Moist, tender and fluffy gluten free banana muffins in the classic style, made with plenty of mashed ripe bananas and buttermilk for the perfect texture.
Banana muffins and banana bread
Banana bread is not banana muffins. Either that sounds completely crazy to you, or you’re rolling your eyes 🙄because it’s so obvious. Either way, allow me to explain why I have separate recipes for each, and consider each essential.
My recipe for gluten free banana bread calls for sour cream in the batter. It’s a lovely recipe, perfect in its simplicity. I’ve been making it, in one version or another, with nearly-overripe bananas for over a decade. I highly recommend your giving it a try. But a few things have changed in this perfect gluten free banana muffin recipe.
This recipe for gluten free banana muffins calls for buttermilk, which is considerably thinner than sour cream, of course. Both buttermilk and sour cream will tenderize the heck out your baked goods, but buttermilk has more liquid.
If you tried to make my already-tender banana bread recipe with buttermilk, it would sort of cave in on itself during baking, and be rather difficult to slice. But muffins, being the miniature quickbreads they are, can handle that extra moisture.
Sometimes when I bake banana muffins, I even place a thin slice of banana baked right on the top of the batter in each well. It adds some extra moisture, so plan to bake the muffins for another couple of minutes. But these little workhorses can handle it!
How to make banana muffins
When I shared my recipe for easy mix-in gluten free muffins, we talked about how that’s the perfect “plain” muffin recipe. It can easily handle mix-ins that don’t add extra moisture, like raisins and chocolate chips—or even a crumble topping (the best!).
But recipes like this for banana muffins or a blueberry muffin recipe are different, and need their own special recipe. Adding bananas or blueberries just changes the moisture balance a ton.
This recipe is easily made in one bowl, which is part of the reason that it specifies butter that’s been melted and cooled, rather than at room temperature. That allows the wet ingredients to be added one at a time into the dry ingredients, rather than being mixed separately first.
All this simple recipe takes is to place the dry and granulated ingredients (flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar) in a large bowl. Whisk to combine them. Take a spoon and create a well in the center so that the wet ingredients don’t just sit on top when they’re added.
Then, add the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and mashed bananas) one on top of the other in the center of the well you created. Mix the batter until it’s just combined. It will be thick, but soft.
You can bake these muffins in a tin that is simply greased, or one that is lined with muffin liners. The top photo in this post is of the muffins when made without a liner. They bake into a slightly higher dome shape when you use a liner.
Temperature is everything
As with all baking, the temperature of your ingredients makes all the difference when making banana muffins. All of your ingredients in this recipe should be at room temperature, or they won’t combine properly.
I’ve only specified the temperature of the wet ingredients like butter, eggs, and buttermilk since those are the ingredients that are stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling. The butter in this recipe is melted and then cooled to prevent cooking the eggs.
If you’ve forgotten to leave your eggs out on the counter to warm to room temperature, there’s an easy fix. Just place them in a bowl of warm (not hot) water and allow them to sit for about 15 minutes.
If your buttermilk is cold, try microwaving it in 15-second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between to prevent overheating. If you do overheat the buttermilk, just allow it to cool on the counter for a few minutes until it’s no longer hot to the touch.
A few general banana notes
As long as you have a freezer, never worry about buying too many bananas. Like avocados, bananas ripen and demand to be eaten or they’ll go bad.
But unlike avocados, they can be peeled, sliced and frozen, then stored until you need them. I freeze bananas in a single layer on a lined baking sheet, then pile them into a zip-top bag and return them to the freezer.
Frozen banana chunks are perfect for defrosting to make gluten free banana muffins like these and banana bread. Defrost them on the counter, or in the microwave at 50% power. They’ll seem to have a lot more liquid than fresh, mashed bananas, but don’t drain them! Just bake with them as is.
Ingredients and substitutions
I’ve made these muffins dairy-free and corn-free, but never egg-free. Here are my notes and best guesses to help you bake along if you have these other dietary restrictions.
Dairy-free: To make this recipe dairy-free, you have to replace both the butter and the buttermilk. For the butter, my favorite substitute in this recipe is virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled. I like the triple-filtered kind (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s) because it doesn’t have any coconut flavor. I love coconut, but that’s not the flavor we’re going for in this recipe.
For the buttermilk, my favorite way to substitute it is by mixing 1/2 cup (about 130 grams) dairy-free plain yogurt with 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) nondairy milk. In fact, when I don’t have buttermilk on hand, that’s the dairy sustitute I use and it works great.
Corn-free: The cornstarch in this recipe is added, rather than just adding more all purpose gluten free flour, because it adds tenderness and lightness to the recipe. It helps keep the muffins tender and not heavy, even though there are 4 mashed bananas in the batter.
You can easily replace the cornstarch with an equal amount of arrowroot. I’ve also made it with potato starch in place of cornstarch, in a pinch, and had no issues. If you’re using a higher starch flour blend like Cup4Cup, replace the cornstarch with more Cup4Cup.
Egg-free: Making this recipe egg-free is a tough one, as there are 3 whole eggs in the recipe. Once a recipe has more than 2 eggs in it, my confidence in the likely success of using an egg replacer decreases!
You can try using one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) in place of each egg. I’m honestly just not that optimistic that it will work that well.