Making muffins may not seem like a big deal, but getting the batter right can be quite challenging, especially for people who have never made them before.
What should the consistency of muffin batter be? And how can you adjust it? Muffin batter should be thick but viscous enough to be pourable. A great visual cue for the batter is that it should fall in ribbons and stick to the spatula instead of running off like a thin liquid. To adjust the batter, you can either add milk, or add flour, oats, and nuts to thicken it.
Read below to learn more about how to make the best muffins ever, some tips on how to make the batter, and how you can cleverly adjust the consistency of the batter.
Making the Batter
Muffin batter shares a lot of similarities with cake batter but instead of being sweeter, muffin batter contains a bit less sugar and is a bit thicker. But despite its thicker consistency, if prepared properly, muffins can be light, tender, and delicious!
Muffins have been around for centuries and were once cooked on griddles instead of being baked. But as leavening agents became more readily available, people started to bake muffins which had a significant impact on their texture and flavor.
These baked treats were popularized in England where people used to enjoy muffins for breakfast or with tea. Today, they are available in several variations and are a staple for many bakeries around the world.
How are muffins made?
Muffins are made in the same way as cake batter but there are a few differences. First of all, muffins are denser and require a different mixing technique.
Instead of the creaming method where sugar and eggs are first beaten to create stiff peaks, muffin batter is made by separately mixing the wet and dry ingredients and then mixing both of them to create a thick but pourable batter.
The batter is then poured into molds which are then baked in a well-heated oven. Muffins are beloved for their puffed-up appearance and can be enjoyed either on their own or with an assortment of snacks.
Here is a typical recipe for making world-class muffins at home.
You will need:
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour – we recommend going with high-quality flour.
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup full-fat milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Step 1) Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a muffin tin. You can also use smaller molds. Make sure that you adequately grease all the molds before adding the batter.
Step 2) In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Step 3) In a different bowl, mix milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. You can also add butter instead of oil. Please don’t use very hot butter as it may cook the eggs. We recommend going with lukewarm butter for the best experience.
Step 4) Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. This part is important! The key to making good muffins is to NOT mix the batter too much. Mixing the batter a lot will cause the muffins to come out denser and firmer. Just combine the ingredients until they are incorporated. If there are a few lumps, then that’s fine!
Step 5) Check the consistency of the batter. The batter should be thick but pourable enough to drip down the spoon in a ribbon pattern. Follow the guide below to fix the consistency of the batter if needed.
Step 6) Pour the batter into the molds. Do not fill the molds to the brim. Fill them until they are 2/3 full.
Step 7) Bake the muffins in the preheated oven for about 18-20 minutes. You can also do a quick toothpick test to check their doneness. Insert a toothpick at the center of the muffins. If they come out clean then the muffins are ready. If there is wet batter on the toothpick then you will have to cook them for another 5-10 minutes.
Step 8) Take out the muffin tray(s) from the oven and allow them to cool down for 2-5 minutes. This step is important because if you take the muffins out immediately then they will likely break. Letting them cool will allow them to loosen up.
Step 9) Transfer the muffins onto a wire rack to cool down completely and enjoy!
How to Adjust the Consistency of Muffin Batter
There are several ways to adjust the consistency of the muffin batter. Here are some of the top ways to make the batter thinner or thicker.
Thickening the Batter
Use these tips when the batter is too runny:
Adding More Flour
This one is super simple – but it also happens to be the easiest way to mess up the batter. The reason why is that most people end up adding too much flour which makes the batter too thick. When this happens, you will have to add more wet ingredients which will throw off the balance of the batter and its quantity.
The right way to add more flour is to add it in small increments. Go as small as a teaspoon at a time. Put a sieve over the batter bowl and then add in the flour one teaspoon at a time. Gently mix the ingredients and check the consistency.
The key here is to not overmix the batter which is the biggest risk of adjusting the batter after adding the wet and dry ingredients. Try to fold in the added flour gently and mixing not more than a couple of times. Keep adding the flour until the right consistency has been achieved.
Adding Oats or Nuts
Another smart way of thickening the batter without adding additional flour or mixing it is to add ingredients that can soak up the extra moisture in the batter.
Porous ingredients like oats and nuts can soak up the excess moisture in the batter and make it thicker. Oats are a classic option as it also adds a delicious flavor and texture to the muffins. Add a handful of oats to the batter, gently whisk it in and leave the batter for a few minutes.
Check the consistency of the batter after a few minutes. The batter should begin to thicken! If not, then you can either add more oats or just add a bit of flour to compensate for the extra moisture.
Thinning the Batter
Use the following tips to make the batter thinner:
Adding More Milk
In the case of muffins, thinning the batter is better than thickening it because thickening involves thoroughly mixing dry ingredients which can create gluten strains that can directly affect the texture of the muffins.
If you want to make the batter thinner, then we recommend adding a splash of milk to the batter. Gently whisk the milk in the batter and then check the consistency. If the batter doesn’t fall off the spoon in a ribbon pattern, then you can add a bit more milk – but this time add even less.
The idea here is to add less and less milk after each time until you reach the right consistency. This strategy will prevent the batter from becoming too runny.
Adding more Oil or Butter
Don’t prefer to add more dairy to your muffins? Then the next best thing is to adjust the quantity of oil or butter.
While we don’t recommend that you add too much oil, since it can make the muffins greasy, adding just a splash of it may help you loosen up the consistency. For the best experience, try using melted butter, especially if you have already used oil.
Adding butter may not just loosen the batter, but it may also make the flavor and texture of the muffins richer! Add a bit of melted (and lukewarm) butter at a time and then gently whisk until fully incorporated.
Check the consistency of the batter with a spoon and then follow the above recipe instructions as needed!
Making muffin batter is easy as long as you follow a few basic steps and techniques. Now that you know the right consistency of muffin batter and how to adjust it, let’s take a look at a few related questions:
Can You Add Water to the Batter to Loosen It?
Yes, if you don’t want to add milk or butter then the next best thing is to use water. Using water in small quantities is a great way to adjust the consistency of the batter without affecting its texture or flavor. Add a teaspoon of water at a time and then whisk the batter until fully incorporated.
Don’t add too much water or it might dilute the batter and affect the characteristics of the muffins.
Can You Adjust the Quantity of Baking Powder and Baking Soda to Thicken the Batter?
Adding more baking powder or baking soda to the batter will negatively impact the texture of the muffins as they cook. Never change the proportions of active ingredients like baking powder and soda since they can have a huge impact on the texture of the muffins. Try adjusting the consistency either by using water, milk, or flour.