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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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Nicole Krause
    May 8, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Can I used a 9×5 loaf pan?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 8, 2021 at 11:22 am

      You could, but don’t fill any loaf pan more than about 2/3 full for best results.

  • Reply
    Linda G.
    January 25, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Can I use greek yogurt in place of the cream?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 25, 2021 at 2:16 pm

      Yes, you might want to thin it down a bit for a similar consistency.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    5 stars
    I traded retirement for volunteer teaching in rural Guatemala. I love it here. NO snow, ever!
    However, there’s also no buttermilk. We do have really good quality sourcream & excellent real Greek yoghurt (very thick). What do you suggest I use instead of buttermilk in your Cardamom Coffee Cake Muffins?


    • Reply
      November 30, 2020 at 2:26 pm

      Hi Anne! I often make my own buttermilk substitute by adding about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every 1 cup of milk — it works great! Otherwise, I think thinning down Greek yogurt with a bit of water so it’s not quite so thick should work well here, too.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      Either would work, I might thin it down just a tad with water or milk so it’s more the consistency of buttermilk. What a wonderful life choice you made Anne!

    • Reply
      Cindy Chasey
      January 13, 2021 at 3:22 pm

      5 stars
      These are so delicious!

  • Reply
    Viki Rose
    April 17, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Trying this while sheltering in place. The store is completely out of flour! May I substitute cake flour?

    • Reply
      April 17, 2020 at 2:55 pm

      Absolutely, I’ve been doing that all week.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    5 stars
    These Coffee Cake Muffins look sooo good! I am curious to know if they dome as high or as well as the Orange and Cardamom Muffins which I made today already and got rave reviews out of the commercial kitchen in which I work as the hotel Baker? Thank you!

    • Reply
      January 17, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      I don’t think these muffins dome in quite the same way since the recipe is so different, but I highly recommend them!

    • Reply
      Barbie Bar
      March 24, 2020 at 9:17 am

      Great recipes, would love the measurements in grams?

  • Reply
    Jeannette Stebbins
    May 17, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    5 stars
    I made these yesterday in anticipation of guests. I had them warm from the oven and without tasting, grabbed three and took them with me to the gym. The three trainers I work with are all there on that day. They were mumbling these are really good! I tried one once back home . WOW. You are right BEST MUFFINS EVER. Love these! Thank you for this recipe! This is an unassuming muffin till…Two left now. None for tomorrow I’m sure. Helps with the lousy NE weather were having.

    • Reply
      May 17, 2019 at 2:43 pm

      Oh I’m so sorry about your weather, but thrilled that you loved these muffins. I’m going to have to bake a new batch myself!

  • Reply
    May 4, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    5 stars
    Can confirm that these are the “best muffins ever”! I made them last minute for a baby shower (trusting they’d be good as I’ve loved all of Sue’s recipes so far). They were a hit – some of the ladies ate multiple muffins and even more were asking for the recipe and actually called them “the best muffins ever”. Thanks, Sue!!

    • Reply
      May 4, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      Haha, I absolutely love this Rea ~ so glad those ladies were pleased 🙂

  • Reply
    Charlene L-S
    April 10, 2019 at 6:29 am

    5 stars
    Wow, what an amazing recipe! Thank you for sharing. We have celiac disease and are allergic to dairy so we made substitutes for the flour and buttermilk and they came out beautifully and delicious. This is the first recipe I’ve tried from your website – can’t wait to try others!

    • Reply
      April 10, 2019 at 6:59 am

      I’m happy to hear that the substitutions worked Charlene, and welcome in, you’ll find lots of inspiration here 🙂

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 6:19 am

    5 stars
    Oh my god, I’ve been making this recipe for a year. It is one of my favorite things to bake, by far, and is always a huge hit.

  • Reply
    Crystal Bach
    January 28, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    What adjustments do I need to make if using salted butter? My husband refuses to have unsalted butter in the house! Thanks.

    • Reply
      January 28, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      The only thing is to leave out the salt in the recipe Crystal. I’m not sure if the result will be a little too salty or not, I always buy unsalted butter, and don’t have much experience baking with anything else. But I think you should be fine just leaving out the extra salt.

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