The Best Basic Muffin Recipe: A Master Formula and Delicious Variations

It’s hard to beat a very good muffin.

Tender and just slightly moist, an excellent muffin should boast a fine but sturdy crumb. It should have a high, lofty dome and a crackly cap that spills over the muffin liner. When you break off a piece of the muffin top, it should pull away in craggy chunks.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour

But how to create such a perfect muffin?

Often, recipes yield an overly sweet, rich muffin that’s really just cake masquerading as a breakfast food. Or dense muffins with flat tops.

Here’s where we can help. Our basic muffin recipe is exactly what you need. The method is simple. The formula yields a basic, plain muffin that you can easily dress up with any manner of ingredients, from spices to fresh fruit.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour
Left to right: basic blueberry muffins, basic muffins, basic oatmeal muffins

We’ll show you how to make it, along with two classic variations: oatmeal and berry.

You’ll need:
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup vegetable oil or butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs

First, preheat your oven to 425°F and lightly grease the cups of a 12-cup standard muffin pan. Or, line the pan with paper liners and grease the liners.

Whisk together the flour with the sugar, baking powder, and salt. You can use either all-purpose flour or pastry flour; all-purpose flour gives you a sturdier muffin while a pastry flour muffin will be lighter and more delicate.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, vegetable oil or butter, and eggs. Make sure to blend them thoroughly! You don’t want to over-mix once you add the dry ingredients, so it’s important to really whisk the liquid ingredients well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir lightly with a fork, or fold together with a spatula. The trick to keeping your muffins light and lofty is to mix just until the batter comes together.

Fill the cups of the muffin pan about three-quarters of the way full. I find our scone and muffin scoop very useful here. Using a scoop ensures that the cups are filled evenly, so your muffins look nice and uniform. And we’re all about good-looking muffins!

If you want a little glitz (and who doesn’t?), sprinkle the tops of the muffins with
coarse sparkling sugar. Be sure to use this type of sugar, as it doesn’t melt during
baking unlike regular sugars.

Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes. Start checking on them after 15 minutes, and take them out as soon as they’re golden brown on the top.

Remove them from the oven, and as soon as you can handle them, transfer them to a rack to cool. Make sure you don’t leave them in the pan, or the residual heat of the pan can steam the muffins and make them tough instead of delicate. I recommend eating at least one warm, because carpe diem and all that.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour
OK, so you’ve mastered the recipe. Your muffins are perfect! You’re a domestic god(dess)! What next?

You’re now ready to experiment with variations.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour

Basic muffin recipe variation: berry

To make berry muffins, add 1 ½ cups of fresh berries to the dry ingredients.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour

Stir well to coat the berries with the flour mixture; coating the berries in flour helps to suspend them in the batter and keeps them from sinking to the bottom. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as usual.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour

You can use frozen fruit (read more here on how), but keep in mind that it will likely streak your batter with color. That’s fine! But don’t be alarmed if it does.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour
Feel free to substitute other fruits here, too. Chopped peaches, pears, apples, and nectarines are fantastic. Consider adding some spices to the dry ingredients to complement your fruit of choice: Cinnamon with apple, cardamom with pear, and so on.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour

Basic muffin recipe variation: oatmeal

Make a heartier muffin with the addition of rolled oats. Instead of using 2 cups of flour, use 1 cup of rolled oats and 1 1/4 cups of flour. You can stick with regular granulated sugar, or substitute brown sugar for an earthier, more caramelized sweetness. The oatmeal muffins won’t be quite as lofty as the others, but they still look gorgeous and taste delicious.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour
Spice is nice with oatmeal muffins, too. Cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and other “warm” spices are excellent additions to the oatmeal batter. Just add them in with your dry ingredients. Stick to about 1 ½ total teaspoons of spice.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour
More basic muffin recipe tips!

Height:

  • The trick to getting those gorgeous high domes to your muffins is twofold: the high heat of the oven and the baking powder.
  • Make sure your oven is preheated to 425°F before you put in your muffins, and resist the urge to open the door and peek at them! The dome will start to appear after about 10 minutes.
  • Check your baking powder for freshness! It’s important that you aren’t using old baking powder, or you won’t get the rise to your muffins. To test yours, measure out ½ cup of hot tap water. Add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder. It should fizz vigorously. If it doesn’t, toss it and buy a new can.

Storage:

In case you have superhuman willpower, and don’t devour your muffins within a day, store them. Muffins freeze beautifully. Seal them in a bag and freeze them for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, just pop them in a preheated 350°F oven for a few minutes until warm.

If you’re using double-acting baking powder, you can refrigerate the batter for up to a week, and then bake.

Get creative:

If you forgot to freeze your muffins and they’re going stale, don’t fret! You can still enjoy them.

  • Split a stale muffin in half, spread it with melted butter, and toast it in the oven until golden brown. Eat it as is, or cut it up and serve it over vanilla ice cream as a muffin “crouton.”
  • Turn it into bread pudding! Cut up your stale muffins (about 2 cups’ worth of 1” cubed muffin) and place them in a bowl. Whisk together 2 large eggs, 3 cups of of milk, ½ cup of sugar, and any spices you want. Pour the custard over the muffins and let sit for 20 minutes. Transfer it all to a greased baking dish and bake for about 1 hour at 325°F.

Basic muffins via @kingarthurflour

Your turn! Bake, review, and enjoy our recipe for Basic Muffins.

Print just the recipe.

comments

  1. Karen Southwell

    Hi there,

    A bazillion years ago when I was in Home Economics class, our teacher gave us a dinner muffin recipe to practice our baking skills with. Alas and alak, the recipe has vanished with time and the ol’ brain can’t seem to remember the ingredients. Could your basic muffin recipe work as a dinner muffin minus some of the sugar? Any help to try to rekindle that muffin recipe from bygone years would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Muffins for dinner! Love it. Although you could certainly dial down the sugar here, I wouldn’t recommend attempting to transform this recipe into a savory one as the sugar does help to keep it moist and tender. For a more savory muffin, I’d try one of these great recipes: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-corn-muffins-recipe (you can use regular flour), http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/spicy-cheddar-muffins-recipe for something more cheesy, or http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/plain-and-simple-self-rising-muffins-recipe which are neither sweet nor savory and pair nicely with dishes like soup! Hope that helps. -Posie

    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Generally, we add wet to dry because this helps ensure you don’t get dry spots without having to do too much mixing. I’ve tried it both ways with this muffin batter and didn’t find that it made much difference either way — so you can do whichever works for you! The crucial thing is to NOT overmix. It’s most important with drier doughs (like yeast breads and scones), but the order is less important with more wet batters like pancakes and these muffins. Hope that helps! -Posie

    2. Posie Harwood , post author

      Hi Kay, typically with muffin batters we add dry into wet, which helps eliminate pockets of flour and incorporate the batter better. With this particular recipe, you add the wet into the dry — I’ve tried it both ways and because you are so quickly mixing the batter together (just barely with a fork), it doesn’t make much difference which way you go about it. I simply find it easier and neater to do it in the order we call for, but you can do either! The most important thing is to NOT overmix the batter and stop as soon as it comes together. Hope that helps! -Posie

  2. Lydia

    I was worried that the batter was too liquid when I made the oatmeal muffins (used avocado oil instead of butter), but the texture came out great. I added apples and cinnamon, but I think the muffins could have still used a bit more sugar.

    Reply
  3. Tiara

    Since I have a very small household, making cakes and such are a challenge. So I usually make muffins, bake them, freeze them, saran wrap individually and store in the freezer. I take them to work in the morning and they’re thawed nicely by the time I’m ready for snack or lunch.

    Reply
  4. Jess

    Is there a way to substitute cooked oatmeal for the oats in the oatmeal version? I frequently have 1/2 cup – 1 cup of leftover oatmeal and would love to find a use for it. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Such a great question. I haven’t tested that with this particular recipe, but to start, I’d suggest giving it a try with just 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal and 1 3/4 cups flour. I’m not sure how the texture will be, but that could work nicely. You’ve given me good inspiration though to investigate some good recipes to use up leftovers like oatmeal so stay tuned and thanks for bringing this up! Let us know how it turns out if you do try it. You can also use up that leftover oatmeal in our Oatmeal Toasting Bread or our Irish Porridge Bread! -Posie

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Marci, you could certainly substitute white whole wheat flour for some or all of the flour in this recipe, although you’ll end up with a slightly denser muffin. It may be necessary to add a bit more liquid to the recipe to adjust for the higher absorption qualities of the whole wheat flour. Here is a helpful blog about substituting whole wheat flour into recipes like this. Barb@KAF

  5. Cindy

    Hi, KAF – question on oven temperature – this recipe says preheat to 425. Then, the comments say to get that really high crown, put the muffins in a hot oven and immediately lower the temp. What do I lower the temp to, and how does that change the baking time?? I’m making the oatmeal version now, know it won’t crown, but next up is blueberry, and I’d like to impress my professional chef son with blueberry muffins with a high crown – what oven temps do I use?? Thank you so much!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Cindy, try preheating your oven between 475°F and 500°F, and then reducing the oven temperature to 425°F when you put the muffins in. Baking time will be a little less with this hot start. Barb@KAF

  6. Paige

    If I was going to make banana nut muffins would I add the bananas to the wet or dry ingredients? How much bananas should I add? Could I also at walnuts to the dry?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Paige, for best results you may want to follow a banana muffin recipe, as bananas will add quite a bit more liquid than other add-ins. Here’s a recipe you might like to try. Barb@KAF

  7. Merilou Kronschnabel

    I use whole wheat pastry flour, and lite sour cream for the liquid, and even such 1/3 of the sugar for Splenda. Still successful! Love muffins for portion control and easy variations.

    Reply
  8. Nita

    Made them this morning, with half the sugar (1/4 cup), less than half the salt (scant 1/4 tsp), 1 1/4 cup white flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat, and the last handful of last summer’s frozen blueberries. (SIgh, have to wait a while for fresh ones now.) They were light and moist and plenty sweet, and they were obscenely-well domed, just using the 425 preheat. They were fully done in 15 minutes, even made with ingredients straight from the fridge (as opposed to room temp.) I think making sure that both wet and dry ingredients were well whisked made a difference.
    Any advice for substituting maple syrup for the sugar? (For those of us in Vermont with more syrup than we can use on pancakes!)

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Those sound absolutely delicious! It is impressive how much they dome — far more than most muffins! For maple syrup, I’d give it a try just swapping all the sugar for maple syrup. Just mix the syrup in with the wet ingredients..however, I would use the full amount (1/2 cup).

  9. Meela

    Hi Posie

    I tried the oatmeal recipe but while they tasted great they seemed to have lots of tunnels and stuck on to the paper.
    I followed the recipe exactly as directed but I substituted 1 cup all purpose with 1 cup white whole wheat and added 1 tsp cinnamon plus quarter teaspoon nutmeg to dry ingredients. Could any of these be the cause?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Meela- By substituting a higher protein flour for the AP flour, you probably mixed it a bit more to combine, which would cause the tunneling. The white wheat will absorb a bit more water, so the muffins were probably drier, too. The spices would not make that difference. To avoid sticking, please use pan spray on the papers themselves. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  10. Sherry Forsyth

    Posie, Do you have recommendations for high altitude (5,000+) changes for the muffins? Also, any thoughts on ways to make it a little healthier? It’s nice to have these as part of breakfast a couple of times a week since they freeze so well! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Good question — I’d probably bake them for only about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them closely and take them out when they just begin to brown!

  11. Jan

    You suggest trying the recipe with fruits other than blueberries. Would you use the same 1 1/2 cup amount like the blueberries? If you used peaches, would you need to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe since peaches tend to be so juicy?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Yes, stick with 1 1/2 cups of fruit. I generally don’t dial down the liquid at all, even if my fruit is exceptionally juicy, and it just makes them a bit more moist. If you’re worried, you could reduce the liquid by a tablespoon or two. Enjoy! -Posie

  12. Jess

    Reporting back about the cooked oatmeal variation: the batter was pretty moist, so I let it sit for about 10 minutes before baking. They tasted great, but barely domed. Maybe I should’ve cut back on the milk a bit? (I used soy milk.) Thanks for the tips, and I’m looking forward to seeing what recipe you come up with.

    Reply
  13. CaptHook

    Could I bake this muffin batter in my USA mini-loaf pans, 5.5″x3″x2″ ,,, if so, should I use 2 or 3 pans & any changes to recipe or baking time/temp?
    I’d like to try a prune & walnut version with half white & half white-wheat flour, about 1/3C lite-brn sugar & 1/4C plain regular yogurt in place of 1/4C of the milk?
    Thanks … And yes, I do wear my hook when baking 🙂

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      I think you’ll need 3 pans, but you should aim for filling the pans about 2/3 way high with batter and judge it that way. In terms of the recipe, don’t change anything with the instructions or temperature but they will like need longer than the muffins, so start checking after 15 minutes and take them out when a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Prune & walnut variation sounds wonderful! Your ingredients and quantities sound good; if using yogurt AND brown sugar AND prunes, you’ll likely have a denser, less domed loaf but I think it will still be delicious! Just expect that yours will be less light and delicate than the muffins. -Posie

  14. rhonda

    I only have access to a convection oven. For baked goods the instructions are to lower the oven temp 50-degrees lower (meats, chicken and fish only 25-degrees less); I’ve not had a problem in the past with cakes, scones, biscuits. So I would preheat and bake at 375- degrees. Any foreseeable problem with that? This sounds like an easy recipe, and I can’t wait to try it. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      If you’ve had success lowering the oven temperature for cakes and biscuits, then you should have no issue with the muffins! Enjoy! -Posie

  15. Maureen Bergen

    What about adding wheat bran to this recipe. . .how much and does anything else need to be changed when this is added.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      I’d treat the wheat bran like the rolled oats and follow the quantities and instructions for the oatmeal variation. If you wanted to include oats as well, you could also experiment with using 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, and 1/2 cup bran. I’d suggest trying out using 1/4 cup molasses and 1/4 cup sugar instead of 1/2 cup sugar, since molasses is such a great pairing with wheat bran. I also think a fruit and bran combination would be EXCELLENT: strawberries and wheat bran come to mind as a delicious pairing. In that case, try 1 cup chopped strawberries, 1 cup wheat bran, and 1 1/4 cups flour. Good luck; let us know how they turn out! Great idea! -Posie

  16. Carol

    Delicious. But interestingly, I had some batter left in the bowl and decided to bake after about two hours and they rose much higher than the ones I baked immediately after mixing. Also forgot to put the sugar on them. Do you think that was the reason for the height?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Carol,
      It sounds like you caught the leavener at it’s peak, but before it started to fade. I’ve seen some recipes that do call for letting the batter rest before baking, too, but generally we’re making muffins to be a quick treat, so we don’t often leave them too long before heading to the oven. It would make a neat experiment to try the same batter at several different stages, though. ~ MJ

    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Cyndi, coconut flour does behave a bit differently from AP flour so I’d suggest trying this excellent recipe instead, which is developed to work with coconut flour. And it’s delicious! -Posie

  17. Jayna T.

    Wow! I made my first muffins when I was nine. I haven’t made them for many years because I’ve been living in Japan where people hadn’t been very interested in them. However, muffins are “in,” and so I decided to give these a try. Wonderful!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thank you, Stephanie! I will see that it gets looked at and updated as needed. Elisabeth@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Raspna, you could use chia seeds instead of eggs. Use two tablespoons of chia seeds with 6 tablespoons of water. Let it rest for 5 minutes before combining with the rest of the ingredients. That should mimic the eggs well! Bryanna@KAF

  18. Al F.

    Hi KAF:
    Thanks for the great recipe. I’ve used it a few times. Now, I would like to make 6 large, rather than 12 regular. Can you advise me how I might modify the cooking time for that?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Who doesn’t love a jumbo muffin?! If you’re using a Texas Muffin Pan, you might end up with 8 rather than 6 muffins. But you can bake them at the same temperature — 425°F — but you’ll need to extend the baking time to 20-25 minutes. If you notice the top of the muffins are over-browning but a toothpick inserted into the center still isn’t coming out clean, you can cover them with foil until they finish baking. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel

      Kim, chocolate chips are ALWAYS appropriate, of course, and I don’t foresee them sinking down through the batter. Enjoy — PJH

  19. Lenny T.

    My husband brought home a good-sized container of fresh blueberries so I decided to make some muffins. I looked up recipes and decided on one that resulted in little, round blueberry cakes – too sweet and rich, and too fine a crumb. I wanted muffins. So, after reading at least a zillion more recipes (so many call for more butter than I want to use, or for oil, which I don’t want, and their alternating mixing method is more for cakes) I found your page. The description alone told me these were real muffins – words like “sturdy” and “craggy chunks” were the give-away. And they are delicious!

    The nice, high domes didn’t brown easily though. I don’t like the sprinkled sugar tops, so they’re plain, and I wonder if that’s what inhibited browning. But when I saw that the lower portions of the muffins were becoming more than browned, I took them out and got them onto cooling racks almost immediately. Pale-topped or not, the chunks are craggy and have a sturdy crumb. Real muffins.

    I think I’ll do giant muffins next so the ratio of body to crust is greater. And I might add just a bit more sugar since I’m not sprinkling the tops. I also think this recipe would be excellent with cranberries.

    So thank you for a great muffin recipe that should serve me well for years to come.

    Reply
  20. Barbara Skaggs

    I have a recipe for coffee cake muffins that calls for 2 sticks of butter with 2 cups of flour, one cup of sugar , one cup of buttermilk, 2 eggs, leaveners and spices. The butter seems excessive (as does the sugar). Can I use one stick of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Barbara, this recipe uses 4x as much fat and 2x as much sugar as ours, so we suspect that you’d have good luck reducing both ingredients. Just keep in mind that in addition to impacting the flavor, reducing these ingredients will also result in a less tender muffin. Still delicious, but different than what your original recipe intended. Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You sure can, Regina! You can go ahead and use the same amount of flour in this recipe, without making any other changes. We think you’ll be delighted with the results. Happy GF baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Molasses can be substituted measure-for-measure with other liquid sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, Judy. It gets trickier when substituting a liquid sugar for granulated sugar however. In general, you can use a generous 3/4 cup of liquid sweetener (like molasses) for 1 cup of sugar and reduce the liquid by 3-4 tablespoons (or add an additional 3-4 tablespoons of flour if there’s no liquid added in your recipe). For the basic muffins recipe, you can try using 1/3 cup of molasses and 3/4 cup of milk to see if you like the texture of the muffins. Some liquid sugars tend to caramelize faster than granulated sugar, so check for doneness about 5-10 minutes early. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  21. Karen

    Intrigued by the fruit / spice (or other ingredient) pairings. You only gave 2 examples, but I’d love to see more. Blueberries + lemon, raspberries + dark chocolate chunks, peaches + ginger, strawberries + basil + black pepper, cherries + brandy + vanilla, mango + coconut + lime, pineapple + rosemary. I’m just guessing here, but now I want to experiment.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ve got out baking brains spinning (in a good way!), Karen. We put our minds together with Flavor Guru Posie at the helm, and here’s some variation we came up with that you might want to try:
      – Thyme and blueberry
      – Coconut and ginger
      – Espresso powder, toasted sesame seeds, and cacao nibs
      – Black walnuts with molasses and whiskey
      – Malt powder and chocolate chips
      – Lavender, honey and fig
      – Cranberries and sage with raw sugar on top
      – Black pepper, roasted pears, and brown butter
      – Tahini, dates, and cardamom (Posie promises this is stellar!)
      We hope this gives you (and others) the inspiration you’re looking for. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  22. Megha

    Hi King Arthur Team,
    Please could you advice me on how much is 1cup measure in ml as i am not sure how much is 1cup measure. This recipe dosnt say in ml grms unlike your other recipes.
    Look forward for your quick response.
    Many thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Megha, we’d like to clarify a few things first. We intend for you to measure your ingredients by weight using a scale if you choose either ounces or grams. Milliliters is a unit of measure typically reserved for liquid ingredients, so it’s not something that you can apply across the board to all of the ingredients listed here. Regardless, 236.588 ml = 1 cup. We think taking a look at our full Ingredient Weight Chart may also be helpful. Feel free to give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253) if you have further questions. Kye@KAF

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