What is the Difference Between Muffins and Cupcakes?

Ever heard the saying cupcakes are muffins that believed in miracles? Well if you didn’t, it is indeed true. Now I’m sure you’re wondering why, and this article will explain to you just that.

Some people think that muffins and cupcakes are two of the same. For the longest time, I too thought that the only difference between the two is that big dollop of frosting sitting on top of cupcakes. 

There are three things that really set muffins and cupcakes apart: Ingredients, process, and presentation. 

I’m Angie, I’m a self-taught baker who’s been baking for over ten years. I’m mostly known for my cupcakes but I make all different treats, muffins included! In this article, I’m going to answer the big question – what is the difference between muffins and cupcakes? You might just be surprised. 

Before further ado, let’s get into it!

1. Ingredients

While the basic ingredients used to make these two treats are the same – flour, butter, sugar, and eggs – the percentage of each is quite different. 

Cupcake recipes generally contain a much higher percentage of sugar and fat. This makes cupcakes sweeter, and moister with finer crumbs. 

To compensate, muffins usually have fruits, nuts, and other ingredients mixed into the batter. You can see that because of this, muffins are usually considered healthier than cupcakes. 

2. Process

The process of making cupcakes is also quite different from that of muffins. That said, there are also different recipes for both. 

Generally speaking, cupcakes, like regular butter cakes, follow a creaming method. The creaming method involves “creaming” together butter and sugar, beating the mixture at high speed to create an even distribution of air in the batter. This is what gives cupcakes their tight crumbs and fluffiness. 

If you’ve made muffins in the past you may have noticed that you don’t need a high-speed mixing tool at all. Muffin batter tends to be thicker and less homogenous and that’s okay – because muffin is supposed to be denser and resemble bread more than cake.

3. Presentation

One thing that makes cupcakes special is their super fun look. I mean, what can really go wrong when you put together colorful cakes and yummy, colorful piped frosting.

There is a lot of creativity that can go into the presentation of cupcakes. Cupcake liners usually come in many colors and patterns. There are also decorative cupcake stands that are perfect for displaying cupcakes like a work of art at events.

Muffins on the other hand can be found at cafes, usually presented more casually in a rustic manner. Compared to cupcakes, which are generally considered a treat for special occasions, muffins are often thought of as a relatively healthy treat that you can have daily, even for breakfast.


Here are some commonly asked questions about muffins and cupcakes. I’ve answered them below.

Why cupcakes are better than muffins?

I would say this is very much a preference. I know many people who would down a muffin without thinking but feel hesitant when given a cupcake and vice versa. For those who think cupcakes are better, their fun look, sweetness, and moist crumbs likely won them over. 

Which is bigger, cupcake or muffin?

Cupcakes come in different sizes, and so do muffins. Generally speaking, muffins and cupcakes are the same sizes, however, muffins tend to dome more and rise higher compared to cupcakes. 

What is the difference between a muffin pan and a cupcake pan?

Muffin pan and cupcake pan are two words used interchangeably to describe the baking pan used to bake both of these treats. 

Final Thoughts

So, are you a muffin or a cupcake type of guy/gal? Taking into consideration its ingredients, process, and presentation, I would definitely say I prefer cupcakes. As a baker, I just find that they’re more complete and more fun to make. 

Did you know about the differences between muffins and cupcakes? What did you think were the main differences? Did I cover all of them? If not, let me know what I missed in the comments section below!

About Angie
I am a self-taught baker. I’ve been baking for over 10 years and started my own home baking business as a side hustle. I was born in Hong Kong and spent a pretty big chunk of my life in Canada. If you’re ever looking for me, I am probably there whisking vigorously away in the kitchen.

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  • Graeme B

    I grew up in the 1950s and the muffins my mother baked were definitely healthy compared with the chocolate chip muffins I eat today lol
    Thanks for explaining the difference !

  • Patricia

    Hi! Thank you for the important info! I usually make cookies, ( snickerdoodles. , Ranger Cookies, ect, I’ve recently had a request for Snickerdoodle Muffins! ( I honestly didn’t know if what the difference between muffins and cupcakes are) So thank you! I’m going to try, fingers crossed!☘️

    • Michelle

      Hi Patricia,
      So happy we could help! Snickerdoodle Muffins sound delicious.
      Happy baking,