Basic Muffin Recipe

There are all kinds of muffin recipes out there, about as many as there are quick bread recipes (if not more). That’s what American muffins are of course, portion-sized quick breads. But more on that later. This recipe will work with lots of different inclusions…berries especially, but chocolate chips, nuts, all sorts of stuff. It’s a great launching pad for any of your own ideas.

10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
4.25 ounces (1/2 cup) sour cream or buttermilk, room temperature
2 ounces (1/4 cup) milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 1 1/2- 2 cups fresh or dried berries (3/4 – 1 cup chocolate piece or nuts)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin mold. Sift the dry ingredients except for the sugar together into a medium bowl. In a large bowl cream the sugar and the butter with a wooden spoon until it’s light and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture one at a time, then the sour cream, milk and vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl and gently fold it all together, leaving a few spots of unmixed flour. Add the…whatever, and stir until it’s all just incorporated. Fill the molds about 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and eat!

27 thoughts on “Basic Muffin Recipe”

    1. Thanks for asking that question, Julie. Frozen berries are in fact preferred for everything but blueberry muffins, as things like raspberries and cranberries tend to weep juice and stain the crumb if put in fresh. Fold in the frozen fruit, pan it and bake it quick and you should have fairly “weep-free” muffins.

      – Joe

  1. Hi Joe,
    You may be getting to this, but I will ask anyway. How do you change this basic recipe to add in things like pumpkin puree, smashed bananas, apple butter, etc…? Would you swap out the sour cream? milk? both? or is it something entirely different? Do you have to worry about acidity if you add a fruit puree? Thanks!

      1. I’m sure I’m just missing it… But, I would love a reiteration of your answer to Eva’s question.

        p.s. Thanks for being so awesome!

        1. Hey Kyla!

          I never did hear back from her, did I? There’s really no single answer for that question, since these sorts of flavorings all have different moisture content, acidity and so on. If you were going to start improvising I’d say that yes, swapping out the sour cream would be a good place to start. But be prepared to have to tweak a little after your first attempt!

          Cheers and thanks for being persistent about Eva’s question! 😉

          – Joe

  2. I have been trying to master muffins for years. The ones I want to make are the ones of my decades old memory that crowned in high peaks. I have never managed more than vaguely domed.

    I have fooled with the ratio of dry and wet ingredients and the heat. The closest I’ve come is preheating a stoneware muffin “tin” to 400+? and then dropping the oven back when the batter goes in.

    What am I missing?

    1. More mixing will make higher domes, but honestly, I don’t think high crowns are all they’re cracked up to be! (See most current post). 😉

      – Joe

  3. I love the yummy classic muffins! The perfect treat for my girls – I think I’m going to make these this week. Thank you for the recipe!

  4. Could you give this a try? I tried making it many times and it never worked for me. After adding chocolate, the mixture curdles and I couldn’t form a smooth emulsion unless I add another egg or something, but then I activate too much gluten and it’s also too gummy. I even e-mailed the author and the newspaper team wrote back to me that it’s been tested many times and many readers have had resounding successes with it… Would love to see you laying your hand on them…

    1. Hey Henry! The link and/or recipe you were trying to send didn’t come through. Would be so kind as to try again?

      – Joe

  5. Hi,
    Do you guys have a basic recipe for king sized muffins?
    The pan holds six muffins only.
    Do I need sour cream? Is this in place of something else?
    Thanks for the help.

    1. Hi Robert! You can just distribute the batter between the larger cups. Use the same temperature, but bake about ten minutes longer.

      – Joe

  6. HI JOE! I live in South Africa and we’re crazy about savory muffins over here. How would one modify the recipe for a savoury muffin, so if I wanted cheese and herb muffins? Or spinach and caramelised onion? Should I just add some of the required items or would I need to reduce any of the other components. Thanks for a great site. Lezell

    1. Hello Lezell! Nice to hear from you. In fact you can use almost identical proportions for a savory muffin. Here’s one that calls for chives and cheese (and bacon), and as you can see it’s almost the same, save for the amount of sugar. The procedure is identical, though you can skip the creaming step.

      10 ounces all-purpose flour
      2 teaspoons baking powder
      ½ teaspoon salt
      1 ounce butter, melted
      1 ounce sugar
      2 eggs
      8 ounces (1 cup) milk
      1 cup cheddar cheese , shredded
      4 slices bacon, crisped and chopped
      ¼ cup minced fresh chives

      1. Awesome! Thanks Joe, its Sunday morning here, I’m going to try out that recipe right now for brekkie. By the way, I’ve used so many of your tutorials and recipes over the past two years …and you really have de- mystefied so much for me. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to make pate sucree, creme pat, profiteroles etc. Thank you so much.

        1. Lezell, You made my day! Thanks so much for the very kind note. I hope they worked for you!

          – Joe

  7. Hello, Joe. Thanks for sharing such a genius blog!

    Is there a possibility of using this basic muffin recipe for a lemon muffin recipe? I’m still looking for the lemon muffin recipe that will steal my heart… and I’m a huge sour cream fan! I imagine lemon zest is a must, but can I actually add some lemon juice without screwing out the recipe? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hey Frivola!

      Try this:

      4.5 ounces (2/3 cup) sugar
      zest of one lemon
      10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
      2 teaspoons baking powder
      1/4 teaspoon baking soda
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      juice of one lemon
      6 ounces (3/4 cup) sour cream
      2 eggs
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      4 ounces ( 1 stick) butter, melted

      Rub sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers. Whisk in the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, vanilla and butter. Fold the the mixture together and divide batter among cups in a muffin mold. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. Drizzle on an icing made of 1 cup powdered sugar and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice.

  8. Aloha Joe,
    You Bring Me Sunshine between bouts of heavy rain. I live down a dirt road about 5 blocks from the ocean on the Big Island. Your lemon muffin recipe calls for “juice of 1 lemon”. Some of my Meyer Lemons are the size of your fist and some of my Navel Oranges are the size of grapefruits. I have 3 questions:

    1. How much lemon juice should I use?
    2. Must I use muffin/cupcake papers?
    3. Can you tweek the recipe for pineapples?

    I want to make them for my ukulele kanikapila group.

    Mahalo to the max!!!

    1. What a delightful thing to say, Barbara! Great questions. Here are the answers:

      1. 3 tablespoons
      2. No…just butter the mold so they don’t stick
      3. Yes you can use pineapple…just drain it a little if it’s really juicy

      I know what ukulele is, but not a kanikapila. But have a great one whatever it is!


      – Joe

  9. Hi Joe Iam new on you web please do give me a basic recipie for carrot muffins am also interested in th dome and cracked tops how do i go about ir? Thnks

  10. Hello Joe,

    I love your site. I have made more than a few of your things and they always turn out. I have a general question though that connects to muffins. I use an amazing recipe I found in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking Every Day that uses much of what you have in your basic recipe here except 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup oil, 1 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1 tsp soda. I always make sure the eggs are room temp and I always use 1/2 cup brown sugar (instead of 3/4 cup or more that is often suggested in muffin recipes). These muffins are a knockout. The crumb is always perfect. I have become known for these and the many French people in my life really appreciate that they are not too sweet. I make blueberry with lemon zest, cranberry orange, and so on. I often add whole grain, subbing in 1/2 cup of corn meal, or buckwheat, for instance. What I don’t understand is why the ratio of flour-to-oil-to sugar can be so different in this recipe I use than is typical and yet they turn out so well. I know baking is largely about ratios and have tried to find out why I can have 2 1/2 cups flour to relatively little fat and sugar and yet have moist, high muffins with a delicate crumb. Is it the buttermilk?

    If you are not too tired from reading this long comment already, what I am most curious about is: What determines how much sugar is optimal for the crumb? I make my carrot cake (kind of similar to your recipe) with only 1/2 cup oil/melted butter and 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar and it has a normal, cakey crumb. But that’s carrot cake, a pretty forgiving thing. I cut the sugar slightly in almost all the cakes I bake but am always scared to cut it back too much (even though I would prefer the taste this way) because I don’t want to ruin the whole thing (and I am usually baking cakes for special occasions and don’t want to risk messing up). Any insight you could share would be very much appreciated.

    Also, in response to a comment above, I have learned that if I lighten the buttermilk with water (i.e. use 1 cup buttermilk and 1/3 water) or especially if I use a buttermilk powder with water, the muffins puff up really high and have quite the dome. Commercial buttermilk is very thick, so I am supposing that the thinner liquid helps the muffins rise.

    Thank you again for all you share. It is inspiring. And I love your photos.

  11. I have to agree with Paola, John’s stuff sure come out fantastic, every time. Before finding this site i feel i was stumbling in the dark.

    I usually pre-mix my milk and sour cream and use this in fact when recipes call for buttermilk(i use just a bit of sour cream and let the milk sit at room temp), but especially in this recipe.

    If i could only figure out how to make a muffin with a single large creamy chocolate center. I once had something like this in a restaurant, and the texture of that dessert on the outside reminded me so much of the way these come out, it’s eerie.

    But getting the filling right and especially after being frozen and thawed, is a challenge for my limited abilities.

    Big thanks not only to John, but to people like Paola for adding to the art.

      1. Too little sleep, too many muffins. Substitute Joe for John in my post, dear readers!

        (I’m not the expert, Joe is)

        1. I suspected that’s where you were going, John, but didn’t want to toot my own horn!

          You know, more than I normally do at least.

          – Joe

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