Sparkling gingerbread muffins have beautiful crackly tops, robust spice flavor, and are finished with zippy lemon glaze. The combination of ginger and lemon is totally underrated and works SO well in these festive holiday muffins.
Today I’m bringing one of my favorite muffin recipes back into the spotlight. I spruced up the photos and switched an ingredient to make the muffins a little more moist. I know you’ll love them even more now!
Meet the wonderfully spiced and extra moist gingerbread muffins with lemon glaze. Have you ever had the combination of lemon and gingerbread before? Perhaps a gingersnap cookie with a lemon creme filling? Or a spiced gingerbread cupcake with a fluffy lemon buttercream? The pairing may seem odd, but this combination of flavors WORKS. Spicy sweet gingerbread paired with bright & fresh lemon make an unbeatable pair and if you haven’t tried the two together, you are in for a real treat today. Promise.
These Gingerbread Muffins Are:
- Festive for the holiday season
- Like spiced gingerbread loaf in muffin form
- Deep brown and rich in robust gingerbread flavor
- Spiced with ginger, cloves, and cinnamon
- Crackly on top, just like molasses cookies
- Easier than making individual gingerbread waffles
- Topped with sparkling sugar for crunch
- Garnished with lemon glaze. YUM!
I love making muffins because they’re quicker than bread, cake, scones, cookies (if you need to chill the cookie dough), and basically easier than any other baked good. Prepare the batter, spoon into muffin liners and bake. No need to wait hours for them to cool, either. Just EAT them. Whenever I need a homemade treat for make ahead baking or bringing to a neighbor, friend, etc—I 99% of the time make muffins.
How to Make Gingerbread Muffins
- Warm molasses and butter together. This is an extra step, but takes about 1 minute in the microwave. We need melted butter for this muffin batter, so I always warm it with the molasses. Why warm the molasses, you ask? Because molasses is really thick and heavy right out of the bottle. We need to thin it out so it combines with the other ingredients. Same reason why I warm water and molasses together for my gingerbread snack cake. The warm molasses and butter need to slightly cool before adding the egg, so prep the dry ingredients next.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together. Nothing weird here—just flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and cloves.
- Mix in the other wet ingredients. Whisk brown sugar, 1 egg, milk, and yogurt into the butter/molasses. My original recipe called for 3/4 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup milk and, quite frankly, it made a pretty heavy muffin. Delicious, sure, but last year I began thinning out the batter with a higher ratio of milk. You need 1 cup total, so I use 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup yogurt. If you don’t have yogurt, use sour cream.
- Combine wet & dry ingredients. Smells good already!
- Spoon into muffin liners. If you don’t have muffin liners, grease the pan. Fill the cups all the way to the top—filling is easy because the batter is thick and spoon-able.
- Add crunchy sugar. Sparkling sugar is my favorite secret ingredient for topping scones and pies because it adds sparkle and crunch. Just as we coat molasses cookies with granulated sugar, coat the muffins with coarse sugar. Coarse Sugar in the Raw is a wonderful option, too!
- Bake: The muffins take a little over 20 minutes.
- Top with lemon icing: More on that below!
Baker’s Tip: The muffin batter is thick—this helps create a denser muffin-like texture. Gingerbread cupcakes batter, on the other hand, is a little thinner because we’re looking for a lighter cupcake texture.
What Else Makes These Muffins So Special?
The muffins themselves aren’t overly sweet, so they’re perfect for breakfast, snack, or even a light dessert. We need 1/2 cup of brown sugar for the whole batter, plus 3/4 cup of molasses. Molasses isn’t nearly as sweet as regular sugar, so don’t expect a cloyingly sweet treat. Sometimes I skip the glaze and sparkling sugar on top—and guess what? The muffins are still perfectly flavorful and well-loved.
Use dark brown sugar if you have it. It has more molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Don’t make a special trip to the store if you don’t have it, though. Light (regular) brown sugar is totally fine in this recipe.
Need a snack as you bake Christmas cookies, open gifts, or sip coffee with your friends? These jolly gingerbread muffins fit literally any and all holiday occasions. 😉
Let’s move on to that sweet and tangy lemon glaze—a drippy coating that pairs perfectly with the deep, dark, spiced muffin underneath.
Grab your confectioners’ sugar, a touch of milk, and the juice of a lemon. You can control the lemon flavor and the thickness of it—use more/less lemon juice, more/less sugar, and more/less milk. If you’re not feeling the lemon/ginger combination, keep the muffins plain or use vanilla icing instead.
The Trick for Tall Muffin Tops
And one more thing before I leave you with the recipe! Fill your muffin tins all the way to the top. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F degrees, then for about 15-16 minutes at 350°F degrees. This initial high oven temperature lifts the muffin top up quickly and creates a tall crust, which is why filling the muffin tins to the top is imperative.
Most muffins bake between 350°F – 375°F for the entire time. Setting the oven to 425°F initially and then lowering the temperature after 5 minutes guarantees muffins with tall, sugar-crusted, crackly tops. I do this with all my muffin recipes!Print
Gingerbread Muffins with Sweet Lemon Glaze
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 12-14 muffins
- Category: Muffins
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
These gingerbread muffins have beautiful crackly tops, robust spice flavor, and are finished with zippy lemon glaze. Feel free to skip the glaze for plain gingerbread muffins. See last step for freezing instructions.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup (180ml) unsulphured or dark molasses (do not use blackstrap; I prefer Grandma’s brand)
- 2 and 2/3 cups (334g) all purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120g) plain yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, at room temperature*
- optional: coarse sugar for sprinkling
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar (or more, as needed)
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Generously grease a muffin pan with butter or nonstick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.
- Cut the butter into smaller pieces so it melts easier. In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter and molasses together in the microwave on high for about 1 minute. Whisk until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside to slightly cool as you mix the dry ingredients together.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together.
- Into the molasses/butter mixture, whisk the brown sugar, egg, yogurt, and milk until all wet ingredients are combined. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until *just* combined. Do not over-mix. Batter will be thick and a little lumpy.
- Divide batter among prepared muffin pan, filling all the way to the top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (for added crunch, recommended!), if desired. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and continue to bake for 15-16 minutes until the tops are cracked and centers are set. Use a toothpick to test. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in pan before glazing and serving.
- Make the glaze: As the muffins cool, prepare your lemon glaze by mixing all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. If desired, add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or more milk to thin out. Drizzle on top of warm muffins. Icing will set as the muffins cool, so these are great for storing and/or transporting.
- Cover leftover (iced or plain) muffins and store at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. Muffins (iced or plain) freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter.
- Molasses: I prefer Grandma’s brand dark molasses, but you can also use a light or mild molasses. I do not recommend blackstrap because of its extremely intense/bitter flavor.
- Milk: I use whole milk in these muffins, but you can use lower fat milks or nondairy milk if needed.
- Jumbo Muffins or Mini Muffins: For 6-7 jumbo size muffins, bake in a 6-count jumbo muffin pan, increase baking time to 26-30 total minutes: 5 initial minutes at 425°F and 21-25 minutes at 350°F. For about 50 mini muffins, bake for 11-12 minutes at 350°F the entire time.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Muffin Liners, Muffin Pan, Glass Mixing Bowls
Keywords: gingerbread, ginger, lemon, Christmas
Reader Comments & Reviews
Great recipe! I made a few changes like using gluten free flour, monk fruit sugar and added orange zest to them. I also did an orange glaze. These are so moist and delicious I’ll definitely be making them again! Thank you Sally!
I’ve been eyeing these muffins for a couple of weeks and finally I made them today, I love them I liked how they got a little crispy when I left them out, the drizzle was perfect made them GF, I froze some but I’ll be having one every day with my favorite afternoon tea!
These muffins turned out beautifully! They remind me of old fashioned flavors.
I followed the directions exactly for a perfect result! Bravo!
Needs more spices and maybe some mayo for moisture. Don’t skip the glaze, its the best part.
Really delicious and easy to do thanks to your suggestion to melt the butter with molasses. Lemon glaze was a hit! My grandkids don’t like gingerbread cookies but these were devoured. Next time I will add more ginger.
This is a good recipe. My only thing is that while they are wonderfully fragrant, they are a bit light on the spice side. Next time I think I will double or triple the ginger.
I did use KA whole wheat flour instead of AP and reduced the flower by a couple of tablespoons to compensate. I also used plain greek yogurt because when I read the recipe, it didn’t register that it was calling for regular yogurt. I also included an extra 1-2 teaspoons of milk (probably helped to compensate for the whole wheat flour and greek instead of regular yogurt).
The texture was great and I will definitely make them again.
These muffins are SO GOOD. I made them for Christmas morning and they were a big hit. I used Krusteaz all purpose gluten free flour and it was a great GF substitute. I also didn’t have lemon for the glaze so I used orange instead, and it’s delicious! Definitely make this recipe!
I made these Gingerbread Muffins yesterday because my husband loves gingerbread. We had them this morning for breakfast and they were so delicious. I made the jumbo muffins because I didn’t have enough liners for the standard size muffin tin. I had butter with one half and plain yogurt with bites of the second half. Love the icing and the sugar crunch on top! And these are not overly sweet at all with the icing and the sugar – just a touch. Thanks, Sally!
Would it be possible to add white chocolate chips?
Hi Eleanor, sure! Enjoy
Would it be possible to substitute applesauce for the yogurt?
Hi Nicole, for best taste and texture, we recommend sticking with sour cream or yogurt in these muffins.
I would love to try making this into mini loaves…has anyone tried it? Anyone have an idea of what baking time would be?
Hi Meg! You can absolutely make these muffins into mini loaves. The bake time will vary as mini loaf pans vary in size, so keep an eye on them in the oven and use a toothpick to test for doneness. Bake at 350°F (177°C) the whole time.
Just took these out of oven. Had to sample one warm with the sparking sugar. These are amazing. Plan to top with the lemon glaze as well. Can’t wait to take the section my holiday gatherings.
Just made these yum! Beautiful and moist, topped with the lemon icing, a lovely contrast, will definitely make again
Do you think I could substitute some wheat germ for the flour??
Hi Liz! Substituting wheat germ would dry out these muffins. We don’t recommend it for best results, but let us know if you give it a try!
Planning to make this for Christmas. I don’t have a microwave and was wondering if I could warm up the butter and molasses in a small saucepan on the stove. Would that work?
Yes, that would be fine, Treva. Enjoy!
Very fluffy and yummy. Made a vegan version (1 egg = 1tbsp soy flour + 2tbsp water and used vegan butter).
Also did a molasse frosting. Perfect. Thx a lot
These were really good BUT i didn’t feel like they tasted gingery!! So next time i’ll try to double up on ginger. other than that, they were great! Thanks – enjoying your recipes. I just stumbled on them via pinterest and i’ve been pleased!
These muffins are incredibly delicious! They will be going in my winter breakfast rotation.
The tip on tall muffins worked spectacularly!
Thank you for sharing your baking skills.
Delicious. I used 1.5 of the recipe on cinnamon, cloves, and ginger and added nutmeg. Leftover batter made a nice loaf..
Before I make these, I am partial to baking with buttermilk, and am wondering if you have tried making these with buttermilk.
Hi Denise, we haven’t tried this recipe with buttermilk, but you could likely substitute it for some of the milk + sour cream. If you try it, let us know how they turn out!
These were very good! They were soft and delicious, nicely spiced ( I added freshly ground ginger as well for a little more kick) and not cloyingly sweet. The lemon glaze perfected this recipe. Thank you, I highly recommend baking these. They were perfect for company. I especially appreciate the advice given for making them nice amd tall. That is a trip will keep for making all future muffins.
Delicious! Had to substitute with gluten free flour (I used Krusteaz), but followed the recipe exactly otherwise. These will be a regular in our house!
Thanks for your comment on substituting GF flour! I will try with 1:1
I accidentally used two eggs so no wonder they were light and fluffy. I will use double the ground ginger next time… it was a bit light on ginger flavour. Will make again.
Amazing, winter personified!
I didn’t realize I was short on molasses by 1/4 cup until I was already committed to making these (and snowed in), so I had to use 1/2 cup molasses and 1/4 cup bourbon barrel maple syrup. I also used a blend of 200g flour with 134g whole wheat to sneak in a bit of fiber without compromising texture.
I don’t normally deviate from recipes unless I have to, but I was pleased with how well these turned out despite my finagling—and I’m sure they’re even more delicious as written! 🙂
This makes me laugh so much. I literally did the exact same thing when I made them last night. I poured out the molasses, was short and decided to sub with maple syrup. I don’t think they suffered at all!
I messed up and forgot the brown sugar and these are still delicious! I sprinkle just a bit of Demerara on top. The texture is perfect.
Do you mean that you used white sugar or no sugar? I was wondering about cutting the sugar!
The muffins came out tremendous. I’ve found all of your recipes to be fantastic. Thank you
just made these after a rough day and they’re JUST what i needed in my life. so good!! doubled the recipe for a dozen jumbo muffins. substituted 3/4c pumpkin puree for the 1c butter (had part of a can to use up) and used whey leftover from making yogurt instead of actual yogurt. i amped up the spices a touch and used ~115g brown sugar instead of 200g and they were plenty sweet (especially because i added chocolate chips, lol). i checked mine at 20min after the 5min at the higher temp and they’re *almost* dry; next time i’d start checking at 15min, especially since i make muffins for the freezer so i want them super most to finish cooking when i warm them up.
Made these for a cold winter breakfast. Wonderful! Will be a new family favorite❣️
Absolutely delicious!!! Best Molasses muffins!!
Quick and easy. They came out beautifully and taste delicious. I did not use the icing.
Beautiful high cracked tops. Didn’t have plain yogurt so used less sugar vanilla cinnamon greek. Made 6 jumbo. Yum!