Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze

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.

gingerbread 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.

gingerbread muffins

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
  • 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.

gingerbread muffins with lemon glaze

How to Make Gingerbread Muffins

  1. 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.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Nothing weird here– just flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and cloves.
  3. 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.
  4. Combine wet & dry ingredients. Smells good already!
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. Bake: The muffins take a little over 20 minutes.
  8. 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.

gingerbread muffin batter

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. 😉

gingerbread muffins

Lemon Glaze

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.

gingerbread muffins with lemon glaze

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!

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gingerbread muffins

Gingerbread Muffins with Sweet Lemon Glaze

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 muffins
  • Category: Muffins
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

Gingerbread Muffins

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (234g) dark molasses*
  • 3 cups (375g) all purpose flour (spoon & 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

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar (or more, as needed)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Generously grease a muffin pan with butter or nonstick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. 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. Stir until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside to slightly cool as you mix the dry ingredients together.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together.
  4. 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 mix until *just* combined. Do not over-mix. Batter will be thick and a little lumpy.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Notes

  1. Molasses: I prefer dark molasses, but you can also use a light or mild molasses. Blackstrap is very strong, so if you like its flavor, you can definitely use it here.
  2. Milk: I use whole milk in these muffins, but you can use lower fat milks or nondairy milk if needed.
  3. 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.
  4. Special Tools (affiliate links): Muffin Liners, Muffin Pan, Glass Mixing Bowls

Keywords: gingerbread, ginger, lemon, Christmas

200 Comments

  1. I made these muffins today, and was somewhat disappointed. I found them to be very dry, and even my hubby who will eat anything, thought they were very dry. I’m not sure what I may have done, but I followed the recipe to the letter. I use Nordicware bake ware, I don’t if that would cause a problem, and I do have a convection oven, so I know things will cook quicker, do to the even heating. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Wendy! Did you follow the recipe exactly? They’re definitely denser muffins, but they shouldn’t taste dry. They could have been over-baked, which quickly dries out muffins and quick breads. Or I’m wondering if the flour was over-measured. Make sure you are spooning and leveling it into the measuring cup, not packing it down.

      1. Thank you for your response. I did measure as per your instructions in the recipe, the taste is phenomenal, it was just the dryness. I’m wondering if it was the oven heat. They were not over baked because I tend to set my timer for a less amount of time, because it is a convection oven. Other than that, I’m completely befuddled. Like I say, flavour is amazing, they are just very dry. I used all purpose flour, would that make a difference?

      2. If you are using a convection oven did you lower the temperature? I always bake on conventional settings but the general rule is that if you are using a convection heat you should lower the temperature by 25 degrees (and it might also take a shorter amount of time to bake). If you have the option next time you try them try a conventional oven!

  2. I noticed your ginger loaf uses black pepper and the muffins do not…Can I use the same amount of pepper in the muffin recipe?

  3. Hey Sally! I baked these and I have a question, i wonder what i did wrong because i want the tops to crack but mine did not?! Any tips? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Emily! Did you follow the recipe closely? Try baking only 1 batch at a time on the center rack and baking for a minute or two longer.

  4. I’m pretty sure these are the best muffins I have ever had! The perfect Winter muffin!! I have been baking for over 30 years, so I’ve seen a few muffin recipes in my time, lol. I have never tried the tip of baking at 425 for 5 minutes to start. Works like a charm! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  5. I’ve made these five times now. I must say that these work best when I absolutely filled the muffins OVER the top. If I fill them just to the top, they still come out dry like. They aren’t dry but they aren’t moist melt in your mouth either. I even tried subsitituing buttermilk for milk and adding 1/4 more teaspoon of baking soda. Still you need to overfill these muffin tops to get the moist yummy melt in your mouth. Only my last two muffins taste phenomenal because I overstuffed them using all the batter that I had left and took them out of the oven as soon as the toothpick was almost clean. The flavor is incredible, so I will keep using this recipe. I’ll just only make 12 muffins and not stretch it to 14. And make sure my pan is overstuffed before baking.

  6. I am considering making an orange glaze for these muffins instead of a lemon one. Do you think an orange or lemon glaze would taste best with these muffins?

  7. Just made these muffins and they are amazing, not to sweet and the lemon flavor is perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I’ve made these muffins 3 times in the last two days. They get rave reviews are are so festive for the holidays. Here’s what I found with the best batch yet… I’ve bumped the ginger up just a bit (to 1 1/2 t) and I use the milk, eggs and yogurt right out of the fridge but I let the batter sit for about 5 minutes after all mixed and the muffins seem to rise more round ( look prettier). Great recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Delicious muffin. Not dry. I have had them on my counter a few days in a plastic container and they are still delicious. Pop in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm up and yum. I did not add the glaze but will do so next time. I also used the 425 degree oven trick for some pumpkin muffins and they looked great as well. Thanks.

  10. These turned out exactly as described and taste delicious…..this recipe is a keeper!! They are a very pretty muffin, thank you for sharing.

  11. I made these this morning for a special brunch, following your instructions exactly, and they were amazing! The star of the buffet! I told my friends, who were absolutely raving about them, that there is a special ingredient of MAGIC in these muffins, as they turned out so perfectly! I ended up with 12 regular sized muffins and also a pan of mini-muffins, not sure how that happened, but, the more the merrier! Not a single leftover to take home! So, I will have to make some more. This will be my go-to muffin recipe from now on, thank you so much!

  12. These muffins were to die for! I even substituted 1/2 oat flour and still light and fluffy. I would cut the Lemon glaze proportions in half next time as it was way too much.

  13. I tried this recipe and they came out perfect I did the first two with the higher temperature and then lowering it I like a harder top the third and fourth batch I did the lower temperature husband doesn’t like a hard crust I am a retired OTR truck driver spending 20 plus years driving I am learning to bake all over again husband still drives so I make him healthy dinners and desserts and freeze them next it is your ginger cake thank you for all your great recipes

  14. I love using your recipes and usually have great success. These came out dry for me though . Maybe I overcooked them? I did 5
    Minutes at 425 and 15 at 350.

    1. Hi Renee! I’m just seeing your comment now, my apologies! Over-baking is likely the culprit– I wonder if your oven runs hotter? And I wonder if the batter was over-mixed. Make sure you are spooning and leveling the flour, too.

  15. Just a tip, when baking in a dark or teflon coated pan, you should lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees. It will take a bit longer to bake but may prevent the issue some are finding with the muffins being too dry. Hope this helps.

  16. I haven’t made yet but they do look so good. I have a question about the baking. Ok, I start them in a 425 oven and after 5 mins lower. Do I open the oven door to cool the temp down to 325 or just adjust the temp but leave in oven.
    Thanks.
    P

  17. HI Sally. This is the second time I have rated this recipe because it’s awesome but I just adapted it to mix in my Thermomix. It worked out perfectly. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

  18. Hi Sally! I love the texture of these muffins but I was expecting a bit more of a kick in terms of flavor. If I up the spices would it effect the texture at all? I’m hoping to get the same sort of flavor as your gingerbread cookie recipe (though obviously a different texture cuz muffin vs cookies). I did not use the glaze this time, though I love the extra crunch from the sugar.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them, Lydia. Are you using dark molasses? Blackstrap molasses is very strong so if you are looking for a stronger flavor you can try it here. You can also try increasing the spices without making any other changes if you wish.

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