How To Store Muffins: Best And Easy Ways To Keep Them Fresh

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Muffins can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, as a snack, or for dessert. There are plenty of wonderful flavors to choose from. It's important to know the best way to choose and also to store muffins, so they stay moist, fresh, and delicious for longer. 

Two muffins stacked on a plate on a kitchen counter.
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Heavier and larger than the average cupcake, muffins can be sweet or savory. You can make your own, adding vegetables for extra nutrients, with a great example being carrot banana muffins. Those with a sweet tooth might prefer strawberry lemon muffins. or even the more unusual pistachio muffins

I love to experiment with baked goods and I love how quick and easy it is to make muffins. The fact there are so many kinds to choose from means I'm not going to run out of delicious muffin recipes anytime soon!

There are lots of different recipes for muffins, some of which contain ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit. They're typically less sweet like cakes and are cooked in muffin tins. They're delicious with a cup of tea or coffee, and popular in many countries including the US, the UK, and Canada.

What are Muffins?

These individual-sized baked treats date back to the 1700s when the spelling was "moofin". The exact origin is unknown, although the German word for small cakes is "muffen" so it could have come from there. 

There are recipes in American 1800s cookbooks for "wheat muffins" or "common muffins" baked in a muffin tin. As you might expect, muffins have grown in size throughout history. They used to be just 2 or 3 inches across and can now be nearly twice the size, or even bigger. When making your own, you can of course 

A raising agent, such as bicarbonate of soda, is combined with shortening, butter, or oil, along with fruit, nuts, cheese, or whatever flavoring you want to use. Commercial muffins often contain a modified starch like corn syrup, guar gum, or xanthan gum. 

This helps distribute the chocolate chips or fillings evenly throughout the batter, to keep the muffins moist and this also extends their shelf life. However, homemade muffins don't necessarily keep for that long, so it's a good idea to know how to store muffins.

It's important to note the word "muffin" can refer to both the quick bread type (American muffins) with the distinctive muffin tops or the savory kind (English muffins) which are small, round, and yeasted.

How to Choose Muffins

Like most baked goods, fresh muffins are always good, but stale ones are disappointing. If you're purchasing your blueberry muffins or whatever variety you prefer from the bakery, they should be soft and fresh, while grocery store muffins usually have an expiration date printed on the resealable bag. These can be expensive though and sometimes have ingredients you'd prefer to avoid (such as high-fructose corn syrup), which is why making your own can be the better option.

Muffins in a storage container.

How to Store Muffins

Discover how to store these tasty quick breads known as muffins so they won't go stale the next day or for several days after. Whether you want to store commercially made muffins or your homemade ones, the following tips should prove helpful for you.

  1. Always let muffins completely cool on a wire rack before you store them.
  2. Use paper towels to line an airtight container, then arrange the muffins in there in one single layer.
  3. Add more paper towels on top to soak up any excess moisture, then put the lid on the airtight container.
  4. An alternative is to keep your muffins in a bread box, again using paper towels to soak up any extra moisture as that can result in early spoilage.
  5. Damp paper towels should be replaced every couple of days and, when stored this way at room temperature, your muffins should still be good after 3 or even 4 days.

Another option is freezing them, and you can wrap each in plastic wrap before adding them to a freezer-safe bag, then freeze them for up to 2 months.

Your best bet to get a few extra days out of your muffins is to include some saltine crackers in the airtight container with the muffins - this helps soak up excess moisture and keeps them fresh for longer.

How to Tell if Muffins Are Bad

Nobody wants stale or soggy muffins, so what's the best way to tell if they're still good to eat? A rotten muffin might have visible mold, either on the surface or inside. If you spot this, discard them right away. 

A sour or unpleasant smell is another giveaway, If your muffins smell and look fine, you can do a taste test to see whether they still taste good. Bad muffins will have dried out and become dry and crumbly. The texture of the muffin can show whether it's still good or not.

If a muffin is slightly stale, rather than moldy and rotten, you can use it to make other desserts such as trifle, where the moisture will disguise the dryness of the stale muffin. You can use any variety of muffins for this, including cinnamon muffins which are especially delicious. Moist muffins can also be added to other recipes but it's an especially great way to use stale ones.

Common Questions

What's the difference between muffins and cupcakes?

Muffins are a type of "quick bread" using baking soda or baking powder for leavening rather than yeast. A lot of muffin recipes simply involve combining the ingredients before baking the muffins. With cakes, it's more common to combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients, then mix them together.

Muffins are denser and have a coarser crumb. The top of the muffins are uneven and might be cracked, while cupcakes are usually smooth on top (or frosted to disguise the fact they aren't!) The storage time is similar for both.

What's the best way to thaw and reheat muffins?

Freezing muffins is a good idea because they can keep for months, but can you revive them to experience that "just baked" taste again? The best way to achieve this is to thaw a frozen muffin in its freezer bag on the countertop and then reheat using your appliance of choice. This will work regardless of what type of muffin you're working with. You can choose from the oven, microwave, toaster oven, or an air fryer.

You will want to make sure your sweet or savory muffins don't dry out when you warm them back up. Cover the muffins with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes in an oven or toaster oven, wrap in a paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds, or pop them into the air fryer for 3 minutes. 

It's best to let frozen muffins thaw fully before warming them back up, since the more frozen they are the longer you will have to cook them, and this risks drying them out!

Blackberry muffin on a plate with decorative blackberries.

Curious Muffin Facts

  • The office state muffin of Massachusetts is the corn muffin, the official state muffin of Minnesota is the blueberry muffin, and the official state muffin of New York is the apple muffin.
  • Hawkers use to sell muffins door to door before it was common for households to have ovens in the 1800s, and this is how the British nursery rhyme "The Muffin Man" originated.
  • The biggest muffin ever weighed 323 pounds and was baked in 2015 in Milan, Italy.

When you know not only how to select or bake your own muffins, along with the right way to store your muffins to keep them fresh, you might want to enjoy them on a more regular basis. Proper storage means they should stay moist and delicious until you're ready to enjoy them.

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