Ready in 15 minutes, these vegan cornbread muffins are the perfect side to chili, kidney beans or pinto beans. An air fryer version of Southern comfort food that's dairy-free and made without oil.
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🧄 Ingredient notes
- Yellow corn meal - be sure that you're using yellow corn meal, not pre-cooked masa, which is used to make corn tortillas. Also, you cannot use PAN, a pre-cooked corn product used to make arepas. It needs to be yellow corn meal, which is dry and often stone-ground to a small-medium consistency. If you look on the back of the package and there is a recipe for cornbread, you've got the right product. Do not purchase instant cornbread mix (Jiffy), as it is not vegan and has a slew of preservatives.
- Unsweetened almond milk - Be sure to use an unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk for this recipe. You don't want your savory cornbread to taste like vanilla!
- Applesauce - Used as a substitute for oil in baked goods, applesauce will keep your cornbread muffins moist and tender without the need for added oil.
📋 Substitutions and variations
- All purpose flour - Instead of AP flour, use whole wheat pastry flour for it's lighter texture. Or, you can use white whole wheat flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour or a gluten-free flour mix that works as a 1:1 substitution for all purpose flour instead. I have only tested the whole wheat pastry flour substitution, so please let me know how the other options work!
- Sugar - Use another neutral-tasting sweetener option instead of the cane sugar. Coconut sugar would be the best natural, unrefined sweetener recommendation as a substitute.
- Unsweetened almond milk - Instead of unsweetened, unflavored almond milk, use unsweetened, unflavored cashew milk, soy milk or coconut milk.
- Applesauce - Instead of applesauce, you can use vegetable oil.
- Corn kernels - Instead of frozen corn, use drained canned corn or fresh corn that's been cut off the cob. I love pieces of corn kernels in my cornbread, but if you want your cornbread muffins to be totally smooth, then just leave them out.
To switch things up, try one of these fun variations!
- Jalapeño cornbread muffins - mix in diced jalapeño (or other hot pepper) to the batter instead of or in addition to the corn kernels for a spicy cornbread muffin.
- Confetti cornbread muffins - mix in diced red and green bell peppers for a colorful cornbread without any heat.
Step by step how to make air fryer vegan cornbread muffins that are oil-free.
Making the batter
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Add the milk and applesauce (or oil) to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour batter in silicone muffin cups
Fill silicone muffin cups ⅔ full and then carefully place them in the air fryer one at a time.
How many muffin cups will fit will depend on how big your air fryer is.
If you stuff them in, they will be shaped funny, like you see below with some of the muffins.
The next batch I made, I only put 10 muffin tins in and the muffins were shaped normal.
There's one missing because I had to taste test it immediately, of course.
Bake in air fryer
Bake at 400 degrees F for 9-11 minutes.
Once your first batch is done, remove the cornbread muffins from air fryer with tongs or oven mitts, remove muffins from liners and cool on wire rack.
Then, repeat, baking your second batch.
The best muffin cups for the air fryer
To make these in the air fryer, you can't use a traditional muffin tray (it's too big) or paper muffin cups (they're too flimsy).
You'll need to use a muffin cup that has strength to stand up on its own with batter in it.
These silicone muffin cups on Amazon work great! And, they're non-stick, so you don't need to add oil.
Another option: If you have a small pan that will fit in your air fryer, then you can bake straight in that!
If it is not non-stick, be sure to line with parchment paper or spray with oil to prevent sticking, if using a pan. Here are some silicone mini loaf pans on Amazon that would work.
Tip: Make sure the pan fits before you pour the batter in.
👨👩👦👦 Serving suggestions
These vegan cornbread muffins would be delicious served with:
- Lazy Vegan Chili made with pantry staples
- Vegan Spicy Charro Beans
- Instant Pot Red Kidney Beans and Rice
- Vegetable soup
- Texas 3-Bean Vegan Chili
- Instant Pot Pigeon Peas (no soak)
- Any Southern meal!
No. Jiffy cornbread or corn muffin mix contains lard and a slew of preservatives. It's much better to buy corn meal and make your own vegan cornbread or corn muffins.
Yes! You can use non dairy milk in cornbread, however be sure that you're using a milk that is unsweetened (no added sugar/sweetener) and is unflavored (no vanilla, etc.). The best non dairy milks for making cornbread are: soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk.
Yes, you can use almond milk as a substitute in cornbread, but be sure that it is unsweetened and unflavored.
Paper muffins cups don't do well in the air fryer, because they don't have the stability of the muffin tin, since most air fryers are not big enough for a muffin tin. However, silicone muffin cups are strong enough to stand up on their own in the air fryer, so use those instead.
Yes! You can substitute applesauce for oil in cornbread muffin recipes. The applesauce will keep the cornbread muffins moist and tender.
Air Fryer Vegan Cornbread
- In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.1 ¼ cup all purpose flour, 1 cup yellow corn meal, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Add almond milk, applesauce (or oil) and frozen corn kernels to dry ingredients and mix together with a spoon until combined.1 ¼ cup almond milk, ⅓ cup applesauce, ⅓ cup frozen corn kernels
- Fill individual silicone muffin cups ⅔ full, then place in air fryer basket carefully, one at a time.
- Bake muffins in air fryer at 400°F for 9-11 minutes.
- Repeat with second batch, as necessary, until all batter is gone.