Ina Garten’s Clever Tip For Baking Muffins Ensures They Turn Out Great Every Single Time

published Oct 8, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

One thing I enjoy as a recipe tester is testing muffins. Whether making them sweet or savory, muffins are my go-to when I need something to eat in the morning or when I need a little pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon. They are easy to make and freezer-friendly, and many muffin recipes call for pantry staples I already have at home. 

Whenever I bake muffins, there are tips from Ina Garten I always keep in mind. I trust Ina with her expertise and these tips minimize mess and ensure perfectly baked muffins. If you’re like me who makes muffins a lot, follow these tips for a mess-free muffin that’s perfect every single time.

Grease the top of the muffin pan (and the whole muffin tin).

It can be daunting and frustrating to see beautifully baked muffins get stuck in a pan. Ina suggests coating the top of the pan, in between each individual muffin cup to prevent muffins from sticking. A quick spritz of a nonstick cooking spray (I use PAM) on top of the muffin pan will help make muffin removal easier.

Plus, if you happen to accidentally fill the muffin cups with a little too much batter (who hasn’t?), you won’t have to worry about the muffin tops rising above the top of the muffin tin and getting stuck or burnt. And besides, a sky-high, bakery-style muffin top is a great way to start the day!

Also, grease each individual muffin tin if you’re not using paper liners. Another way to grease muffin pans is to use melted butter and a pastry brush. Dip a pastry brush into the melted butter and use it to lightly coat each muffin tin. Make sure you get the bottom, sides, and corners of the cup. If you don’t have a pastry brush, use a folded paper towel, dip it in the butter, and coat the inside of the muffin tin. 

Additional Tips from Ina for Making Muffins:

Use an ice cream scoop.

When I first made muffins, I would use either a spoon or my GIR silicon spatula to scoop out the thick, lumpy batter and place it into the muffin tin. And oh boy, it was messy. I learned about using an ice cream scoop and since then making muffins has become easier. Using an ice cream scoop equally divides the batter in each muffin tin and it doesn’t spill around the pan, so it makes less of a mess. 

Add sugar on top for some crunch. 

A sprinkle of coarse sugar on top of the batter before baking offers a hint of crunch, sparkly muffin top. While muffins are baking in the oven, the sugar topping crystalizes so it sticks to the tops. Sugar adds texture and crunchiness to the muffins, and it is a nice way to jazz up with your favorite toppings. Turbinado sugar is a great option for a sparkly effect, or opt for sanding sugar to create a shiny, polished look. 

Keep your thermometer in the oven.

Ina suggests keeping a thermometer in the oven to ensure a perfect temperature. That way, it will give you a more accurate temperature reading of the inside of your oven. While ovens have hot spots, I usually put my muffin pan in the middle of the rack for even heat distribution and rotate it halfway through baking to counteract any hot spots. Using an oven thermometer helps make sure the heat is just right and that muffins are not burning on the outside.