Cream Cheese Zucchini Muffins

Using my go-to zucchini bread recipe as the starting point, these soft cream cheese zucchini muffins are deliciously spiced with cinnamon and stuffed with a cheesecake style filling. Before baking, sprinkle with coarse sugar for a little sparkling crunch on top.

stack of cream cheese zucchini muffins

I’ve been holding onto this recipe since last summer and I’m thrilled to finally have it photographed and ready for you to try it!

Zucchini Muffins, Upgraded

These muffins are downright DELICIOUS. Using my absolute favorite zucchini bread (and muffins) recipe– an old family recipe that won 1st place in a state fair– we’re baking muffins stuffed with sweet cream cheese. They taste like dessert! I got the recipe idea from a fall favorite: these pumpkin cheesecake muffins. Here we’re swapping pumpkin for zucchini and skipping the crumb topping. Though you could definitely add it here if desired!

Here’s why you’ll love them:

  • Easy muffin batter using basic ingredients
  • Soft, moist, filled with creamy filling
  • Warm spice flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Recipe makes just 10, but can easily be doubled
  • Hidden veggies– you can’t taste the zucchini!

cream cheese zucchini muffins


Overview: How to Make Cream Cheese Zucchini Muffins

If you’ve made my zucchini bread recipe before, you know how easy this batter comes together. The written recipe is below, but let’s quickly walk through the steps first.

  1. Make the zucchini batter: All basic ingredients here including flour, leaveners, egg, sugar, and vanilla. Compared to my zucchini bread batter, I add a little more baking powder so the muffins can rise up under the heavy cream cheese filling. I use a mix of brown sugar and granulated sugar for extra flavor– and I actually slightly reduced the amount of sugar since we’re adding the sweet cream cheese filling. Cinnamon and nutmeg add flavor. Use a box grater to shredded the zucchini. I add a little extra zucchini for added volume.
  2. Make the cream cheese filling: You need 4 simple ingredients for the cream cheese filling. Bring 5 ounces of block cream cheese to room temperature, then beat it with 1 egg yolk, sugar, and a touch of vanilla extract. The egg yolk helps the cream cheese filling “set” like cheesecake. Don’t use a whole egg– the texture will taste off.
  3. Assemble: Layer a heaping Tablespoon of zucchini batter into your lined muffin pan. Top with a Tablespoon of filling, then another heaping Tablespoon of zucchini batter. No need to swirl together. I always sprinkle crunchy coarse sugar on top because it adds a lovely contrast on the super soft muffins. I like Sugar in the Raw or white sparkling sugar sprinkles, which you can usually find with the sprinkles in the baking aisle.
  4. Bake: Your kitchen will smell divine!

shredded zucchini with box grater

cream cheese and zucchini muffin batter

Layer the zucchini batter and cream cheese batter together in your muffin liners. This recipe yields just 10 muffins. By the way, here are all of my recipes using zucchini.

Try my zucchini crumb cake next!

cream cheese zucchini muffins batter

zucchini muffins stuffed with cheesecake filling

Possible Variations

  • Carrot, Apple, or Banana: You can replace the shredded zucchini with shredded carrot for cream cheese carrot muffins. I always like a little ginger with carrot, so feel free to add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger to the carrot batter. You could replace the zucchini with shredded apple, too! This cream cheese filling would be wonderful with my banana muffins batter as well. For banana, carrot, or apple, follow the baking instructions and time(s) written below.
  • Loaf instead of muffins: Use my zucchini bread recipe and feel free to skip the chocolate chips. Add half of the batter to the greased 9×5 inch loaf pan, spoon and gently spread this cream cheese filling on top, then carefully spread remaining zucchini batter on top. Use a toothpick or knife to swirl together, which will prevent the loaf from separating. (Not necessary for muffins.) Add about 5 minutes to the bread’s bake time.
  • Double the recipe: To yield about 20-22 muffins, feel free to double the recipe below by doubling each ingredient. Instead of 2 egg yolks in the cream cheese filling, 1 full egg will work.
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cream cheese zucchini muffins

Cream Cheese Zucchini Muffins

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 10 muffins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Layer zucchini batter and cream cheese filling together to make cream cheese zucchini muffins. These super soft and moist muffins are deliciously spiced with cinnamon and taste wonderful with a crunchy coarse sugar topping.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (about 175g) shredded zucchini (1 medium zucchini, no need to blot dry)
  • optional: coarse sugar for topping

Cheesecake Filling

  • 5 ounces (140g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons (36g) granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. This recipe yields about 10 muffins.
  2. Make the zucchini batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla extract together. Whisk in the zucchini. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk or stir until just combined. Avoid over-mixing.
  3. Make the cream cheese filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla extract, and sugar until combined.
  4. Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of zucchini muffin batter into the muffin cups. Layer with 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese filling, then another heaping Tablespoon of muffin batter– or however much batter is needed to fill the cups all the way to the top. Some cream cheese filling can poke out of the top or on the sides. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.
  5. Bake for 5 minutes 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce heat to 350°F (177°C)* and continue baking for another 15-17 minutes. The total time these muffins should be in the oven is around 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before serving.
  6. Cover leftover muffins tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: For longer storage, freeze the muffins for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then heat up in the microwave if desired.
  2. Zucchini: I do not peel the zucchini before shredding, but you certainly can if you’d like.
  3. Variations or Doubling the Recipe: For other flavor ideas, turning this into a loaf, or doubling the recipe, see Possible Variations above.
  4. Why the initial high oven temperature? Like I do for most muffin recipes, bake the muffins for 5 minutes at a very hot temperature. Then, keeping the muffins in the oven, switch to a lower temperature for the remaining bake time. This initial high temperature will quickly lift the muffin tops so they’re extra high, then the centers will bake during the lower temperature bake time. This trick makes beautiful bakery-style muffins every time.

Keywords: cream cheese zucchini muffins

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73 Comments

  1. Do you happen to have nutritional information for this recipe? It was delicious!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  2. Wow this is amazing! So moist with just the right touch of spice and cheesecake hiding inside. Of course I had to use the streusel topping. My garden zucchinis have never been put to better use.

  3. This was my first time baking with zucchini – I was a little nervous because the batter was thick and a bit sticky but OMG THESE CAME OUT SO GOOD!!! One of the best muffin recipes I’ve made. Absolutely loved the cream cheese and spices. Sally, your recipes never disappoint!

  4. Julia Masse says:

    Absolute favorite zucchini recipe! I modified it by lowering the fat with yogurt, using Truvia baking blends for sugar replacement & then I added applesauce plus a bit of almond milk to make up for the lack of moisture since I used Truvia. Absolutely delicious & only 136 calories per muffin.

  5. I just made this and although they were awesome it looked like the batter was too thick idk I put more oil in and it was a small batter only made eight cupcakes not too small

  6. This recipe is absolutely delicious. It reminds me of a muffin with cream cheese filling I used to get at a local coffee shop that has since closed. I am so excited to try this with ingredients other than zucchini when zucchini goes out of season.

  7. I can’t wait to make this! Can I reduce the amount of sugar so I feel better about giving it to my kids? By how much?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nancy, You can try reducing the sugar but keep in mind that the texture will change and the muffins won’t be as soft. You may want to look at this Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread which uses agave instead of granulated or brown sugar – see the recipe notes to make it as muffins.

      1. I decided to go ahead and make these and they were AMAZING! I actually made 12 large muffins rather than 10 out of the batter.

  8. Made these for my husband (first time ever cooking or baking with zucchini) and he LOVED them! I saw your similar pumpkin cheesecake muffin listed in the article, but can I just switch the zucchini from this recipe with pumpkin?

    1. Hi Jane! That shouldn’t be a problem, but I would reduce the pumpkin puree down to 3/4 cup.

  9. Absolutely delicious!
    The best muffins ever! Thank you so much for the great recipe!!!

  10. I’ve tried almost all your muffin recipes and can’t decide which one I like best, but this one is delicious (the best banana bread muffin version and the pistachio cupcakes turned into muffins with your oven trick are incredible too!) ! I’ve done this recipe twice with cream cheese and mascarpone and I go for the mascarpone one but both are hilarious! Thanks so much Sally!!! Greetings from Barcelona!

  11. I made these muffins today. They came out delicious! I added some walnuts into the batter, which turned out to be a good addition. This is a great recipe. I will definitely be doing these again.

  12. Excited to see how these turn out I added about 1/4 c chocolate chips to the cream cheese.

  13. Just made this recipe…DELICIOUS!
    They taste so good, the quantity of spices is on point!!
    With the cream cheese filling it’s PERFECT!

    Thank you Sally, can’t wait to try another recipe next week 🙂

  14. These are so delicious! My 2 and 7 year old love them as well. I made a double batch the second time I made them because one dozen didn’t last long the first time! Another wonderful keeper recipe, Sally!

  15. Hi Sally I made these muffins with carrot instead of zucchini and they were amazing!! I have never enjoyed baking so much since I found your site through one of the you tubers I subscribe to.

  16. Just, wow! I took it one more step and made a meringue with the leftover egg white. I layered a spoonful of the meringue on top of the cream cheese mixture, then topped it with the batter.

  17. Christine Doederlein says:

    I love all your recipes but I made these and after 5 minutes out of the oven they collapsed and had big holes in them. Did I do something wrong.

  18. Absolutely delicious, and very easy to whip up!

  19. Do these needed to be refrigerated, with the cream cheese filling, or do you not need to since it’s cooked?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn, You can cover leftover muffins tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or if you need to store them longer you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  20. Can I use the full 8 ounce block of cream cheese rather than splitting it and only using 5 ounces? Would I need to add more egg yolks in this case?

    1. Yes, you’d have to add more of the other filling ingredients as well. But then you will have too much cream cheese filling for the amount of zucchini batter. Try doubling the zucchini batter or even 1.5x the recipe to have enough.

      1. That sounds great! I will try 1.5x the recipe! Thanks for your help Sally!

  21. Hi Sally! I tried making this as a loaf using your zucchini bread recipe as you suggested. How do I prevent the top layer of my cake from sinking into my middle cream cheese layer? Should I pour less zucchini batter on the bottom and save more for the top?

    1. Hi Jasmine! Adding more zucchini batter on top of the cream cheese layer would certainly help. And/or you can try adding 2 Tablespoons of flour to the half of the batter you are using for the top layer. A thicker, stronger batter on top would help prevent it from sinking too much. (Likewise, make sure you bake the bread long enough. Under-baked breads will sink a they cool.)

  22. This zucchini recipe is hands down the best muffin recipe I have tried. The additional layer of cream cheese caught my attention. While adding the cream cheese deviated from my quest for healthy the rave reviews won me over. The only change I made is that I did use 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. Otherwise following everything else in the recipe and Sally’s baking directions, the result were some amazing muffins. It is in my keeper file.

  23. These muffins are the best I have ever made. Really moist and flavourful without being too sweet.

  24. These muffins turned out amazing!! The extra crunch from the coarse sugar on top, paired with the cinnamon flavor of the fluffy muffin, and creamy texture from the cream cheese all worked so well together. Will definitely be making these again!

  25. This recipe calls for vegetable oil. Can I use butter or Ghee instead? Thanks!

    1. Same amount of melted butter works!

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