Basic Muffins: Simple and Easy

Basic muffins recipe
The Spruce
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 12 servings

Why a basic muffin? It's a good question. Assuming you want muffins, wouldn't you want them with blueberries or chocolate chips or nuts or raisins or, you know, something?

But before you answer the question, consider these three words: plain cake donuts.

In other words, sometimes you're in the mood for something simple. In fact, sometimes simple ends up being better. For one thing, you actually taste the muffin.


  • 2 cups/260 grams all-purpose flour (or 2 1/4 cups pastry flour; sifted)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat your oven to 400 F.

    Basic muffin ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

    Dry ingredients for basic muffins
     The Spruce
  3. Heat the butter in the microwave, in a microwave-safe bowl, for about a minute, until it's thoroughly melted. Set it aside at room temperature to cool, but don't let it solidify again.

    Melted butter
     The Spruce
  4. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add the sugar, milk, and vanilla.

    Eggs, milk, and super and vanilla in bowl
     The Spruce
  5. Thoroughly grease and flour a 12-cup muffin pan (or use paper muffin liners).

  6. Ensure that the melted butter is warm, but not hot. Pour a tiny bit of the butter into the egg-vanilla-milk mixture and stir it in. Repeat a few more times, adding a slightly larger amount of the liquid butter each time until it's all incorporated.

  7. Now add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until the dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Don't mix too long—10 to 15 seconds at the most! The batter will be visibly lumpy, and you may see pockets of dry flour, but that's okay. Overmixing the batter will cause your muffins to be rubbery.

    Muffin batter
     The Spruce
  8. Let the batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes, to allow the glutens in the flour to relax, and some of those pockets of dry flour to dissolve.

  9. Gently pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake immediately.

    Muffin batter in tins
     The Spruce
  10. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

    Basic muffins
     The Spruce
  11. Serve and enjoy.


  • If you'd like to add a bit more flavor to your muffins, stir in a cup of something like blueberries, chocolate chips, or nuts. Just make sure to add your stir-ins with the dry ingredients, rather than stirring them in at the end. Coating them with flour will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while they bake.
  • Using freshly ground spices instead of ground spices from jars is always going to produce better results because the ones in the jars go stale quickly and lose their flavor. You can get whole cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg and grate them using a spice grater like a microplane.

Recipe Variation