Muffins are a popular snack or on-the-go breakfast item. They’re crumbly, sweet, and pair well with a hot cup of coffee. There’s no wonder people love them so much. You may have made your own muffins from a boxed muffin mix before, but they may have tasted a bit underwhelming.
Boxed muffin mix is a fantastic way to bake muffins for the casual home baker, but they tend to leave a lot to the imagination. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make muffin mix taste significantly better. The following tips will trick anyone into thinking they’re homemade muffins made from scratch!
- WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MUFFIN AND A CUPCAKE?
- HOW TO MAKE MUFFIN MIX BETTER
- Add in some fresh fruit
- Mix in a purée
- Spritz up the muffins with lemon zest
- Give the muffin a crunchy texture with some nuts
- Add in some healthy seeds
- Chocolate to the rescue
- Use plant-based milk in the batter instead of water
- Add in a splash of vanilla extract
- Spice up the muffin batter
- Plop in some cream cheese
- Glaze the muffins
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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MUFFIN AND A CUPCAKE?
Though these two pastries seem similar, muffins and cupcakes are quite different. Muffins usually have less sugar and can take on savory flavors, unlike cupcakes. Their difference in ingredients leads them to have very different textures. Cupcakes are fluffy, while muffins tend to be denser. Both are delicious treats that come in “cup” shapes, but they are very different.
HOW TO MAKE MUFFIN MIX BETTER
Add in some fresh fruit
The best muffins are the fruity ones! It’s true that you can buy fruit muffin mixes, but they usually have either fake fruit or overly dry fruits that just don’t taste right. By adding in fresh (or frozen) fruit, your muffins will have much juicier and more flavorful bites of fruit.
There are so many different kinds of fruits that you can add to a muffin mix, but it is best to stick with ones that aren’t too juicy like oranges. If you want to add in a bigger fruit like strawberries, cut them down into small pieces, so they blend into the muffin mix easier.
Experiment with different kinds of fruits to see what flavors you like the best. Below is a list of possible fruits you can add to a muffin mix.
- Fresh blueberries (frozen blueberries also work)
- Dried fruit (for a chewy texture)
Mix in a purée
Similar to the last tip, adding in a puree can add a ton of flavor to the muffin mix. What’s nice about adding a puree over fresh fruit, is that the puree will spread more evenly in the muffin. Every bite of the muffin will have the puree’s flavor, rather than just the pieces that have fruits.
Adding in puree will make the muffins denser, so if you do not enjoy dense muffins, then this tip may not be for you. Some puree flavors to add are:
- Mashed bananas
- Pumpkin puree
- Sweet potato puree
- Apple sauce puree
Spritz up the muffins with lemon zest
Adding a little bit of lemon zest into a box of plain muffin mix can boost its flavor significantly. It gives the muffins a bright taste that is slightly refreshing. Mix in the zest of about 2 lemons into the batter along with 3/8 of a cup of poppy seeds to make delicious lemon poppy seed muffins!
Poppy seeds add a nice crunch to the muffins, but even simply adding lemon zest will make the muffins taste amazing. Try this tip with the zest of different citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit for a different experience.
Give the muffin a crunchy texture with some nuts
Plain muffins have a nice spongy texture, but adding in some nuts gives them a lovely bit of crunch. The addition of nuts makes the muffin more fun to eat and gives them an extra layer of flavor.
Almost any nut can be added to muffins depending on what kind of nuts you like. Chop up some pecans or walnuts and sprinkle them into the muffin batter for a lovely bit of crunch throughout the muffin. Or, only add them to the top of the unbaked muffins for a crunchy top layer. The addition of nuts works with almost any flavor, but one of the best combos is chocolate chip, banana muffins with walnuts!
Add in some healthy seeds
Most people opt for muffins over cupcakes because they tend to be healthier. This isn’t always true of course (i.e. chocolate chip muffins), but it is much easier to make a healthy muffin than a healthy cupcake. One great way to make a boxed muffin mix better and healthier is by adding in a teaspoon or two of seeds!
Depending on the seeds you add, you will get a different experience in flavor and texture. Experiment with fruit and nut combinations to see what muffins you can come up with!
Some seeds that taste great in muffins are:
- Chia seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
Chocolate to the rescue
When all else fails, adding chocolate will make any plain muffin mix taste far better. When the muffins are done baking, they’ll be filled with gooey bits of chocolate that are just an absolute delight. You don’t have to stick with regular milk chocolate chips either! Add in your favorite chocolate candy like M&M’s, white chocolate chips, or chop up a chocolate bar.
Mix whatever chocolate you like into the batter, bake, and enjoy! Try to stick with pure chocolate over filled chocolates (i.e. chocolate-covered caramel). Caramel doesn’t melt like regular chocolate does and needs a different baking process than regular chocolate.
Use plant-based milk in the batter instead of water
Most muffin mixes require adding water to give it moisture, but water doesn’t have any flavor. It doesn’t add much to the muffins except for moisture. Rather than using plain water, use a more flavorful plant-based milk to make the batter. This will not only add flavor but will add a bit of fat which will make moist muffins with a richer and deeper flavor.
You can use pretty much any plant-based milk, but it’s best to use unflavored and unsweetened plant-based milk. Keep in mind that the milk you use could alter the flavor of the muffins. Almond, soy, or oat milk won’t affect the flavor of the muffins too much, but coconut milk will give off a coconut taste. Unless you want a coconut-y muffin, you may want to use more neutral-flavored plant milk.
Add in a splash of vanilla extract
Almost every pastry requires one ingredient – vanilla extract. A few drops of vanilla extract can give any sweet treat that “missing” flavor. It not only gives the muffins a rich and warm flavor, but vanilla brings out the flavors of the other ingredients in the muffin mix. It’s an easy and simple way to take a boxed muffin mix to the next level.
Vanilla extract isn’t the only flavor punch that can be added to muffins. For a nice nutty flavor, add in a splash of almond extract. It will have a similar effect as vanilla extract does and bring out a ton of flavor in your muffins.
Spice up the muffin batter
Plain muffin mix can taste a bit boring, but there are plenty of spices you can add that will make the muffins pop! Try different blends and see what you like best. Add just a teaspoon of whichever spice you like into the dry mix and see how much better the muffins taste. If you’re not sure where to start, here is a list of spices and powders that you can add to your muffins:
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Ground Ginger
- Cocoa Powder
Plop in some cream cheese
Adding a dollop of cream cheese into the muffin batter may sound strange, but it is a great way to make the muffins moister and creamier. It will add a subtle tanginess to the muffins that balance wonderfully with the natural sweetness of the muffins. For those that don’t like their pastries too sweet, adding in a bit of cream cheese is the tip for you.
You can add the cream cheese straight into the batter, or add a small piece directly into the muffins before baking them. If you decide to add the cheese to the batter, it’s best to add it when it is soft and at room temperature. But when adding it straight into the muffin tin, add in cold cream cheese. It will bake with the muffin and melt out into the batter.
Glaze the muffins
One major reason people prefer cupcakes to muffins is the icing on top. Muffins are delicious, but they sometimes feel like they’re missing a little something. For an extra boost of sweetness and yumminess, add a glaze or icing to the top of the muffin! Depending on what flavor your muffins are, you can switch up the frosting to match. Lemon poppy seed muffins, for example, are exquisite with a topping of lemon glaze.
Even if you don’t feel like making a glaze from scratch, simply use store-bought frosting for the muffins to get the same effect. Buy your favorite chocolate frosting and use it to top a freshly baked chocolate chip muffin. Double the chocolate, double the yum! You could even use the same chocolate frosting on strawberry muffins for a nice contrast of sweet and tangy flavors. There are so many ways to go with this tip, so explore different combinations and see what you like best.