How to Make the Best Muffins Ever – Revisited

Nine long years ago I posted a customizable basic oatmeal muffin recipe here on Simple Bites and declared it the ‘best muffin ever’.

It was a bold claim, but one that I was prepared to stand behind. You, my readers, preheated your ovens, gathered ingredients and started baking. Now, nearly a decade later, the post has over 300 positive comments, millions of views, and hundreds of believers.

Today’s post answers the question: is my simple one-bowl muffin recipe still the best? I’ll also share a few small tweaks I’ve made to the recipe over the years, plus my favourite flavour combinations.

The Best Muffin Recipe – EVER

The short answer is YES, this is still the BEST muffin recipe ever. Not only is this claim substantiated by the comments section of the original post, but this comforting baked good is still our No 1 muffin recipe in the Simple Bites kitchen.

The kids and I are seldom tempted to try anything new, because muffin-baking can be fraught with problems. Who wants to risk dry, flat hockey pucks when we know my recipe never fails to deliver moist, flavourful muffins? I love that my little ones still get terribly excited when they smell these muffins baking – and I do to!

And just what makes them so good? Oatmeal gives them a wonderful texture that isn’t cakey and buttermilk makes them light as air. They have a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg and are just sweet enough without straying into cupcake territory. They boast a slightly crunchy top and a moist interior that doesn’t fall apart to bits.

However, the real appeal of this recipe is its versatility.

I gave you a base oatmeal muffin recipe that can happily accommodate almost any add-in you like, and believe me, with three selective eaters around my table, I’ve tried quite a few variations. At the end of the post I’m sharing our two favourite flavour combinations: Carrot, Date & Pecan Spice, and Zucchini Chocolate Chunk with Ginger.

I love that you all went wild with your muffin add-ins, and that you also took the substitutions to the next level…Dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, Paleo, whole-grain, sugar-free – the substitutions made have been endless over the years and each time a reader has come back to enthusiastically report on their success.

Reader Jegi says it best:

“Best muffins ever! I make 3 or 4 batches a week. I use olive or coconut oil in place of butter and half whole wheat flour. Dried fruit works perfectly, as well as apples or carrots. Breakfast is often shredded carrot or zucchini with shredded apples, nuts and wheat germ, but my favorite is dried cherry, walnut and semi sweet chocolate chips. I generally use powdered or almond milk since I don’t use cow milk but Greek yogurt is the best. You simply can’t fail with this absolutely marvellous recipe. I’ve had countless hours of fun “messing it up” to see where it could go wrong and I win every time with deliciousness!”

10 Tips for the Perfect Muffins

  1. Read through the recipe completely before beginning and gather your ingredients to bring them to room temperature, eggs, milk, etc.
  2. Take care not to over mix the batter; use a flexible spatula to gently fold ingredients together.
  3. Batter should be stiff enough to hold a spoon upright; if it seems runny, gently fold in an extra tablespoon of flour.
  4. Use the freshest spices as possible when they are required.
  5. Grease the entire muffin tin, not just the holes. More often than not, the muffins expand over the sides, and if those sides have not been properly greased, you’re going to run into trouble when you try to remove the muffins.
  6. Fill muffin tins three-quarters full; the tops are the best part, so don’t be shy with the batter.
  7. Give them a special topping (for texture and taste) before they go in the oven: rolled oats, coarse sugar or a decadent streusel.
  8. Take care not to over-bake the muffins. The tops should spring back lightly when pressed.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in the pan at least 5 minutes before removing them, especially if they contain soft fresh fruit.
  10. Enjoy them on the same day they are made. If you must, freeze them, and reheat them in the oven for that freshly-baked taste.

One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins (base recipe)

Here is your base recipe, printable for the first time. It is slightly adapted from my original recipe. I now make 9 or 10 slightly larger muffins instead of 12, but if you are baking for a toddler and want a smaller muffin, go ahead and make 12.

One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins (base recipe)

The best muffin recipe ever. Be sure to read the recipe through first. Note that the oats must soak for a minimum of 1 hour before proceeding with the recipe.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Essential Ingredient: Oatmeal
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 9 muffins
Calories: 280kcal
Author: Aimee

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup rolled oats not quick oats
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1/4 cup raw cane sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon freshly ground

Add-ins of your choosing - 1 1/2 cups of any of

  • berries
  • nuts
  • dried fruit
  • grated vegetables (see below)

Instructions

  • Combine milk, vinegar and oats in a large bowl and let stand for one hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Grease a muffin tin and line with 9 cupcake papers.
  • Crack the egg into the oat and milk mixture; add sugar and mix to combine. Stir in melted butter.
  • Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, & spices. GENTLY fold into batter, taking care not to over mix.
  • Sprinkle the add-ins of your choice and fold them into the batter with a few strokes as possible.
  • Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into muffin papers. Top with a few raw rolled oats and a sprinkling of sugar.
  • Place muffins on the centre rack of the oven. Bake until light brown and tops spring back when gently touched, about 10-12 minutes. Note: Muffins will take slightly longer to bake if you are adding fresh fruit such as blueberries or grated vegetables.
  • Remove muffins from oven and cool in tins for 5 minutes. Lift out and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy warm on the same day they are made or freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Notes

If I have it on hand, I'll use buttermilk in place of the milk + vinegar in the recipe. It's a wonderful flavour boost.

Nutrition

Calories: 280kcal

One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins: Flavour Combinations and Add-ins

Here’s a list of add-ins that I have tested with this base oatmeal reacipe – all with fantastic results.

  • 1 cup Raspberries, fresh or frozen & ½ cup Dark Chocolate Chunks or Chips
  • ¾ cup Diced Apple (Granny Smith or Russet) and ½ cup toasted Walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup Dried Cranberries & ½ cup toasted Pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup Blueberries, fresh or frozen and 1/2 cup White Chocolate, chopped or chips
  • ½ cup toasted unsweetened Coconut & ¾ cup chopped Dates
  • 1 cup diced Rhubarb, fresh or frozen & ½ teaspoon freshly ground Green Cardamom
  • ¾ cup Dates, pitted and chopped & ½ cup Pistachios
  • ¾ cup Golden Raisins & ¾ cup grated Carrot
  • 3/4 cup grated Zucchini and 3/4 cup Chocolate Chips

Feel free to make the recipe your own and use add ins you have on hand. Below are two variations that I stick to most of the time. The carrot muffins are for wintertime and the zucchini is our go-to for the summer months.

Carrot, Date & Pecan Spice Muffins
5.0 from 2 reviews
Print
Recipe type: Breakfast
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 9 muffins
The perfect winter muffin - hearty, tender, with bursts of sweetness, thanks to the dates.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar or turbinado
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Combine milk, vinegar and oats in a large bowl and let stand for one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F and place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Grease a muffin tin and line with 9 cupcake papers.
  3. Crack the egg into the oat and milk mixture; add sugar and mix to combine. Stir in melted butter.
  4. Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. GENTLY fold into batter, taking care not to over mix.
  5. Sprinkle in the grated carrot, dates and pecans. Fold the add-ins into the batter with a few strokes as possible.
  6. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop batter into muffin papers. Top with a few raw rolled oats and a sprinkling of turbinado.
  7. Place muffins on the centre rack of the oven. Bake until light brown and tops spring back when gently touched, about 12-14 minutes.
  8. Remove muffins from oven and cool in tins for 5 minutes. Lift out and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy warm.

Zucchini Chocolate Chunk with Ginger

Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Muffins with Ginger

A summer edition of our favourite muffin. Perfect for when zucchini is prolific and muffins are essential for picnic fare.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Essential Ingredient: Zucchini
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Servings: 9 muffins
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Aimee

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup rolled oats not quick oats
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup raw cane sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini patted dry
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

Instructions

  • Combine milk, vinegar and oats in a large bowl and let stand for one hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Grease a muffin tin and line with 9 cupcake papers.
  • Crack the egg into the oat and milk mixture; add sugar and grated ginger and mix to combine. Stir in melted butter.
  • Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, & spices. GENTLY fold into batter, taking care not to over mix.
  • Sprinkle in the zucchini and chocolate; fold them into the batter with a few strokes as possible.
  • Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into muffin papers. Top with a few raw rolled oats and a sprinkling of sugar.
  • Place muffins on the centre rack of the oven. Bake until light brown and tops spring back when gently touched, about 12-14 minutes.
  • Remove muffins from oven and cool in tins for 5 minutes. Lift out and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 300kcal

Happy Baking! Let’s bring fabulous muffins back, one batch at a time.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Marguerite Fortune says:


    Would 1 for 1 GF work for the flour?

    • Hi Marguerite, I haven’t played around with GF flours, but my readers have in the original post and I believe it works very well. Happy Baking!

  2. We LOVE muffins. I usually bake two dozen and freeze them in baggies of 4 and pull them out every few days for fresh baked muffins and coffee. It’s really nice when you have friends over and can impress people with a really well made muffin and coffee 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for writing about these muffins again – they are a family favourite from way back – since your original posting! I am looking forward to trying the zucchini variation and I am wondering what you mean by dried ginger in the recipe. Is it the usual ground ginger from the spice aisle, or something different? Thanks for continuing to give us great inspiration to provide tasty, healthy food for our families.

  4. Does this recipe “double” well? They look delicious!

  5. Hi Aimee,

    How many calories die these muffins contain?

  6. Still our favorite ever! A batch of these muffins used to last us the weekend, but we’ve added a couple more kids since you first published it, so now they’re gone after breakfast.

    Our standard mix ins are 3/4 cup shredded coconut and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Love the idea of sprinkling a few of the mix-ins on top to for a special touch.

    I rarely let the oats soak for an hour, but they seem to turn out just fine. For years, my Friday morning routine has been to stumble downstairs, dump oats, milk, and vinegar in a mixing bowl and let them sit while I warm the egg and butter in the pre-heating oven. I think I would long ago have memorized the recipe, if I wasn’t always making them before coffee. 😉


  7. My boys and I baked these today, using up some blueberries from the fridge. They were SO good!

    • Aw Jessica – thanks so much for coming back to let me know. I’m thrilled that your boys helped out. Here’s hoping this is a family favourite for years to come.

  8. Just made these for our snow day treat! We did half blueberry and half chocolate chip! So yummy, the kids loved them! We also used buttermilk as suggested

  9. We love these muffins, too! Thanks for the reminder to make them again. xo

  10. I still make these muffins regularly too, since your first post. I cannot believe it was 9 years ago. We’ve added a couple kids over here since then too 🙂
    Several times I have put the milk and oats in the fridge overnight to soak planning to make muffins in the morning and my oldest has spooned up a bowl of the soaked oats, warmed them up and eaten it thinking it was leftover oatmeal. LOL

  11. This is the recipe that introduced me to your site and has kept me coming back. This really are the best muffins ever. Favourite add ins over here include the raspberry and dark chocolate but also pumpkin with chocolate chips and blueberry with sliced almonds. Thanks for the re-post!

    • Kirsten James says:

      I am excited to try this recipe and was thinking about adding pumpkin, which i see you did! Was it successful being that pumpkin is so wet? Did you alter the recipe at all for adding puree?

      • Hi Kirsten,
        I got out my mixing bowl this morning and made up another batch with the pumpkin. I used a pie pumpkin which I had previously roasted to make puree and frozen then defrosted. I believe this is not quite as wet as the canned pumpkin you can buy at the store. I usually swap in whole wheat flour for the all purpose and I added an extra 1 Tbsp as suggested in the intro notes to ensure a spoon could stand upright in the batter. I used 1 cup pumpkin puree and just under a half cup of chocolate chips for a single batch. I also baked for 18 minutes. My other versions usually take about 16 minutes. They came out wonderfully once again so I would encourage you to have a try and let us know how they turn out!

  12. Any experience making them dairy free?

  13. I’m eager to try these with my kids. I’m sure they will be delicious as both Simple Bites cookbooks have become staples in our household. Is there a way to incorporate leftover bananas? We’re always looking for delicious and kid friendly recipes at the end of each week to incorporate the last couple of stragglers of the bunch.

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