When I was little, I loved the chocolate chip muffin tops from Panera Bread. I actually went through a phase where I would pick that over a bagel for Saturday breakfast—a pretty big deal for a girl from New Jersey! While it’s been quite some time since I’ve had one of those muffin tops, I crave the feeling of joy it brought me on those lazy Saturday mornings. This blueberry muffin top recipe is my ode to those days and gives me that same special feeling.
Muffin tops are easy to mix up but can be hard to get right. They can easily become dry and flat, dense, or lack the subtle textural differences that make a muffin so wonderful. I’ve taken out all that guesswork to develop a muffin top recipe that encompasses all the best parts of a muffin: puffed, soft, tender, and light, yet ever-so-slightly crisp around the edges.
These perfectly sweetened blueberry muffin tops are light and plush with a delicately crisp golden brown edge. They’re bursting with pockets of fresh, tangy blueberries and topped with crisp brown sugar and oat streusel for a crumb cake-esque moment. They’re ready in just under an hour, as easy to make as cookies, and a delicious breakfast or afternoon treat.
While there’s so much to love about the whole muffin, the top is arguably the best part. It’s still plush and soft in the center, but it has a little more texture along the edges where the batter tends to spill over and bake directly on the pan.
If the top is your favorite part of the muffin, then skip the bottoms and make muffin tops. They are baked directly on a lined baking sheet which lends itself to all that wonderful nuance in texture, they brown and caramelize a bit more yielding better flavor, and you don’t need any special pans or paper cup liners.
After testing both frozen and fresh fruit, I highly recommend using fresh blueberries in these muffin tops. They have the best flavor and work perfectly in the batter.
However, if you need to use frozen blueberries, you can! Make these adjustments to the recipe:
- Preheat the oven and line the pans first as the 30-minute resting period will be skipped.
- Use the blueberries from frozen. Do not thaw them.
- Toss the frozen blueberries in flour as instructed and gently, but quickly fold them into the batter. Note that the batter will stiffen from the cold blueberries.
- Do not overmix when folding the frozen berries in. Overmixing can encourage the blueberries to bleed and burst in the batter, leaving gray-blue streaks that end up looking a little funky when baked.
- Allow the batter to sit just as long as it takes to make the streusel topping, no more than 10 minutes.
- Muffin tops made with frozen berries may take an additional few minutes of baking time.
- Add a pinch or two of spices like cinnamon, ground ginger, or nutmeg to the streusel and/or batter to give the muffin tops a warm, cozy flavor profile.
- Add a bit of finely grated lemon zest to the batter to brighten and play on the tartness of the blueberries.
- For a nutty bite, replace some or all of the oats in the streusel with slivered almonds.
- Drizzle the muffins with a tangy glaze, such as lemon, yogurt, or cream cheese.
For the ultimate blueberry muffin tops, use these tips:
Don’t skip resting the batter. Letting the batter rest allows the flour to hydrate, resulting in a thicker batter that spreads less, rises more evenly, and holds its shape better. Additionally, ensure the blueberries are dry before tossing them in flour. The dry coating of flour keeps the blueberries from sinking right to the bottom.
For the perfect streusel top: These muffin tops are so wonderful because of how light they are. Because of this, the streusel may sink in a bit or be swallowed up by the rising muffin tops, leaving the topping sparse in some areas. A light dusting of powdered sugar hides any imperfections, but you can take this easy extra step to get the streusel just right.
Divide half of the streusel mixture among the scooped muffin tops before baking (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Halfway through baking, sprinkle with the remaining streusel, rotate the pans, and finish baking per the recipe.
You can skip resting the batter and bake the muffin tops right away, but they will spread a bit more.
- 1 1/3 cups (182g) all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon for dusting the blueberries
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (135g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups (7 1/4 ounces) fresh blueberries, washed and well dried
- 2/3 cup (85g) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (37g) rolled oats
- 1/3 cup (65g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar, as needed for dusting (optional)
- Prepare the batter:
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine and set aside.
Add the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer. Beat together on medium speed until fully combined, smooth, and creamy, about 1 minute. Stop and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Add the egg and oil:
Add the egg and beat together on medium speed until fully incorporated. The mixture may look like it’s on the cusp of separating. That’s okay.
Add the oil and beat together on medium speed, scraping as needed, until fully incorporated.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients:
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the bowl with the butter mixture and beat on low until just combined.
Add 1/2 of the buttermilk and beat on low until just combined. Repeat, alternating the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk, scraping the bowl between each addition. Some dry bits remaining are okay. Do not overmix the batter.
- Toss the berries and fold into the batter:
Add the blueberries to the bowl you used for the flour mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of flour over the blueberries and gently toss to coat.
Add the coated blueberries to the batter. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter until any remaining dry bits have been incorporated and the blueberries are evenly distributed. Do not overmix.
- Rest the batter:
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. This rest helps keep the muffin tops from spreading too much and creates a better dome on top.
- Preheat the oven and prepare the streusel:
While the batter rests, arrange the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the streusel, add the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and salt to a small bowl and mix. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir the mixture together until most of the flour mixture is hydrated. There will still be some dry bits.
Using your hands, work the streusel until no dry bits remain. The mixture should be crumbly but able to hold together in a clump when you squeeze it. Squeeze together small amounts of the mixture to form little streusel clumps.
- Portion out the muffin tops and top with streusel:
Using a 2-inch scoop, scoop out 6 portions of batter onto each baking sheet. To avoid the muffin tops baking into each other, stagger them on the baking sheet and leave a few inches between each one.
Very gently press (you don’t want to flatten them) heaping tablespoons of the streusel on top of each muffin top scoop.
- Bake the muffin tops:
Arrange the muffin tops in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Bake at 400°F for 7 minutes until the muffin top is puffed and the structure is set. Rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Bake for an additional 4 to 6 minutes until the muffin tops are golden on top, golden brown around the edges, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (11 to 13 minutes total).
- Cool and serve:
Let the muffin tops cool on the pans for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. If desired, place a spoonful of powdered sugar in a sifter and lightly dust each muffin top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Leftover muffin tops can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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