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 muffin cut in half 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.

2 images of gingerbread muffin batter in a bowl and in a muffin pan

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 in a muffin pan

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*
  • 2 and 2/3 cups (334g) 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

113 Comments

  1. I make muffins weekly for my family and this is, by far, one of the top three recipes. Excellent flavor, great texture and straightforward process. I make them jumbo without the glaze and add dark chocolate chips. These are outstanding!

  2. Holy smokes!! I’m not one to write reviews a lot, but just had to drop a note about how perfect these muffins are! Little spice, little sweet- perfect for breakfast by the Christmas tree with coffee! Lemon glaze was a perfect combo. I have said perfect too many times, but that is just the word that has to be used!! Thank you for this recipe!

  3. Delicious. I love the flavor from the molasses. I messed up and got distracted while making this though. I forgot to add the sugar . After baking I did a simple syrup at 2:1 water:sugar (same amount of brown sugar as the recipe called for). Added cardamom, lemon zest and lemon juice to the syrup. Poked holes and drizzled the syrup on while warm. After 45minutes it was mostly absorbed and I didn’t have to trash them. Next time I want to try them proper though.

  4. Christy Stanford says:

    We had these for breakfast this morning and they were so good–and my kitchen smelled amazing 🙂

  5. I am interested in making and freezing these muffins to preserve freshness. Does it change the taste at all? Also how long before serving should we take the muffins out?

  6. What baking times would you suggest for mini muffins?

    1. Alexis @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn, for about 50 mini muffins, bake for 11-12 minutes at 350°F the entire time. Enjoy!

      1. Thank you! Now I see this info above – but thanks for repeating it for me! Can’t wait to make them.

  7. These muffins are delicious. Not dry AT ALL. Thank you for having the weights for the ingredients. I think weighing flour and such is KEY to the best possible product!
    Thanks for another keeper!

  8. I thought they were a little dry also and wish I had just added 2 cups of flour, also made the lemon icing to try to help them a little!

  9. Howard Lieboff says:

    Hi Sally just tried this recipe. Lemon glaze is a perfect compliment. Delish.
    I followed this to the tee. But the tops didn’t crack. They were perfect.y round with some surface
    Cracks. I wonder what I did wrong? Also doesn’t gingerbread use the spice nutmeg or is it pumpkin.
    I’ve tried some of your recipes and they are really great. Thank you for sharing.
    Happy holidays. Howard L from Marlboro, New Jersey

    1. Hi Howard, I’m just seeing your comment/question now so my apologies for the delay respond to you. I’m glad you are enjoying my recipes and that you tried these muffins. They’re a favorite. Did you alter the recipe at all? Even the slightest change? The tops crack since they rise so high (and since the batter is so thick).

  10. Made these for Christmas brunch. Very tasty even without the glaze. However the tops were flat even though I started with the higher temperature and didn’t make any changes to recipe. Any suggestions?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ellen, is it possible that your baking soda was expired? That could be the culprit here. We’re glad you still enjoyed this recipe!

  11. Sally
    You’ve hit it out if the frozen ballpark once again. Just baked these. Absolutely yummy. Yummy
    Thanks. Sue

  12. I haven’t put the muffins in the oven yet, but the consistency is like cookies…
    Did I do something wrong?
    Thanks

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mali, the muffin batter is thick (see photo in blog post above for a visual), but not like cookie dough. Did you make any changes or substitutions in the recipe?

      1. I did the recipe exactly as told. I made the first half in muffin tins, but they didn’t puff up and became muffin-shaped cookies. The second half I made into pull-apart bread, which worked out surprisingly well with the glaze on top. Kind of sad since the rest of your recipes were so good 🙁

  13. These are delicious! Like another poster, I substituted in King Arthur gluten free one-to-one flour. I didn’t bother with the glaze, they were tasty enough without. The review from my teenager was “moist with great texture”

  14. Hey I’m in Denver too and I baked these just fine following the recipe exactly. They came out great!

  15. I was looking for a healthy dessert with a peanut butter cup flavor and this recipe didn’t disappoint. Soooo yummy! I tweaked it just a little – white whole wheat because it’s a little less dense, mini chocolate chips for maximum distribution and left out the raisins so the flavor would be all about peanut butter and chocolate. I also left off the drizzle as they already had plenty of chocolate flavor. This one goes to the top of the list for peanut butter yumminess!

  16. Corinne I Flax says:

    Made these today and they came out perfect – even though I subbed 1/3 soy flour, and used a sugar sub for the brown sugar! I also added about 3/4 of a cup of brandied fruit which I tossed in flour before incorporating. Apartment smells like heaven and I the muffins are crackly and moist.

  17. kathleen kitching says:

    what an absolutely amazing recipe! I have to admit that I was somewhat skeptical of the lemon glaze but it was beyond perfection on the muffin! this recipe will become a standard in my household! Sally’s Baking Addiction is my go-to for baking recipes!

  18. Delicious. I did not have a muffin pan so I changed the baking time and made a loaf. Turned out great!

  19. These muffins are delicious, if you like spice cakes you will love these. The higher baking temperature for the first 5 minutes of baking is the best tip ever!!!! All my muffins look great since I have been doing this. Thanks .

  20. Has anyone used applesauce as a substitute for butter? I am wonder if it works. Thank you,

  21. Help – I just made these – flavor is great but two things I need to fix. The muffins originally had a nice top – but they fell after they came out of the oven and cooled. Also the glaze – seems too thin. I put it on the cooled muffins and it all just ran together and pooled up – maybe would have been different if the tops were more rounded? How do you get the right consistency? I tested my baking soda and that looked fine. Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, usually when muffins deflate, it means they were not baked long enough. Another minute or two in the oven should help for next time, and use a toothpick to test for doneness. For the glaze, feel free to add more confectioners’ sugar to help thicken it up to your desired consistency. Hope these tips help!

  22. Even made it with egg substitute! Yummy!

  23. Hi, I only had enough molasses for half a recipe, so that’s what I made. Half a batch. Came out great. lovely recipe.

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