Lucia Muffins Recipe

These muffins are saffron-smacked and riddled with golden raisins, buttermilk battered and barely sweet. Said another way, Lucia buns reinterpreted as muffins. If you love saffron give them a try.

Lucia Muffins

Some of you aren't going to like these muffins, I just know it. But a number of you are going to love them. So, non-traditional muffin fans? These are for you. At a glance they look like cornbread muffins, but aren't. Far from it, in fact. These muffins are saffron-smacked and riddled with golden raisins, buttermilk battered and barely sweet. Said another way, Lucia buns reinterpreted as muffins. If you love saffron give them a try. And come to think if it, like cornbread, they might make an interesting ingredient in a stuffing, or panzanella.


The recipe was inspired by a recipe in A Swedish Kitchen, which in turn was inspired by a recipe in the Swedish food magazine Allt om Mat. I adapted it to the ingredients I had on hand and finally put to use, the straight-sided, Lodge cast-iron muffin tins that have been sitting on my countertop for weeks - amazing, btw.

Saffron aficionados, give these a go. The rest of you, sit tight, I have another baked treat coming up I can't wait to share. I promise promise promise it is worth the wait.

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Lucia Muffins

I used a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour here, but you can exclusively use all-purpose flour if that is what you have available.

butter to grease muffin tins
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 loose teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons natural cane sugar
1 cup / 240 ml buttermilk
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup / 3.5 oz / 100g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g golden raisins, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F / 200C with a rack in the top third. Butter a standard 12-muffin pan, alternately you can use liners.

Melt the butter over low heat and set aside to cool. You want the butter to be melted, but not hot.

Very briefly toast the saffron in a small skillet over low heat, stirring and shaking the pan continuously to avoid burning. The saffron should be fragrant, but stop before the threads change color. You are definitely better off under cooking than overcooking the saffron.

Use a mortar and pestle to grind the saffron threads with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Pour the buttermilk into a cereal bowl. Add the saffron mixture, then the egg whites, water, and melted butter. Stir until well combined.

In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, remaining sugar, and almonds. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and sprinkle with the raisins. Use a spatula to stir until everything barely comes together, avoid over-mixing. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups until about three-quarters full. The batter should fill 10-12 muffin cups.

Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into one of them comes out clean. Pop the muffins out of the tins as soon as it is reasonable (after a few minutes) and cool on a rack. If you leave them in the pan they steam and can be challenging to remove.

Makes 10 - 12 muffins (12 in the Lodge cast iron muffin pans)...

Prep time: 20 minutes - Cook time: 25 minutes

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The most delicious thing I’ve ever baked…thanks for the inspiration Heidi!
I used a cup of milk and a tablespoon of lemon juice rather than buttermilk, a cup and a half of white wheat flour and a half cup of corn meal, maple syrup mixed with wet rather than sugar with dry, diced apricots rather than raisins and threw in a pinch of turmeric.
What can I say, I was feeling inventive?!? Anyway. Turned out beautifully; thanks again!


These sound wonderful! What’s not to like? The trouble with saffron is it being so expensive, I find I am then too reluctant to use it and it sits there in the cupboard for years! What’s the point of that? This recipe looks very worthy to use them up.
I can’t get buttermilk in Japan, so I’m going to sub with kefir (made from milk kefir grains). I think it should be acidic enough to work nicely.


I’m new to this site so this is one of my first recipes (Feisty Green Beans and Double Broccoli Quinoa are the others I’ve tried). Enjoyed everything so far but these are my favorite!
I may not have used a full teaspoon of saffron (I found it hard to judge with the threads so i went light to be safe) – will try a little more next time to see the difference. Only change I made was to use all all-purpose flour (will pick up some whole wheat pastry flour for next time) and used purple raisins cause that what I had on hand.
I also used muffin liners instead of buttering the tin (which was not cast iron)…and unfortunately lost a good portion of my muffin when peeling away the wrapper 🙁 I’m pretty new to cooking and baking but never had this happen with muffin mixes in the past…anyone have any suggestions to prevent losing any of my yummy muffins in the future?


Looks delicious! I only wish I were able to afford saffron. Every time I run to Bi-Rite I look longingly at those little packets of red . . . . and then keep running. If only I weren’t a poor student!


How wonderful that You like our site 🙂
We really like your blog! These kind of bakery we usually only do for christmas, as a tribute to the sun (that never shines here during winter-time). But maybe we should consider also making them for Easter!

Josefine Lind

Just took these out of the oven a few minutes ago and had one while still warm.
Interesting. Good, but interesting. With Saffron being so expensive, they are not likely something I would make again or maybe I would be without it and add something else. Love the fact they are not too sweet.
Some of mine rose kinda funny.


Good quality saffron should be an intense red color. If threads are a white, yellow, or light orange color it is inferior quality or a mixture of varying quality.
As I understand it, inferior threads are sometimes ‘toasted’ by cooks which serves to get rid of excess moisture so the saffron particles release properly during cooking.. The best quality threads are already dried properly after harvesting and don’t need toasting.
There is a helpful guide to understanding saffron at
I think a person would get more bang for the buck by purchasing good quality saffron powder instead of threads.
I’ve never used the threads but I have used an intense red, good quality, saffron powder to make saffron iced tea. Its made by by boiling a pan of water, removing from the heat and adding a pinch of saffron powder. After sitting for about 10 minutes, pour into a glass with ice cubes and add sliced lemon.


I like cooking and trying new things, I ‘ope muffins will bring happiness in my family.


mmm, I started making Lucia buns when I had to come up with a dish for a multicultural lunch where we had to make something from our heritage. My nana was swedish, and I know she would love these muffins. I’m going to make them for my mom so we can reminisce about her together! thanks for the great idea!!

Heather Loves Healthy Vegan Recipes

These look and sound lovely! I’m going to give them a try.
I just madet he Blueberry Molasses cake Sunday and I’m addicted. I love that cake. I want to make two and layer them with whipped cream in the middle and on top.
Question about these muffins…does the cast iron give them a texture that a regular muffin pan will not?


I love corn muffins so I think I might love these too…and what a great use for saffron.

nithya at hungrydesi

Dear Heidi, a Green Goo salute. Cooking is not one of my skills but I cooked up a batch of your Hummus with Green Goo and just love it. It goes down pretty good with about anything from Tortilla Chips, Pita Bread or as an addition to any healthy sandwich. Thanks!
Walter in Texas

Walter in Texas

saffron! brilliant!


Made these yesterday using whole eggs. Beautiful color, lovely aroma, and wonderful complex, yet hearty taste. We had them warm out of the oven with butter, honey, and fresh berries. This morning, my 2-yr-old asked for one for breakfast. They were definitely drier this morning, but a zap in the microwave with a bit of butter cured that. YUM!
I bake often and am not usually a fan of whole grains in my treats, but these have great flavors, nice texture contrasts (soft muffin with almond crunch) and just the right amount of sweetness.
Another winner.


Saffron …. looks good , I am going to try it
Thanks Heidi

Ashish Naithani

I just made these muffins and they actually turned out pretty good. My 3.5 years old daughter wanted more.
Using 1/2 tsp of saffron and 2 whole eggs was the only change I made.
What would be the difference using egg whites only? Thanks again.


I just made these to take to an Easter dinner with good friends. I was a bit leery of the recipe, but they came out beautifully, and are so interesting, I would definitely make them again. Put me in the “love” column!

Dianne McSwain

Well, my gluten free version was sadly a disappointment. I subbed with Bette Hagman’s featherlight flour blend (1c) & a mix of tapioca & sorghum flours for the other 3/4 cup. They were too dense and completely stuck to the muffin wrappers, plus, the saffron flavor actually opened up too much in the dense doughy muffins. I still believe these have enormous potential if you are able to actually follow the recipe, but this isn’t one that translates to gf flours particularly well.
If anyone else tries and succeeds, do let me know!


I too will be making these muffins for Easter! My mother has stock piles of saffron in her kitchen and I have been wanting a new recipe for it. Thanks!


These look delicious!! I can’t wait to try them.


Heidi, Gorgeous post! I made these yesterday and they were a hit. Absolutely simple to make and absolutely delish!
HS: Fantastic Kamran! So glad you liked them.

kamran siddiqi

Absolutely delicious!


Enticing in so many ways, this recipe is sending me on a special trip into town for supplies the day before Easter. Yikes.

Pamela Hunter

Enticing in so many ways, this recipe is sending me on a special trip into town for supplies the day before Easter. Yikes.

Pamela Hunter

oh my gosh! these sound INCREDIBLE!!!

Simply Life

These muffins look great! I love saffron and buttermilk. I can’t do gluten, however…any ideas for a gf recipe that’s similar? Thanks!


I’m dying to know what the upcoming “baked treat” will be…fingers crossed that you’ll post it in time for Easter.


They look great. I love that they have saffron and whole wheat.

Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams

I just made these for breakfast and they were delicious. I substituted dried cranberries for the raisins and soy milk with 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar for the buttermilk. I also added 2 more tablespoons of sugar. The result was a slightly sweet and light muffin that my family really enjoyed. Thanks Heidi!


What a wonderful blog you have. I leave a footprint from Sweden & Agneta. Nice to meet you!


I agree with Joe@EdenKitchen on the pan and muffins and also love the family in the onion rings commercial all preparing dinner and eating together. A novel idea!


I just made these. They are so interesting. Definetly an unconventinal muffin. They are delicious but you have to be in the mood for that. The pairing with the golden raisins is just perfect. Such a delicate flavor. I had one with some barely sweetened greek yogurt and it was a almost an “experience”. Thumbs you Heidi for those great discoveries.


These muffins look great.

Heide m.

Thanks for the great post Heidi!
Heads up: Rosenberg’s cookbook is “A Swedish Kitchen”, as opposed to “My Swedish Kitchen”.
-Garrett R
ps- You might be happy to know that I’ve been eating well all semester thanks, in large part, to your posting of my email some months ago on good eat’n and dorm livin’
HS: That’s great to hear Garrett, and thanks for the heads up re: the typo. 🙂

Garrett Rubin

oooh! I made some gluten free saffron buns for St Lucia’s day a while back, but never thought of converting them to muffins! Great idea!

The Curious Baker

I love everything about this recipe except for the saffron! Is there any other spice that would shine in this exciting non-muffin?


I know I’m in the minority here, but I’m always so excited to see a recipe that promises to be “barely sweet”!

The Rowdy Chowgirl

What an intriguing idea to use saffron in muffins. Could whole milk with a little vinegar or lemon juice substitute for buttermlk?


I’ve just tried the Lucia muffins – very easy and really delicious!!!
Only one thing – I’ve used ” paper baking baskets” (I don’t know how is it in English). It’s very difficult to remove the muffins from it.


I just bought some saffron the other night (for the first time) to use in a sauce so when I saw this recipe, I thought I would give it a try. The recipe is super quick and easy, and the muffins baked perfectly. However, it is certainly a recipe for saffron lovers…very strong (almost overwhelming) taste if you use the full 1 teaspoon of loose saffron threads. My recommendation would be to cut the saffron to about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon so that you still get the delicious taste of the muffins with a more subtle taste of saffron. Overall, a good recipe…I will make them again.


I read all your postings of recipes and what not.
I have a favor to ask, not related to recipes but to caterers. My youngest daughter is getting married in SF. I need some advice on what would be a nice catering thing that is good and not cost a lot. Both bride and groom are grad. students at Berkeley and no job yet. I am from out of town so are his parents. We are not familiar with the Bay Area in term of planning a wedding. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and keep posting the interesting stuff, your photos, travels and recipes.

Hoa Young

Hi Heidi
These muffins look and sound delightful!
Thank you for all the wonderful ecipes, gorgeous photography and the stories you share. Your website has given me oodles of inspiration and practical help to keep low-impact vegie food interesting!
Sam 🙂

Sam (One Small Kitchen)

Hello Heidi!
Your book arrived today! It’s great! Natural Cooking in my kitchen! 🙂
I loved this muffin recipe!

Filipa Oliveira

I always love almost every kind of muffins. Not still sure about this one but I think I’m gonna love this too as I am one saffron aficionado. I’m fond of trying out new things and exploring on tastes so this recipe should definitely be on my bookmark list.
And these muffins couldn’t be nicer with that lodge cast-iron muffin tins. Cool!

Elaine from Cookware Help

Mmm, those muffins sound delicious, and I’m so thrilled to see one of my Summer Weeds tea towels under your muffin pan. Perfect colour for a saffron-tinged recipe. xx
HS: HI Heather, It was a gift from a friend, and I love it 🙂 I actually grabbed for it so the hot pan wouldn’t burn the table, then realized it was the perfect match!

Heather Moore

I love saffron and am always ready to try it in a new dish! These will make a great Easter Sunday breakfast. thanks Heidi!


Will have to try these for the little ones…easy to have children try anything in muffin shape….

A Little Yumminess

Wow!! I can’t wait to try these out!! Yeahy, another excuse to bake 😀
Thank you!! Looking forward to more amazing recipes.


I had to make this when I saw it. Perfect blend of sweat and salty. I used 100% whole wheat pastry and it turned out truly perfect. My husband and I agree its the best muffin we’ve made on your site. We love it and it will be a family staple. 🙂
HS: So glad you liked them Joanna, and thanks for reporting back.


Very different, but I like different! Have yet to use saffron, isn’t that crazy?
Not-too-sweet muffins are my very favorite kind.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

I am intrigued by the saffron.

Sense of Home

Can I just put in the whole egg? I hate to waste the yolks.


I love Lucia buns so much I even buy them at Ikea — these look like a wonderful alternative. And it helps that I have all of the ingredients …

Kate @ Savour Fare

So funny you all noticed the muffin tin! That was the first thing i noticed too. I think i may be one not to like these muffins. Not much of a fan for cornbread muffins : (


is that a skinny laminx tea towel i spy? so cute. love how they’re popping up everywhere.
muffins are added to my baking list!


The name cant be any better:) Lucia muffins:) will have to try those…saffron is always expensive, there is no shortcut to it i guess…but its still far from Christmas, Santa Lucia is on 13 Dec…Thanks Heidi! Love your blog!…xx

Lucia (Lu)

Hmmm… I’m one of those people who is oddly ambivalent to muffins. Love scones, adore zucchini (and the like) breads, flirt with cupcakes. But I do like saffron, so perhaps this recipe will be my litmus test as to the trad vs non-trad muffin question. Surely, one of life’s mysteries 😉

Blake @ Salt Teak & Fog

Hmmm… I’m one of those people who is oddly ambivalent to muffins. Love scones, adore zucchini (and the like) breads, flirt with cupcakes. But I do like saffron, so perhaps this recipe will be my litmus test as to the trad vs non-trad muffin question. Surely, one of life’s mysteries 😉

Blake @ Salt Teak & Fog

Heidi – I have to tell you that I have never been a big fan of saffron, and I’m not sure why that is….perhaps I’ve just never had it in the right dish. That’s what I tell myself anyway, and so I am always on the look-out for that one recipe that will turn me around on saffron….these muffins sound delicious, perhaps this is the one? – S

Oui, Chef

I’m really interested in this, but around here one small box of saffron threads (about 1T, if that) can be as much as 7 dollars. Does anyone know where I can order saffron online for a reasonable price?


Marty, soy milk with a bit of apple cider vinegar left to sit for 10 minutes for so thickens up pretty nicely and works well as a buttermilk substitute. If I have some, I sometimes mix in a bit of plain soy yogurt as well.


Wow ^^
I Think I’ll Be Making These Sometime Soon .


I’d definitely be one of those who will love this recipe! Saffron muffins? Bring it on!

Amanda at Enchanted Fig

This recipe sounds delightful! I can’t wait to try it!

Danielle L.

I know this makes me crazy but I really don’t like saffron. That said- they look lovely!

Melange a Trois

Wow, how lovely! I so wish-listed that muffin pan, I love Lodge! I definitely need to make up a gluten-free version of these babies!


Low fat, low sugar – what’s not to like! I will try these in the stuffing casserole I have been relegated to prepare this weekend. Pear-Parsnip – that way I can keep the raisins in the recipe too!

Primordial Soup

great recipe! can’t wait to try, thanks!


Are there specfic places where I can purchase saffron? At the grocery, it costs almost $20 for what looks like about 6 threads. I cannot afford this.
Or, is there an adequate substitute?
Love your recipes.


Heidi, your recipes NEVER disappoint – they are always so original. I see why you think some people wouldn’t like this. I for one CANT WAIT to make it 😉


I love saffron and now your muffin pans. They look very ethnic

Radhika Vasanth

Any chance something for the buttermilk substitute, I am vegan. I can use Earth Balance butter for butter. I like the oat flour suggestion as a substitute for the white flour and perhaps replacing some of the wheat flour with org. corn meal I’d experiment with.
I think craisins or dried blueberries, currents, or finely chopped dates, apricots, figs, crystalized ginger would be a substitute for the raisins.


We’ll I’m going to have to adapt these because they sound A-mazing, but my gut is a no-gluten zone. I’m thinking Bette Hagman’s Four Flour Blend will sub in easily & maybe some Xanthan Gum since the recipe doesn’t call for the binding power of yolks. I’ll report back for others who have to avoid traditional flour.


Hi Heidi, these look wonderful on all counts. I believe that these can have a life of their own, besides eating whole. I think I would save a few and turn them into “bread crumb” to use within other dishes. My personal motto is “Think Outside The Box”. It could used as a based to make a savory pie , torte or even a filler in my stuff pepers. Great job as always.


I love saffron and am all about the “not so sweet” muffin so these are definitely a YES for me! Thanks for being brave and putting this kind-of-not-really-a-muffin out there 🙂

Jamie G. Dougherty (JAMIE|LIVING)

I really dislike raisins–do you think dried cranberries or another fruit would be ok? What would go well with the saffron–I do love saffron.


Saffron and golden raisins…sounds delish…

The Healthy Apple

love a muffin that isn’t a muffin.
Katrina: you can actually grow your own saffron- they come from the saffron crocus and when they come up in the spring you can take the threads off and dry them and use in cooking- a lot cheaper that way 🙂


I have a feeling I am going to be one of the ones who loves these 🙂


For saffron may I suggest Trader Joe’s. These muffins look great! Every recipe I have tried so far is a delight!!! I am anticipating the delivery of your cookbook (hopefully today) 🙂 Thank you Heidi!


This a great way to make muffins .. perfect for entertaining ..


I’ve discovered using equal parts white whole-wheat flour and oat flour yields an excellent alternative to ap or ap+whathaveyou in any non-yeasted baking. The oat flour keeps it nice and tender and the wheat flour give it structure…. and 100% whole grains, of course
Now I have to figure out what to do with that 10-lb bag of KA ap flour I bought because it was such a good sale price.

Maria Collins, Whole-Grain Texan

wowsers! i am a fan of saffron and never thought about saffron in muffin format, but i bet this would be excellent with a nice spanish-inspired meal or just by themselves!

heather @ chiknpastry

One can never have too many muffin recipes. Looks delicious, thanks for sharing.

Carrie (Love Healthy Living)

The saffron muffins sound interesting. When you said non-tradition muffin and from the color of the muffin, I was thinking probably you used lentil flour to make muffin 🙂
I use saffron in lot of desserts, but I never toast them or grind them. I generally, put them in little warm milk or water to bring out all the flavors. Pistachio might be a good nut to use in these muffins too.
Thanks for sharing the recipe!


These muffins look very pretty. Unfortunately, I don’t really like saffron. But I like the idea of a yellow muffin with non-traditionnal ingredients. Maybe I could try those with a bit of turmeric? Or swap a bit of the whole-wheat flour with a bit of cornmeal? I smell some experimenting this week-end! 😉


I have saffron and farm fresh yogurt and milk. Looking forward to trying out this recipe!


They sound so interesting…certainly worth a try!


in uganda we dont have most of those ingredients but i will try it with those that we have around and i will tell you what i think thanks alot dear.


You’re right this is a love or hate recipe because of the saffron. Personally, I think it sounds delicious! In our family out of 5 people only 2 dislike saffron. More for the rest of us!


I have to give these muffins a try. The addition of saffron sounds very intriguing! Thank you Heidi for sharing the recipe. I love it! 🙂 Your pictures always make me drool.


This flavor combination sounds amazing! Must try adding saffron, almonds, and raisins to my fresh creamed corn this summer! Thanks, Heidi!


Love the addition of saffron. This muffins are pure indulgence.


I love your tins. Do they work well? I have silicon ones, but they are a pain most of the time..
I also love saffron, and I am intrigued by there muffins. I was thinking about taking off the sugar altogether and serving them with a starter or a soup..


Ooh these intrigue me!! I haven’t really baked or cooked with saffron before…. Its definitely on my to-do list! These look awesome and I love that they have golden raisins 🙂


Cast iron muffin tins?! Now we’re talking!

LoveFeast Table

mmmm these look lovely Heidi, there must be something in the air, I’ve been baking too, only my cakes are slightly more indulgent than yours! Thanks for sharing your lovely recipes as always 🙂

Gemma @ Well Seasoned

I definitely want a set of those cast iron muffin tins. They would be awesome for cornbread or biscuits.

Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

I am all for the nontraditional- and I love saffron! These look so interesting, thanks Heidi!

Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble)

Cornbread and buttermilk sounds delicious! Unfortunately, buying more saffron will cost me my right arm…
Pauline, you are right, they sound great for Easter brunch. Perfect timing, Heidi!


I think these look great! The recipe really interests me…but what are saffron threads?


I’d love to get my hands on those muffin tins. I have stoneware now that I really do love, the brown/bake so evenly.
I never knew so many possibilities existed with saffron. I have only ever used it in rice. I guess I need to change that.

Christie {Honoring Health}

You have inspired me … now I know what I am taking to Easter Sunday lunch for the family this weekend!


Those muffin tins are slick! Will add to my list to try but I don’t know if they can top your whole wheat bran muffins with yogurt. They are heavenly.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

Stellar looking muffins! I love trying new things like this and baking with non-traditional flavours. And by the way I love the muffin tins…

Joe @ Eden Kitchen

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