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.
How to Bake Extra Tall Bakery Style Muffins
(Tips for ANY recipe!)
Option #1: Overnight Batter Rest (my favorite!)
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!
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
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.
Delicious Muffin Recipes to Try:
- Ultimate Muffins
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins
- Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Double Chocolate Muffins
- Chocolate Coffee Toffee Crunch Muffins
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.
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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