Department Store Blueberry Muffins: A Classic Summer Recipe

Blueberry muffins are one of summer’s greatest pleasures. Warm from the oven, they’re a contender for the finest berry baked good, in my opinion. Blueberry pie is up there, along with strawberry shortcake, but for sheer simplicity (and ease and time!), blueberry muffins beat them out handily.

With just a few pantry staples and a pint of fresh berries, you can make the most delicious blueberry muffins you’ll ever taste. I consider myself an equal-opportunity lover of blueberry muffins, and I wouldn’t turn down any batch of them.

But I admit that today’s recipe for Department Store Blueberry Muffins is spectacular. These muffins stand out from any other recipe I’ve ever tried.

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

They have a tender, delicate crumb with just the right amount of moistness. Each bite bursts with juicy berries. After a quick bake, they emerge from the oven, golden and slightly domed, with a crackly sugared crust.

And they aren’t just delicious, they have a wonderful history! These muffins were offered in the bakery (and served in the top-floor tea room) of Jordan Marsh, an iconic department store in Boston. Jordan Marsh closed in the mid-1990s, when it was taken over by Macy’s, but happily its famous muffins live on through this recipe.

The best thing to come from a department store? This classic blueberry muffin recipe! Click To Tweet

For decades, hungry shoppers would feast on these muffins as a sweet pick-me-up after perusing shirts in the sportswear section and comparing china patterns in the home goods department. Customers remember them happily: their sugary crown, their golden interior overstuffed with berries.

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

What makes these blueberry muffins different?

I’m guessing many of you already have a go-to recipe for blueberry muffins. The Department Store Blueberry Muffin recipe won’t look wildly different from most, but it has just the perfect balance of ingredients. It’s buttery, but not too rich. It’s moist, but not too dense. It’s delicate, but not dry.

The recipe is calibrated for maximum deliciousness. You can tell that it’s been put through its paces; such a popular item in such a busy store is guaranteed to have been rigorously tested until it reaches its best possible form.

What really sets this recipe apart is the sugar topping. The first time I baked these muffins, I thought to myself that the amount of sugar called for in the topping (one full teaspoon per muffin) must be a mistake.

It seems like way, way too much when you’re sprinkling it onto the batter, but don’t be shy! It’s crucial to use the full amount in order to achieve those gorgeous, craggy caps of sugar. (Are there any nicer words in the English language than “craggy caps of sugar”?)

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

The recipe

Here’s how to make them. You’ll need:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups blueberries

Ready for how quick and easy these are to make? Brace yourself!

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each.

Add the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently just to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add the berries to the batter, stirring until just combined. Be careful not to overmix or the muffins will be dense.

Scoop the batter by the heaping 1/4-cupful into a greased (or paper-lined) 12-cup muffin pan. We like to use our muffin scoop!

Now for the good part! Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar over each muffin. I know. It feels like the definition of excess but trust us!

Bake the muffins for about 25 to 30 minutes. 

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

Keep in mind: You can certainly make these blueberry muffins all year with frozen blueberries, but if fresh blueberries are available to you, use them.

Warm from the oven, these muffins are summer in a bite. Better than a brilliantly sunny day on a Cape Cod beach. Better than sun-kissed skin, and the first lick of a drippy ice cream cone, and better even than a buttery lobster roll on the ocean in Maine.

Bake the Department Store Blueberry Muffins yourself, and tell us in the comments below how they measure up to other recipes for blueberry muffins!

comments

  1. Anne

    How would this batter do baked as a tea loaf? Not sturdy enough, or just fine with the right amount of extra baking time?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      It should do just fine. It’s a sturdier batter than some muffins, so I think it’ll hold up well. -Posie

  2. AnneMarie

    I used buttermilk, as I had some that had to be used. They didn’t rise as much as a regular muffin, which surprised me with the added acid in the buttermilk, but they are still lovely. I also had PLENTY of sugar on top with just 1/4-1/3 of a tablespoon of sugar.

    What I WOULD do differently next time is use a larger crystal sugar for the top for a better crunch. Regular granulated sugar just kind of disappeared in places and then drew moisture and went soggy. I might try pearl sugar or at least sanding sugar/decorative sugar.

    All in all, a delicious and light muffin 🙂

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Anne, if you use buttermilk instead of milk in this batter, you might want to consider using 1 teaspoon of baking soda instead of baking power. It will react with the acidity of the buttermilk and ensure your muffins rise nicely. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Lorraine Fina Stevenski

    Nice basic recipe. Maybe add a little cinnamon or lemon zest? Have you tested with any other fruit? Apples, peaches?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Cinnamon and lemon zest would both be delicious additions! I love adding a bit of cardamom to mine. I haven’t tried the recipe with other fruit but I’m eager to after your suggestions — peaches and a dash of nutmeg would be wonderful, or chopped apples with cinnamon and allspice. I might even try a combination of pears and a splash of brandy! Here’s to muffin adventures ahead! -Posie

  4. Mae Osborne

    A really great recipe. I gave the recipe to a friend who first used ————-flour (the results were bad). I introduced him to King Arthur and now he bakes them every week for his wife with…..you guessed it, King Arthur flour!

    Reply
  5. Richard Tinsley

    Haven’t made them yet, but what an excellent writer! I thoroughly enjoyed just reading the recipe. Good job,
    Well done.

    Reply
  6. Meryl

    This is the recipe I have had for decades, except I have 3 eggs not 2.

    And 3 cups blueberries. Small wild blueberries, if frozen then dust with flour, a 15 to 16 ounce bag gives about 3 cups. Do not defrost – use from frozen – and the muffins will take a few minutes longer than with fresh berries.

    Unless you pick them yourself, fresh wild blueberries are prohibitively expensive. I have always used frozen wild Maine berries from Wyman’s, and lately Trader Joe’s berries from Quebec. The low-bush small berries taste infinitely better than the large, farmed, “New Jersey” high-bush blueberries. The larger berries I purchased lately have been tasteless, even though fresh, so I stopped buying them.

    Reply
  7. Cindy

    I’ve used this recipe for years! It was nice seeing it get the attention it deserves by being featured in your Sunday recipe round up! Wish I had blueberries so I could be baking them this morning!

    Reply
  8. Lynda Costello

    Have been making these for years. And they are delicious. The last batch I made had a problem…used a stand mixer (usually do by hand) and they did not rise as well and were more dense. Am wondering if I overmixed the butter and sugar. What do you think?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      That could certainly have been the culprit; I find that mixing by hand is simpler with these muffins. Other places you could run into trouble: if the baking powder wasn’t fresh, maybe, or if you added more flour than usual. But it sounds like the mixer is the likeliest issue since you normally do it by hand. -Posie

  9. George Chapman

    I may have posted this on an earlier showing of these muffins. I loved Jordan Marsh and worked there for a few brief months fresh out of college in 1956—then Uncle Sam decided he had other plans for me.
    I don’t ever recall having one of these muffins but they are my go to blueberry muffin now:easy to make, delicious, freeze well and a reminder of my past!

    Reply
  10. Gail Chouinard

    I remember these from my childhood. If we behaved while shopping we were treated to these heavenly muffins with a cold glass of milk. I’m on my way to the store now to pick up some blueberries and make them for my family. Yum!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mini muffin pans can vary quite a bit in size, so you’ll want to start checking early and often until you get a good feel for you pan. Check your muffins around 10 minutes to see if the tops have domed and feel springy to the touch. Just like their full-sized counterparts, you’ll want to insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean before removing them from the oven. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  11. Robin

    I have been baking these muffins for years…always perfect…especially with fresh blueberries! Though too young at the time to remember the shopping trips, my mom and grandmother would take me to lunch in the tea room as part of our day together. The Jordan Marsh muffins were always a purchase to enjoy at home!

    Reply
  12. G

    I have been baking these for 45 yrs. Jordan Marsh used to mash some of the berries so that the muffin had a blue tint. Today the berries are different , probably genetically engineered, you can no longer get the blue tint. Theirs also had higher cap. I can’t get those either. They called them “big blues.”
    They still taste great!!

    Reply
  13. carolyn greene

    Went to school in Boston so I know these Jordan Marsh treats. Recipe was published some 40 years ago. Been making them ever since. Cross between muffin and cake. The best.

    Reply
  14. Lola Gilligan

    This has always been my go-to recipe for blueberry muffins, and it always receives raves. Some tried-and-true tips: don’t overcream the butter/sugar; add some grated lemon zest to the batter (about 1/2-1 t. will work); and use turbinado sugar for the topping instead of granulated. Trust me, you’ll be a hero to all who indulge!

    Reply
    1. Lola Gilligan

      Addendum to above: omit vanilla if using the lemon zest; substitute buttermilk fit the regular milk.

  15. Jean

    I have this same recipe with a slight “twist.” You mash 1/2 cup of the berries with a fork and add to the batter. Also a lemon glaze (lemon juice & conf.sugar) which you brush on. I believe the Dept store my recipe came from was Jordan Marsh (not sure you can publish the name or not). They are truly the BEST!!! Can use frozen berries, but are better with fresh.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Hi Esther, one trick that usually helps to keep berries from sinking in your batter is to toss them with a little flour before adding them to the batter. However, this particular muffin batter is on the thicker side, so I’ve never had a problem with the berries sinking, even without the tossing in flour step. Good luck! -Posie

  16. Linda Slimp

    These are exactly like mine with one exception – instead of milk I use 1c sour cream. This is a recipe I got through a friend years ago and ho received it from Overlake Blueberry Farms, in Redmond, Washington. Been making these gems for about 35 years!!

    Reply
  17. Marylane Cairns

    Used to buy these with my mom when we went to Boston to that special department store. JM. Oh so good 😊 also went to Gilchrist for the best macaroons!!
    Love your recipes.

    Reply
  18. carolyn Oliver

    I have been baking these for years. I’m a retired chef, and NEVER found a better receipe! You will fall in love with them. Happy baking.

    Reply
  19. electra savas

    Several months ago, the original Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins was written in the internet by the original owner, Mr. Pupek who recently retired. All the ingredients are the same as the King Arthur recipe except for the flour. He used two cups of flour (unsifted, blend of bread and pastry) E

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      How interesting! Thanks for that detail! I’ll have to try it that way — this version is so great though it’s hard for me to deviate 🙂 -Posie

  20. Jack Pirson

    It seems like two and a half cups of blueberries is a lot for this recipe although I haven’t tried it yet. Also, how do you keep the blueberries evenly distributed in the batter before baking? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Hi Jack, it IS a lot of berries, which is the best part of this recipe in my opinion, and what sets it apart from other blueberry muffins! It does mean that the baked muffins are a lot more moist than most because of the ratio of berries to batter, so be prepared for that. If you prefer a “cakier” muffin you can always use fewer berries, that won’t affect the recipe. You can toss the berries in a bit of flour to keep them from sinking, however, since this batter is rather thick, I’ve never had an issue with them staying evenly distributed. Enjoy! -Posie

  21. Joanne DiMauro

    I can’t wait to try these muffins. Especially since thy contain 2 1/2 cups of blueberries. They will be delicious. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood , post author

      Use the same amount, but just add them frozen to the batter (don’t thaw). Enjoy! -Posie

  22. Lucy

    This IS my go-to blueberry muffin recipe. I stopped looking for a “best” recipe after I tried these. I also add a few drops of Fiori di Sicilia, because it makes just about everything better.

    Reply
  23. Molly

    They fall apart when you try to remove them from the muffin pans. Make sure to use paper-liners if you try to make these.

    Reply
    1. Sue

      What adjustments should me made for substituting fresh blackberries since that’s what I have tons of now?

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      You can go ahead and use 2 1/2 cups of fresh blackberries, treating them the same as the blueberries in this recipe. If they are large blackberries (as they can be this time of year), you might want to consider halving them before folding them into the batter. This can stain the batter blueish-purple as the juices are released, but it can look quite pretty! Either way, your blackberry muffins are going to be divine. Kye@KAF

  24. Kim Southall

    I just made these for the first time and they are wonderful.This is going to be one of my go to recipes from now on.

    Reply
  25. kathleen

    I have made these since 1974..this same recipe. My sister worked at Jordan Marsh. these are the best.. I frequently put this recipe in a loaf pan (needs to bake for about an hour) or cake pan or in a cake pan.
    They never last long in my house.

    Reply
  26. christi in ma

    I have a version of this recipe handed down from a friend’s great aunt who claimed “this is the real recipe.” It used melted Imperial margarine mixed with the sugar for exactly 3 minutes. (this recipe was very specific – only Imperial and you must stir by hand!)
    I used to keep a box of Imperial in the fridge just for Saturday morning muffin making.
    Now I do the butter and sugar method in the KitchenAid.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Debbie, you’re welcome to experiment with using Splenda in the muffin batter if this is an ingredient that you generally know and like. Be sure to follow the ratios for substitution that are provided on the back of the package. A raw or sparkling sugar on top is especially nice, although you can also omit this step if it makes more sense for your needs. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Michelle, sweetened condensed milk is quite different than liquid milk, so we wouldn’t recommend it. If you don’t have or don’t want to use regular milk, a non-dairy milk or even water would be a better choice here. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  27. Jeani

    Would this work with canola oil instead of butter? I can’t eat dairy, and prefer canola to the vegan “butter” sticks out there (that are just a blend of oils, anyway).

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jeani, as a general rule, it’s best to sub a solid fat for a solid fat or a liquid fat for a liquid fat. As we explain in another blog article (Creaming butter and sugar), “in creaming the butter and sugar together [as this recipe calls for], you are using the sugar to aerate the butter and fill it with bubbles that can capture the gasses released by your leavener. The more fine bubbles you have in your network, the lighter in texture your [muffin] will be and the finer the crumb.” Vegan Buttery Sticks are able to achieve that same effect, but liquid oils aren’t, so we’d hesitate about making that substitution. If you’re committed to oil, you might do better to use a recipe like this one that calls for liquid fat. Hope this helps and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  28. Letitia Rutherford

    Thanks, I remember these wonderful and delicious muffins. I’m crying at this moment, but its tears of happy memories flowing into my head. I plan to make them for my brother who is sixth now.
    Hanes was the store in Newark.

    Reply

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