Leah Foster Muffin Tops cupcake art
Leah Foster Muffin Tops cupcake art. Photo © Rachel Krammer Bussel (CC BY 2.0)

We’re up for a yummy treat today so prepare your tummies to grumble and mouths to salivate because we’re going to talk about two of our favorite handy foods. If you’re one of those people who could barely distinguish between a cupcake and a muffin, this article might just be the best face-off that would clear your head over the simple (but confusing) things in life. Here we go!

How can we tell the difference between cupcakes and muffins?
How can we tell the difference between cupcakes and muffins?

So how can we really tell them apart?

If you’re going to place both cupcake and muffin side-by-side, they would look identical and barely recognizable. But once you take a bite of each and taste them, you’ll know by then which one is a cupcake and which is a muffin.


Let’s first trace where these two came from.

Muffins originated when people wanted to add a piece of bread to their meal. Instead of baking a big loaf to be shared to everyone, they formed it a bit smaller and turned into what we now call a muffin.

Cupcakes are smaller version of cakes. They’re called cupcakes because they are basically cup-sized.


What set both cupcake and muffin apart is their ingredients and the meals they are associated with.

Muffins usually associated with breakfast foods, are generally healthier than cupcakes. Looking into what they’re made of, muffins are comprised of all-purpose flour or whole wheat grain flours, sometimes mixed with other whole grain ingredients. It also uses vegetable oil. This is in some ways healthier compared to the ingredients used in cupcakes, but muffins still contain a large amount of fat and simple sugars, often without enough nutrient payoff. At any rate, muffins at least try to be healthy, whereas cupcakes are a hundred percent dessert. Cupcakes are made up of cake flour and most of the time butter is used instead of oil.

Muffins can have different fillings and can be served hot or cold.

Muffins are also more savory and dry compared to cupcakes. Since, as said earlier, muffins originated as breads, they are not as moist as cupcakes.

Although both muffins and cupcakes are sweet, muffins are considered the healthier choice since it is usually mixed with fruits and nuts; not much with chocolate and other sugary filling.

And speaking of sugar, what totally sets the difference between the two is the ‘sugar’ factor. Although muffins are sometimes topped with icing (like some we could find in coffee and pastry shops or what they call topped muffin), they are normally bare.

Colorful cupcakes with different icing and frosting and all other sweet toppings.

Cupcakes, however, are 100% sweet. As said earlier, cupcakes are just smaller cakes therefore, cupcakes are full with frosting, icing, glaze, filling, and other sweet sprinkles topped with it.

This is why muffins are considered more of a breakfast food while cupcakes are considered (and best preferred) as dessert.

Article Name
What's the difference between cupcakes and muffins?
Muffins and cupcakes—the royalty of handheld break foods—could be considered twins, but a quick review will remind the difference between the two.


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