cupcake vs muffin

Muffin vs. Cupcake: What is The Difference Between Them?

“It’s a cupcake.” “No, it’s a muffin.”

You might have heard this debate when munching on either of them. It might be hard to distinguish them, and we usually use the two names so interchangeably, people often become reluctant to spot the differences between them.

However, any skilled baker or chef will easily tell you the differences, and there are quite a few ways to identify and distinguish them. This article will give you some insight into the cupcake vs. muffin debate.

Key Difference Between Cupcake and Muffin

Differences between a Muffin and Cupcake

There are several differences between a cupcake and a muffin, and this article will try to highlight them. They range from small to big, but all of them can help you distinguish what you eat.

1. Ingredients

cake ingredients

Let’s start by seeing the different ingredients used in the two dessert items. Like other dessert items, they contain some similar ingredients such as eggs, flour, and milk.

Cupcakes make use of butter and include much higher sugar content. Cupcakes, as the name suggests, are smaller cakes. As a result, they also include other ingredients commonly found in cake, such as vanilla essence and chocolate.

Muffins tend to have lower sugar content. They also tend to substitute butter with vegetable oil or other healthier alternatives. And they also use oat flour instead of all-purpose flour. To make muffins unique and tasty, ingredients such as dried fruits and nuts are added.

The main difference, as you can see, is the amount of sugar and how one uses butter, and the other doesn’t.

2. Differences in Batter and Process

Differences in Batter and Process for cake

The batter made and the steps taken to make it differ between the two and is one of the essential differences that go unnoticed. Cupcakes are made out of a much softer and smoother batter. The butter and sugar are mixed to make a fluffy batter.

They are made similar to cakes using creaming methods such as the chiffon method, which involves folding egg whites into batter. The ingredients used are often whisked many times to ensure that no lumps form.

Batters used to make are a bit harder and not as smooth. This makes them much denser than cupcake batter. They are made using the muffin method, which involves using two separate bowls.

One bowl contains all the dry ingredients, and the other bowl contains all the wet ingredients. The wet is poured over the dry and combined. This prevents gluten development.

4. Differences in Texture

Differences in Texture for cake

Due to how different the batters are, this also results in a different texture for the two.

Cupcakes have a much softer texture and are easy to bite into. They are never crispy or dense as muffins. And they tend to not have many fillings inside.

Muffins have a bit harder texture than cupcakes. They are denser and feel more like munching into bread with fillings like nuts or fruits in them. Muffins, in general, are meant to be savory foods in contrast to the sweet taste and softer texture of cupcakes.

5. Difference in Preparation and Storage

Difference in Preparation and Storage for cake

Cupcakes are generally prepared and eaten cold. They are similar to cake and pastries and stored in the cold. High temperatures affect them badly and can ruin them.

Muffins, on the other hand, don’t have any problems with either temperature. They can both be served hot and cold. They also don’t have much difficulty storing.

6. Difference in Size and Shape

Difference in Size and Shape for cake

While there is no set standard for size as it can depend on how much batter a particular baker uses, cupcakes generally aren’t as big as muffins, and their tops do not exceed or flow out of the cup they are made in. Usually, toppings or frostings are added onto the top for a cupcake.

Muffins, however, are a bit larger as they are made to overflow the cup and create a larger top. This is what gives them a mushroom head shape, which is often associated with muffins.

7. Difference in Toppings

Difference in Toppings for cake

This is probably another essential difference and one of the defining differences between the two.

Cupcakes always tend to have frosting or cream on top of them. While the flavors vary, whether or not it comes with frosting on top is often the feature that people identify cupcakes with. This adds to the sugary taste of cupcakes.

Muffins do not have frosting or cream on their tops. They either have some sprinkled sugar on top or a thin layer of glaze. The highlight of muffins is the bread itself and the additional fillings.


These are the primary differences you’ll tend to notice when comparing muffins and cupcakes. Next time anyone brings up the muffin vs. cupcake debate, you’ll be ready to easily solve their confusion. is a participant in the Amazon Associate program and will earn from qualifying purchases.

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