How to Make the Best Muffins Ever

“A bad muffin is as memorable as a good muffin is unforgettable.” Br. Peter Reinhart

The true sign of a good muffin is that it elicits a reaction.

It can be a sigh, a pause, or maybe a closer inspection followed by a question or comment–usually made with a full mouth. Every time I serve these Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Muffins, still warm from the oven, I watch out of the corner of my eye for the reaction.

No matter how chatty a group of girlfriends get over their coffees, one bite into these muffins and the conversation slows to a crawl; for the moment, attention is diverted from boy talk and baby names to a perfectly moist, flavorful muffin.

Occasionally, I’ll get a “I usually hate muffins, but…”

And oh, I have been there. I don’t think I ate a decent muffin for the first twenty years of my life, and I had resigned myself to a reality where muffins were dry, tasteless (or overly sweet), and no match for a good scone or sticky bun.

The summer I was twenty, I worked a job in a kitchen where muffin-making was mandatory, and I faced a challenge: the dry muffin. Many hockey pucks, exploding volcanoes, and moon craters later, I had a few recipes worked out that actually brightened up my mornings.

Here are a few things I learned along the way…

10 Tips to Making the Best Muffins Ever

  1. Start with ingredients at 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 a few extra tablespoons 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. Slide a baking sheet under the muffin tin to help prevent the bottoms from getting too dark in the oven. This also helps with cleanup in case there is overflow.
  8. Take care not to over-bake the muffins.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in the pan at least 10 minutes before removing them, especially if they contain soft fresh fruit.
  10. Enjoy them fresh. If you must, freeze them, although I prefer to freeze the batter (without add-ins), then thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake the muffins fresh in the morning.

Recipe: One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins

Now the art of making muffins will never garner the solemn respect that bread baking and yeast-work deserves, still every one should have a solid muffin recipe in their repertoire.

The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. It is a base muffin recipe that can happily accommodate almost any add-in you like, and believe me, with the picky eaters around my table, I’ve tried quite a few variations.

One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins: Flavor Combinations

  • 1 cup Raspberries, fresh or frozen & ½ cup Dark Chocolate, chunked 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
  • ¾ cup White Chocolate, chopped or chips & 1 cup Blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup toasted unsweetened Coconut & ¾ cup Peanut-Butter Chips
  • 1 cup diced Rhubarb, fresh or frozen & ½ teaspoon Green Cardamom, freshly ground
  • ¾ cup Dates, pitted and chopped & ½ cup Pistachios
  • ¾ cup Golden Raisins & ¾ cup grated Carrot

One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins: Basic Recipe

Oatmeal is one of the constants in the recipe and provides, in my opinion, necessary texture.

Be sure to read the recipe all the way through before getting started. You will note that the oats soak in the milk 1 hour prior to assembling the rest of the ingredients, so take that into consideration before starting out.

Makes 12 medium muffins

  • 1 cup milk*
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup 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
  • add-ins of your choosing (see above suggestions)

Combine milk, vinegar and oats in a large bowl and let stand one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a twelve-cup muffin tin and line with cupcake papers.

Crack the egg into the oat and milk mixture; add brown 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 add-in and flavorings of your choice and combine muffin batter gently.

Use a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop batter into muffin tins. 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 rhubarb.

Remove from oven and cool in tins. To remove, run a sharp knife around the edges and pop muffins out. Enjoy!

*You may also substitute 1 cup buttermilk, and then omit the vinegar from the recipe.

How do you like your muffin? Full of fruit? Just the top? Feel free to share favorite recipes and tips with Simple Bites readers.

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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.

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Comments

  1. Christine says:

    I don’t have white vinegar on hand. Can apple cider vinegar be used instead?

    • Sure, Christine! So far, this recipe has been very versatile, rolling easily with the changes and substitutions. I’m sure a vinegar switch-up would be just fine.

  2. Greetings from Paraguay, Aimee!
    I enjoyed your muffins for lunch with a latte! I love the texture! Also, I was impressed that the recipe made exactly 12 muffins! That never happens, it’s always 11 or 13! :)
    I was wondering if this recipe doubles/triples well? Or when you make a batch for the freezer, do you make individual recipes?
    Also, if I increase the sugar to 1/3 or 1/2 cup, would I need to change anything else?
    Thanks again for the great recipe!
    Shilo

  3. oh my goodness…. I am for sure going to try this! (with every add on you have listed :)

  4. I’m hooked.
    Jennifer Jo’s last post: Keen on peaches- finally

  5. Sounds yummy! Any chance I could sub Almond Milk for the Milk? Two members of my family are dairy-free…

  6. I just finished making these muffins (raspberries + dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s)! And I am sitting on my hands to keep from eating all of them right now. And it doesn’t help that the juicy raspberries and the melty chocolate are helping this moist delicious muffin fall apart … right into my mouth! I think “best muffins ever” is a very apt description. Thanks for sharing the wisdom! :)

  7. Could these muffins be made using banannas? thanks

  8. Oh my these were so good! i live at 13,000 feet and was craving some good muffins! the only problem for me was that they didn’t really rise, i just need to figure out how to adjust the recipe! but thanks!

  9. Janice Burke says:

    I just folded up a batch of this! I am making them for my Sons Kindergarten Class Snack! It must be something healthy…So I googled Muffins and ran across your sight! I am double in this batch! I had to sub light country crock butter instead of real butter hope it turns out ok!!! :] I added raisins and chocolate chips….and a lil bit more brown sugar since I used Whole Wheat flour instead of white. Again I hope it turns out ok with all my changes…But I didn\’t have any white flour!…so nervous! I am only 29 years old and feel like such a young mother …just learning to really cook, I have messed up so many times but I figure I will never learn if I don\’t keep trying! ~I\’ll let you know how they turn out! …? for ya Whats the best way to store them over night? ~Thanks again Janice B

    • Good for you for trying something new, Janice. How did they turn out?

      I usually let my muffins cook and then store them in a Ziplock bag

      • Janice Burke says:

        I put them on a pan and wrapped them with foil so they were ready the next am for me to take to school, they had Chocolate chip in them so i didn’t want to make a big mess! lol But they WERE AWESOME!! The hubby liked them all the kids liked them the teacher said EVERYONE had chocolate all over their faces lol! would have loved to get that on camera! So excited to cuz they were super healthy i used whole wheat flour… and this is a huge issue with me, most days I ask my son what he had for snack at school and he says chips or cookies…they are supposed to be healthy snacks…So I am so happy to run across this, now I can make a diff type of muffin each time lol! I made another batch the very next night with raisins and apple! It was so Good, my whole family loved them including my 82 year old Grandpa! So glad i ran across this site! I have been sharing it with everyone on facebook! ~ i bough more supplies and muffins will be staple in my house hold!

  10. What if I used Quick Oats, I just looked in my pantry and that is what I have on hand..does it make a difference? thanks, they sound really good!

    • I think it would change the texture, Michelle, but this recipe IS very versatile, so give it a go! Just shorten the soaking time to like, 5-10 minutes.

      • Okay thanks! I did not want to head out to the store again, I was just there yesterday and I have a new container of (quick oats) so I may try it :)

  11. Your recipe sounds fabulous — love all the combinations. I’m curious to know whether you have ever tried it with vegetable oil instead of butter.

  12. Janice Burke says:

    Making my 5th batch now!!! Everyone Loves Them we have em for dessert, breakfast, lunches….But my only question is…do you have any idea what the nutritional values are? I use whole wheat flour…and then I can add the “add ins” myself if you knew what it was just for the muffin itself. ~thanks Janice

  13. Hi! I can’t wait to try these :) I was wondering–if I want to add dark chocolate and raspberry’s, how much should I add and should I increase the sugar?

  14. Hi Aimee. Muffins have always been a challenge for me and I so appreciate the great recipe! I made the basic and used a runny sour cream 3/4 c sour cream and 1/4 milk…in place of the milk and added chocolate chips and walnuts…they were great!! THANK YOU!!

  15. So, what went wrong ? I zealously followed every step and …. 8( They weren’t terrible but heavy and didn’t puff. I must be muffin challenged.

    • Really girl? I don’t know. They don’t rise very much anyway, but are definitely not heavy. You eat them here all the time, lol! Is your flour old?

  16. If I want larger muffins, can I just increase the amount in each muffin cup or do I need to adjust anything else?

  17. OMG! Just tried your recipe (sort of)! They are AWESOME! I used whole wheat flour, a can of pumpkin, and a box of frozen chopped spinach (defrosted & wrung out extensively) took my spinich & food processed it with a handful of dried cranberries (I have to be sneaky for my kids)…threw in a handful of chocolate chips…and added a little more brown sugar…oh and a little more brown sugar….
    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

  18. These were/are great. My only problems is that I used frozen raspberries and then you get all the juice with it, so they are actually purple in color. They needed to bake about 18 minutes in order to be called “done.” Oh, I also used 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 gold n’ white wheat flour. Yum.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  19. I have made these muffins for the past 3 weekends for my kids. They are very good! I especially love the texture of the oatmeal.

    It’s a bit hard for my 3 preschoolers to wait while the oatmeal soaks for an hour, so we usually need to have a pre-breakfast before the muffins are done :)

    I find that they turn out better if I bake them at 350 for about 21-22 minutes. They don’t get as brown on top and the inside cooks better.

    Thanks for sharing! These are very fun.

  20. Elizabeth L in Apex, NC says:

    Delicious! We used 1 c. fresh sweet cherries, chopped, and 2/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips. I also added 1/4 t. almond extract (because cherries + almond = wonderful and topped with some sugar-in-the-raw for crunch.

  21. I came across this recipe about a week ago, and I’m about to make my second batch — these are heavenly! I was looking for a heartier, less sweet, less cake-like muffin, and these are just perfect. Love the texture that the oats bring about. I made them with frozen blueberries and almonds that I had on hand (great!), and stocked up on other add-ins yesterday. Now all I have to do is decide on which variation to try next… decisions, decisions! :) Thank you for this great recipe.
    Ineke’s last post: Carve me- stuff me- eat me

  22. I really don’t know what I did that was wrong! They just didnt raise up(not even a little) and they were like boiling! So they baked for a longer period and now they’re hard on the outside and “not enought” inside. But…they’re yummy (at least! :) )

    • This is odd, Sabrina. I can’t imagine what happened. Don’t give up and try lowering the temperature to 350 and baking a little longer. Good luck!

  23. Aimée, ever since you mentioned these muffins at the SLM meetup in Tsh’s room, I’ve been thinking nonstop about making them. I have a tendency to always alter recipes. My husband just went over to the elderly neighbor’s house to give him some because we looooved them.

    Thanks for this.
    It was so awesome to meet you. You instantly inspired me.
    Katie

    • How fun! I don’t remember what I said about them… :) But I’m glad you tried them – and enjoyed them! I think I’ll make some in the morning. With grated carrot and a touch of molasses is a new favorite combination.

      Um, YOU’RE the inspiring one! It was super cool to meet you. I hope we stay in touch.
      ~A

  24. Hi there, I can’t wait to try these but had a q: do I neec to defrost and drain frozen berries 1st? Probably a silly question but have not had much experience with berry baking. Also any suggestions for replacing the egg. Thanks.

    • You could try replacing the egg with 2 T mayonnaise…or is it because of an egg allergy?In that case, substitute the egg with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon water. I can’t guarantee they will turn out to be amazing, though!

      As far as berries, I toss them in frozen. Blueberries, cranberries and the like. Just don’t add too many!

      Good luck!

      • Bethany says:

        Have you tried Egg Replacer? I haven’t made these muffins yet, but that’s what I use in every other muffin recipe to make them vegan and it works amazingly!

  25. I just pulled these out of the oven!!!! Can’t wait to take a bite! They smell wonderful. I made the raspberries and chocolate variation :) Thank you SO much!

    Blessings,
    Kate :)

  26. Add my name to the list of converts. Made a batch of fresh blueberry and white choc this morning… just finished a warm muffin with a cup of coffee. yum-my.
    Thanks for the perfect recipe!

  27. Hey-
    I never comment on these things, but it’s the second time I’m writing about these great muffins :)

    I was able to convert them to a gluten free recipe for my father in law who has celiac disease. Any time I see a recipe where flour is not the “star” I always think of trying to make a conversion. Since there is so much oatmeal in this recipe I thought it would mask the texture differences in gluten free flour.

    I used gluten free rolled oats, gluten free all purpose flour (needed 2 extra T. to get the thick consistency) and 1 t. of xanthan gum for holding it together.

    He loved them!

  28. Wow! These absolutely *are* the best muffins ever!!! And my husband totally agrees. Thank you for sharing the recipe! Thanks to you I will never have to go searching for a muffin recipe again! I added a couple Tablespoons of strawberry jelly as the add-in. Delish! I will definitely be trying all sorts of muffins with this!!!
    Alta’s last post: Homemade Laundry Detergent

  29. I am soaking my oats right now and was wondering if I could cut back on the butter? Possibly substitute 1/4 cup of butter for applesauce..

  30. I would like to make these into mini muffins for my daughter’s preschool class. How long should I cook them for? Is there anything else I should do differently?

  31. LindseyMarie says:

    Aimee~

    I made these muffins for breakfast on Sunday and they were *heavenly!* My family’s favorite! (and we too have had a lot of muffins in our day) I made the white chocolate and blueberry and I added some freshly-squeezed oj and some orange zest. I already know when I’m making these again! Thank you so much!

  32. I tried this recipe last night with the raspberry dark chocolate combination. So good!!!! In fact I have almost eaten them all they were so good. Can’t wait to try other combinations!

  33. Oh my goodness….these are amazing! I made two batches this morning, one with carrot and the other with banana (I always have over-ripe bananas in the freezer). I followed the tip to bake them lower and longer.

    All this time I was making muffins with quick oats and they were turning out with such a weird texture. Now I know better – Thanks!!!

  34. I was able to easily adapt this to a soaked recipe (soaked oats and flour w/ yogurt for about 18 hours to improve digestibility). I was a little worried that it would get over-mixed when I finally put it all together, but they turned out great! I also used about 1/2 white whole wheat flour and 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour instead of AP. I had to add in around 1/2 c. extra yogurt when I mixed everything up (probably due to the wheat flours). My add-ins were frozen blackberries with some lemon juice and zest… very tasty and I’d love to try the combinations you’ve come up with too! :) Thanks!

  35. I am so excited to be making these right now…
    I was wondering, what does the vinegar do for the cooking process and/or flavor?
    I am using white balsamic vinegar.

  36. The basic oats one sounds delicious…. I`ve never made anything from scratch though, so I`m gonna try that one >< I only have normal vinegar and white sugar though, will that be ok? Also, it`s for a bake sale, at my school, so what add-ins can you recommend for mainly sweet-toothed girls?

    • White vinegar and white sugar will be fine.

      As for add in? Chocolate chips (mini’s are great!). Blueberries.

      Good luck and have fun!

  37. Can I make them with cocoa instead of dark chocolate chunks/chips and a fruit mix in?

  38. Would love to try your muffin recipe but would like to know if I can substitute oil for the butter and if so what would be the quantity to use.

    • Yes, you can use canola or vegetable oil in place of the butter. 1/2 cup would do it. Enjoy!

      • I tried substituting oil, too, but found that I did miss the flavor of the butter. Now I make them with 1/4 c oil and 1/4 c butter and it gives me the good taste of butter but with less cholesterol. We continue to make these muffins very often and love them!

  39. Made these the other day – they were delicious! Is it possible to substitute apple sauce for the butter? If so, how much should I use?

  40. Rose Alice Hoerst says:

    I love baking muffins but sometimes, even though the muffin is throughly baked and the bottom and sides are lightly browned, the top isn’t. In fact, sometimes it looks almost raw (though it isn’t)> What causes this?

  41. The pictures itself tells how perfect these muffins are. I just hope my trial will go just as well. I’ve always loved blueberry muffins, but never really got a chance to make them myself. I’ll have to substitute the all purpose flour with a wheat free kind though, since someone in the family is going to get eczema outbreaks if I don’t do that. :)

  42. These sound wonderful! I’m wondering if mixed berries would be good in them. I don’t like chocolate and fruit and we can’t have nuts in our house.

    Linda

  43. Sabrina says:

    It’s my second time making them! The first time didn’t work out well…at all(I don’t even know what I did wrong). But this time, THEY ARE SO GOOD AND THEY LOOK GREAT! The only thing is that they are so big, I only have 8 of them…but that’s not really a problem.

  44. Hi,

    I tried this recipe and followed each and every step the way it has been mentioned, However, i was highly dissapointed with the outcome. The oatmeal made the muffins too dry and sugar was extremely low. I tried these without the oatmeal earlier which tasted little better (atleast they were eatable). I dont know what went wrong. There was no flavour of blueberries also. They were bland, dry and unattractive :-(

  45. Hey Aimee, I was searching on how to make muffins and then I stumbled upon your page. I am surely going to try this recipe. I love muffins :) THanks again

  46. Caitlin says:

    These weren’t the BEST muffins ever.. cause I can’t follow a recipe to save my own behind. They were good.. I just made them too wet. I used honey and applesauce and oil instead of sugar, butter and butter (LOL). I added grated carrots, walnuts and cinnamon. They were kind of bland, damp hockey pucks, but rather heavenly with some spicy apple butter smeared on top. :) Next time i’ll use sugar and follow the recipe right… LOL

  47. i just made these today and they are wonderful! Thank you so much for the great recipe.

  48. I would like to make these using roasted strawberries. Has anyone tried this and should the vinager and sugar be adjusted due to the roasting process of the fruit? These sound delish and I am pattng my feet waiting to try these out.

  49. What is your best suggestion for freezing these? Before they are baked or after? Thanks!

  50. Lady Banksia says:

    I love this site… I wanna be just like Aimee when I grow up, if I ever do… :^)

    Okay, with that stated for the record: These muffins are in the oven at the moment… can’t wait to try these, as I have been on the hunt for an exquisite, versatile go-to muffin recipe.

    My change-up’s: diced pear and pecans for add-in’s (wouldn’t a touch of grated Stilton been amazing in here?); all other recipe ingredients stayed the same, with the exception of subbing in 1/4 cup of mesquite flour (to which I am grateful for the access; it lends a ‘graham’-y overtone. Has no gluten, tho.) Anyway, I gilded this lily with a topping of sanding sugar, more finely-chopped pecans, toasted oat bran, and a few drops of maple extract to hold it together somewhat.

    I can run with the big dogs as far as chocolate goes, but it kinda makes this a dessert muffin as opposed to a breakfast muffin in my corner… but wait – muffins for dessert? I’m in!

    …okay, just a few more minutes…they need to finish before Hubby leaves for work…

    • Let me know how these turn out because they sound AMAZING!

      • Lady Banksia says:

        You pretty much nailed that one – they came out fabulous! The diced pear pieces were soft, but held their shape (I didn’t peel them), and therefore, didn’t get lost in the batter.

        You’re right with the instructions – a gentle hand is the best kitchen tool here. I mixed the butter and sugar first in a small bowl, the egg got the same pre-treatment, all in hopes that I wouldn’t overmix the batter. Literally, no more than 30 seconds of ‘folding in’ was needed.

        I gave it about 25 mins. altogether in the oven… this recipe is definitely one for the 3-ring binder I keep on the counter! Thank you so much for the ideas and the vote of confidence!

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