These plain basic buttermilk muffins are soft and fluffy with a rich, buttery flavor. The buttermilk makes them extra tender! They're the perfect base for so many muffin flavors, from blueberry to chocolate chip to lemon poppyseed.
Everyone needs a versatile, simple muffin recipe. That's where these basic buttermilk muffins come in! They're made with simple ingredients, like flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and (of course) buttermilk. It's an easy, classic recipe that works with so many add-ins, like chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, citrus, and more!
I have to be honest though- these muffins are so delicious on their own! Not only does the buttermilk add a little extra tang, but it makes the texture so moist, light, and tender. A sprinkle of crunchy sugar on top makes them taste like muffins you'd find at a bakery!
I've made a LOT of muffins using this recipe, like white chocolate muffins, grapefruit chai muffins, dried cranberry muffins, and blueberry muffins, but the flavor options are endless. The best part is you can whip up a batch in 30 minutes or less for a quick breakfast or brunch treat!
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- All purpose flour- This flour makes up the structure of our muffins, giving them a hearty yet tender crumb.
- Granulated sugar- This sweetens the muffins, keeps them moist, and helps them caramelize a bit. You can also use cane or caster sugar.
- Baking powder- Baking powder reacts with the heat of the oven to help the muffins rise.
- Salt- A little salt helps balance the sweetness and amplify the other flavors.
- Unsalted butter- This adds extra fat and a rich flavor. I like using melted butter in muffins because it's super low maintenance. It's ok for muffins to be a little dense and they don't rely on the structure of creamed butter like cupcakes do, so melted butter is perfectly suitable to use.
- Oil- Because butter solidifies at room temperature, muffins made with only butter can be a bit too dense. Using oil alongside butter keeps them soft and moist for much longer! Use a neutral, flavorless oil like canola, avocado, or vegetable oil.
- Eggs- 2 large eggs hold the other ingredients together and add a little extra lift. Make sure they're at room temperature so they mix in easily. Take them out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking.
- Vanilla extract- A splash of vanilla enhances all the other flavors.
- Buttermilk- Buttermilk tenderizes the gluten strands from the flour to make muffins extra light and fluffy. It also adds a slightly sour, tangy flavor. Make sure this is also at room temperature- take it out of the refrigerator with the eggs.
- All purpose flour: Try making gluten free muffins using Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour.
- Buttermilk: An equal amount of plain kefir, Greek yogurt, or sour cream can be substituted for buttermilk. Yes, you can make your own buttermilk by mixing lemon juice or vinegar with whole milk, but I don't recommend doing that for this recipe since I can't guarantee the results!
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- You need a 12-well muffin tin lined with muffin liners or prepared with baking spray. Use a light colored aluminum pan for the best results. Don't use a black pan or silicone pan because your muffins will burn.
- Large mixing bowls, a balloon whisk, and a rubber spatula are essential for mixing all the ingredients together.
Step by Step Instructions
Here are the steps to make the muffins. Before you start, preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. Melt your butter, prepare a muffin pan with liners, and set it aside.
STEP 1: First, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
STEP 2: In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla together until well combined.
STEP 3: Next, pour in the buttermilk. Whisk everything together until smooth with no lumps.
STEP 4: Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold them in with a rubber spatula just until all the dry flour disappears. It's ok if there are a few lumps! You can add whatever mix-ins you want after the flour is combined.
STEP 5: With a large cookie scoop or spoon, fill each muffin liner ¾ of the way full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired and bake at 425°F/220°C for 5 minutes before reducing the heat to 400°F/200°C and baking for 15-20 more minutes.
Baking the muffins at an initial high heat helps the tops rise quickly and get that domed look we all love.
STEP 6: The muffins are done once a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool to room temperature and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Don't overmix. Overmixing deflates air bubbles in the batter and makes the gluten overdevelop. These things result in tough muffins. For muffins that are light and fluffy, mix the dry ingredients until no dry streaks of flour are left.
- Bake at a high heat. Baking at a high temperature of 425°F for 5 minutes makes the muffins rise quickly, creating tall, domed muffin tops.
- Leave space between each liner. For extra tall muffins, bake 6 at a time with a space between each muffin liner. This lets heat get to all sides evenly and gives the muffins extra room to rise.
Additions and Variations
Here are some different flavors you can make using this plain muffin recipe as the base. Personally, I like to eat these plain with a drizzle of honey, so I haven't tested all these ideas. Let me know how it goes if you try one!
- Blueberry- Coat fresh or frozen blueberries with a little flour and fold them into the batter. You can use other berries too, like raspberries or blackberries. Add a little lemon zest to make lemon blueberry muffins!
- Cinnamon streusel- Add a tablespoon of cinnamon and mix 2 tablespoons of flour, sugar, and melted butter together to create a streusel to sprinkle on top. You could even fold in chopped apples to make apple cinnamon muffins!
- Lemon poppyseed- Add fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and a few tablespoons of poppyseeds. You can use different citrus too, like limes or oranges.
- Chocolate chip- Fold a cup of chocolate chips into the batter and sprinkle some on top of the muffins before baking. White, dark, and semi-sweet chocolate chips all work!
- Mini muffins- Use a mini muffin pan to make 28 mini muffins! Mini blueberry muffins and cinnamon muffins are delicious using this recipe as a base.
Storage and Freezing
The muffins stay fresh for 3-4 days stored in an airtight container on the counter. I don't recommend storing them in the refrigerator because the low-humidity environment can cause them to dry out.
Let the muffins cool completely before freezing them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze them for up to 3 months!
Before eating, let the muffins thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter for a couple hours. You can microwave them for about 20 seconds or reheat in the oven for 5 minutes at 350°F/180°C.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can't use milk instead of buttermilk here. The acidity of buttermilk is what breaks down the gluten strands and makes the muffins so soft, fluffy, and moist!
Nope! For this recipe you need the real thing.
You probably overbaked them or added too much flour. I recommend weighing the flour in grams with a kitchen scale for the best results. If you don't have one, fluff up the flour in the bag first before gently spooning it into your measuring cup.
More Muffin Recipes to Try
Basic Buttermilk Muffins
- Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.320 grams all purpose flour, 250 grams granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- Whisk the melted butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until well combined. Add the buttermilk and whisk until smooth with no lumps.56 grams melted butter, 50 grams neutral oil, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 160 grams buttermilk
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula or large spoon until no dry streaks remain.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the muffins liners, filling each ¾ full. Sprinkle coarse sugar on top if desired.
- Bake the muffins for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F/200°C and continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely and enjoy!