Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


Whenever I bake, which is rarely, I always try to take shortcuts or tweak the recipe to make it vegan. It usually fails. But I do have one goof-proof method to make an easy boxed cake mix even easier and much healthier: canned pumpkin. If you add one 14 ounce can of pumpkin to one box of cake, muffin, or cupcake mix, omitting the eggs and oil it calls for, you get a perfectly baked good, without the added fat, and with some serious vitamin A and fiber to boot. And since most mixes are vegan to start, this substitution keeps the sweet treats vegan, without making them dense or gritty like some vegan substitutes.

I work as the dietitian at the Boston Conservatory where I also teach the freshmen dance class’ nutrition course. This year I have a full class of 37 students. I made a promise to them on the first day of class that if I didn’t learn their names by the end of September, I’d bake for them. They were pleased, I was not. I don’t like baking, so the thought of making 37 of anything baked encouraged me to learn their names, stat. Which I did not do. I think I came pretty close, but I’m terrible with names. I have a condition. And when you have multiple sets of the same named students, it gets confusing! Fortunately, my sneaky baking trick is super easy.


1 box Trader Joe’s pumpkin muffin/bread mix, or any vanilla cake/muffin mix

1 14.5-oz can pumpkin

2 cups dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, or according to your boxed mix’s directions. Combine dry mix, pumpkin and chocolate chips in a large bowl and hand mix, or use a stand mixer. I was so excited to use my Kitchen Aid mixer that I received for our wedding – the quintessential wedding gift that I’m determined to get good use out of!

Scoop mix into muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full, and bake according to the package directions (or a few minutes less if you have a finicky oven).

They came out perfectly: light and fluffy with pumpkin pie spice flavor shining through, along side the ooey gooey chocolate chips. They’re the perfect treat to ask for forgiveness for my 37 nameless (to me) students. I’m working on it…I swear.




  1. Melissa
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi Janel – no eggs, oil or water, just the pumpkin? I ask because I just made the muffins today, skimping on some ingredients and fretted the whole way through. Thanks!

  2. Janel
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Just canned pumpkin and the pumpkin muffin mix! Zero eggs, oil or water. Did they not come out well? It has never failed me, and I do this several times a year! Keep me posted…

  3. Melissa
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    No, not your recipe, the standard box recipe was a bit dry. So unusual, these are highly anticipated muffins in our house! Will try your recipe instead, squeeze in those extra fruit servings for the kids. Thanks!

  4. Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Janel! You are genius! I just made your pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. They are so moist and delicious!! I just ate one. Amazing how the added pumpkin made up for the eggs and oil. Is it okay if I share your link on this recipe to my blog? I would love to feature it!:)

  5. Janel
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you loved them! They’re so easy 🙂 Of course feel free to share the recipe if you post the link back to my blog. Thanks!

  6. Roma
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    These were amazing! Just made them for thanksgiving tomorrow. Hope they last until then!! Thanks for sharing.

  7. ewjanel
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Hope the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins were a hit! I made them this year as well, but with cranberries instead of chocolate. Delish!

  8. DM
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Approx. how many did you make with one box of Trader Joe’s mix?

  9. ewjanel
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    You get a dozen from the mix. Enjoy!

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