5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Muffins

updated Sep 1, 2022
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

It doesn’t matter if they’re sweet or savory — homemade muffins are a timeless and comforting breakfast. (Especially when your morning involves grabbing a breakfast sandwich or quick bite as you dash out the door.) Fill them with fruit or veggies for a healthier spin, or go for something more indulgent. Either way, fresh-baked muffins are a total treat.

As you crank up your oven for your next batch of muffins, be sure you’re not making any one of these muffin missteps.

1. Overmixing the batter.

Good muffins are meant to be pillow-soft, light, and airy. And believe it or not, the way you mix the batter has a big impact on texture. If you have the impulse to keep mixing, and mixing, and mixing, resist it at all costs. When you overmix the batter, it crushes the air bubbles and ruins the fluffy texture.

→ Follow this tip: To ensure a batch of light, fluffy muffins, mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until just barely combined, and no more dry flour is visible.

2. Not lining or greasing the pan.

When you forget to use a muffin liner or grease the cups before adding the batter, removing fully baked muffins is a lost cause.

→ Follow this tip: To easily remove the muffins from the tin in one piece, be sure to use a liner, make your own liner with parchment paper, or grease each of the muffin cups with butter before adding the batter.

3. Overfilling the muffin cups.

We all want to bake beautiful muffins with tall, domed tops, but filling the muffin cup all the way to the top is not the way to make that happen. What you get instead is batter that rises and seeps across the pan, and — worst-case scenario — spills into the oven. In short, it makes a mess.

→ Follow this tip: Fill each muffin cup to about three-quarters of the way full.

4. Overbaking or underbaking the muffins.

Take the muffins out of the oven too soon and they’re sticky and uncooked at the center. Bake them a few minutes too long, and those once-moist and fluffy muffins run the risk of turning dry.

→ Follow this tip: Ovens all have their individual quirks, so while you should still follow the bake time in the recipe, use a toothpick or cake tester to test the muffins a couple minutes before. Bake muffins just until a tester comes out clean once inserted into the middle of the muffin.

5. Leaving the muffins in the pan to cool.

After taking them out of the oven, don’t leave muffins in the hot tin to cool. Instead of immediately starting to cool, the hot pan will continue to cook the muffins, which might cause them to dry out.

→ Follow this tip: After removing the muffins from the oven, give them a couple minutes to cool off a little, and then remove them and transfer to a cooling rack.

What’s your best advice for baking really great muffins?