baking

1 Basic Muffin Recipe + 52 Variations for each week of the year

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You don’t need a bazillion muffin recipes – here’s just one basic muffin recipe with enough variations to last you every week of the year.

Basic muffin recipe with varations

If you’re looking for a staple recipe for your repertoire, one that’s quick and easy but gives you a huge range of variations, then this is it: the basic muffin mix.

Muffins are one of the quickest and easiest baked treats to make – just 5 minutes prep time and around 20 minutes in the oven and morning tea is served. Which is great if you’ve got impromptu guests coming or the if the kids are starving and you’re looking for something to bake.

I’ve been using this recipe for a couple of years now for lunchbox snacks. I’ve taken the standard basic muffin recipe and made it just a little bit healthier for the kids by lowering the amount of sugar and using wholemeal flour.

It’s a very flexible recipe, allowing you to use up what you have on hand – delicious muffins that prevent food waste!

*Check out the end of the article for all the variations including a printable list.*

Got some sour cream or yoghurt that needs using? Throw it in the muffins. Overripe bananas or pears? Turn them into muffins.

And you can freeze your muffins for easy lunchbox additions. Simply put in an airtight container or zip lock bag and place in the freezer.

Basic Muffin Mix Ingredients – Notes

The flour

You can use any flour you like in your muffin mix (except maybe coconut flour) including gluten-free flour. Whatever flour you use is going to change the taste and texture of the muffin a little bit. When you change ingredients, you change the baked good and flour is no exception! You may need to adjust the amount of liquid you use to compensate for the different flours.

Sometimes gluten-free flour requires slightly more liquid than regular wheat flour but it depends on the brand of flour. Even wheat flour can get a little thirsty, depending on the batch.

We use plain wholemeal wheat flour, but I’ve also made these with gluten-free flour and I’ve also used half wheat flour half almond flour, although not for school lunchboxes.

BAKING POWDER

If you use self-raising flour, you can skip the baking powder or add about 1 tsp. extra for extra lift. I like to add the baking powder myself so I don’t have to buy s/r flour and I can control how much ‘raise’ my baked goods have.

I also prefer to make my own baking powder because it tastes nicer and does a great job. However, when you make your own baking powder you have to keep in mind that the raising action wears off, so you need to put the muffins in the oven straight away.

Make a Healthy Basic Muffin Recipe by Using less sugar

Most basic muffin recipes include a whole cup of sugar.

My recipe only uses 1/3 cup of sugar. This means our muffins don’t taste really sweet, but the kids don’t mind and it keeps their sugar amounts fairly low. If you prefer sweeter, add more sugar.

1/3 cup of sugar equals about 16 teaspoons of sugar. That’s about 1.33 teaspoons of sugar per muffin.

According to this article, it is recommended that kids ages 4-6 have no more than 5 teaspoons of ‘added’ sugar per day (‘added’ sugar is sugar not found naturally in foods such as whole fruit), children 7-10 no more than 6 teaspoons per day and from 11 years old, no more than 7 teaspoons of ‘added’ sugar a day. The World Health Organisation recommends 6 teaspoons or less for optimum health for adults. Less again for kids.

If you use a whole cup of sugar the muffins will taste sweeter but you’re coming close to reaching the maximum recommended amount of sugar for kids in just a single muffin.

You can substitute with something like brown rice syrup to make these muffins healthier, just keep in mind that it’s still sugar and you’re substituting a dry ingredient with a wet one, so you’ll need to adjust your other ingredients slightly to compensate.

What oil to use in your muffin recipe

The oil you use can affect the taste of your muffin if it has a distinct taste of its own.

This can be a good thing (or something you want to avoid) depending on the flavour you’re going for.

For a flavourless oil, opt for rice bran oil, ‘light’ olive oil (the light refers to the taste) or canola oil.

Macadamia nut oil will give your muffins a delicious and subtle nutty and coconut oil will impart its distinct flavour.

Alternatively, you can also use butter. To make a muffin recipe with butter, simply melt the butter and add the liquid measurement (1/2 cup) of butter.

Milk and Milk Variations in Muffins

You can use any milk you prefer in your muffin base recipe – it doesn’t have to be cow’s milk. Try coconut milk or almond milk. Of course, different milk will affect the flavour.

You can also substitute all or part of the milk with yoghurt, whey, sour cream, cream, or buttermilk. Yoghurt is heavier and thicker than milk, so it will make a denser muffin.

You can add a little extra milk if the mixture is too dry and a little extra baking powder to give your heavier muffins more lift when baking.

This is a great way to use up what you have in the fridge and play around with flavours and textures.

How to make your muffins fluffy

The key to light fluffy muffins is to not to over-mix the batter. It’s ok to have a bit of flour not quite mixed in and have the mix a little lumpy.

Check out the video for how to mix the perfect muffins.

Basic Muffin Recipe with Variations

Basic muffin recipe with varations

Use this basic muffin recipe as the foundation of an infinite number of flavour variations. Makes 12 regular size muffins.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain wholemeal flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup raw or brown sugar (leave out for savoury muffins)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup of your chosen flavouring (ideas listed below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan-forced.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in sugar.
  3. In a separate jug, mix together egg, oil and milk.
  4. Add wet ingredients + extra flavours (see below for ideas) to dry ingredients and fold through gently.
  5. Line muffin tin and spoon mixture evenly into muffin holes.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Notes

See below for variation ideas.

COOKING TIMES AND SIZES

20 minutes – standard muffins

25 – 30 minutes – jumbo muffins

10 – 15 minutes – mini muffins

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 141mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 5g

Calculations for basic mix only without additions. Nutritional information is calculated automatically using the Nutritionix database. Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, serving size or the source of nutrition data. We strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy. We encourage readers to make their own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Muffin Variations – Add these to your basic muffin recipe

It’s impossible to list every way you can mix up the plain muffin recipe. Safe to say there’s way more than 52 ideas here, depending on how you mix and match your ingredients.

For example, I’ve suggested blueberry and passionfruit as 1 idea, but you could also make mango and passionfruit, coconut and passionfruit, passionfruit and macadamia nut, passionfruit and almond, passionfruit and yoghurt, blueberry passionfruit and yoghurt…you get the idea. The possibilities are almost endless!

Use what you have on hand, experiment, mix and match flavours and have a whole lot of fun. And if your muffins turn out a little heavy or not quite right, you can make adjustments for next time! It’s all about intuitive baking.

If your batter is looking a little dry after you add the additional ingredients, feel free to add a little extra milk or ‘wet’ ingredient for better consistency. If you are adding heavy additions like mashed banana, you might want to add a little extra baking powder to give the muffins a little extra lift.

For something special, you can take your muffin to the next level by topping it with icing or a glaze.

Muffin Variation List

Onto the variations:

  1. Blueberry (add 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen))
  2. Blueberry & passionfruit (add 1 cup of blueberries and the pulp of 4 passionfruit)
  3. Raspberry & white choc chip (add 1 cup of raspberries (fresh or frozen) + 1/2 cup white choc chips)
  4. Berry & yoghurt (add 1 cup of berries of choice (fresh or frozen) + substitute milk with yoghurt)
  5. Strawberry (add 1 cup chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen))
  6. Raspberry & almond (add 1 cup of raspberries + 1/2 cup almond flakes)
  7. Apple & cinnamon (add 1 cup of chopped fresh apple + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon)
  8. pear & cardamom (add 1 cup of chopped fresh pear + 1/2 tsp. cardamom)
  9. Plum (add 1 cup chopped plums – nice with plum: cinnamon and vanilla)
  10. Chocolate (substitute 1/4 cup of flour with cocoa)
  11. Chocolate & sour cream (substitute 1/4 cup of flour with cocoa and substitute milk with sour cream + 1 Tbsp. extra)
  12. Choc chip (add 1 cup choc chips)
  13. Choc, choc- chip ( substitute 1/4 cup of flour with cocoa + 1 cup choc chips of choice)
  14. Banana (add 1 cup mashed banana)
  15. Yoghurt and banana (add 1 cup mashed banana and substitute milk with yoghurt)
  16. Banana & nut (1 cup of banana + 1/2 cup of chopped nuts)
  17. Banana & choc chip (add 1 cup of mashed banana + 1/2 cup choc chips)
  18. Peach (add 1 cup of diced fresh or tinned peaches)
  19. Berry cheesecake (add 1 cup of berries and a dollop of sweetened cream cheese to the middle of the muffins (add 1/2 muffin mixture, dot with cream cheese and then add the rest of the muffin mixture))
  20. Cherry chocolate ( substitute 1/4 cup of flour with cocoa + add 1 cup pitted and chopped cherries)
  21. Pineapple & coconut (add 1 cup crushed pineapple + 1/2 cup flaked coconut)
  22. Mango and coconut (add 1 cup dice mango + 1/2 cup flaked or desiccated coconut)
  23. Macadamia & white chocolate (add 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts + 1/2 – 1 cup of which choc chips)
  24. Citrus & poppy seed (substitute 1/4 cup of the milk with 1/4 cup of lemon or orange juice + add 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds – soak these in the milk first)
  25. Lemon & sour cream (substitute 1/2 the milk with lemon juice and the other half with sour cream)
  26. Lemon & ricotta cheese (substitute 3/4 cup of milk with ricotta cheese + add 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and the zest from 1 lemon)
  27. Orange, coconut & carrot (substitute milk with orange juice and add 1 cup grated carrot and 1/2 cup desiccated coconut)
  28. Sultana (add 1 cup of sultanas)
  29. Rum & raisin (add 1 Tbsp. rum + 1 cup raisins)
  30. Date (add 1 cup chopped dates)
  31. Date & nut (add 1 cup chopped dates + 1/2 cup chopped nuts)
  32. Carrot, ginger and sultana (add 1/2 cup grated carrots, 1/2 cup sultanas + 1/2 tsp. ground ginger)
  33. Carrot and apple (add 1/2 cup grated carrot + 1/2 cup grated or finely chopped apple and if you like 1/2 tsp. of your favourite spice like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice.)
  34. Orange and coconut (substitute milk with orange juice + add 1/2 cup desiccated coconut)
  35. Coffee and walnut (add 1 tsp. instant coffee + 1 cup chopped walnuts)
  36. Coffee date & pecan (add 1 tsp. instant coffee + 1/2 cup chopped dates + 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts)
  37. Spiced zucchini (add 1 cup of grated zucchini, well squeezed of moisture + 1 tsp. cinnamon + 1/2 tsp. nutmeg)
  38. Zucchini & pumpkin seeds (add 1 cup of grated zucchini, well squeezed of moisture + 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds + 1 tsp. cinnamon)
  39. Nutella (add a dollop of Nutella and swirl with a toothpick before baking)
  40. Pumpkin (add 1 cup of mashed cooked pumpkin + 1 tsp. pumpkin spice)
  41. Pumpkin & cream cheese (swirl a dollop of sweetened cream cheese through the above recipe before baking)
  42. Spinach, ham & sun-dried tomato (add a handful of baby spinach leaves + 1 cup of ham + 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  43. Cheese (add 1 cup grated cheese + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  44. Ham & cheese (add 1 cup grated cheese + 1/2 cup chopped ham + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  45. Ham, cheese & olive (add 1 cup grated cheese + 1/4 cup of chopped ham + 1/4 cup chopped olives + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  46. Zucchini and ham (add 1 cup grated zucchini, well squeezed of moisture + 1 cup of chopped ham + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  47. Feta & roast capsicum (add 1/2 cup chopped feta + 1 cup chopped roast capsicum +leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  48. Feta & roast pumpkin (add 1/2 cup chopped feta + 1 cup roast pumpkin + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  49. Ham, Cheese & mushroom (add 1 cup grated cheese +1/2 cup chopped ham + 1/2 cup cooked mushroom slices + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  50. Spinach, Pesto and Cheese (add 1 cup grated cheese  + good handful of baby spinach leaves + 2 Tbsp. of pesto or more to taste + leave out the sugar and vanilla)
  51. Cheese, corn & sun-dried tomato (add 1/2 cup grated cheese + 1 cup corn + 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes + leave out sugar and vanilla)
  52. Cheesy vegetable & herb (add 1/2 cup of grated cheese + 1 cup grated vegetables (like zucchini or carrot) + 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs like dill or parsley or basil)

Download the recipe and all the variation ideas

What are your favourite muffin flavour combos? Let us know in the comments below.

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22 Comments

  1. Wonderful suggestions for additions to the basic muffin recipe, Melissa! I’m thinking that the one with coconut and carrot might need even less sugar, so I’ll try that one first. ( In 2012, I started avoiding sugar on the advice of a doctor and gave reaped the benefits ever since).

    1. Hi Maria, that’s dedicated! I bet you feel great. It’s amazing how good no sugar is.
      I seesaw between none and oh my too much, so spend too much time in withdrawal :).

      I do a carrot, apple, cinnamon and sultana muffin and I don’t put any sugar in at all. The kids love them. I think the taste is what you get used to.

      Hope you have a lovely Easter break.

  2. Great ideas! My elder daughter won’t eat anything cake like in texture, including muffins. Now she’s at school it’s a headache trying to create lunch box snacks! And also at birthday time.

    1. My son doesn’t like cake either. Who would have thought, right!? We have ice cream cake for his birthday. But he eats muffins – my muffins tend to be on the heavy textured side.
      What do you do for lunchbox snacks?

      1. We vary between pavlova and ice cream cake for birthdays but she likes biscuits in her lunch box but seems to lose interest quickly and they come back home until we change to a different recipe.

  3. Kia ora Mellisa from rural New Zealand
    Woohoo! I really enjoy this basic recipe and have adapted to suit ‘whatever-is-left-over’ in the fridge. Tried other recipes and your one is ‘bombproof’ for me.
    When I was a child, I was never allowed in the kitchen and built up a bit of a complex about cooking/baking. I find cooking really stressful and entertaining friends at home is a terrifying prospect.
    Even though my husband and 3 children are still alive and havent gone to hospital with food poisoning from my cooking, I’m still learning to feel comfortable in the kitchen.
    With a limited food and house budget, Ive set myself the goal of making snacks for school and/or home.
    I stumbled across your recipes (literally) trying to find some inspiration. I attemped this recipe first and felt like it could be possible to feed my family well on a tight budget. Over and above, I actually feel relaxed and happy in the kitchen. Weird.
    Thank you.
    After looking at your website, Ive now signed up to your newsletter to gain better budgetting skills.
    Thank you again
    Hopeful

  4. Hi Melissa,

    Fellow Aussie here, it must be serendipity that I found your site. I was looking for my WW muffin recipe book, but alas I couldn’t find it, it’s probably buried in a drawer somewhere. These recipes look amazing, can’t wait to try them all.
    Thank you for a wonderful website.

  5. I have whey left over from making yogurt,Iv made muffins with it before, I want to make savory muffins and was wondering could I just use a variety of mixed dried herbs, adding a bit more of the liquid whey.? What do you think?

  6. Melissa, I am 82 and with Covid-19 keeping us housebound I am decluttering my recipe collection down to basics and your website is EXACTLY what i have been looking for. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you have put into it to make it easy for people like me. I am not much of a cook and have steered away from baking and have only studied your Basic Muffin recipe so far but have learnt so much from it already, can’t wait to try them.

  7. Hi Melissa.

    What would be your measurements be for your carrot, apple and sultana recipe without sugar? Thanks.

    1. Hi, I would just leave the sugar out, add a grated carrot and apple, some sultanas to taste and add a little less liquid. Muffins are forgiving. The key is to experiment until you’ve got them just how YOU like them. 🙂

  8. I’m wondering what changes would need to be made to use this as a loaf recipe? I’m too lazy to wash muffin tins haha.

  9. Date and ginger (whatever ginger you have on hand, I usually use crystallised or naked ginger finally chopped, more date and as much or least ginger, a few choc bit also if you really want something different)

  10. I made these last night and they were great! I had too many blueberries and instead of eating them I threw them into the mix. Initially I thought it was too ‘wet’ and might be too full for my patty pans but once cooked, it was fine. So glad I found this, thanks so much Melissa!