Traditional cornbread muffins with a hint of sweetness from the honey. They are easy to mix and ready in 30 minutes. Whether you eat them warm with a dollop of butter, or freeze them for later, they're the perfect side dish for chili, stew, soup and the Thanksgiving table. A great recipe that can be easily doubled or tripled.
A simpler alternative to our favorite cornbread recipe with cheese and jalapeños, these slightly sweet cornbread muffins are a staple year-round here.
Ditch the boxed muffin mix from the grocery store and make these quick and easy cornbread muffins with a perfect crumbly texture.
They are great for breakfast, when we grill outside, to eat with soup, as a snack, as part of the Thanksgiving table. So versatile and so easy to make!
A fantastic addition to our muffin recipes, a category that grows every month.
Why make this recipe
- Quick and easy: they come together in 10 minutes and need 15 minutes of oven time. Mine are usually done in a few minutes less because I like them medium/small, as I found they're the perfect size.
- Make ahead: freeze them for a month and reheat them in a medium oven before eating.
- Few ingredients: and easily available. You might have everything in your pantry right now.
- Adjust the sweetness: this recipe is balanced with a hint of honey but allows for a tablespoon or two more of sugar if you like them on the sweeter side.
What's the difference between cornbread and corn muffins?
Corn muffins usually contain corn and are sweeter, while cornbread is made with just cornmeal. Cornbread is traditionally baked in a round or rectangular pan and cut into squares or triangles. Corn muffins use muffin tins, of course.
- Cornmeal: use the traditional yellow cornmeal. If unavailable, yellow polenta also works.
- Honey: use the classic runny honey. Thick or creamy ones will be harder to incorporate.
- White granulated sugar.
- Egg: fresh, large.
- Unsalted butter. Or oil, such as sunflower or coconut oil.
- All-purpose flour.
- Baking powder: make sure it's not expired.
- Salt: I like using kosher salt or fine sea salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Black pepper.
- Milk: you can use whole milk, reduced fat, buttermilk, or even almond milk.
Variations & substitutions
- Maple syrup: use it instead of honey.
- Use oil instead of butter: they will lose the buttery flavor but will be moister. Or use half melted butter and half oil (1 tablespoon each). Sometimes when I use oil, I don't need to add milk.
- Chopped pecans: they pair wonderfully well adding a fantastic nutty flavor.
- Blueberries: fold fresh or frozen blueberries into the batter to create a sweet and tangy breakfast muffin.
- Cranberry and orange: mix in dried cranberries and orange zest for a more citrusy muffin that's good for breakfast and as a snack.
- Savory add-ins: crisp bacon or sausage bits and cheese (cheddar, swiss, fontina, blue cheese) can be added to the batter.
- Herbs and spices: add chopped chives, parsley or cilantro. A touch of jalapeño peppers, fresh or ground, chili powder or smoked paprika adds a spicy kick.
Difference between cornmeal and polenta
They're both made from ground dried corn and are the same thing, in essence, but vary in the coarseness of the grain and how thin it's milled.
Polenta is slightly more rustic, with a coarser bite to it. More similar to grits but not as starchy.
Depending on where you are in the world, cornmeal can be substituted for yellow polenta. And call them polenta muffins or polenta cornbread.
How to make cornbread muffins
- You need runny honey for this recipe. So if the one you use is thick, warm it up a little. I use the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
One-bowl mixing: the dry ingredients are stirred in a large bowl, and then the wet ingredients are added and integrated with a whisk or spatula.
Or do it the old-fashioned way: mix the wet part (eggs, honey, melted butter, and milk) in a separate bowl first.
The final batter is creamy and smooth. Except for the texture the cornmeal or polenta adds, there should be no lumps or dry parts. Don't beat it; simply stir the ingredients together.
- Yield: depending on the size you want to make your muffins, you might get more than 6 and less than 12. So fill the muffin cups that will not be used with water so the muffin tin weighs evenly when you put it in the oven. Some pans can tilt to one side in the hot oven.
- Paper liners: or muffin cups. You can use them. I don't for these muffins as they're medium-sized and I like the bottom and edges browned. But it's an option.
- Large muffins: use a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan and divide the batter evenly.
Baking cornbread muffins
- Fill the muffin cups no more than ¾ of their capacity. This is a dense batter, so the muffin tops will rise wonderfully, bake to a light golden brown, and crack. But still, if you fill them too much, you always risk overflowing during baking.
- Preheated oven. Make sure you turn on the oven before you start mixing the muffin batter.
- When are they done? For this recipe, I like making medium-sized muffins that are perfect as a side for meals. They take about 15-18 minutes and should be springy to the touch. A cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Don't overbake them.
Troubleshooting common issues
- Overmixing the batter can cause the muffins to become tough and dense. Simply combine the ingredients, don't beat or overmix.
- Using the wrong type of flour can affect the texture of the muffins. For example, using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour can result in tough muffins. It is important to use the type of flour specified in the recipe.
- Using cold ingredients: they can cause the batter to not mix well and be lumpy. Using ingredients at room temperature is important unless otherwise specified in the recipe.
- Not greasing the muffin tin properly can cause the muffins to stick to the pan and be difficult to remove. Use baking spray or soft butter.
- Overbaking the muffins can cause them to become dry and hard. Check the muffins a few minutes before the end of the suggested baking time with a cake tester or toothpick, and remove them from the oven as soon as they are cooked through.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: consider that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Size: you can make them any size you want, from mini muffins to jumbo muffins. The baking times will all be different, of course, so use the one given in the recipe as a base.
- Storing corn bread muffins: they are best eaten the day they are baked, preferably warm from the oven. But they do keep well in an airtight container for a few days. Or frozen for a month, either well wrapped or in a freezer bag. Let them come to room temperature and then warm in a medium oven (350°F/180°C) before eating.
- Serve a crowd: this is a great recipe to make a double batch or even triple it. If you're making them ahead and freezing, do so while still barely warm. I find that they keep the moisture better. Always rewarm before serving.
- Serving them: warm with a dollop of butter or sour cream and a drizzle of honey (or whipped honey butter) is how we roll here for breakfast and brunch. Warm and plain as a side dish for soups, stews, chili and barbecues. Sometimes we split and toast them before slathering butter. They also make good ham and cheese sandwiches.
Should I refrigerate cornbread muffins?
It's not necessary; they keep well at room temperature. Always store them in a plastic bag or airtight container, and try not to stack them so they don't crumble. If not eaten during the first few days, I recommend you freeze them.
How do you keep cornbread muffins moist?
Make sure you don't overbake them, and keep them at room temperature, wrapped or covered to prevent dryness. I discourage keeping them in the refrigerator because they lose their moistness and softness more quickly.
Can polenta and cornmeal be used interchangeably?
Yes, they can. Polenta is a tad coarser than cornmeal, but they are, in essence, the same ingredient. You'll feel the polenta slightly more when you bite into it.
Related recipes you might like:
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- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup fine cornmeal (or polenta)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Large pinch of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (or oil)
- ¼ cup milk, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven at 350°F/180°C
- Grease 10 muffin cups for medium muffins.
- If the honey is too thick, warm it a little in the microwave so it’s easier to integrate.
- Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, cornmeal and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the rest of the ingredients: melted butter, honey, milk, and eggs. You can mix them first in a medium bowl or add them directly.
- Mix everything quickly, without beating but integrating well with a whisk or spatula. There should be no lumps or dry spots.
- Divide batter between muffin tins, filling no more than ¾ of their capacity.
- Bake for about 15 minutes (or more, depending on the size), until the top is golden, cracked and springy. A cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean. Don’t over bake them!
- Let them cool on a wire rack until warm enough to eat.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Size: you can make them any size you want, from mini muffins to jumbo muffins. The baking times will all be different, of course, so use the one given in the recipe as a base.
Adjust the sweetness. This recipe is balanced with a hint of sweetness, but allows for a tablespoon or two more of sugar, if you like them more on the sweet side.
Use oil instead of butter: it will lose the butter flavor but they will be moister. You can also use half melted butter and half oil (2 tablespoons of each).
Storing corn bread muffins: they are best eaten the day they are baked, preferably warm from the oven. But they do keep well in an airtight container for a few days. Or frozen for a month, either well wrapped or in freezer bags. Let them come to room temperature and then warm them in a medium oven (350°F/180°C) before eating.
Serve a crowd: this is a great recipe to make a double batch or even triple it. If you're making them ahead and freezing, do so while still barely warm. I find that they keep the moisture better. Always rewarm before serving.
Serving them: warm with a dollop of butter or sour cream and a drizzle of honey is how we roll here for breakfast and brunch. Warm and plain for soups, stews, chili and barbecues. And sometimes we split them and toast them before slathering butter. They also make good ham and cheese sandwiches.
Add-ins: take this recipe as a basic cornbread batter to which you can add some chopped jalapeños, some chili powder or smoked paprika, grated swiss or cheddar cheese, or chopped pecans, maybe bacon bits.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Category: Muffins
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/10
- Calories: 182
- Sugar: 6.4 g
- Sodium: 132.1 mg
- Fat: 10.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 21.2 g
- Protein: 2.7 g
- Cholesterol: 43.1 mg
Keywords: cornbread muffins