How to Make Better (and Bluer!) Blueberry Muffins

There’s an ongoing argument in my house this summer—which summer berries are the best summer berries. I flounder on spots two and three, weighing the juicy merits of raspberries vs. blackberries vs. strawberries, but the number one spot in my ranking remains the same. The berry to rule all berries is undoubtedly, consistently, unwaveringly blueberries.

Plump, precious blueberries.

I feel much the same when it comes to muffins. The only muffin that matters in my mind is a blueberry muffin. Keep your banana nuts and morning glories; it’s blueberry muffins or bust, as far as I’m concerned.

Sure, it may be a limited view, but it’s mine. And it’s what’s driven me ever onwards in my quest to build a better blueberry muffin. There are great blueberry muffin recipes out there, but with most, I find myself wanting for more blueberry essence.

I was thinking about this recently when it came to me… a possible way to achieve more blue flavor (without packing in more fresh berries). After a few rounds of testing, I landed at the recipe for Bluer Blueberry Muffins below.

Darcy Lenz
Darcy Lenz

GET THE RECIPE: Bluer Blueberry Muffins

A recipe on its own is fine and well, but I also want to point out a few details about this blueberry muffin recipe that may help make your own muffin baking journey all the more successful. With that, here are some muffin matters to make notes of.

The Secret Ingredient

I guess it’s not all that secret considering I’m publishing it on the internet, but all the same, let’s talk about freeze-dried blueberries. These happen to be my trick for imparting a deeper blueberry flavor into the muffin itself. Just like those strange, crispy strawberries we all wish there were more of in Special K Red Berries Cereal, freeze-dried blueberries are formerly fresh berries preserved by removing their water content. You can find them at a variety of stores, including Target and Whole Foods. (And you can, of course, purchase them online.)

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For this recipe, you’ll take these intensely flavored blueberry morsels and pulverize them into a powder, which you’ll then mix into your other dry ingredients. In developing the recipe, I used a miniature food processor to grind the berries; however, you could also crush them by placing them into a plastic zip-top bag and going at it with a heavy object, such as a mallet. Once you have your pulverized berries, be sure to whisk them thoroughly into your flour mixture, as the berry powder has a proclivity for sticking to itself.

Please Respect the Sour Cream

Many people will tell you to go ahead and substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream in a recipe such as this—do not listen to those people. Unless you like rubber muffins, that is. There are times when you can substitute yogurt and there are times when yogurt is even preferable, but it’s not every time. And it’s definitely not this time. Because of the difference in protein and fat content, Greek yogurt is not going to do for these muffins what sour cream will. Sour cream’s tang beautifully complements the blueberries, yes, but this high-fat dairy product also provides incredible body and gifts lasting moisture and richness to the batter. The baked result is a wonderfully tender muffin. If you were to swap in Greek yogurt, your baked result would be a disappointingly springy muffin. And who wants that?

Use a Gentle Touch

You’ll see the word “gently” used three times in the method of this recipe, and honestly, it should be caps locked and bolded for all three appearances. The importance of using a delicate hand and avoiding overmixing can not be overstated when it comes to preparing muffins and quick breads. (Again, unless you actually enjoy tough, rubbery muffins.) Try to keep this in mind when you’re hustling towards the finish line of getting these muffins into the oven.

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Don’t Overfill the Muffin Cups

I’ll be the first to admit that I am the absolute worst about this. However, if you want to avoid flat muffin tops spreading over the visible surface area of your muffin tin, hinging your beautiful muffins together, fill the cups conservatively.

The Great Muffin Math Mystery

Related to the above, I want to point out that many muffin recipes I’ve tried over the years claim to yield 12 muffins. But if I were to squeeze the amount of batter the recipe produced into 12 muffin cups, they would surely be overfilled. Why might that be, you ask? I think it’s generally understood among recipe developers that a lot of people feel inconvenienced or otherwise displeased by a recipe that yields anything other than 12, or perhaps 24, muffins. Because standard muffin tins typically have 12 muffin cups.

So, if you are ever using a recipe that supposedly makes 12 muffins and you have leftover batter after filling all 12 muffin cups appropriately, you have a few options. You could use a second pan (or make a second batch if you only have one muffin tin) to make a few more muffins. You could fill your 12-cup pan appropriately and try saving the rest of your batter to make a few muffins another day. You could fill your 12-cup pan appropriately and toss the rest of your batter. Or, upon reading this, you could treat yourself to a 24-cup muffin pan so that you never find yourself in this predicament.

This Bluer Blueberry Muffin recipe yields an inconvenient 18 muffins. For that, I’m sorry. But I trust you’ll put the extra 6 muffins to good use.

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