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Learn how to make muffins that would rival any bakery! From tips, to troubleshooting, to recipes this ultimate guide on how to make perfect muffins will have you making the best homemade muffins in no time.
Raise your hand if you have ever made homemade muffins before and thought never again! Yea, me too.
Homemade muffins, albeit simple, can be a serious disaster sometimes.
I thought it may be helpful to share some of my muffin secrets with you that I have learned over the years.
This is a long post, so skip ahead if you want to…
- Muffin ingredients
- Equipment needed
- 4 Secrets To Tall, Fluffy Muffins
- How To Make Muffins – Step By Step
- What are tunnels caused by when making muffins?
- Muffin baking tips
- Muffin Size Variations
- Recipe FAQ’s
- Muffin Recipes To Try
Here is a general list:
- Flour -For the flour (I generally use just all purpose flour for muffins). For heartier, more nutritious muffins you could use half all purpose, half whole wheat flour. Make sure to measure your flour accurately so you don’t end up with dry, cakey muffins. I recommend using a kitchen scale.
- Leavening Agents – Muffins rely on quick leavening agents, so they need to be baked right away. Muffins will use baking powder and/or baking soda.
- Salt – Always use a little bit of salt in your baking recipes to balance the sweet! I use kosher salt, or sea salt, but table salt will also work.
- Liquid fat (melted butter, coconut oil, or oil)
- Eggs – Always use room temperature eggs. I place mine in a bowl of water before I start.
- Dairy (milk, buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt) – Dairy will add richness, flavor, and fat for tenderness. I prefer to use full-fat dairy for best flavor and texture.
- Add-ins: chocolate chips, dried fruit, fresh fruit, etc. This is where the fun begins! You can really add anything to a muffin. I recommend tossing my mix-ins in a tablespoon or two of the dry flour mixture to keep them from sinking. And if using frozen fruit, do not thaw.
When it comes to muffins, the ingredients are pretty basic. And if you bake at all, you probably have them on hand.
For the flour (I generally use just all purpose flour for muffins). For heartier, more nutritious muffins you could use half all purpose, half whole wheat flour.
Because you want to mix as lightly as possible, there is no need for your mixer here. A simple spatula will do to bring the wet and dry ingredients together.
4 Secrets To Tall, Fluffy Muffins
Secret #1: Make sure your leavening agents are fresh!
Muffins rely on their leavening agents (baking powder, baking soda) to rise. Unlike the creaming method that you would use to make cookies, which aerates the mixture, muffins do not. So it’s super important that your leavening agents are fresh and have not expired.
To test your baking soda: add 1 teaspoon to a 1/4 cup of vinegar (or lemon juice). If it bubbles, then it’s good to use. If it does not, then throw it out!
To test your baking powder: add 1 teaspoon to 1/4 cup of hot water. If it bubbles, then it’s good to use. If it does not, then throw it out!
Secret #2: Do NOT overmix!
Too much mixing and you cause your muffins to become tough and dense from over-activating the gluten protein in the flour. Gluten creates structure, which is great for homemade breads, but not for muffins.
I recommend only stirring just until the flour has been mixed in and stop mixing. It’s OK to even have a streak or two of flour not mixed in. And your batter will be LUMPY. Lumps are OK!!
Secret #3: Bake For 5 Minutes At A High Temp
I love baking my muffins at a higher temperature (at 400 or 425oF) for the first five minutes. This gives the muffins a initial boost of heat to get them to spring up and create that beautiful muffin top.
After the first give minutes I’ll lower the heat and let the muffins continue to bake. In the end, beautiful tall, fluffy domed muffins!
Secret #4: Scoop to the top
These are NOT cupcakes. And will be a bit sturdier so it’s OK, and recommended that you scoop batter right to the top of your muffin tin well. If you’re used to scooping only 2/3 or 3/4 full you definitely will NOT get tall, beautiful muffins!
How To Make Muffins – Step By Step
In this step by step photo tutorial, I’ll show you how to make blueberry streusel muffins. Every recipe will be slightly different, but this is a general step by step of how to make muffins.
1.Make Your Crumble Topping
You want to start by mixing together your dry ingredients for the crumble topping. Then add the butter. Some recipes may call for melted or cold butter. But either way it should form a crumbly mixture. I like to keep mine in the fridge until I’m ready to use it.
You may need to break up the mixture again when you’re ready to use it.
2.Combine Your Dry Ingredients
You want to start by whisking together your dry ingredients. Some recipes will have you include your sugar to be whisked in at this point as is counted as a dry ingredients.
It’s important that you measure your flour correctly. Over-measuring flour is one of the biggest mistakes bakers make. I always recommend using a digital scale and weighing your ingredients. It’s faster, and much more accurate!
But if you do measure using measuring cups (aka by volume) then be sure to do it correctly. Spoon the flour into your cup and then level off. Do not pack it down in the cup. You can read How To Measure Flour.
3. Toss Mix-Ins in Flour First.
If you’re adding something like blueberries or chocolate chips I like to remove a tablespoon or two from the dry ingredients and toss my mix-ins first in the flour
In order to not have the blueberries sink to the bottom of your muffin, toss the blueberries with a tablespoon of the dry ingredients. This will help keep them suspended throughout the batter.
4.Combine The Wet Ingredients
In a second mixing bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients.
Pro Tip: Be sure your egg is room temperature so it’s easily incorporated. Place it in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes before using.
5. Combine The Dry And Wet Ingredients
Next you want to combine the wet and dry ingredients. I like to create a well first by pushing the dry ingredients aside and then pouring the wet ingredients into the hole.
And then just stir together using a spatula.
Pro Tip: Be careful to NOT overmix. Overmixing will create a tough muffin. Stop mixing once the last of the flour has been incorporated. I like to stop with one or two stirs left before I add the blueberries.
6. Add Your Mix-Ins
Last but not least, fold in your mix-ins. A couple of gentle stirs should do the trick.
Word To The Wise: The key to great muffins is to NOT overmix! Lumpy batter is actually preferred!!
7. Scoop The Batter
Go ahead and scoop the batter into your prepared pan. These aren’t cupcakes so go ahead and fill them up. I like to leave just a little room for the topping. I get about 10-12 muffins depending on how much I fill them up.
8. Add The Crumb Topping
I then sprinkle on about a 1/2 Tablespoon of the crumb topping. And then it’s time to bake!
What are tunnels caused by when making muffins?
Muffins can be easily over-mixed and when they are tunnels inside the muffins will form. Tunnels are large elongated holes or air pockets in your muffin. Ideally, when you cut into a muffin, you should see a uniform crumb.
Mixing by hand will help to decrease that your muffin batter was not overmixed and that you don’t end up with tunnels.
When you overmix, you develop the gluten or protein network. The more you mix = the more gluten that is developed. The gluten creates tough pockets that can expand. The gas inside those pockets then wind their way towards the surface creating those unpreferred tunnels. So you want to mix lightly with this method! We want a lumpy batter. Lumps are our friends!
If you love this science behind baking, we cover this in my Ultimate Baking Bootcamp class!
Muffin baking tips
- Bake at a higher temperature for the first five minutes. This blast of heat helps to create that perfect dome we all know and love, as opposed to flat bottoms. I mean does anyone like a flat bottom? Not in our muffins or our jeans.
- Do NOT thaw the berries first. If you are using berries try using fresh if you can but if you can’t then no worries. If you are using frozen, then be sure not to thaw them unless you want your muffins all blue!
- Measure your flour correctly – Measuring your flour wrong is one reason why homemade muffins don’t come out fluffy and moist like they do as a bakery. The best way is to use a scale and measure by weight. I still love to measure by volume, as I am sure most American home bakers do. So if you do use your measuring cups, then be sure to first fluff up the flour. Then scoop with a spoon into the cup and then level off with a flat edge. For more on how and why to measure your flour you can read this post.
- Prepare your pans first. You want to make sure to get those ready before you start measuring. I like to use liners for my muffins and then also spray the top of the pans with non-stick cooking spray. You don’t have to use liners, but then make sure the wells and the top of the tin are sprayed well. But you don’t want your batter sitting around while you get your pans ready, so do this first.
- Do not overmix. Once you add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, you want to make sure to mix just until the flour is mixed in. If you keep mixing, then you activate the gluten protein in the flour which can make your muffins tough and chewy. And cause “tunneling” which are these long holes throughout your muffins. So. Do. Not. Overmix. Ok? Ok.
- Use a scoop. I love using an ice-cream scoop you can make sure you scoop all your muffins the same size. If they are all the same size then they will all bake evenly.
- Test for doneness. It can be tough to tell if your muffins are done. I like to use a toothpick inserted into a muffin in the middle of the tin and look for moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick. If you see batter still then pop them into the oven for a few minutes.
- Cool In Muffin Tin For 5 Minutes. Once you have taken your muffins out of the oven you want to let them cool for about 5 minutes in tin. If you try to take them out right away, I find they tend to fall apart and need a few minutes to cool to set up. After the 5 minutes, then move them from a tin to a cooling rack. If you leave the muffins in the tin, then the heat from the tin will cause them to continue to bake possibly causing them to overbake.
Muffin Size Variations
Maybe you want mini muffins? Or maybe you want JUMBO muffins? No problem. The process is the same it’s just a matter of using a different pan, and adjusting the time in the oven! Easy. Peasy.
- Making Mini Muffins: Use a mini muffin pan, grease the pan or use mini liners if you can find them. And mini muffins will take about 12-14 minutes in the oven. But every recipe is different.
- Making Jumbo Muffins: Use a jumbo muffin pan, and grease the muffin pan. Usually a 12-cup muffin recipe will make about 6 jumbo muffins. Spoon batter into the wells, filling all the way to the top. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). And then bake for additional time. Every recipe might differ, but will generally bake for an additional 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
This is a common problem in baking. And this is usually due to the fact that you took them out too early so the insides were set up yet causing them to collapse upon cooling. I recommend using a toothpick to test the doneness. And invest in an oven thermometer so you can accurately gauge if your oven temperature is accurate.
Yes. And you should! Freezing your baked good is a major time saver.
To freeze unbaked: Scoop as the recipe directed into your liners, then freeze the muffin in the tin. Once frozen you can either take them out of the tin (therefore getting your tin back) and place in a zip-loc bag. Or just wrap the whole tin in plastic wrap a few times. Then when ready to bake, just bake frozen (no need to thaw) and add on a few minutes of bake time.
To freeze baked: If you find you have some leftover, then allow them to cool completely and place them in a resealable plastic bag and freeze. When ready to enjoy, I just let mine thaw at room temperature (this happens within a few minutes!) and enjoy. You can also warm up in the microwave!
I find they keep for about 4-5 days at room temperature as long as they are well covered.
Muffin Recipes To Try
Now that you’ve mastered the muffin method technique here are some recipes to try!
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
For the Streusel topping
- 3/4 cup (90 g) unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (53 g) packed light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter melted
For the muffins
- 2 1/4 cups (270 g) all purpose flour
- 1 cup (213 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (from about 1 large orange)
- 1 cup (170 g) fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
- Prepare pans and oven. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400oF (205℃). Brush the insides of the muffin pan with softened butter and then brush the top of the pan. Or use liners for easier removal, like I did). You can also use cooking spray. In a small bowl, prepare the streusel by using your fingers until combined and crumbly. Set aside.
- Make the streusel. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and sugars. Stir int the melted butter, until combined and crumbly. Set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest together in another bowl.
- Toss blueberries in flour. In a small bowl, stir blueberries with 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Set aside.
- Combine wet ingredients. Whisk the oil, milk, orange juice, and eggs together in a medium bowl.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add to the liquids, and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon just until combined; do not over mix. Fold in the blueberries.
- Scoop muffins. Using a 2 1/2-inch diameter ice-cream scoop, portion the batter, rounded side up, into the prepared muffins cups. You can fill the muffins almost to the top, leaving just a little room for the streusel. Generously, sprinkle the tops with the streusel.
- Bake the muffins. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F degrees and continue baking until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and wire cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean about 15 minutes more. If using frozen berries, allow a few extra minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely.
- Storage/make ahead: I find they’re best stored, at room temperature, coverd for up to 2 days.
- Freezing: You can freeze them baked or unbaked. If baked already, I store them in a sealable plastic bag for 3 months and thaw at room temperature before enjoying. If unbaked, you can freeze them solid in the cupcake liners and take them out of the pans (so you can re-use your muffin tin) and pop in a bag to freeze for up to 3 months. And bake frozen, do not thaw, as normal but add a few minutes more of baking time.
- Blueberries: Fresh or frozen is fine. Do not thaw first if you using frozen.
- Oil: I used vegetable oil but any neutral-tasting oil is fine, such as canola or sunflower. I haven’t tested with melted coconut oil or butter would think it would be fine.
- Milk: I used regular whole milk, but a low-fat or plant-based milk would also work fine.