Difference of Cupcake And Muffin: Unraveling the Delicious Distinctions

difference of cupcake and muffin the bailiwick academy

Food news: cupcakes are not the same as muffins! Although similarities between cupcakes and muffins exist, such as they’re sweet, delicious, and handy to eat, there are distinctions. So what’s the difference of a cupcake and a muffin?

Well, one quick difference between a cupcake and a muffin you can notice is, according to The Daily Meal, that cupcakes are cakes, while muffins are quick breads. But it doesn’t stop there. We’ll break down more differences in this article! 

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

Difference of Cupcake And Muffin: Ingredients

Cupcakes are literally the miniaturized version of the usual cakes. That means when you’re making these, you’ll be using a batter that is based on standard cake recipes (which, of course, includes cake flour), which will have more butter (or other fat source) and sugar included. You might even find yourself including ingredients such as whipped eggs or mayonnaise to add texture.

And, of course, you’ll usually have frosting sitting on top of cupcakes. An example are those you can make in The Bailiwick Academy’s Flowers in Full Bloom class.

Muffins, conversely, use ingredients that are associated with bread. When you make muffin batters, you’ll likely use whole wheat flour or oats and vegetable oil instead of butter. Plus, you’ll be using less sugar.

On a side note, does that mean muffins are a healthier option than cupcakes? Well, according to alippo, it’s because cupcake recipes generally contain much higher levels of sugar and fat.

Of course, as we always like to mention, we’re not doctors. That’s why we’re not really sure if muffins are indeed better for you. It is best to check with a nutritionist if this is really the case.

Difference of Cupcake And Muffin: Mixing Method and Composition

According to The Kitchn, another difference between a muffin and a cupcake is their mixing method and composition. Cupcakes are mixed using the creaming method, where the butter and sugar are beaten together until creamy, then the eggs, and finally, the dry and wet ingredients are added in batches. This method incorporates air, creating a nice and fluffy texture.

The mixing process for muffins, no matter what muffins recipe you use, follows the muffin method, which involves mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combining them with minimal mixing. That’s the reason muffins are more dense in texture.

Difference of Cupcake And Muffin: Sweetness and Taste

Cupcakes are, by their very nature, sweet. After all, they are mini-cakes, and who will like cake that’s not sweet, right? And as mentioned above, it’s rare to find cupcakes that aren’t topped with frosting, such as buttercream or cream cheese. Yes, frosting adds more sweetness.

That’s why cupcakes are mostly known as snacks or desserts, whereas muffins, since they contain lower amounts of sugar, and are often flavored with fruits, nuts, or spices, can be suitable for any part of the day. You can have them for breakfast, for merienda, or even as an accompaniment to your evening cup of coffee or tea.

Difference of Cupcake And Muffin: Flavors

Cupcakes and muffins both have sweet flavors, but that’s where another of their similarities stops. Cupcakes only have sweet flavors like vanilla, strawberry, red velvet, and salted caramel. And while there are other exotic flavors, such as matcha or Earl Grey, at the end of the day, they’ll still be sweet. 

The key difference of a muffin from a cupcake is that you can make muffin recipes that are either sweet or savory. For sweet, you can also do the flavors mentioned above, plus a lot more. And for savory flavors, you can make cheese muffins, spinach and bacon, and many others.

You won’t expect those in cake flavors, agree?

Difference of Cupcake And Muffin: Appearance

Another difference between a muffin and a cupcake is the appearance. Admit it: you associate cupcakes as being colorful and decorative, right? That’s why you’ll usually make or buy them for kids’ parties or other special occasions.

Muffins, in contrast, are usually not frosted. They have a more rustic, homey, and simple look. Some muffins have a sprinkling of coarse sugar on top or a simple glaze, but more often than not, they are left plain to let the flavors inside take the spotlight.

Difference of Cupcake and Muffin: Pans

Speaking of appearance, there’s also a difference between muffin and cupcake pans. While you can use them interchangeably, KitchenCuddle summarizes the difference of the pans this way:

  • Shape: Muffin pans are circular, like a tray with pots, while cupcake pans are more like a tray due to the fluffier, less dense nature of cupcake batter.
  • Depth: Cupcake pans are deeper to accommodate the well-rising batter. Muffin pans are smaller since the batter doesn’t rise as much.
  • Variety of shapes: Different-shaped cupcake pans are available because the batter sets well in different molds. Muffin pans are usually circular because the denser batter doesn’t adapt as easily to mold shapes.
  • Dimensions of the base: The base of cupcake pans is typically smaller (5 cm in diameter) and wider at the top (7 to 9 cm in diameter) to create a more rounded shape. Muffin pans are flatter.
  • Need for liners: Cupcakes almost always use liners to prevent the thin batter from spreading and sticking. Since muffins are denser, you won’t need to use liners. Just grease the pan with butter and flour, and you’ll be ready.
  • Filling the pans: Cupcake liners should only be half-filled to allow proper rising, while muffin pans can be filled above the halfway mark. The batter doesn’t overflow because it’s dense.
  • Space between each: Muffin pans have more space between each vessel to allow the batter to spread and create a dome shape. Cupcake trays don’t need as much space since the batter rises within the liner without spreading out.
  • Pan material: The best muffin pans are non-stick to prevent the batter from sticking. The material of a cupcake pan doesn’t affect the outcome because cupcakes use liners, meaning you can get a pan made from various materials, including aluminum, silicone, or non-stick.

Difference of Cupcake And Muffin: Baking Time

Cupcakes are smaller and lighter, so you’ll bake them for a shorter time. They are baked until they are just set to maintain their soft and fluffy texture. Overbaking can lead to dry cupcakes—not something enjoyable to eat!

Muffins are denser and have a higher moisture content, requiring longer baking time. The goal is to achieve a golden brown crust and a fully cooked interior, often resulting in a high-domed top that is characteristic of muffins.

Expand Your Skills: Enroll In A Muffin-Making Class

Isn’t it nice to know that muffins can be both sweet and savory? That means they’re generally more flexible than cupcakes!

So if you’ve developed an interest in baking muffins, learn how to from one of the best muffin-making classes. It’s inside The Bailiwick Academy and taught by Chef Joey Prats: Glorious Cafe-Style Chunky Muffins Master Class!

Discover the joy and satisfaction of creating your own scrumptious muffins with this class. You’ll get the opportunity to master eight unique muffin flavors that come in Texas-size: 

  • Blueberry Lemon
  • Double Chocolate
  • Banana Walnut
  • Pumpkin Pecan Spice
  • Ube Quezo
  • Peanut Butter And Jelly
  • Orange Pistachio, 
  • Corn Bread Muffins

Each recipe has been meticulously curated by Chef Joey himself to ensure that the flavors are innovative and comforting at the same time, with perfectly balanced textures and a simple yet flawless presentation. Plus, he ensured that all the methods in this class are easy to follow and that you’ll get in-depth knowledge on baking these. 

You’ll also get plenty of tips in terms of costing, business, and so much more!

So what are you waiting for? Start your journey to become a muffin maestro—sign up at The Bailiwick Academy today!


Can I use the same recipe for muffins and cupcakes? 

Well, we’ve already discussed the difference between a muffin and cupcake—and there’s a lot! So if you want to use a recipe for a chocolate cupcake to make a muffin, please keep in mind that there’s a difference between a chocolate muffin and cupcake. You won’t get the same outcome, especially with the difference in ingredients.

Can I add frosting to muffins like cupcakes?

While muffins traditionally don’t have frosting, there are no hard rules in baking. If you prefer a sweet topping on your muffin, go for it!

Can I have cupcakes for breakfast? 

Cupcakes are usually seen as a dessert item because they’re sweet. But if you want to have that for breakfast, no one’s going to stop you! After all, there’s no hard and fast rule in what to have for breakfast, right?

Can I use the same baking pan for both cupcakes and muffins? 

Sure you can, but remember to adjust the baking time and temperature as needed, as muffins and cupcakes have different baking requirements. Also, prepare yourself to have different outputs than expected regarding appearance.

Final Thoughts

Cupcakes and muffins, while having many similarities in appearance, offer two distinct culinary experiences. The ingredients, sweetness level, and flavor options are just some of what makes them unique from one another. Understanding these differences will enhance your appreciation of these delicious baked goods, whether you’re savoring them at a bakery or creating them in your own kitchen.

Until the next blog article!


Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more kitchen tips, tricks, and much more!

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