Cardamom Coffee Cake Muffins

Cardamom Coffee Cake Muffins are layered with a cardamom streusel. These deliciously moist muffins are inspired by the famous Moosewood Cookbook Cardamom Coffee Cake!

Cardamom Coffee Cake is one of my all time favorite recipes ever. 

It’s from the original Moosewood Cookbook, written by Mollie Katzen in 1977. The hand lettering and hand drawn illustrations make it seem downright quaint next to today’s flashy publications, but the humble collection of vegetarian recipes became one of the top ten best selling cookbooks of all time and was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned. The other day while I was trying to think of something to make for breakfast, a little light bulb went off in my head…why not halve the recipe and make muffins?!

I’m eating the first muffin fresh out of the oven right now as I’m typing this and all I can say is OMG. I know, you’re a seasoned blog reader and you’ve heard all this before. You know that bloggers are forever claiming they’ve made the perfect this or that, just to up their readership or go viral on Pinterest. I don’t blame you if you just go on with your day and don’t give me and my muffin another thought. Of course if you do, you just might be missing the muffin of a lifetime. Anyway, whether you believe me or not doesn’t really alter the fact: this is the perfect muffin.

Just look at that golden crumb. The aromatic taste of cardamom lingers on the taste buds and that little layer of streusel explodes with flavor when you bite into it. I was surprised to read that cardamom, which is native to India, is the third most expensive spice in the world, following saffron and vanilla. You can grind it fresh from the pods or buy it already ground. I’ve used it in both sweet and savory dishes and it’s a regular ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Nordic cuisine, so it’s worth having around.

Notes for baking cardamom coffee cake muffins ~

  • This batter is thick, so when you put the first scoop into the muffin cup, be sure to gently spread it out to more or less cover the bottom so the first layer of streusel doesn’t fall down and make it difficult to remove the muffin after it’s baked. Or you can just use paper liners.
  • Make sure your walnuts are finely chopped so the streusel isn’t too heavy. I used my trusty small food processor.
  • You could leave out the cardamom and use all cinnamon, but don’t. The unique floral flavor of the cardamom is what makes these muffins stand out from the pack.

Reader Rave ~

“Cardamom has been calling to me and I am so happy I found your recipe! It was easy to follow and I like how all the ingredients are likely to be in the pantry, I was able to make it with what I had on hand. Definitely saving this new favorite recipe and making these again. I’m not ashamed to say I scarfed down three of these before bed time. Thanks for sharing!”  ~ Kate

4.15 from 64 votes

Cardamom Coffee Cake Muffins

Cardamom Coffee Cake Muffins are light, moist and rich.  The scent of these spiced muffins baking in the kitchen will coax even the sleepiest of sleepyheads out of bed!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Yield 12 muffins
Author Sue Moran


  • 2 sticks or 1/2 lb, unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbs cardamom
  • 1 cup sour cream or buttermilk I used 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • for the streusel
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 cup walnuts finely chopped


  • set oven to 350F
  • Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray, or use muffin liners.
  • Mix the streusel in a small bowl and set aside. Make sure your walnuts are finely chopped, and that you get the lumps of brown sugar broken down.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom in another small bowl and set aside.
  • Measure out the sour cream or buttermilk, or mix the two if you are using both, and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the vanilla.
  • Fold the flour into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the sour cream/buttermilk. Just stir enough to blend, don't beat or over mix.
  • Spoon a small scoop of batter into the bottom of 12 muffin cups. Top with a teaspoon or so of streusel mix. Scoop the remaining batter on top and then top with another teaspoon of streusel, use up all the streusel.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pan to a rack.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Kate Brinkerhoff
    January 21, 2019 at 11:10 am

    5 stars
    Cardamom has been calling to me and I am so happy I found your recipe! It was easy to follow and I like how all the ingredients are likely to be in the pantry, I was able to make it with what I had on hand. Definitely saving this new favorite recipe and making these again. I made these last night on the coldest day of our winter, and it was also the full moon! I’m not ashamed to say I scarfed down three of these before bed time. I used a standard size muffin tin and was able to make about 20 muffins by filling them half to three quarters full. I used type 00 flour, sour cream, and subbed cinnamon pecans for walnuts. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      January 21, 2019 at 11:50 am

      Hey Kate ~ I love to think of you baking these on such a cold, moonlit night. So glad you enjoyed them 🙂

  • Reply
    January 17, 2019 at 2:29 am

    I love these homey, delicious types of muffins. I can imagine the lovely smell these will create and cannot wait to try this recipe.

    • Reply
      January 17, 2019 at 7:05 am

      It’s been too long since I made a batch 🙂

  • Reply
    November 2, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Oh! Never mind! I had a brain fade. Please disregard my question. I love cardamom and will be making these this weekend! Thank you for the recipe!

    • Reply
      November 2, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      lol, I do that all the time, especially with butter measurements! So funny that you commented on this recipe because I was just bookmarking it to remake, it’s been a while!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    1 stick of butter is 1/2 lb. The recipe calls for “2 sticks butter, 1/2 lb.” Can you please clarify?

    • Reply
      Beth Doyle
      March 24, 2020 at 9:24 am

      My 1-pound package of butter has four sticks in the box. So each stick would be 1/4-pound. Two sticks would be 1/2 pound. You might want to check your package…maybe your sticks are packaged differently? I would go with the weight listed in the recipe (8 oz).

  • Reply
    July 3, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    5 stars
    This was easy to follow and my muffins were to die for….thanks for the recipe! So pleased that I’m now able to make my favourite muffins. Might I add that my guests were impressed, they thought I had bought them from the supermarket…;-)

    • Reply
      July 4, 2018 at 7:54 am

      Cardamom coffee cake was probably one of the very first things that I made for myself when I moved out on my own, and it remains one of my absolute favorites, glad you loved these muffins Kay 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris E
    June 2, 2018 at 10:20 am

    You rock! I was thinking of making the cardomom coffee cake for a party since one of the hosts loves cardomom. I thought about adapting it to a cupcake recipe and wondered if anybody else thought of it. Sure enough- I found your recipe. Thank you – I will have to make a “test” batch first for my family to try.

    • Reply
      June 2, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    December 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    5 stars
    I made these today! DELICIOUS!!!! I ground the cardamom fresh and simmered the pods. My house smells divine!

    • Reply
      December 30, 2016 at 8:57 am

      I haven’t made these in years, but now I’m craving them…might just have to be today’s baking project. Have you tried the Moosewood coffee cake?

  • Reply
    Raquel lee
    April 12, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    This is a coffee muffin recipe but there is no coffee listed in the ingredients, should there be?

    • Reply
      April 13, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Sorry that’s confusing Raquel, but these muffins are based on a coffee cake, they’re not flavored with coffee.

  • Reply
    Lisa from Seattle
    April 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

    5 stars
    I loved the Moosewood recipe back in the day. I just made these muffins for Easter Brunch. They were delcious!

    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Oh thanks Lisa, I’m so glad they worked out for you. I love those old 70s era cookbooks, they’re the best!

  • Reply
    January 4, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Indian spice shops are the cheapest place to get big bags o’cardamom….at least here in Berkeley!

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