Loaded with lemon flavor, jam packed with ripe strawberries, and topped with an amazing strawberry crumb, these Strawberry Muffins are the best muffins for Spring. What I especially love about this recipe is that no mixer or special equipment is required, and you can make the batter the night before so that you can enjoy fresh baked, hot muffins for breakfast. Between the baking powder and going into oven cold, the muffins bake up nice and tall.
Tips for Making Strawberry Muffins
I have three tips for making these muffins. While each tip is optional, I highly recommend following all three of them for the best muffins.
1. Allow the Dairy to Get to Room Temperature
I have developed a super easy schedule to make these Strawberry Muffins: Weigh out the sour cream into a large mixing bowl (and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or any other cover) and remove the eggs from the refrigerator before sitting down (or going out) for dinner. Mix the batter 1 to 3 hours later. With the dairy at room temperature, the batter comes together really quickly. Just be sure to allow the melted butter to cool to room temperature before you mix it in with the rest of the wet ingredients. If the butter is still too warm, whisk together all the wet ingredients and then whisk in the warm, melted butter so that you avoid possibly cooking the eggs. s
2. Refrigerate the Batter
This is a step I have been doing for over 20 years now. I first started doing it when I was hosting brunches. It just made my life much easier to get the batter mixed the night before brunch so I had one less thing to do in the morning. There are a few other advantages to refrigerating the batter:
- The muffins tend to rise more when the batter goes into the oven cold.
- The overnight chill also allows the flour to absorb the moisture without developing the gluten, while allowing the flavors to deepen.
- Once chilled, the batter is much thicker, which means that the thick batter will hold the strawberries in place while they bake instead of them falling to the bottom of the muffin.
Refrigerating the batter works very well with this recipe. It should work with any muffin recipe, provided that there is no baking soda in the recipe. Baking soda, like baking powder, is a chemical leavener. Unlike baking powder, when baking soda first interacts with an acid (this recipe is loaded with acid in the lemon and sour cream), it reacts immediately. Baking powder, on the other hand, is what we call double acting, meaning that there is a small reaction on first contact with the acids in the recipe, but there is a greater reaction when heat is applied in the oven. These muffins rise due to the baking powder becoming activated in the hot oven.
3. Freeze the Strawberries
You can use fresh or frozen strawberries for these Strawberry muffins. One pint of fresh strawberries should give you the 2¼ cups of chopped strawberries needed.
If using frozen strawberries (which I generally prefer because there’s more of a chance they will be sweet), allow them to defrost a bit, maybe 15-30 minutes, so that you can easily cut them. If they are covered in ice, be sure to chip the ice away to avoid getting that excess water into your muffin batter later. I usually measure out approximately 3-4 cups of frozen strawberries. Once chopped, measure out the 2¼ cups needed for the recipe.
I cut each strawberry into quarters, then I cut each quarter into thirds. This way I get nice, bite-sized pieces of strawberries. Once cut, I place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet or baking pan and spread them out so that they are not touching each other. I then place them in the freezer until I’m ready to mix them into the batter. Mixing frozen strawberries into the batter prevents the batter from turning red and helps keep the batter cold before baking them.
4. Spread Some Batter on the Bottom of Each Tin
I picked up this genius tip from Handle the Heat. In the morning, spread about ½ to 1 Tablespoon of the chilled batter on the bottom of each muffin tin (or paper). A metal spatula or bottom of a spoon works great for this. If using paper cups, you can take the paper out of the pan to spread the thin layer of batter on the bottom. Then, gently mix in the frozen strawberries to the rest of the batter and load up the tins with the batter. The small layer of batter without strawberries on the bottom will prevent any strawberry soggy bottoms. Such a great idea!
How to Make Strawberry Muffins
Strawberry muffins take about 10 minutes to whip together, but it is helpful to have a better understanding of the process.
First, let’s talk ingredients.
As explained above, this recipe uses only baking powder and no baking soda. Do not substitute baking soda in this recipe, especially when refrigerating the batter for any period of time. The cornstarch makes the muffin batter slightly softer and lighter.
These muffins boast big flavor because, in addition to the zest of 1 lemon, there is 1 Tablespoon (yes, you read that correctly) of vanilla extract AND 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice. The vanilla is a wonderful contrast to the sour of the lemon. The sour cream contributes both to the tang and to the moistness of the tender crumb of the muffin.
Tips for the Method of Making Strawberry Muffins
- Using your fingertips, massage the lemon zest into the sugar. This helps release the oils from the zest, giving a stronger lemon flavor. Whisk all the remaining dry ingredients into the sugar/zest.
- Use the same whisk from the dry ingredients to whisk together all of the wet ingredients. Make sure the melted butter has cooled a bit so it does not cook the eggs.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula or spoon just until there is barely any flour still showing. With muffins, we want to avoid overmixing the batter so that we do not develop the gluten. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Miix up the crumb topping and store it in airtight container in the refrigerator. I love this crumb topping and use versions of it in my Blueberry Lemon Crumb Babka, Blueberry Hamantaschen, and Sourdough Blueberry Muffins.
- Whether you are using fresh or frozen strawberries, chop them up and freeze them. You can do this step even months before you plan on making the muffins!
- In the morning, line your muffin tins with paper, if using. Spread about ½ to 1 Tablespoon of the chilled batter on the bottom of each muffin tin (or paper). A metal spatula or bottom of a spoon is great for this. Then mix in the frozen strawberries to the rest of the batter. Just give it a few swirls to avoid over mixing. Use an ice cream scoop or cookie scoop to evenly divide the batter into the 12 tins. Each tin should be filled to the top — no need to spread the batter or anything. Mounds are perfect here.
- Top each muffin with the crumb topping. Bake, cool slightly, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Strawberry Muffins
Do I have to refrigerate the strawberry muffin batter before baking?
No, but you will get the best results by refrigerating the muffin batter before baking. In particular, the muffins will rise more and the strawberries are less likely to sink while baking.
Do all the ingredients need to be at room temperature to mix the batter?
No, but the liquid ingredients will mix together much easier if they are all at room temperature.
Should I use fresh or frozen strawberries?
You can use either. I tend to use frozen (especially when it is not strawberry season) because they are almost always perfectly sweet, being picked and frozen at their ripest. Regardless of which you use, you should freeze the chopped strawberries before adding them to the muffin batter.
- 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 240 grams all purpose flour (2 cups)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 113 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled (½ cup or 8 Tablespoons)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 180 grams sour cream, at room temperature (¾ cup)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2¼ cups strawberries, cut into small pieces (fresh or frozen)
- 56 grams all purpose flour (½ cup less 2 teaspoons)
- 54 grams confectioner’s sugar (½ cup)
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 grams freeze dried strawberries (¼ cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 26 grams unsalted butter, melted (2 Tablespoons)
- Muffin batter. In a large mixing bowl, using your fingertips, press the lemon zest into the sugar. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together (use the whisk from the dry ingredients) the sour cream, eggs, melted butter, vanilla and lemon juice.
- With a rubber spatula or spoon, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until there is barely any flour still visible. Do not overmix.
- Cover and refrigerate at least a couple of hours or, preferably, overnight.
- Strawberries. Spread the chopped strawberries onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper so that none of the pieces are touching. Place in the freezer.
- Crumbs. In blender, process the flour, confectioner's sugar, salt and freeze dried strawberries. Pour into a bowl. Add vanilla extract and melted butter. Stir with a fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Line 12 muffin tins with papers or grease the tins with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Spread approximately 1 Tablespoon of the cold muffin batter on the bottoms of each paper or muffin tin. Mix the frozen strawberries into the rest of the batter, being careful not to overmix. (If the strawberries are frozen onto each other, break them apart before adding them to the batter.) Fill the muffin tins with equal amounts of the cold batter. Sprinkle the tops with the crumbs.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Bake time could vary depending on how juicy the strawberries are. Be sure to start checking them at the 25 minute mark.
- Cool in pan on a wire rack.
- You can make these muffins without the refrigeration time, but keep in mind that they may not rise quite as much and you may want to dust the strawberries in about 1 Tablespoon of flour to help avoid them from sinking as they bake. (When chilled, the batter holds the strawberries in place so they do not sink.)
- Instead of making the strawberry crumb, you can simply top each muffin with 1 teaspoon of granulated or Demerara sugar just before baking. But I highly recommend the strawberry crumb.
- Muffins are best eaten within a few hours of when baked. They freeze beautifully. To defrost, wrap completely in aluminum foil and place in oven. Turn oven on to 350° F. Within 5-10 minutes after the oven reaches 350° F, the muffins should be defrosted and warm.