Basic Muffin Recipe

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This basic muffin recipe is simple yet soft and buttery. The simple muffin base is easy to make and it can be flavored with a variety of mix-ins. You’ll be sinking your teeth into buttery, soft muffins in no time!

plain muffins on a white plate

I’m adding to my baking basics series with a plain muffin recipe that is great as it is or flavored with your favorite mix-ins. Try making cranberry orange muffins with this recipe. It’s superb!

Muffins fall into the “quick bread” category and are essentially flavored pancake batter that’s baked in muffin tins.

The traditional ratio for muffins and quick bread is 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part egg, and 1 part butter.

I’m not a fan of muffins baked this way because they are too soft and spongy. I prefer my muffins to be dense but soft in the middle and crisp on the top.

I started with the basic muffin ratio and adjusted the ingredients until I achieved the texture I prefer.

Why this basic muffin recipe works

  • The recipe follows the muffin method. The dry ingredients are mixed together in one bowl. The wet ingredients are mixed together in another bowl. Then, the two are mixed together just until combined.
  • The right amount of liquid is used to achieve a dense muffin that isn’t dry.
  • The batter is sturdy enough to support anything you’d like to add in. Blueberries, strawberries, lemon zest, and orange zest are just a few examples of mix-ins. I’ll leave more details on the variations down below.
Basic muffins on a marble cake stand

Basic Muffin Ingredients

Plain muffins call for standard pantry ingredients. You most likely have these on hand already. Let’s go over what you need…

  • Flour: All-purpose flour is what I used to develop the recipe.
  • Leavening: Baking powder is my choice of leavening for this muffin base.
  • Salt: Because no recipe is edible without a pinch or two of salt.
  • Butter: I prefer unsalted sweet cream butter when making muffins.
  • Sugar: Only a little sugar is used.
  • Eggs: You need 2 large eggs.
  • Milk: I used whole milk for the muffins but you can also use buttermilk.
basic muffins with one broken open so the inside is visible

How to make Basic Muffins

This recipe is so quick and easy, you could do it with your eyes closed! Not really, but you know what I’m trying to get at here. You need two bowls, a whisk, and a spatula. That’s it!

The Batter – A Basic muffin batter shouldn’t be too sweet. A good rule of thumb is to use as much sugar as butter. And take care not to over mix when combining the ingredients.

plain muffins on a marble stand

Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients

It’s as easy as it sounds. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and use a whisk to stir until everything is well combined.

Important note: Make sure you properly measure the flour before you begin. Don’t scoop the flour out of the container with the measuring cup. Flour compacts and you’ll end up with too much flour this way.

Instead, fluff the flour with a fork and lightly spoon it into the measuring cup. Use the back of a knife to level off the cup.

dry ingredients for basic muffins

Step 2: Combine the wet ingredient

The eggs and milk must be at room temperature. Set them out 30 minutes to 1 hour before you begin making the muffins.

I prefer to use melted butter that has cooled. It’s important to let it cool so it doesn’t scramble the eggs when you mix them together.

In a large bowl, add the melted and cooled butter, eggs, and milk. Use the whisk to stir until everything is well combined.

wet ingredients for basic muffins

Step 3: Combine the wet and dry ingredients

Dump the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Use a silicone spatula to fold the two mixtures together just until all the flour is moistened.

You want to be extra careful here because over mixing will result in a tough, chewy muffin. Once you see no visible streaks of dry flour, stop stirring!

It’s okay if the batter is lumpy. That’s completely normal for muffins.

basic muffin batter in glass bowl

Step 4: Bake

Line a muffin pan with paper liners or you can lightly grease the muffin cups.

Divide the batter evenly between 12 muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes. The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

unbaked muffins in muffin tin

Tips for making the best muffins

  1. You can use oil instead of butter but keep in mind that the texture of the muffins will be much softer.
  2. A combination of oil and butter works well! Use ¼ cup of oil and ¼ cup of melted butter.
  3. Make the muffins gluten-free by using Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.
  4. Buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt can be used in place of whole milk. If you wish to use Greek yogurt, you’ll need to thin it with water first. I’ll leave detailed instructions in the recipe down below.
close up of a basic muffin

Variations to try

You can mix in different extract flavors, your favorite fruit, nuts, even savory options. The possibilities are endless with this base recipe, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Blueberry Muffins – Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in ¾ cup to 1 cup of fresh blueberries. Raspberries and diced strawberries also work well.
  • Cranberry Orange Muffins – Replace ¼ cup of the milk with orange juice. Stir in 1 tablespoon of orange zest. And fold in ¾ cup to 1 cup of fresh cranberries.
  • Apple Cinnamon Muffins – Use brown sugar instead of white sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Fold in ¾ cup to 1 cup of diced apples. Any tart baking apple works great!
  • Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins – Replace ¼ cup of the milk with fresh lemon juice. Stir in the zest of 1 lemon. And stir in 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds.
  • Chocolate Chip Muffins – Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in ¾ cup to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Coarsely chopped baking chocolate will work great also.

If you like this basic muffin recipe, try these others:

Basic Muffin Recipe

basic muffins with one broken open so the inside is visible
This basic muffin recipe is simple yet soft and buttery. The simple muffin base is easy to make and it can be flavored with a variety of mix-ins. You’ll be sinking your teeth into buttery, soft muffins in no time!
Jen Sobjack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Serving Size 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) milk, oom temperature
  • ½ cup (114 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners; set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, butter, and eggs together until well combined.
  • Add the flour mixture and stir with a silicone spatula just until combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar if using.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
  • Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Muffins are best the day they are made but they can be stored for later use.

Video

Notes

  • You can use oil instead of butter but keep in mind that the texture of the muffins will be much softer. Choose a flavorless oil like vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, or safflower oil.
  • A combination of oil and butter works well! Use ¼ cup of oil and ¼ cup of melted butter.
  • Make the muffins gluten-free by using Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.
  • Buttermilk, sour cream or regular yogurt can be used in place of whole milk. If you wish to use Greek yogurt, you’ll need to thin it out by mixing ¾ cup of Greek yogurt with ¼ cup of water.
Variations
  • Blueberry Muffins – Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in ¾ cup to 1 cup of fresh blueberries. Raspberries and diced strawberries also work well.
  • Cranberry Orange Muffins – Replace ¼ cup of the milk with orange juice. Stir in 1 tablespoon of orange zest. And fold in ¾ cup to 1 cup of fresh cranberries.
  • Apple Cinnamon Muffins – Use brown sugar instead of white sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Fold in ¾ cup to 1 cup of diced apples. Any tart baking apple works great!
  • Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins – Replace ¼ cup of the milk with fresh lemon juice. Stir in the zest of 1 lemon. And stir in 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds.
  • Chocolate Chip Muffins – Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in ¾ cup to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Coarsely chopped baking chocolate will work great also.
Make ahead tip
  1. Store the muffins in an airtight container and at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
  2. The muffins can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw one or all of the muffins in the refrigerator overnight. Or place a single frozen muffin in the microwave for 40-60 seconds.

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffin | Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 125mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 301IU | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American

206 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Wegener says:

    5 stars
    Made these in a pinch. I probably used too many substitutions. I haven’t baked in a while. I just needed a quick snack. I substituted oil for melted butter, and water for the milk. I added a splash of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. I was out of eggs and milk. For the eggs I substituted the proper amount of sour cream. They kind of turned out into sour cream rolls of some kind.

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Glad to hear the recipe was okay even after all the changes.

  2. They tasted okay… but they were SUPER dense

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      If they were super dense, you may have used too much flour by accident. How did you measure the ingredients? Using cups or a kitchen scale?

  3. Anonymous says:

    4 stars
    These are awful. I previously used this recipe all the time a few years ago, including the suggested variations. I made these again yesterday and they are garbage. There is way too much flour and resemble a dense tasteless cake rather than a fluffy muffin.

  4. I tried this recipe 😋 it come out perfect I love it

  5. 5 stars
    I love this recipe for many reasons. They’re easy to make, and bake in a short time not to mention how delicious they are. I make them in the morning before I go to work and everyone at work loves them.

  6. 5 stars
    Many times when I bake I want to move fast, and I don’t need a recipe for all the possible variations. Just give me a solid base and I’ll happily toss in whatever seems good from what I have on hand.

  7. Briana hines says:

    If I were to do 48 mini muffins would the cook time change

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Mini muffins would require less baking time. You’d need to keep a close eye on them.

  8. HappyHappy says:

    I have been looking for a nice Base for a muffin for a long time. My husband is Diabetic & has a heart condition & I need to eat Gluten & Milk free. I tried this basic recipe to see what it was like in it’s original state. FANTASTIC! FLUFFY! LIGHT! so… I then tried it using Splenda so it would be good for my husband. I put blueberries & chocolate chips in his. They rose fine, were still light & fluffy. So tasty! Then I did the recipe to make for myself. I used 1-1 flour, soya milk, becel vegan margarine, apples & cherries & the rest is history. Mine did not rise quite as tall as the others but was still light, fluffy & tasty. Way to go. Thank you so much for such a versatile recipe. Our elevation also has a lot to do with our baking that does not turn out. We live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It sits at an elevation of 1,048 meters (3,438 feet) above sea level. It might be a nice touch if you added into your recipes where they were created & what the elevation is so it can be compensated if need be for elevation.

  9. Can I use oatmeal I love oatmeal muffins

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Not with this recipe.

  10. I followed this recipe to the T and they came out sooooo delicious and fluffy. They taste like warm buttery bread🤤 I drizzled a bit of warm honey on half of them and that was an excellent addition but they’re also great plain. These would make a wonderful addition to a breakfast plate without being too heavy. Recommend 100%

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