How to Make the Best Muffins: Baking Tips and 12 Recipes

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Making Delicious Muffins from Scratch

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If you bake them right, there’s nothing like a fresh-out-of-the-oven muffin. Good muffins should be moist, light, and pillow-soft (not spongy). Here are our top tips and tricks on baking muffins, plus 12 recipe ideas.

Using Muffin Pans

  • Most muffin recipes use a 12–cup muffin pan, each cup having a capacity of about 1/3 cup. This has become a standard size for the new, non-stick muffin and most aluminum pans for sale. If your pan has larger or smaller cups, adjust the baking time by about five minutes more for the larger muffins and five minutes less for the smaller ones. If muffins in the small cups get too brown, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
  • Grease muffin pans well before adding the batter. Save paper from sticks of butter for this, or use an oil spray (After experimenting with paper baking cups and greased pans, I’ve come to prefer the greased pans. Sometimes, baking cups cause the bottoms of the muffins to get soggy, or the muffins will stick to them). If you prefer paper baking cups, grease them with vegetable oil spray before putting the batter in.
  • If you end up with too little batter in your batch for the number of cups in your pan, put a little water in the empties to keep the greased surfaces from scorching in the oven.

How to Make Muffins Moist

  • Depending on what ingredients you’re using, the batter will range from runny (like thin cake batter) to very thick (like drop-cookie dough). As a general rule, the thinner the batter, the lighter the muffins will be when baked. But don’t be afraid to bake thick, gloppy batter. It can yield moist muffins with extra keeping power.
  • Buttermilk gives muffins a special moistness and flavor. You can buy it fresh in most supermarkets or look for dry, powdered buttermilk, which will keep for weeks and is the next best thing. Add the powder to your dry ingredients, and add the amount of water needed to the wet ingredients. (Note: Whenever you add buttermilk to a recipe, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of buttermilk.)


Tips for the Best Ever Muffins

  • Most muffin recipes offer dire warnings: “Don’t overmix! Fill muffin cups only a fraction of the way—from 1/2 to 2/3.” Ignore all this and use common sense. Don’t be afraid to stir the ingredients together until they look like batter. Remember not to use an electric mixer since beating the batter will produce hockey pucks. Fill the cups as much as you want to. The idea is to bake some muffins, not worry about what fraction of space the batter should occupy. I confess that I spoon the batter around in my 12–cup pan as evenly as I can, usually filling each cup right up to the top, and the muffins come out fine. Try using a small ice cream scoop to fill the cups!
  • Keep your pantry stocked with imaginative additions for muffins: raisins, nuts, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, canned pumpkin or squash, applesauce, and pineapple tidbits. You can also add dry or cooked breakfast cereal, wheat germ, and granola to the batter.
  • For a special effect, before baking muffins, sprinkle them with sugar or cinnamon sugar. Or use this Crumb Topping: In a food processor, combine 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup rolled oats or granola, two teaspoons cinnamon, and one stick cold butter (cut into small bits). Pulse together until the mixture forms fine crumbs. Store in a covered jar in the freezer and use as needed.
  • Best-Ever Leftovers: To jazz up leftover muffins, split them in half, butter each half, and place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Be careful reheating them in a microwave; they can quickly get soggy.

12 Mouthwatering Muffin Recipes

Now that you have all these tips try some of our favorite muffin recipes:

Oat Bran–Banana-Blueberry Muffins

Oat Bran–Banana-Blueberry Muffins. Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner.
Oat Bran–Banana-Blueberry Muffins
Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

French Morning Muffins

french-morning-muffins. Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner
French Morning Muffins
Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Lemon-Zucchini Muffins

Lemon-Zucchini Muffins
Photo Credit: Stocked House Studio/shutterstock

Apple Cider Muffins

Apple Cider Muffins
Photo Credit: Amallia Eka/Shutterstock

Pumpkin Ginger Muffins

pumpkin muffins
Pumpkin Ginger Muffins

Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffins
Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins
Photo Credit: MShev/shutterstock

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

lemon poppyseed muffins
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Photo Credit: julie deshaies/shutterstock

Rhubarb Muffins

Rhubarb Muffins
Photo Credit: Brooke Becker/shutterstock

Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

Lemon-Blueberry Muffins
Photo Credit: Felix Furo/shutterstock

Barbara’s Vidalia Muffins

Vidalia muffins in a muffin tin
Barbara’s Vidalia Muffins
Photo Credit: A. Zhuravleva/shutterstock

Happy baking! What’s your favorite type of muffin to make? Let us know in the comments!

Want to try your hand at pie? See How to Make Pie: Crusts, Fillings, and More.

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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