Filed Under: Breakfast | Dessert | Muffin | Videos

Ultimate Muffins

Recipe By Tessa Arias
November 30th, 2017
5 from 9 votes
5 from 9 votes

This Ultimate Muffin recipe is THE master muffin base that is perfectly flavorful, tender, and moist. The flavor and add-in options are limitless!  Download my free Ultimate Muffin Guide here! 

Yield: 12 muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: The muffins themselves are sweet, but not too sweet, and surprisingly flavorful thanks to the buttermilk and butter. Of course, they’ll take on the flavor of whatever you add to them!
Texture: Soft, tender, and moist. Perfect!
Ease: These babies are so easy, anyone could make them. Whatever you do, just don’t overmix the batter.
Appearance: A plate of these on your breakfast table is bound to make anyone a morning person, at least for a few minutes.
Pros: This is the master basic ultimate muffin recipe that you can turn to time and time again and customize with whatever you have on hand, or whatever you’re craving!
Cons: None!
Would I make this again? Oh yes. Over and over.

A few years ago I posted my Ultimate Guide to Muffins where I made eight (!) experimental batches of muffins. I did it to figure out what exactly makes them moist, crumbly, tall, flat, tender, or tough.

Like I’ve done with my Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie and Ultimate Brownie recipes, I knew I had to take the experimenting insights to create the Ultimate Muffins!

This Ultimate Muffin recipe is THE master muffin base that is perfectly flavorful, tender, and moist. The flavor and add-in options are limitless!

So, here it is!! This is my version of the *ultimate* muffin. They’re tender, moist, and fluffy. If you want to know the whys behind the recipe, such as why I start baking at a hotter temperature or why I love using buttermilk, check out my Ultimate Muffin PDF guide. Otherwise, just relish in the fact that if you have similar muffin preferences to me, you’ve finally found the muffin recipe! The one you can turn to over and over and know it’ll work.

I love this recipe because you can literally add WHATEVER you want to it. The flavor and add-in options are endless. You can see a few of them in the photos. I’ve included a bunch of mix in and flavor options in the actual recipe below to give you some measurements and ideas, but feel free to go crazy!

Chocolate Chips are just one of the flavor options you can use with my Ultimate Muffin base recipe!

That Ultimate Muffin PDF guide. I mentioned has even more flavor options, as well as pictures and insights into the science of muffin baking.

Chocolate Chips are just one of the flavor options you can use with my Ultimate Muffin base recipe!

I really hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. I think you’re going to love it. I know I just love having the ultimate version of any beloved recipe treat, it makes baking that much more fun when you know you’ll be successful in the kitchen.

I put a lot of time and energy into creating all my recipes, but especially on these Ultimate Guides and ultimate recipes. I believe baking doesn’t have to be intimidating or complicated and learning how it all works (and why it doesn’t work sometimes) is the key to having baking successes instead of fails. I’ve done all the fails for you! I’ve turned everything I learned from culinary school, writing a cookbook, and doing endless kitchen experiments into recipe wins for you.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins are the perfect fall treat! Made with my Ultimate Muffin base recipe.
This Ultimate Muffin recipe is THE master muffin base that is perfectly flavorful, tender, and moist. The flavor and add-in options are limitless!

If you’re interested in learning more about the science of baking and getting all of my best baking secrets in one place, I think you’ll love The Magic of Baking. It’s my new online baking class and the feedback I’ve gotten from the first students has been incredible! Check it out here.

(This post was originally published in 2014 and recently updated with new photos, a new video, and a new PDF guide.)

5 from 9 votes

How to make
Ultimate Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
This Ultimate Muffin recipe is THE master muffin base that is perfectly flavorful, tender, and moist. The flavor and add-in options are limitless!  Download my free Ultimate Muffin Guide here! 


  • 2 cups (254 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if desired)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick cooking spray (or both).
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup beat together the buttermilk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir JUST until combined, do not overmix. Divide evenly among the muffin tin cups.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400°F (don’t forget this!!). Continue baking until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about another 12 minutes.


  1. Add about 1 cup chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, candy, etc.

For fruit muffins:

  1. 1 1/2 cups fruit (such as berries, apples, etc.), finely chopped and well drained
  2. If using fruit, add in with the dry ingredients to make sure the fruit stays evenly distributed and doesn’t sink to the bottom.

Banana muffins:

  1. 3/4 cup mashed overripe banana (from about 2 small bananas)
  2. Add in with the wet ingredients.

Lemon Poppy Seed

  1. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  2. 1 large lemon, zested
  3. Add the poppy seeds with the dry ingredients and the lemon zest with the wet ingredients.
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Baby June — October 24, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Awesome post! So many choices, sounds like this is a very versatile recipe! Love the ultimate guide to muffins too, thanks for sharing that one 🙂

  2. #
    Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron — October 24, 2014 at 5:43 am

    I love your guides and posts – cookies and the muffins have been amazing and so informative!! These muffins definitely look like the “ultimate” choice! They remind me of Starbucks muffins – which are the best in my book!

  3. #
    Tiana — October 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for the great recipe! 🙂
    How about a guide to “scaling recipes”? There are many times we want to halve a recipe or double it for occasions and the baking time does not undergo the same change of being multiplied by a whole number. Consequently, the baked goodies do not turn out the way they’re supposed to.
    Also, when one tries to adapt a cake recipe for cupcakes or vice-versa, there’s a chance of things going terribly wrong.

    Would love it if your next guide shed light on the same.

  4. #
    Jasmine — October 24, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Could you pleeease do a recipe for macarons? Please? But not the ones that take 3 hours – could you create a simpler recipe? Thanks!!

  5. #
    Siobhan — October 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Made these today and they are AMAZING!!!! Tessa is a god, The ultimate guides series is so interesting. Highly recommend. These were a roaring success. Will be making again! 10/10.

  6. #
    Tania — October 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Hi these sound great and I agree it is disheartening when you bake and it just does not turn out right. Question – with regards to the buttermilk do you use store bought or make your own and if so did you find a difference in the texture/outcome? My home made buttermilk tends to be thinner than store bought (though that could be my patience level). I do love you posts and reading all about the processes.
    Cheers T

  7. #
    Claudia Roitman S — October 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Hi! I am new to your site and I am a muffin lover I must admit!
    I just happen to made your muffin recipe as you posted it and I wanted to check if the batter is super sticky and thick or I just did something wrong. To half of the recipe I added blueberries and to the other half I added choc chips. I followed your instructions to not overmix them. The outcome is similar to yours they are delicious with there is something going on with the texture or maybe is this recipe. Amazing recipe by the way and I have learnt a lot from your explanations and your blog in general. Happy Baking!!

  8. #
    Allison P — October 28, 2014 at 5:38 am

    Hi! Just tried making these – they’re baking in the oven as I speak! Just like Claudia, I found that the batter was extremely thick and sticky – was it something I did wrong, or is it meant to be like that?

  9. #
    Rella — November 1, 2014 at 6:51 am

    These are exactly the proportions I look for when searching for new muffin recipes. And always use about 1/2 cup sugar for 12 muffin yield even if it calls for a cup. How would you go about adapting this recipe to add oats to it? I would think some flour would have to be removed but wasn’t sure what the ratio was.

  10. #
    Tania — November 3, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    just made these took me long enough I know but they are perfect (even though I used yoghurt) instead of butter milk with extra 1/4 cup of milk as the mix was too thick. Added apple pie apples and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Even the teen said they were good. Thanks again

  11. #
    Karyn — December 8, 2014 at 1:06 am

    I’m really wanting to try this recipe for blueberry muffins but have some of the same questions as others have asked. Has anyone received a reply? Is the batter supposed to be thick? Also, does anyone know how to make bakery style crumbly topping?

  12. #
    Amy — January 15, 2015 at 8:21 am

    In my (admittedly limited) experience, muffin batter tends to be much thicker than cake batter.

    I also found that the liquid ingredients, once combined, came to 1 1/3 cups, which is great, because I wanted to make 6 blueberry and 6 choc chip muffins. The dry ingredients were easy to do in two separate bowls, and then I just added 2/3 c. of the wet ingredients (once I had combined them) into each bowl. The muffins just came out of the oven, and I really can’t wait to try them…. even though I have to because they are too hot.

    My question for Tessa is how to adjust the baking the time if I want to make these as mini-muffins instead of full-size ones – especially because there is a temperature change mid-baking. Often, I don’t want a full muffin, just a taste, so I tend to prefer mini-muffins…

  13. #
    Helenita Galera — February 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Hi…just got your mufin recipe from a post in Facebook, think i’m going to try my hand at it…the question is : is there a substitute for buttermilk ?????? i don’t know what that is and don’t think they sell it here in Brazil, never saw… it like cream ?
    thanks for the help….

  14. #
    Judy — January 6, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Any time I make muffins, this is the recipe I use. I had some leftover fresh cranberries from Christmas, so today I made cranberry orange muffins (orange zest and some of the juice). I made a topping with brown and white sugars and pecans, mixed in my food processor. Yummy!

  15. #
    Kaylah — January 12, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    This ultimate muffin recipe looks so easy and I love the way you broke everything down. I will be getting creative with some fun add ins for sure. Thanks for doing the hard part! 🙂
    #thiswifeslifeblog – Instagram

  16. #
    Julia — February 2, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    WOW! What a lot of work went into figuring this out. Thank you. I am going to use this recipe to teach a group of kids in our homeschool group. I think it will be fun and delicious! 😀

    • #
      Tessa — February 2, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      Awesome, Julia! Hope the kids enjoy it.

  17. #
    keriane — March 27, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    would you be able to advise how to add oats to the recipe?

  18. #
    Ali K — April 25, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I have been looking forward to making this recipe since I discovered it last week. I have finally made them this morning and they are delicious. Moist, light and fluffy. Just beautiful. My recipe came out much darker than the muffins pictured. I am not sure what If I did something wrong but the taste and texture is there with a bit of a extra crisp because of the darker finish I assume. I will definitely be making them again. I can’t wait for my family to come to try them!

    • #
      Tessa — April 25, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Hi, Ali! I’m thinking your dark muffins could be one of two things. Either your oven runs hot, and in that case I’d purchase an oven thermometer to gauge the correct temperature and adjust as needed. And maybe next time reduce the baking time since everyone’s ovens bake differently. OR, you may have used a dark nonstick muffin tin, which increases browning. I’d suggest getting a lighter color tin. Hope that helps!

  19. #
    Barb — May 1, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Thanks so much for the muffin base recipe. My friends and I are wondering how we compensate in time for cooking the large muffins. I’m assuming these muffins are cupcake tin size. Thanks again for your good help.

    • #
      Tessa — May 1, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      Great question, Barb! After baking for 5 minutes at 450°, reduce the temperature to 400°F (don’t forget this!!) and bake for about another 15-17 minutes. Check for the visual cues, golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  20. #
    Amanda — May 3, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Hi, great recipe, thanks for the post with pictures. My question is do you find with muffins its best to melt the butter than let it cool before adding ? Also do you usually use regular flour not cake flour with muffins ?

    • #
      Tessa — May 4, 2016 at 10:17 am

      I let it cool just enough that it won’t risk scrambling bits of the egg. Also, I never use cake flour with muffins. I find they end up being a bit too dry and crumbly.

  21. #
    Lucas — June 14, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Hi! I’m from Brazil and I really want to make this recipe. I’m not quit sure though if we use the same measuring cups. Could you tell me the capacity of your cup? And could you please give me the amount of both sugars in grams?
    Thank you!

  22. #
    Teri — August 25, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    We made these tonight and added lemon and poppy seeds. Excellent! My 16 yo son is in a culinary focus program and one of his “wanted to knows” was a solid muffin base. Nailed it! Thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — August 26, 2016 at 10:43 am

      So happy to hear that! Hope your son is enjoying his program 🙂

  23. #
    Rhonda Bumps — September 21, 2016 at 3:31 am

    Tessa, I know you said to use a light pan but I have just invested in two really nice quality dark pans because my intention was to make muffins for my college freshman daughter and her suite mates. I did that yesterday with other recipes and they were dry. I am looking to you for advice or else I am giving up baking! Is it possible to use my nice new pans, as I hate to add another costly failure to my list. PS, I consider myself a seasoned cook, so it stinks that I can’t make a homemade muffin!

    • #
      Tessa — September 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Ack! That’s a dilemma. The issue with dark pans is that they brown so much more quickly and easily than light pans. With something delicate like a muffin (especially if you’re using the high-to-low baking temperature method here) that extra browning can cause them to become dry and even tough despite how “wet” the batter is. I would unfortunately say that those pans probably won’t be your baking BFFs. Is it possibly to return them? Stores like Sur la Table, Costco, Bed Bath & Beyond all have lenient return policies…

  24. #
    Radhika — October 3, 2016 at 3:07 am

    Hi Tessa, Have you used Bake-and-Serve paper cups to bake muffins or cupcakes? Ive used them a couple of times, just placed standing on a baking sheet, but somehow felt the texture of the cupcakes were not the same as when using a muffin tin with paper liners. Are we supposed to place the cups in the muffin tin and bake? They took longer to bake.

    • #
      Tessa — October 4, 2016 at 6:24 am

      Yes, I’d use a muffin tin because it will conduct more even heat around the muffins/cupcakes 🙂

  25. #
    Jen Tendick — December 10, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    It there a way to make your own buttermilk for this recipe? Like adding vinegar to milk and letting it sit for a little while? If so please let me know whar it portions to do.

  26. #
    Jen — April 24, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Do you make youe own buttermilk or have you made your own buttermilk from scratch with vinegar and milk? I would love to be able to make my own for this recipe because I don’t normally use buttermilk and the stores where I live don’t sell buttermilk in small quantities.

  27. #
    yantara — May 15, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Hi Tessa, great recipe, thanks a lot!
    What do you think about kefir as substitute of buttermilk in this recipe?

    • #
      Tessa — May 16, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      I’ve heard that makes a great substitute! I’ve never tried myself.

  28. #
    Rebecca — May 25, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Have you tested the difference between creaming butter & sugar compared to the muffin method? Thanks

  29. #
    Nonton Video Mesum — December 2, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    I regularly visit your site and find a lot of interesting information. Thank you and look forward to your page growing stronger

  30. #
    M — January 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Hey, Tessa,
    I am craving theses muffins and really aprreciate how all baking lovers are brought together. We are all kind of a community which keeps us united and unique.
    My question is, are there any alternatives to frosting rather than using butter, because where i live, butter is expenisve for it’s size, therefore, my family try not to get too much of it. However, the frosting of a cake/muffin is the best part.
    Do you have any ideas?

    love from,
    unknown lover

  31. #
    Karen — January 22, 2018 at 10:05 am

    I made these muffins yesterday. When I combined the melted butter and buttermilk and whisked them with the egg and vanilla, it looked like the butter solidified. I thought I had let it cool as directed but the whisk ended up getting caked up with what looked like a buttery/buttermilky mess. Was the buttermilk too cold? Was the melted butter not cooled enough? Then when I took them out of the oven they were not very golden brown and they stuck ferociously to the liner. Help!

    • #
      Tessa — January 23, 2018 at 4:25 pm

      Hi, Karen! Hm it sounds like the butter may have cooled too much if it solidified. That can happen this time of year when it’s colder. Next time I would cool it just until it can be comfortably touched but hasn’t solidified. And try leaving the buttermilk out while you preheat the oven and prep the ingredients so it isn’t so cold. And you might find this post helpful for the sticky liners:

  32. #
    Molly — February 28, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Another easy to follow recipe from Tessa that has great results. My blueberry muffins was fluffy and delicious. Thank you for all the work you do on these recipes.

  33. #
    annabelle — March 7, 2018 at 9:37 am

    am i able to freeze this recipe? if so would you freeze it before or after baking?

  34. #
    Sana — May 19, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Hey Tessa,
    How can I incorporate cocoa powder in this recipe. As there are 2 cups flour, perhaps use 1 and a half cup flour and half cup cocoa powder. or would that be a bit much you think?

  35. #
    Erika c LaRosa — August 8, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Do I use dark or light brown sugar? Im excited to try this recipe!

  36. #
    Dani — November 15, 2018 at 2:27 am

    Hiya, just wondering if you could tell me if this batter sat OK, as in making the batter ahead of time and storing in the fridge?

  37. #
    Victoria — February 22, 2019 at 1:13 am

    Just wondering how I could make this a passion fruit muffin?

  38. #
    Natalie — April 10, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you this recipe is just what I was looking for and even my extremely fussy, critical teenager was impressed.
    So nice to have one recipe that I can adapt in various ways. Batch 3 is in the oven as we speak

  39. #
    Beth — June 1, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Very good. Made blueberry ones with half whole wheat flour. Thank you for doing all that testing!

  40. #
    sulis — June 5, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    very delicious

  41. #
    Shay — August 29, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    These are awesomeeeee!! I need milk instead of buttermilk and I added one banana and chocolate chips my man loved them 🙂

  42. #
    Sandee — October 1, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    I made these today and they were great!!! I made the muffin base and then added frozen, rolled in a little flour blueberries. Gently stirred them in as to not color the muffin batter all blue. Then I spooned them into muffin papers and sprinkled cinnamon mixed with granulated sugar on top. These were really good!!! I cannot wait to try more flavors!!! Oh also the batter was extremely thick….so I just added more milk (I didn’t use buttermilk) and the recipe turned out great! I’m not sure exactly how much milk extra I added but enough until I liked the consistency of the batter.

  43. #
    Alison Nabors — January 31, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Love all your work on changing recipes and how it affects the results. I have a muffin question: if I want to add oats to a muffin recipe, I’m assuming I’d need to up the liquids. What liquid would you add and how much? Thanks!

  44. #
    Gloria — April 16, 2020 at 6:23 am

    I like the whole ULTIMATE Series. The technique of baking in high temperature then low temperature is really fail proof. I tried this recipe with my nephews and they could follow the instruction well, including not to over-mix the batter. I no longer need to buy muffin from cafes as they are easy to bake and just take little time to prepare

  45. #
    Shawn — May 15, 2020 at 12:56 am

    In my region there is no buttermilk, can I use whole milk instead of buttermilk?

  46. #
    Sue — June 12, 2020 at 6:06 am

    I will admit I haven’t made it, but have been baking (including bread) for about 50 years. Typically, when one uses buttermilk, baking soda is used since the buttermilk and baking soda together create leavening. Why have you omitted the baking soda, and only used baking powder? I think I will try the recipe, but will add about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
    Sue C

  47. #
    Sudha — August 12, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Can we make this with wheat flour and add apple

  48. #
    Mona — December 14, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    What can be an alternative to buttermilk? Thanks.

  49. #
    Caitlin H — December 18, 2020 at 6:44 am

    This is my go to recipe for blueberry muffins!! They have the perfect light and fluffy texture, and don’t get bogged down in the juice from the blueberries like some other recipes do. They’re also not *too* sweet that I feel like I’m just eating a cupcake at breakfast!

    • #
      Handle the Heat — December 18, 2020 at 11:09 am

      I am so happy to hear you love these muffins!

  50. #
    Helen Godlonton — December 28, 2020 at 2:59 am

    I’ve been wondering why oil isn’t used in most recipes for muffins. I would imagine it would keep the muffin moist more than butter will?

  51. #
    Patricia swayze — January 16, 2021 at 12:04 am

    Can you substitute yogurt for the melted butter,

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