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
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