How to Bake Tall Bakery Style Muffins - Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Baking Science | Breakfast

How to Bake Tall Bakery Style Muffins

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

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 work for all muffin recipes?

A: This will work for all muffin recipes containing baking powder as the leavener.

Baking powder is double acting so it activates upon being mixed with liquid and when it hits the heat of the oven. Baking soda only acts upon being mixed with something acidic (like brown sugar). The baking soda in the batter will lose strength the longer it sits before being baked.

You can chill batter containing both leaveners in the fridge if you’d like to get a jump start on breakfast or brunch the night before, but you’ll likely lose a little browning on the muffins while they bake. If you’re curious about learning more about baking soda vs. baking powder, click here!

Q: For fruit muffins (such as berries, apples, etc.), should you add the fruit before or after the overnight chill?

A: Add fruit to the mixture just before baking. The juice of your fruit will more than likely bleed into your muffin if you put it in too early.

To prevent your fruit from sinking to the bottom, spoon a little bit of plain batter (before adding in the fruit) to the bottom of each muffin cavity. Then, mix in the fruit to the batter and spoon it into each cavity.

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 your 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
Author: Tessa Arias

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!)

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!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

  1. #
    Mike — December 1, 2022 at 4:54 am

    We make a Hawaiian banana muffin with drained crushed pineapple. Should it be added after the refrigeration like any fruit?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — December 1, 2022 at 1:01 pm

      Yes, definitely, Mike! Let us know how it goes 🙂

  2. #
    GeeGee — July 27, 2022 at 2:54 pm

    Great Information!!! Thank you! You addressed every question I had. I know this will help me a lot going forward.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 29, 2022 at 11:13 am

      Yay! So happy to hear that all of Tessa’s incredible tips were helpful to you, GeeGee!

  3. #
    Adecia K — July 11, 2022 at 2:52 am

    In another recipe, ‘chocolate coffee toffee crunch muffins’, baking soda and baking powder are used. I would like to try this method for taller muffins. Seeing that baking soda is used in the listed recipe above, would it be possible to chill the batter overnight without the baking soda, then just before baking mix it in?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 14, 2022 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Adecia! We have not tested mixing the baking soda into the batter the next morning after a refrigerated rest, and I imagine it would be difficult to ensure the baking soda was evenly distributed at that point without risking overmixing, resulting in rubbery muffins. Baking soda can lose a little of its oomf with a refrigerated overnight rest, but the main thing we have noticed in our testing is that muffins won’t brown as nicely when rested batter contains baking soda – but that’s not so much of an issue here, since the Chocolate Coffee Toffee Crunch muffins contain cocoa powder – so it would not be as noticeable anyway! I think as long as your baking powder is double-acting, and is fresh (learn how to test for freshness here!) you should hopefully still have nice, tall muffins the next morning. If you’re up for a little experimenting, I would also suggest making the muffin batter, and baking half the batch right away – then refrigerating the remaining batter and baking it off the next morning, to test the side-by-side results! Please let us know at [email protected] if you do experiment this way – we always love to see when people have fun with our recipes!! Happy baking 🙂

  4. #
    FHPerkins — June 5, 2022 at 11:11 am

    For the longest time I was convinced that using my convection oven was a no no. Lately I’ve been using it because the temp is more reliable than the regular setting. I’ve been getting great results. I do notice things are thoroughly baked sooner. I also have started using instant read thermometer for quick breads internal temperature.

  5. #
    BRIGITTE — April 27, 2022 at 11:47 pm

    If I’m making zucchini or carrots muffins, should I add the veggies before baking or I can chill overnight too? I read your recommendations with fruit but you didn’t mention veggies.

    • #
      Emily — May 11, 2022 at 7:55 am

      Hi Brigitte! I’d be cautious of adding the veggies overnight due to the moisture content and would suggest adding them just before baking instead 🙂

  6. #
    Kim — March 24, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    Will the chill the batter overnight technique work with muffin mixes, like krusteaz?

    • #
      Emily — March 25, 2022 at 2:00 pm

      Hi Kim! We haven’t tried using boxed muffin mixes, but I’d imagine that as long as baking powder is the only leavener, it’d work! Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

  7. #
    Melissa — March 11, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Does the same process apply to gluten free recipes that use baking powder? I’ve heard the longer you wait to cook gluten free baked goods, the less gritty taste they have but am always afraid it will turn out flat.

    • #
      Emily — March 15, 2022 at 8:33 am

      Hi Melissa! We don’t bake gluten free, so I can’t say for sure! Let us know how it goes if you experiment.

  8. #
    Doreen Porter — January 29, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    I would like to know how to make a dome on muffin

    • #
      Emily — February 1, 2022 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Doreen! Following our tips on this page should help you achieve beautifully domed muffins. Please let us know how it goes when you bake your next batch of muffins 🙂

  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.

  10. #
    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.

  11. #
    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?

  12. #
    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!

  13. #
    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!
    Farhat…https://www.bakingnfrosting.com/?m=1

  14. #
    Hamed — February 27, 2021 at 11:45 am

    Very Excellency. If you coverings in boxes.

  15. #
    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!

  16. #
    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?

  17. #
    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?

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Cookie Customization Chart
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!
As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]