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.

About

Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, ...

comments

  1. Dianne

    Can this be baked as a loaf instead of muffins? I’ve been looking for a basic recipe I can use for a loaf pan instead of muffins. I like to keep a variety of sliced quick breads like pumkin, lemon etc. pre sliced and frozen to go, for quick snacks. Like a master mix like this one. Thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You could certainly bake this recipe as a loaf instead, Dianne. We would suggest baking the loaves at 350° Fahrenheit for about 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  2. Wan

    U said to get the dome we need to preheat at425F. After how long do we need to change the temperature and at what new temperature to set after that?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Wan! The baking temperature stays at 425°F for the full 15-20 minutes. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  3. Dana Martin

    I can’t find any recipes that specifically use MILLET Flour. I’m looking for 2 recipes… one for millet flour muffins and the other is millet flour bread. can you help? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Happy to help, Dana! Anytime you want to search for recipes using a specific ingredient, hover your mouse on the “Recipes” header of our website and below all of the recipe categories, click “Search recipes by ingredient.”
      While we don’t have any millet muffin recipes, we do have millet scones, bread, and a few others that might be just the ticket. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  4. Kuria Silas

    Hi! Thank you for this versatile recipe. If I would want to substitute maple syrup in place of sugar, would I need to adjust the amount of the other liquids?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Kuria! With a recipe like this, you should be able to just do a 1:1 swap no problem. Maple syrup can be substituted cup for cup with regular granulated sugar or brown sugar. Check out our blog article on Baking with Liquid Sweeteners for additional inspiration. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Carla

    Delicious recipe! I used a combination of bits of guava paste, chopped fresh pineapple and coconut. Definitely a keeper!

    Reply
  6. 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

  7. 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

    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

    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

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