Filed Under: Baking Science | Breakfast

How to Bake Tall Bakery Style Muffins

Recipe By Tessa Arias
February 26th, 2021

How to bake TALL Bakery Style Muffins right at home! These homemade muffin tips will have your family asking which bakery your muffins came from.

Today I’m sharing my top tips and insights into the science of beautiful tall muffins. You know the ones: a gorgeous mountainous dome with a defined muffin top that looks like they belong on the shelf of a fancy bakery.

That’s what you’ll be baking up after you read this article! Your friends will ask you where you bought those muffins from.

overhead shot of different flavors of ultimate muffins

How to Bake Extra Tall Bakery Style Muffins

(Tips for ANY recipe!)

Option #1: Overnight Batter Rest (my favorite!)

comparison of muffin batter rested vs baked immediately

Chilling your muffin batter overnight in the fridge is the BEST thing you can do for amazing muffins.

It makes them more moist, tender and TALLER! It’s very similar to chilling cookie dough, which if you know me you know I’m obsessed with chilling cookie dough. Think of it like marinating. 

By chilling the batter, the starch in the flour is able to absorb more moisture, resulting in a more tender muffin. It also thickens the batter without making it more dry, which helps encourage beautiful tall muffin tops without a crumbly or cakey texture. The flavors intensify and improve as well!

comparison of lemon muffins chilled vs batter not chilled

Directions for overnight resting:

After mixing your batter, simply cover and chill in the fridge overnight before baking. No need to bring to room temperature before scooping into your muffin tin and baking.

I prefer to rest the batter in one bowl instead of portioning out the batter into the muffin tin, then chilling. I believe the latter is more likely to dry out the batter and it doesn’t allow the flavors to meld together as nicely.

Look at the pictures above to see just how much this technique improves the height of the muffins. But what you can’t see is how much more tender they are!

Double acting baking powder is necessary when chilling batter. Double check your container, especially if using aluminum free! Aluminum-free baking powders primarily react only with liquid and not with heat, which makes them react more quickly to your batter than most double-acting powders. With an aluminum-free baking powder, you will need to bake your muffins right away, as the longer you wait, the less rise you’ll get. However, if you use a brand like Argo, which is aluminum-free but double acting, you’re good to go!

Q: Does this technique work for cupcake batter?

A: I don’t believe it will work quite the same for all cupcake recipes. Most muffin batters are quick breads, meaning there’s no creaming of butter + sugar. In muffins, there’s usually only baking powder. Baking powder is double acting, meaning it activates upon mixing with moisture and then again upon the heat of the oven. For recipes only leavened with baking soda, which loses efficacy over time if it’s not baked immediately, this technique likely wouldn’t work as well.

Option #2: High to Low Baking Temperatures

comparison of control muffins vs muffins baked from a high to low temperature

The idea here is to start the muffins in a very hot oven for just a short amount of time. This activates the baking powder and allows the muffins to shoot up in height quickly. We then turn the heat down and continue to cook for longer. This is done to avoid overbrowning and overbaking. 

Directions for high to low temperature muffin baking:

Start off by baking for 5 minutes at 425°F, then turn the temperature down to 350°F and continue baking for 15 to 18 minutes. These muffins were beautifully tall, attractive, moist, and soft. 

This technique works best for recipes which produce a thick muffin batter.

This one isn’t my personal favorite because I find it annoying to mess around with the oven temperature while it’s baking. Not to mention if your oven is unreliable, this can be a challenging tip to follow. 

Or… if you’re like me and forget to turn the oven back down, this technique is a bit traumatizing when you accidentally ruin a batch of muffins!! 

That’s why in my Ultimate Muffin recipe, I prefer to bake at 400°F the entire time. You get more height than a lower temperature, just enough browning for slightly crisp buttery edges, but no risk of forgetting to turn the oven temperature down.

This is a good option if you have a thick muffin batter, don’t have the time to allow your batter to rest overnight, and you trust your oven.

Option #3: Fill you muffin tin cavities with more batter!

Many muffin recipes instruct you to fill your muffin tin cavities two-thirds full. If you want taller muffins, fill three-quarters full or even all the way to the top of the pan. You may have less yield but they’ll look more like beautiful bakery-style muffins with more distinct muffin tops.

This works especially well with muffin recipes that yield 15 muffins. I’ll typically just split that batter between 12 muffin cavities in a standard pan. Then add a minute or two to the baking time to ensure they cook through. If you try this with a recipe that yields 12 muffins, you may only get 9 but they’ll be beautifully tall!

BONUS TIP: Use your oven’s convection setting!

If you have one, using the fan setting can help to encourage your muffins to rise up nice and tall. Some convection ovens automatically adjust the oven temperature, but if yours doesn’t, be sure to reduce your baking temperature or you’ll overcook your muffins. Learn more about working your convection oven here.

Troubleshooting Flat Muffins

Why didn’t my muffins rise?

  • Make sure your leavening agents are fresh and effective. Sometimes they lose their leavening power even before the expiration date. Learn how to test them here.
  • Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. If it’s not hot enough, your muffins won’t rise well.
  • Don’t undermix your batter. Sometimes I see people are so worried about overmixing (which will cause tough and rubbery muffins) that they barely bring the batter together. This doesn’t allow gluten to develop which is the structural backbone to muffins. 

Why did my muffins sink?

  • Your muffins may have been underbaked. If they weren’t set enough, they’ll sink as they cool. Try adding a few extra minutes to your baking time. You want a toothpick inserted to come out with a few moist crumbs attached.
ultimate muffins in liners on a white marble surface

Delicious Muffin Recipes to Try:

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

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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  1. #
    Lizet — February 26, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    As always, so useful!
    I always thought I couldn’t keep muffin batter in the fridge overnight. I saw a friend do it one time, and her muffins were hard and dry. So I thought it was because of that.
    Would this method work if you use any kind of oil, or melted butter? Just not when you use the creaming method, right?

  2. #
    Jozelle — February 26, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    Interesting! I was always afraid that the baking powder would somehow become inactive once mixed and chilled or the eggs would go bad since they’re already at room temp. Thank you!

    How long will the batter last in the fridge? Can you premake 2 days in advance?

  3. #
    Kat — February 27, 2021 at 5:01 am

    I also noticed leaving them in the oven after turning it off and letting them cool down slowly helps to set the muffins better. Works well with vegan and gf recipes.

    • #
      Tessa — March 1, 2021 at 11:52 am

      That’s great to know!

  4. #
    Hamed — February 27, 2021 at 11:45 am

    Very Excellency. If you coverings in boxes.

  5. #
    Farhat — February 28, 2021 at 1:01 am

    Thanks for the tips and the way you have explained all, either muffins or cupcakes no body can ignore but making them fine is matter of facts knowing about them and practice. Too yummy!

  6. #
    Mary — March 1, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    I loved this. I missed it the first time I was looking through your posts. I have tried the high to low temperature, but am not mindful enough :). I am going to try the refrigeration method. Thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — March 2, 2021 at 11:26 am

      Let me know how your muffins turn out!

  7. #
    K Poole — March 1, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for your explanation! I’m going to give this a try. I just wish I knew the secret to taller cupcakes vs flat ones. Any recommendations?

  8. #
    Dawne Craigie — June 27, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Thank out for all the great tips for baking muffins. Love all your recipes and have made lots.

  9. #
    AM — June 30, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    In my experience, the viscosity of the batter is the main thing that determines how high my muffins rise. Thicker batters rise higher. I like to keep the water/milk-to-flour ratio low (about 2 parts water or milk to 3 parts flour by weight). Don’t skimp on the oil or eggs though, since these give muffins moisture and structure, respectively. I always add a tiny amount of xanthan gum too (about 1/16 tsp per 12 muffins). It works for me every time.

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