Differences Between Cupcakes And Muffins


Cupcakes and muffins can look very similar but their characteristics can be pretty easily differentiated just by looking at them. The major difference lies in the way they are made, and their ingredients. They are also very different in their presentation and design.

Although both emerged from the concept of “small cakes” or “individual cakes”, they are commercially manufactured for different clients. Cupcake makers concentrate more on looks, designs, shapes and packaging and the flavour of the frosting whereas muffin manufacturers are looking for customers who love their muffins everyday with a cup of coffee or tea.

Well, for both cupcakes and muffins you need flour, butter, eggs, milk, and sugar. But for cupcakes, you are going to use cake flour and butter. Meanwhile, muffins can be made with all-purpose flour or whole-wheat flour and instead of butter, you will use vegetable oil.

What is a Cupcake?

A cupcake is a small cake designed to serve one person, which may be baked in a small thin paper or aluminum cup. As with larger cakes, frosting and other cake decorations such as fruit and candy may be applied.

A standard cupcake uses the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Nearly any recipe that is suitable for a layer cake can be used to bake cupcakes. The cake batter used for cupcakes may be flavored or have other ingredients stirred in, such as raisins, berries, nuts, or chocolate chips.

Cupcakes may be topped with frosting or other cake decorations. Elaborately decorated cupcakes may be made for special occasions. They may be filled with frosting, fruit, or pastry cream.

What is a Muffin?

A muffin is an individually portioned baked product, however the term can refer to one of two distinct items: a part-raised flatbread that is baked and then cooked on a griddle, or an quickbread that is chemically leavened and then baked in a mold.

Muffins are available in both savoury varieties, such as cornmeal and cheese muffins, or sweet varieties such as blueberry, chocolate chip, lemon or banana flavours. Sweetened muffins range from lightly sweetened muffins to products that are “richer than many cakes in fat and sugar.”  

Muffins are similar to cupcakes in size and cooking methods, the main difference being that cupcakes tend to be sweet desserts using cake batter and which are often topped with sugar icing (American frosting). Muffins may have solid items mixed into the batter, such as berries, chocolate chips or nuts.

Cupcakes vs Muffins: Key Difference

Points of ComparisonCupcakesMuffins
DescriptionCupcakes are miniature cakes i.e small one-bite cakes.Muffins are miniature quick breads i.e small bread-like eats.
IngredientsCupcakes are made with cake flour and butter.Muffins are made from wholesome ingredients such as whole wheat, oat, or nut flour and vegetable oil.
PreparationFor cupcakes, you need to whisk the ingredients a lot more and add them one by one, to obtain a smooth batter. Fo muffins you can mix all the ingredients together and lightly stir them, which will result in a dense batter. 
FrostingAlways topped with frosting.There is no frosting on the muffin.
EatingCupcakes are eaten as a bite or primarily used for dessert.Muffins are commonly eaten in the morning as a breakfast food.
EatingCupcakes are eaten cold. Muffins can be eaten both hot or cold, depending how you like them.
Other IngredientsThe amount of fat, sugar, and eggs to flour is doubled in cupcakes compared to muffins.Muffins contain less sugar and can be sweet or savory. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cupcakes tend to have more sugar and so they’re a lot sweeter than muffins.
  • Cupcakes are made with cake flour and butter, but muffins can be made with maida, whole wheat flour and vegetable oil. 
  • Cupcakes are more decorative than muffins, as you can adorn them with sprinkles, candies, colorful paper liners, or elaborate frosting designs for celebrations and parties. 
  • Muffins are plainer and don’t often feature a decoration, garnish, or liner.
  • cupcakes are primarily for dessert, muffins can accompany a dessert, side dish, or appetizer, depending on the flavor profile.
  • The amount of fat, sugar, and eggs to flour is doubled in cupcakes compared to muffins.
  • Muffins are commonly eaten in the morning as a breakfast food.
  • A cupcake is a cake you can eat in one bite, and it’s always topped with frosting. All cupcakes are sweet, and they never have a filling, as the batter is already sweet enough to do the trick.
  • Muffins are more likely to use wholesome ingredients such as whole wheat, oat, or nut flour. A muffin can be made with bacon, vegetables, and fruits, and it can contain a filling of nuts, chocolate or fruits. There is no frosting on the muffin.