Sweet Potato Spice Muffins and My Theory on Recipes

I love the fall!

There’s a coolness in the air and the gorgeous but fleeting colors on the trees inspire seasonal changes in the kitchen.

This time of year pumpkin spice appears everywhere!

I have an alternative to this fall favorite – Sweet Potato Spice Muffins.


I developed this recipe a few years ago when I had a leftover roasted sweet potato and used it in place of pumpkin in a favorite muffin recipe.  The sweet potato provides a denser textured muffin that I prefer to the overly sweet cupcake-like muffins that appear in most coffee shops these days.  I have played with combinations of spices and adjusted the sweetness to my liking and even tried my hand at making a gluten free version that is a success.

But before I get to the recipe, a little on how I use recipes in general.  I usually don’t follow them exactly.  And I’m not afraid to substitute.  In fact its rather fun to see what the end result will be from trying it a new way.

Now I realize there are certain types of people who will not approach a recipe this way.  Usually they have less experience in the kitchen and are therefore not always confident or they have more of an analytical mind and think a recipe is to be followed exactly and scientificly.  My husband is both of these types.  The few times he has ventured into the kitchen he has asked me questions that make me laugh.  In all fairness the kitchen is my domain.  He has his moments of disbelief with me when I question his sense of direction or ask him if he is sure he knows where we are going.  His analytical mind is really good at that!

So back to the muffins… If I say 1/2 cup buttermilk but you only have 2% then use that.  If you don’t think about roasting a sweet potato the day before but have a can of pumpkin in the pantry then use it.  If ginger isn’t your favorite spice then leave it out.  I love the flavor and crunch of the toasted pecans but its no big deal to have untoasted pecans or leave them out all together.  Notes on the gluten free version at the bottom of the recipe.

Sweet Potato Spice Muffins Recipe

(click on recipe name for printable PDF of recipe)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (or any combination of favorite fall flavors)

1/4 cup sugar (or other sweetener – I’ve used coconut sugar and maple syrup)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter (you could replace with oil of your choice)

1/2 cup buttermilk (I’ve used milk, yogurt or dairy alternative)

1 medium sweet potato cooked and mashed (I try to plan ahead and roast the night before when I’m cooking dinner but you could boil peeled and diced for speed)

1 egg

1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped (I usually put them on a sheet tray in the oven while its preheating for approx. 5 minutes)


Preheat oven to 375° Prepare muffin tin with liners or baking spray.

Mix mashed sweet potato with melted butter, buttermilk, sugar, and egg.  In separate bowl mix flours, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Combine the two bowls and mix well adding in the toasted pecans as batter comes together.  Batter with be thick. Spoon into muffin tin and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you like a little crunch and sparkle on top.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Note: Regarding gluten free there are many techniques and quite a variety of wheat alternatives.  I made these muffins with Arrowhead Mills Heritage Blend which has a combination of sorghum, rice, millet and buckwheat flours. I also added an extra egg to give the muffin more structure.  I served them to friends who thought they were great.


Be brave and creative in the kitchen. I’d love to know if you make substitutions and how it went so come back and comment.

Happy Fall Everyone!

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