There has been a debate brewing for some time on the difference between cupcakes and muffins. Some people think that a frosted muffin is a cupcake and an unfrosted cupcake is a muffin. This just isn't so. Be honest, have you every asked yourself what is the difference between cupcakes and muffins? Regardless of if you have ever pondered the question or not, I will do my best to clarify.





  • Cupcakes and muffins are as similar as they are different. They are both typically sweet and are baked in the same metal tin (frequently referred to as a muffin tin or muffin cups) that have the traditional twelve holes. In addition, muffins and cupcakes share a lot of the same basic ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder and salt.
  • Cupcakes and muffins have different textures. Cupcakes are light and airy like cake since they are after all miniture cakes. Muffins are more like sweet bread and tend to be heavier and more dense. Muffins are basically quickbread without the yeast.
  • Cupcakes generally come with a thick layer or swirl of frosting on top and may be decorated with colorful sprinkles or silver nonpareils whereas muffins typically do not have frosting. Muffins may have a thin glaze drizzled on top made out of lemon juice, water or milk and powdered sugar but most do not.
  • The fat used in the cupcake batter will typically be butter and muffins will typically use oil in the batter.
  • Cupcakes are generally eaten at a party or celebration or eaten as a special treat. Muffins typically are eaten for breakfast or as a healthy snack any time of the day.
  • When you make cupcakes , you beat the all the ingredients together for several minutes which makes the cupcakes light and airy. When you make muffins, the batter is gently and carefully folded together ensuring the mixture isn't overworked- providing a tender muffin.
  • Cupcakes typically don't have fruit and nuts in them, whereas muffins often do.
  • Unlike cupcakes, muffins are very versatile. Muffins can be sweet like banana chocolate chip muffins, cranberry orange or lemon poppy seed muffins to name a few of my sweet favorites or they can be made savory like ham and cheese or bacon cheddar.
  • When looking at the difference between cupcakes and muffins, muffins typically have a larger, spread out top then the top of a cupcake.
  • Cupcakes contain a higher percentage of flour and sugar than muffins do because of the fruit and nuts that are being added to the muffins.
  • Cupcake recipes typically make 24 cupcakes whereas muffin recipes typically make 12 muffins. You could always half the cupcake recipe to make 12 cupcakes or double the muffin recipe to make 24 muffins without affecting the end product.
  • When looking at the difference between cupcakes and muffins, think about how they are prepared. The preperation is completely different for each of them. When you make cupcakes, you typically cream the ingredients together using an electric mixer. When you make muffins, you start by mixing the wet ingredients together in one bowl, the dry ingredients in another and then gently combine the two together with a spatula.

Now that you know what the difference is between cupcakes and muffins, which will you choose- a muffin or a cupcake? For myself, I choose the magnificent muffin. I can do without all the thick, gooey frosting and the empty calories that comes with a cupcake! I like sinking my teeth into a dense, substantial, slightly sweet muffin. I bake them as healthy as I can by making substitutions like substituting a third to a half cup of whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, using really ripe bananas and reducing the amount of sugar, by substituting applesauce for half the oil, butter or margarine, by substituting chia seeds for poppy seeds and by adding a little wheat germ. By making these substitutions, I feel I can eat a muffin for breakfast or as a healthy snack and not feel guilty.

If you like cupcakes, I think you will like any of my delicious muffin recipes. Try one of my favorite muffin recipes like orange chocolate chip or one of my healthier muffin recipes like banana chocolate chip or bran muffins. Enjoy muffins for breakfast or for a tasty guilt-free snack and you too will be a muffin convert!