Muffins Recipe | with a Streusel Topping

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Enjoy a quick breakfast or snack when you make these gluten free coffee cake muffins. These gf muffins have a delicious crumble topping just like the cake.
Course Breakfast, Muffins
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free coffee cake muffins
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 muffins
Calories 300kcal
Author Nicole Hunn



For the crumble

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons non hydrogenated vegetable shortening I use and recommend Spectrum brand
  • ½ cup all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; please click thru for appropriate blends)
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • teaspoon kosher salt

For the muffin batter

  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; please click thru for appropriate blends)
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature


Prepare the crumble.

  • In a medium-size bowl, place the brown sugar and shortening and mix until creamy and well-combined. Add the flour, xanthan gum, and salt, and mix until coarse crumbs form.
  • Place the crumble in the refrigerator to chill while you make the muffin batter.
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin and set it aside.

Make the muffin batter.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside.
  • In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter and granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until very well-combined.
  • Add the vanilla and eggs, and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then half of the buttermilk, beating to combine after each addition.
  • Add half of the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining buttermilk, beating to combine in between.
  • Add the final dry ingredients and, if using a hand mixer, mix by hand just until combined since the batter will very thick and will climb up the beaters. If using a stand mixer, beat until just combined.

Add the crumble topping.

  • Remove the crumble topping from the refrigerator, crumble about 3/4 of the mixture into the batter and fold in with a spatula until the mix-in is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the 12 prepared muffin cups, and smooth the tops of the batter with wet fingers. Scatter the remaining crumble evenly on top of all the wells, and press gently to help the crumble adhere to the wet batter.

Bake the muffins.

  • Place the muffin tin in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed gently in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs attached (about 20 minutes).
  • Allow to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.



Originally published on the blog in 2011. In 2019, recipe altered to make muffins larger and more tender; all photos and video new; in 2022, text resources added.


Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 234mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 248IU | Vitamin C: 0.002mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 0.3mg

The post Gluten Free Coffee Cake Muffins Recipe | with a Streusel Topping appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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