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. These are completely amazing muffins. I’m wondering: have you ever done the milk/vinegar/oat soak overnight, in the fridge, or is that too much? I suppose I could also mix the whole batter up and refrigerate overnight, but I worry that gluten would form, with a loose batter like that, similar to no-knead bread (except that in that case, you want the gluten). In any case, thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  2. Trying these tonight – will use them for the kids this week (if they last that long – I’m sure not in my house)! I am tempted to add a splash of vanilla to the batter as I always love a hint of vanilla – but will try without first. I’ll be trying the blueberry white chocolate combo first!

  3. Got these in the oven at the moment. I had some oats and apples around which needed to be used, so I thought these muffins would make good work snacks during the week.

    I love that the oats are soaked first. I’ve always loved soaking things in milk (I’m a sucker for Swedish meatballs too).

    I managed to dig out some almonds and sultana’s to add with the apple, and I left the egg out so that it was at room temperature when it went in.

    I cant wait to try these! They seem like a fantastic staple muffin which will make a great snack between work and uni.

  4. I live in Spain and I’m always trying new American recipes. We don’t have the same beautiful oats as you do in Canada, but that’s ok, the muffins turned out great! I found some frozen blueberries at a local store, pretty tastelss I have to say, but hey, next time I’ll use apples or pears. Also I had to use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, not a problem.
    Thanks for the great basic recipe, I’ll try different add ins every week!
    By the way, of the 10 muffins I got out of the oven 10 minutes ago, there are only 5 left! My kids loved them!

  5. Love this recipe! Have made them three times with blueberries! They never “puff” up very much, stay pretty flat, no “muffin top.” Also they take me 20 minutes to bake. My only disaster with this recipe was subbing in 1 cup of mashed banana for the “mix in” fruit part. They never really baked properly, somehow managing to be raw on the inside and burnt on the outside. I think the banana just added too much moisture.

  6. Awesome recipe! I added chopped up cherries and chocolate chips for a batch I made for a chocolate covered cherry lover. They were a hit!

  7. I love your recipe! I wanted a healthy snack to put in my daughter’s school bag. I just wanted to know I put in 3 medium bananas as an add in item. They sunk a little, but I’m trying to figure out if my oven was too hot, I was using non stick pan that is dark or because the bananas are quite heavy maybe I needed to add more baking powder? Or less banana. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. They taste fabulous I can’t wait to make another batch! I’ve never seen my daughter eat muffins like these! Happy Cooking! :)

    • instead of mashing the banana, use a fresh, just past green stage, banana and chop it into pieces then fold in gently.

  8. hello! if I use buttermilk instead of vinegar and milk, should I still wait one hour soaking the oats?

    Thanks!

  9. Your recipe sounds yummy! I’m going to try it when I have an hour for the batter to sit, but I’m usually making muffins when the kids are leaving for school in less then an hour. Here’s my go to recipe….http://www.tinyurl.com/botmuffin
    Evelyn Cucchiara’s last post: 10 Best Organizing Tips for Playrooms

  10. PS – Hope you don’t mind – I borrowed your muffin quote – love it!
    Evelyn Cucchiara’s last post: 10 Best Organizing Tips for Playrooms

  11. I made them yesterday with grated yellow beets and raisins.
    It’s such a good breakfast! I love it.

  12. I think I’m going to try these soon, as I’m wanting to have a nutritious breakfast food I can eat quickly. Question, though: does apple cider vinegar work just as well as white, or does it have to be white only?

  13. I followed this recipe very closely but used soymilk instead of milk/vinegar or buttermilk, and brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar. I used frozen raspberries and dark chocolate chip for flavoring. I left my muffins in the oven for a little over 20 minutes but mine turned out quite greenish! Anyone had the same problem? In the pictures here the muffins look golden, how do I avoid the greenish colour?

    • I haven’t experimented with soy milk, so I don’t have an answer to your question, Betty. That is very strange. Sounds like an interesting science experiment!

  14. I apologize for the dumb question… but you how do you freeze the muffin batter and defrost it in teh morning? Do you freeze it in the tin and add time to bake?

    • Good question!

      Pre-scooped the batter into each paper lined muffin tin. Wrap it well with Sarah Wrap and freeze.

      Baking time will take 7-10 minutes than the original 20 minutes. I just remove the plastic, and pop the frozen muffin tin into the pre-heated oven.

  15. I’m not a big fun of Muffins but i gave a try to this recipe. Easy to follow, perfect and exact quantities; mine just out of the oven now, taste wonderful!!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. This recipe is amazing. I was in baking mood and looking for stuff I could use thinking I had a lot of oatmeal. I made a batch a few days before I found this recipe but when I found this one I wanted to try it too. They are delicious, moist and flavorful. I used craisins and chocolate chips as my add-ins, my friends loved them. Thanks Aimee!

  17. This truly is a wonderful muffin recipe…and a perfect base for endless possibilities! I just threw in some peanut butter and chocolate chips since I had partial bags of both left in my pantry. I am going to try the PB chips with coconut combo next time…and maybe cranberries and walnuts.
    Question. Have you made these using only wheat flour and not using oats? I am just wondering if you would have to cut back on the liquid part if you did it this way. I have another muffin recipe that is all wheat flour and not nearly as much liquid, but I always double the liquid called for in the original recipe because the batter is too thick. The muffins always come out perfect and puff nice and fat, which these did as well.
    For muffin tops…actually fill above the rim of your pan. Be sure to spray your pan first so they don’t stick. Get your batter about 3/4 of an inch above the pan, and then allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes before going into the oven. You will have huge, jumbo muffins with those nice, crispy muffin tops. Just remember that you’ll have less muffins in the end and a slightly longer baking time. So keep a watchful eye.

  18. Thanks for sharing that basic recipe! The possibilities of mix-ins seem endless. Can’t wait to give this a try!

  19. These muffins were AMAZING!
    I used soy milk instead of regular milk, 1cp wholemeal flour instead of white & vegetable oil instead of butter.
    First batch: raspberry& white chocolate cooked about 20min
    Second Batch: Chocolate & chocolate! 1 1/2 tbs dutch cocoa, 1cp dark choc chips, 1/2 cp white choco chps cooked about 15min

  20. HealthCastleGlo says:

    I love the idea of the raspberry dark chocolate combo. I’m wondering if you’ve tried soaking oats overnight instead of 1 hour for this recipe?

  21. I am opening a café/bistro next month and am definitely going to use this great basic recipe! The possibilities are endless here, and so yummy! Thanks very much!

  22. Sounds yummy! Any chance I could sub Almond Milk for the Milk?
    divai@BestSingleServeCoffeeMakers’s last post: Senseo 7810 Single-Serve Gourmet Coffee Machine

  23. i’ve made almost every flavor combination. hands down the best textured muffin recipe i’ve ever tried. today i only had raspberries and reese’s peanut butter chips on hand. if you get just the right bight, they taste like a peanut butter and raspberry jelly sandwich! thanks for the recipe.

  24. OMG! Just made these, awesome!
    Thanks for sharing, my mind is exploding with ideas for this recipe.
    I just made them with mini chic chips and a mixture of golden raisins, cherries and cranberries.
    Next up will be peanut butter and chocolate followed by plain strawberry then orange cranberry with pecans
    Thanks again, just wish I could share them with you!
    Love your blog.

  25. I made these last night and they were WONDERFUL! I sent them with my husband to work this morning and he said everyone gobbled them up!

    I wondered if you’ve tried subbing the butter for applesauce. I know it’s a common ingredient to sub, but can sometimes change the texture. Have you or anyone else tried that? Can’t wait to make these again!
    jessica lynn’s last post: Verona, Italy: Casa di Giuletta

  26. I was curious if you have ever tried freezing the batter in muffin liners for later baking. How they turned out? We love doing this with other recipes… It’s great for quick and easy mornings when you need to get out of the house and is great for when you have house guests, too. :) Thanks!

  27. Does any one use Peanut Butter in their muffins? Our family loves peanut butter with anything. Wondering how much to use, and if the muffins will bake properly. Any input is welcomed! thanks

    • If you’re still looking for an answer, I personally use peanut butter as the fat/oil when I’m making peanut butter muffins. It works best with old-fashioned peanut butter, and you use the same amount as you would butter (going by cups, not ounces).

  28. Peggy Livingston says:

    Hi. When I make muffins or cup cakes, I tend to have a muffin top which is not good if I want to frost. What am I doing wrong? I filled the cups about 3/4 full.

  29. Would I be able to use almond milk instead of milk? And would I still need to use vinegar then? & also, can you sub butter for appleasauce? I’m a total newbie here :3
    Kammie @ Sensual Appeal’s last post: Mocha Banana Protein Shake

  30. Aimee,
    I made the raspberry/dark chocolate and they were wonderful!

    How can I adjust a bit in order to make these just a little bit sweeter?

    Thank you.

  31. While you wrote this two years ago, I just wanted to let you know that I love this cupcake recipe! I keep using the cranberry & walnut recipe as a good breakfast on the go. Thanks for sharing the tips as well!
    Manda’s last post: A Mother’s Battle Part Deux

  32. Thanks, love the tips! Going to make these into “lactations muffins” by adding flax and brewer’s yeast :)

  33. Annette E Alvarez (@Tostobueno) says:

    I made your muffins on Saturday. Finally got back into cooking after recouping from Brain Surgery 12 years ago (takes a long time to get back into the swing) — so very happy that I was able to follow your recipe! My roommate said the muffins reminded her of ones her grandmother use to make. Even knocked on my door to ask when “are you making those yummy muffins again.” Here’s my questions — i shouldn’t over mix but I can taste that I didn’t mix enough. How can I tell when enough is enough? THANK YOU! My next venture is going to be a cake. Do you have a BEST CAKE RECIPE?

  34. I made them with blueberries and white chips. So yummy! I also did a blend of all purpose/white wheat flour and added pure maple extract, too. Loved them and can’t wait to try other mix-ins!

  35. Pinned this recipe! Can’t wait to try it with my littles.
    Taralyn’s last post: Summer of Service – Bracelets for Orphans

  36. Aimee: Wonderful recipe indeed, and very easy! I added 1 tbsp maple syrup, replaced all purpose flour with whole wheat flour entirely (I needed 1/4 cup more than your measure), replaced butter by vegetable oil entirely, added 1/2 cup just ripe banana pieces, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts- delicious! Thank you, I am surely trying more combinations with fruit and nut.

    Dhana

  37. Sounds like a great recipe! All that I would say is that from years of 4-H cooking I have learned one thing about muffins. All muffins will have a fryline if you grease the sides of the muffin tin. Greasing the sides also prevents each muffin from rising the whole way because it can’t grip the pan. When baking for “pretties” rather than convenience, only grease the bottoms of the muffin tins really well.

  38. So, I’ve had these in the back of my mind ever since you posted them 2+ years ago,… and I finally made them.
    And they are the best muffins I have ever, EVER made.
    I know that’s not a surprise to you, Aimee, so thank you for posting them and sharing muffins secrets, because you’re right – its hard to find a good muffin!
    I did alter it one way – I’m extremely sensitive to processed sugar, so I replaced the 1/4 cup brown sugar with 1/8 cup honey and a 2-3 scoops of stevia. Worked beautifully; still keeping the puffy awesomeness you promised we’d find with this recipe.
    Thanks again!

  39. Julie H says:

    Very Delicious!! I “sampled” four of them while feeding pieces to my 1yr old!! :) I doubled the recipe and put in the following…3/4 cup of each: raisins, grated carrot, coconut & choc chips! All of my other kids devoured these!! So…a small bag went into the freezer! I will definitely be keeping this recipe & experiment w/other add-ins! Thank You!

  40. dfisher says:

    These look amazing! Baking a couple of batches right now… Two questions: do you use salted or unsalted butter? Where in the oven do you place the rack – half, bottom third, etc.? Thanks!

  41. Mix mashed ripe bananas with the liquids instead of adding them into the dry ingredients as an add in.

  42. These are the best tasting muffins and easy to follow instructions ever! Thank You so much!

  43. Hi, thanks for the recipe… the muffins turned out fabulously, I’ve added rum soaked dried cranberries and chocolate chips… YUM!

  44. mix in the oven, had some trouble getting the right consistency..
    I added much more flower than the recipe asks for
    I added some soy bean cereal, banana, coconut, pistachios, M&M’s, and almonds and coffee (yeah i am crazy like that) – the batter tasted good though
    oh yeah and two scoop of protein shake (I’m an athlete)
    couldn’t find brown sugar so had to use white sugar
    we’ll see what comes out … hahahahaha Typing what I put in there makes it sound crazy – i made two times the batter size, so would be a big waste if it’s a total flop,..

  45. Rhonda F. says:

    My family loves these muffins. My almost 7 year old twins have been making this recipe with me since you first posted it. Just this week, one of them chose to make them for her first solo baking project. We make them with chocolate chips. I’ve been thinking of adding some peanut butter to the wet ingredients for a peanut butter chocolate chip muffin.

  46. Hi Aimee,
    The recipe looks amazing…will try it over the weekend :) silly question but I was wondering if I can make this muffin recipe in a small muffin/cupcake pan to give as snack for my daughter’s snack? have you ever tried it?

    Regards,
    Naima

  47. Just made these with apples and cranberries, and give them a huge A+!!!! Will be making again and again. THANK YOU!

  48. What would be the best way to incorporate pumpkin or sweet potatoes puree into this recipe? I am not sure how to alter the wet/dry balance. I would like to try a pumpkin/cranberry/pecan or sweet potato/pistachio combo.

  49. Hello,

    I was wondering if you could replace the butter with apple sauce to add an extra health factor?

  50. Hi,

    Your muffin makes me salivate! Never seen so much creativity in muffins, I just hope Kenny Rogers could offer as much variety to their muffins just like you have shown here.

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