These low-sugar upside-down apple muffins have a buttery maple apple topping reminiscent of tarte tatin or pineapple upside-down cake. They are much healthier though! They’re made with oats, almond flour and apple sauce. They make a great after-school snack because kids love them! They are naturally sweet, they’re 100% whole-grain, and only have 1 1/2 teaspoons added sugar.

Low sugar upside-down apple muffins placed on a rimmed baking sheet.

Why We Love This Recipe For Maple Apple Muffins

As I sit here at my computer, mug of steaming coffee at hand, I am listening to the roar of the school bus coming up our hill to pick up the girls for their first day of school. It is both blissful and sad at the same time. I am relieved to have my days back to myself to work uninterrupted, and sad because I will miss those goofy little punks.

This afternoon when my girls come back home on the bus, I am going to be waiting for them with a warm batch of these Apple Upside Down Muffins. Aren’t they cute? They look like mini tarte tatins don’t they? They have been gobbling them up as I’ve been testing this recipe.

They are actually low in sugar, believe it or not. They get natural sweetness from the apples, applesauce and coconut flour. The only added sugar I used was maple sugar and maple syrup, coming in at 1 ½ teaspoons per serving. The American Heart Association announced last week that children need to stay under 6 teaspoons a day, or 25 grams.

Since a lot of muffins are more sugary than a cupcake, I am sure other moms will appreciate these Apple Muffins as much as I have over the last couple of weeks. I’ve also been collecting other low-sugar and sugar free snack recipes this fall. I’ve also been eyeing this recipe for Sugar Free Banana Bread from my friend Taylor. It’s sweetened just from the bananas!! 

Don’t let their upside-down appearance intimidate you either, they are not complicated at all.

Kid friendly upside-down apple muffins placed on a rack to cool.

Ingredients For This Upside Down Muffins Recipe

Apples & applesauce

Apples and applesauce are used in this recipe to add natural sweetness and of course, delicious apple flavor. The addition of applesauce in recipes also contributes to the moisture of the final product. You can use any apples you’d like, but my preferred kinds in this recipe are Braeburn or Gala apples.

Maple sugar & maple syrup

Maple sugar and maple syrup are another ingredient I use to add natural sweetness. When you use maple sugar or syrup in recipes, you can swap it in for white granulated sugar in a 1:1 ration, making it really easy to use! It’s much healthier, and also adds a nice caramely flavor. If you don’t have maple sugar, you can use brown sugar instead, OR coconut sugar.

Other Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ¾ cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon organic canola oil or avocado oil

Step by Step Instructions to Make These Low Sugar Muffins

Step 1: Preheat oven & grease tin

Preheat oven to 350 degreed F. Heavily grease a muffin tin with two tablespoons butter, using all of it.

Step 2: Make apple mixture

Combine the apples and water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain simmer, and cook until the apples are just softened, but still holds shape, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain them well. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, nuts and maple sugar and stir to melt the butter and combine. Evenly divide the apple mixture and juices among the prepared muffin tins.

Step 3: Make batter

Whisk to combine the whole-wheat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Separately, whisk to combine the eggs, applesauce, oil and maple syrup in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine (but don’t overmix). Dollop the batter over the apple mixture, dividing evenly among the cups.

Step 4: Bake maple apple muffins

Transfer the muffin tin to the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. Check to make sure the apple filling is not bubbling over and dripping into the oven. If so, set a baking sheet under the muffins to catch drips. Continue baking until the muffins are puffed and spring back when lightly touched, 13 to 17 minutes longer. Let cool 5 minutes, then run a pairing knife along the edges of each muffin. Place a baking sheet over the muffins. Grasp the muffin tin and the baking sheet with oven mits and flip over, emptying the muffins onto the baking sheet. Take care not to squeeze the muffin tops. It’s okay if a few pieces of the apple topping stick. If that happens, simply pry it out with a knife and set on top of the muffin it corresponds with. Serve them warm.

Upside-down apple muffins placed on a rimmed baking sheet.

FAQs and Expert Tips

Can you reheat muffins in the microwave?

Yes. Wrap the muffin gently in a damp paper towel, then place in the microwave for 15–20 seconds. You can also plate a small bowl of water in the microwave with the muffin if you don’t have paper towels.

What is the secret to fluffy muffins?

Using eggs and any form of fat and dairy (oil, butter, milk) that are at room temperature helps to form a smooth batter. This allows the batter to trap air more easily, and allows for a fluffy and moist crumb.

How much do you fill muffin tins?

Fill each muffin tin 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. As long as you don’t fill them more than that, your muffins shouldn’t spill over. If they begin to bubble over or spill over, place a rimmed baking sheet on the oven rack below to catch any drippings.

Can I make these muffins fully gluten-free?

Although this recipe hasn’t been tested with gluten-free flour, you can use a gluten-free flour such as King Arthurs to turn the muffins fully gluten-free. The flour is used in a 1:1 ratio.

Additional Healthy Fall Recipes To Try

Make sure to check out our collection of Healthy Apple Recipes too! 

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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These kid friendly upside-down apple muffins by Healthy Seasonal Recipes are a great after school snack and they're low in sugar.

Low Sugar Apple Upside-Down Muffins

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 muffins 1x
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Stove top/oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These low-sugar upside-down apple muffins have a buttery maple apple topping reminiscent of tarte tatin or pineapple upside down cake. They are much healthier though! They’re made with oats, almond flour and apple sauce. They make a great after school snack because kids love them because they are naturally sweet, they’re 100% whole-grain, and only have 1 1/2 teaspoons added sugar.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 small firm apples, such as Braeburn or Gala peeled and cut into small dice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ¼ cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  • ¾ cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon organic canola oil or avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, dark or amber

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degreed F. Heavily grease muffin tin with two tablespoons butter, using all of it.
  2. Bring apples and water to a simmer in a small saucepan, covered, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain simmer, and cook until the apple is just softened, but still holds shape, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain well. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, nuts and maple sugar and stir to melt the butter and combine. Evenly divide the apple mixture and juices among the prepared muffin tins.
  3. Whisk whole-wheat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, applesauce, oil and maple syrup in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients. Stir to moisten. Dollop the batter over the apple mixture, dividing evenly among the cups.
  4. Transfer to the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. Check to make sure the apple filling is not bubbling over and dripping into the oven. If so, set a baking sheet under the muffins to catch drips. Continue baking until the muffins are puffed and spring back when lightly touched, 13 to 17 minutes longer. Let cool 5 minutes, run a pairing knife along the edges of each muffin. Invert a baking sheet over the muffins. Grasp muffin tin and the baking sheet with oven mits and flip over, emptying the muffins onto the baking sheet. Take care not to squeeze the muffin tops. It’s okay if a few pieces of the apple topping stick. If that happens, simply pry it out with a knife and set on top of the muffin it corresponds with. Serve warm.

Notes

Reheating Muffins:

Wrap the muffin gently in a damp paper towel, then place in the microwave for 15–20 seconds. You can also plate a small bowl of water in the microwave with the muffin if you don’t have paper towels.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 muffin
  • Calories: 204
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Sodium: 121 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 4 g