This is a versatile, tasty savory muffin recipe with a good crumb. There's a nice sharp kick from the cheese and seasonings and a fresh feel from the tomatoes. You can add other ingredients, like spinach, mushroom, ham or bacon. They freeze wonderfully and are perfect for brunch tables and a great savory alternative for breakfast.
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Originally posted in 2013, this post has been updated with photos, text, and a tweaked (much better) recipe to serve you better.
I'm a big fan of muffins in general, mostly because they are great fresh and they freeze SO well! I usually have a bunch of my favorites (Raisin Bran muffins and Morning Glory muffins) frozen at all times and eat them in the morning, warm.
The idea of a savory muffin always appealed to me (as do savory scones); in my mind, it always had cheese. Of course!
This recipe combines the chewy texture of cheese with a tight and nice crumb.
It makes a great addition to a brunch table or as a snack. Can't argue with that.
- Cheese: I love to use white Cheddar cheese, Gouda, or Fontina because they have a strong flavor but are not too spicy. Any semi-hard cheese you like works well. White cheddar would be another great choice. Alternatively, you can use half mozzarella cheese (or other melty cheese), and the muffins will be softer, but make sure you compensate with enough seasoning, as mozzarella has less flavor.
- Milk: I use whole milk or low-fat, depending on what I have in the house. But you can use any type, even almond milk.
- Egg: large, fresh.
- Unsalted butter.
- Tomatoes: I like that they add freshness to the muffin. Make sure they are seeded to avoid excess moisture.
- Herbs: parsley goes well with the other ingredients, but basil and thyme also work wonderfully.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Seasonings: black pepper of course, but you can also add a dash of spice with chili powder or smoked paprika.
- Muffins are very easy to make and these are made the old-fashioned way: a bowl with wet ingredients and a bowl with dry ingredients that are mixed together swiftly and lightly (images 1 and 2).
- The add-ins (cheese, tomatoes, and parsley) are added before the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. That way the batter is mixed as little as possible to ensure muffins that are as tender as possible (images 3 and 4).
This recipe is for regular-sized muffins.
- Paper liners or cups: I use them because I find it easier and less messy since I don't have to butter the pan, and then wash it! But that means that the edges of the muffins will be soft and not develop a crust because they are in contact with the paper as they bake and not the buttered metal.
- Buttering the muffin tin: if you want crustier muffins - not only on top but also on the sides - omit paper cups and butter the individual rounds. Or use cooking spray.
- Yield: 12 muffins when you fill ¾ of the paper cup, and 10 muffins if you fill it almost to the top. The batter holds itself well so there's little chance of overflow even if you fill it more than three quarters, which is a standard way of avoiding spills.
The image below is for half the recipe.
Storing - Freezing
I think muffins should be eaten freshly baked or a few hours later at the most.
That said, you can keep these savory ones at room temperature, wrapped, and eat them the next day. They will be chewier and less tender. Warming them in the oven is highly recommended.
Freezing: they freeze wonderfully, especially if you're going to warm them before eating. I like to put them in a container with a lid or foam tray and wrap them first in plastic and then in aluminum foil. Don't overcrowd them so that they don't get squashed.
This is a basic recipe with add-ins that can be varied to get different flavors.
- Ham or bacon: omit the tomato and add chopped ham (any type you like) or crunchy bacon bits.
- Spinach: a very popular flavor, make sure the spinach is as dry as possible so you don't add extra liquid to the batter. Use it instead of the tomato or add half of each.
- Vegetables: such as garlic (or garlic powder), onion, grated carrot, zucchini, eggplant (baked or roasted first in a medium oven until they are brown and have released the extra liquid). Chop them before adding them to the muffin batter. You can use a combination of them or individually, and can substitute them for the tomato.
- Corn: use cooked corn (frozen works very well). I like roast it first until very lightly charred to add flavor. Substitute the tomato in the recipe or use the corn in addition to it.
- Olives: green or black olives, chopped, can be added instead of the tomato for a fantastic variation.
- Mushrooms: chop and cook them first until they release all the liquid. Use them instead of the tomato.
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- 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (240g) whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups (270g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup chopped tomato, seeded
- 4oz (about 1 cup) semi-hard cheese, such as Gouda or Fontina, grated
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or basil
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Grease or spray 12 muffin molds. Or fill with paper cups.
- In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl mix butter, eggs, and milk.
- Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix lightly, some dry parts should remain.
- Add cheese, tomato, and parsley. Mix just until combined. Don’t over mix or the muffins will be tough.
- Divide evenly between the 12 muffin molds.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden and a tester comes out clean. Don't overbake.
- Let cool on a wire rack but my recommendation is to eat warm.
Cheese: you can use any combination of cheeses. I usually like a very melty one (mozzarella) and a stronger hard one, like gouda or even gruyere.
Add-ins: this recipe is easily customizable to different flavors.
Ham/salami/bacon: omit the tomato and add chopped ham or salami (any type you like) or crunchy bacon bits.
Spinach: a very popular flavor, make sure the spinach is as dry as possible so you don't add extra liquid to the batter. Use it instead of the tomato or add half of each.
Vegetables: such as garlic (or garlic powder), onion, grated carrot, zucchini, eggplant (baked or roasted first in a medium oven until they are brown and have released the extra liquid). Chop them before adding them to the muffin batter. You can use a combination of them or individually, and can substitute them for the tomato.
Corn: use cooked corn (frozen works very well). I like to roast it first until very lightly charred to add more flavor. Substitute the tomato in the recipe or use the corn in addition to it.
Olives: green or black olives, chopped, can be added instead of the tomato for a fantastic variation.
Mushrooms: chop and cook them first until they release all the liquid. Use them instead of the tomato.
Seasonings: be sure to add enough salt and pepper. Under seasoned muffins are so dull. Spice it up with some smoked paprika or chili pepper if that's your jam.
Yield: 12 regular medium-sized muffins when you fill ¾ of the paper cup, and 10 muffins if you fill it almost to the top. The batter holds itself well so there's little chance of overflow even if you fill it more than three quarters, which is a standard way of avoiding spills.
Freezing: these muffins can be frozen, wrapped first in plastic and then in aluminum foil. Rewarm in a medium (170°F) oven before eating.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 20
- Category: Muffins
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/12
- Calories: 174
- Sugar: 1.4 g
- Sodium: 347.7 mg
- Fat: 8 g
- Carbohydrates: 18.4 g
- Fiber: 0.7 g
- Protein: 7.3 g
- Cholesterol: 49.6 mg
Keywords: cheese muffins