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. Hi!
    I have been craving a good substitute for plain old oatmeal with dried cherries, walnuts and/or apples bits and came across this recipe. I am wondering if the recipe would change any if I used a mini-muffin pan? Also I wonder how much I would use because obviously can use 1/3rd cup!
    If you have tried this with the mini-muffin pan, would you please advise what differences you have made in the recipe?
    Thanks for sharing!
    Leigh’s last post: On Apples and Fall {Recipe: Slow Cooker Apple Crisp}

  2. These muffins are the best! I have had a lot of difficulty making muffins in the past, having them turn out too dry, too dense, too much like cake, but these… these are just perfect. Thank you for this great recipe. It is definitely going in my “make often” collection.

  3. I love your tin. I always worry when I see muffins from a shiny new tin. Patina shows it’s used a lot and the cook probably knows what they are doing. Can’t wait to try your recipes.

  4. Hello Aimée – thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe! Could you please suggest some savory muffins options? Would this basic recipe work for tuna or ham-cheese muffins? thanx again and have a great weekend.

  5. Sarah Rinah says:

    I was sure there was no way I would have the same success you talk about with this recipe, certainly not on the first try. But as I bit into the muffin (blueberry and chocolate chip), I had that pause, take a closer look, reaction. They are so light and moist and yet hearty and flavourful. Wow! and I used whole wheat flour instead of white because I was out of white. Still fantastic! Thank you for posting this recipe.

  6. These muffins are magical. I have made them four times in the last month, and I can never wait to make them again! Thank you so much for sharing, Aimée!

  7. IT IS THE BEST MUFFIN I HAVE EVER EATEN

  8. Can you make these with almond milk? If so, would you need to make changes to any of the other ingredients? Thanks!

  9. Love, love, love your website! Thanks for the delicious inspiration!!!! :)

  10. Hello
    i would be grateful if you could give me any tips in how to get my muffins wet inside , i get the texture like if it’s a cake texture i want them to be like wet or heavy inside .. i don’t know if i explained well pls help
    thanks x

  11. Siti Hajar Muhamamd says:

    Thank you for sharing your muffin recipe. This is by far the best muffins EVER!! I have tried with all the recommended combinations of ingredients and MORE and find that the best is still Blueberry & White Chocolate. I will be experimenting with tropical fruits soon.

  12. If I don’t have rolled oats – only quick oats – could I still make them by omitting the 1 hour soak? I only ask because I have everything else I need at home and it would be a shame to have to go out just for oats. Thanks!

  13. Hello, I have a very similar recipe to this, but it’s a vegan/gluten free recipe. I use 1 tsp. guar gum to bind the flours. My question is, what is the purpose of the vinegar, and why does it need to sit with the milk for an hour? My recipe calls for vinegar too, but I always assumed that it would react with the baking powder & soda. I’d like the muffins to be fluffy. Thanks.

    • The vinegar makes sour milk, which reacts with the baking soda to create a fluffy muffin. The oats are soaked in the buttermilk to soften them. Happy Baking!

      • Thanks! But do you know a good Vegan recipe? I’ve been adding vinegar to the recipe…but they’re not very fluffy. Does the chemical reaction work with almond milk? :)

  14. I have been in search for a good muffin recipe for years!! Thanks to you I have found one….I made one batch with almond milk and another with oatmeal milk..and just 1/4 cup of organic non-dairy butter….Absolutely perfect, I will never need another muffin recipe…

  15. Nola Lauzon says:

    I’ve made many muffins throughout my life. I’m 71. I made these muffins replacing flour with whole wheat flour. Added toasted coconut and fresh strawberries. they are delicious. I’m diabetic and these have very little sugar so they are Grrrreat!

  16. Aimee! Hello there! I was searching for an appropriate place to post… not just in regards to these delicious looking muffins, but also just to tell you how much I love the values, traditions and food-knowledge that you’re instilling into the next generation of your family! It’s my dream to someday own a semi-rural property with my husband, where we can bring up our children with a real experience of garden (or farm) to plate, great nutrition and plenty of grass to roll in. For now, we’re living in a shoebox inner-city apartment that’s completely devoid of a garden. I attempted to grow herbs on our 1X2 metre balcony and they shrivelled in the Australian sun :( Anyway, thanks for sharing your recipes, experiences and inspiration with us. Love this blog and the beautiful writers behind it!! x
    laurasmess’s last post: Buttermilk Corn Fritters

  17. I LOVE this recipe and all the variations. Healthier than the typical muffin, but packed with flavor and super moist. I’ve shared this page with my readers as the go-to muffin recipe when hosting a brunch (http://wondermomwannabe.com/effortless-entertaining-host-a-brunch/). With all the variations, it’s easy to satisfy a variety of palates.

  18. Thanks so much for this recipe! I’ve always used store bough mixes and dressed them up with fresh ingredients. This past year I’ve taken to making far more things from scratch and now I can confidently serve magnificent muffins any time I wish! I added dates and a small dallop of cream cheese to the centres. They got rave reviews! Can’t wait to try more variations. Thanks again!
    Barb
    P.S. Love this site; heard about it through a mutual friend on facebook. Also a fun fact: I went to high school with your husband. Cheers to your successes and your beautiful family!

  19. I have been using your recipe for a year now, it never fails and your tips are spot on. I love the peanut butter and coconut combination the most but also do the raspberry and dark chocolate often. Kids and husband think I am an awesome muffin maker now. Thank you!

  20. I grew up on fantastic muffins of many varieties. They were my staple breakfast all through high school. My mom would make large batches on the weekend and freeze leftovers so her 4 children could have home baked goodness through the week. I still favor muffins for breakfast. Some of my current favorites use a coffee cake base with ham chunks and grated cheese or grated carrot and apple.

  21. Bernadette says:

    Hi there:)
    Can’t wait to try these! But….I only have Quick oats in the house, another reader asked if we can use quick oats and just omit the step of soaking the oats in milk, unfortunately there was no reply to this question….be grateful for an answer from anyone:)

    • This reply is very late, but I have made them three times now and have used quick cooking oats every time (because that is what I had). Works just fine, even letting them soak for an hour. I assume that the texture is a little softer, but I love them just the way I made them. Hope that helps.

  22. Hi Aimee,
    I couldn’t say long enough how much I like your Zuchinni/Chocolate bread, it’s more than delicious!!!
    My neighbor bake some and she brought me half of loaf for my husband and I. Since my husband is diabetic needless to say I ate the whole thing, and it didn’t take a long time either.
    I would have never think that those two ingredients will deliver such of unbelivable taste, but they do…
    Now I feel guilty because since my husband had a sniff of the bread, he imagine the flavor, so he has been dreaming about it.
    I asked my neighbor for the recipe and she send me the link to your wonderful page.
    Of course the recipe is there waiting for the taker, (lucky me), but I wonder, will substituting Splenda for sugar will still deliver the same flavor and what will be the right amount, seems to me that Splenda is sweeter than sugar.
    If you can answer my questions it will be great, but either way I have to try it, I have my husband reminding me how
    much he will like to try it… (not that he wants to make me feel guilty! ) :)
    Thank you for posting so many great recipes and thank you for all your wonderful simple bites of information.
    Espe

  23. Oh my golly gosh this muffin recipe is positively amazing! I was never a huge fan of muffins after eating way to many packet ones during primary school but exam study lead me to wanting something that i could justify eating for breakfast as I ran out the door. This muffin mixture has become my go to breakfast food and I love it so much! Thanks a million

  24. Chelsea says:

    Hi Aimee!
    Just made these muffins this morning, and they were delicious! I was wondering though, what does it do when you let the oats soak prior to starting? Is it just to soften them? I’m wondering what other recipes I can use this with..
    Thanks! -Chelsea

  25. Zina Taylor says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this outstanding oatmeal recipe. The muffins came out delicious, moist and flavorful. I am on a Paleo diet. These are some substitutions I used.
    Instead of
    Milk …. I used almond milk.
    Butter…I used coconut oil.
    White flour…. I used almond flour.
    I love all of your suggested add-ins. This way I will have many choices to try for my family.

  26. Kristin P. says:

    Hi,

    Would grated zucchini work as an add in for these? If so, how much would you recommend using? Or if I just wanted to use blueberries, would I still just use one cup even though I’m not also adding any nuts?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Kristen,

      I do grated zucchini sometimes, but just be sure to squeeze some of the water out first. 1/2 cup would be about right and they will take a few minutes longer to cook.

      1 cup of blueberries is good, yes.

  27. Kutlwano Semela says:

    Thank you so much 4 this recipe :) I love it!!

  28. I am making them now for the first time. :)
    I am excited to see how they turn out, your logic and use of oatmeal is spot on!

    I did have one question the oats as they are sitting in the vinegar and milk ( because of the need for ingredients to room tempiture) I assume are left out of the refridgarator for the hour of soak time, should they be covered? Uncovered? Or does it matter?

    Thank you again for your lovely story and recipe I hope they turn out!

    Buon appetito!
    Bettyboop

    P.S. have you ever thought about posting your recipes with mesrurments of grams, ounces and ml? It would be super helpful to get your recipe spot on the first time because the Internet conversion charts always contraindicated one another :) just a food for thought! Thanks again!

  29. Hi, could you please verify the cook time in the recipe? thanks!

  30. Hi Aimee. Would it be OK to soak the oatmeal overnight and then finish and bake the muffins in the morning?

  31. Ginette Cosgrove says:

    I love this variation myffin recipe:)
    Using up all of my Christmas cupboard left over ingredients and playing with new flavors
    Have a new one that I made yesterday
    1 cup frozen mango chopped 1/4 cup chopped almonds 1/2 cup coconut, worked well and had great color.my absolute favorite would have to be the white chocolate blueberry!!! Amazing!!
    Also have used 1 cup mixed frozen berries chopped up the strawberries a s 1 cup chocolate chips.
    When I make them I double the recipe then divide the batter and make 2 variations then freeze for scattered brain days:)

  32. 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 “real” cow milk (gross) but Greek yogurt is the best. You simply can’t fail with this absolutely marvelous 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!

  33. Kristina says:

    Hello

    I baked these muffins today and the flavour was wonderful. I made a few plain ones to see what the base would taste like and the others were pear and fig. I did make a few additions to the recipe because I like a bit of a sweeter muffin- sugar 1/3 cup + 1/4 cup honey (scant)
    ½ cup+ 2 Tblsp whole wheat flour, ½ cup flour, 1-2 Tblsp wheat germ, ¾ tsp cinnamon
    ¼ tsp ginger , 1 tsp vanilla

    Love the recipe. I look forward to trying new combos. Soaking the oats really helps soften and plump them up, just like a good bowl of oatmeal.

  34. These were great! I have never commented on a recipe before but these were so good. I used half cup whole wheat flour/half cup plain flour and 1/2 cup honey instead of sugar and filling of frozen blueberries and raspberries. Hoping to try and freeze some to see how they go defrosted for school lunches. Thankyou!

  35. Allison says:

    These muffins are fabulous! Just finished making them. My two year old, keeps bringing his stool up to the counter and grabbing more. I stopped him at 2 muffins, but he would eat all of them. I used fresh picked blackberrys and white chocolate chips which is what I had on hand, and whole wheat flour. The texture is so moist and the flavors are perfect. I swear this is the best muffin recipe and its pretty easy as long as you plan ahead. thank you!

  36. I made these tonight with blueberries and they were excellent! Subbed honey for the sugar and coconut oil for the butter, white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose, and yes, I’m as crunchy as I sound…

    Anyway, the whole family loved them!

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