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

184 Comments

  1. I had to comment on your very first post as well as this one! First of all, these look amazing! I’m the same way in the mornings, I want something quick!! I love the idea of a lemon glaze on these, definitely must try! Happy first birthday!!

  2. Eek, I don’t even know what to say about these awesome muffins. Of course, I love the flavor pairing and…I’ve SO got to try that oven temp trick. You always have the best tips! Also, I’m dying over these photos! Lovely, just lovely!

    1. YES! Try these muffins tricks next time Ashley – heat it up real hot for 5 minutes then lower it down. it works like a charm. 😉

  3. Ahhh I missed your 1st blogiversary! So terribly sorry. Happy BELATED blogiversary!! Can’t remind you enough how much I adore your blog. And how much I adore this recipe. I’ve had a serious craving for all things gingerbread lately, and these muffins are now on my list. I still need to get my hands on the gingerbread Oreos too before it’s too late! But I’m pretty sure these muffins will be 10x better than the Oreos…don’t tell Nabisco. 😉

    1. It’s ok Elaine, thank you so much for the kind wishes! And I am so happy you are a follower. You would LOVE these muffins 🙂

  4. Everything gingerbread is wonderful! i made little bit different gingerbread cupcakes, oh I am curious how yours taste like 🙂

  5. I love gingerbread and lemon! 🙂 And those muffin tips are awesome. I’ll definitely have to try them out!

    I also don’t like fancy recipes in the morning. I want to bake quickly, take pictures and then take a nap. 😉

  6. I just made these and they came out absolutely AMAZING! I added some real ginger and chopped up some gingers in syrup and I had to stop myself from eating all of them as soon as they came out of the oven! THANK YOU FOR THIS RECIPE!!

    1. That sounds incredible Z. Wow, I need to try that next time! Thank you so much for the suggestion and for reporting back. 🙂

  7. Hi,

    Just a couple of questions: do you initially bake at 400 or 450? The instructions say to preheat to 450, but then you mention baking for 5 minutes at 400. Also, when do you add the brown sugar? It’s not listed in the directions, so I wasn’t sure and just added when I combined all of the dry ingredients. I can’t wait to try these; the gingerbread/lemon flavor combo sounds divine! :0)

    1. Hey Elizabeth! So sorry about that – initially bake at 450F degrees for 5 minutes. And the brown sugar should be added with the egg. But what you did is just fine. I hope you enjoy them!

  8. Hi Sally, I’m from England and have recently discovered your website. I first made the jumbo Raspberry and Chocolate muffins, the Nutella cupcakes (btw can these be supersized to jumbo size?) and have just taken out of the oven a batch of the above gingerbread muffins. These are enormous even without being jumbo! I love the way you give scientific tips – eg I’ve never heard about starting off at 450 for 5 mins and reducing the temp for the rest of the time, but it really works. Now I’m going to have to try all the other muffins on your site and I don’t think I’ll live that long! Thanks for all the lovely recipes. Also, hope Jude is doing well. He is so gorgeous.

    1. Hi Margaret! The nutella muffins could be made Jumbo size, but you might only get about 4 muffins, since the regluar recipe makes 8-9 standard size muffins. I’d increase the Nutella to 1 Tablespoon per muffin. I’ve never tried this before, though – I’m unsure of the baking time. So glad that you love these gingerbread muffins. They are one of my favorites!

  9. I made these last weekend and they were a hit! As I was mixing them up I realized I only had about 1/3 cup molasses and they still turned out super yummy! I also didn’t have cloves because I wasn’t willing to pay the outrageous price our store had them as. I will definitely be making them again when we need another gingerbread fix!

    1. cloves are so expensive, I agree! I’m happy you loved these muffins. They’re actually one of my most favorite muffin recipes ever. I can’t wait to make them again during the upcoming holidays, Becky. Thank you!

  10. I made these Christmas Eve morning and loved them! I am a huge fan of gingerbread and couldn’t resist tasting one while they cooled – the flavor was spot on and seriously could be served as is. Well, I thought that prior to adding the glaze. I now know that the glaze enhanced the flavor of the gingerbread and made them even more amazing!

    1. That’s wonderful Jacqueline! I love these muffins so much. I agree – they are fantastic as is. Happy you tried them with glaze too!

  11. These are ssooo good. I had a quick question. When you’re developing recipes how do you decide whether to use baking soda or powder and how to use? do you have any tips? I seem to always go wrong with that when I’m trying new things. Thanks! 🙂

  12. Hi Sally!!! Where I live molasses is not very common and I would love to make this recipe! Is there any substitution? thanks!!
    (yesterday I made your chocolate chip cookie cake and it was a hit! so thankful I found your blog, your recipes are beyond awesome!!)

  13. Sally you are amazing! I was looking for something to make for breakfast the rest of this week that was Christmas-like and this was perfect. I made a batch last night, complete with icing and they were delicious! Super moist too.

    Thank you so much for sharing this yummy recipe.

  14. These look super delicious! Silly question: is the glaze combined together on the stovetop or just in a bowl? If on the stove, how long and at what heat? Sorry, I’m a newbie to the glaze!

  15. I am *drooling over this recipe and I’d LOVE to make these muffins! My problem is, that molasses isn’t available in my small town here in Spain 🙁
    Can you please suggest a substitute for molasses? Corn syrup is also unavailable here…
    Thank you so much, and I absolutely love your recipes!

    1. Hi Jas! Molasses is key to gingerbread’s flavor, unfortunately. How about another muffin recipe instead? You can glaze any of them with this lemon glaze too. https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/breads-muffins/

  16. Sally – Would buttermilk work in this recipe? Or would it not react well with the yogurt? (Speaking of… does it make a difference if the yogurt is greek?). I made your raspberry chocolate chip muffins last week and they were a huge hit. I can’t wait to make some more of your recipes.

    1. Katie, glad you loved those raspberry chocolate chip muffins! Buttermilk instead of regular milk is just fine here. And the yogurt does not have to be Greek yogurt (it can be, of course!). Regular yogurt is fine.

  17. Hello Sally! Just out of curiosity, could I follow this entire recipe but put the batter into a bundt cake pan? Will everything set and maintain a soft and caky texture like the muffins? Thank you!

  18. Yummy these look great! I was wondering, how long would your recommend baking these as mini muffins? Also, would the muffins be good on their own without the glaze? I have small children and these would be much less messy without the glaze! Thank you for sharing your tips and recipes! 

      1. I suggest baking at 350 for 10-12 minutes. No need to start at a higher temp. The muffins are so small that it wouldn’t make a difference.

  19. Sally do I have to use yoghurt can I use sour cream like your orange cran muffins (which are my favorite of your muffins so far) or do I def need yoghurt? I was also wondering if I could make this as a loaf instead of muffins? Whole Foods use to sell a big square of gingerbread and I have not had anything like it for a long time can’t wait to make these!

  20. These muffins are delicious!! I love using molasses – and blackstrap has the added benefit of being high in iron. 
    I have a pumpkin muffin recipe that I use regularly to make cute mini muffins http://doubletherecipe.com/2016/02/26/pumpkin-molasses-muffins/
    Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  21. I made these today, couldn’t wait! I had a lot of batter left after filling the cupcake tin (12 muffins). Since the recipe said it makes 12, I made sure to put all of the batter into the 12 cavities, almost packing it in. I did the 450 then lower. The cupcakes came out very dry and dense. I am wondering if you use an electric stove or gas stove? I have an electric stove, and even though the temp gets lowered it takes a bit for it to actually lower, unlike a gas stove. Also was the batter supposed to be packed in or put in loosely? Thanks!

  22. The same thing happened to me as Julie. I had too much batter for the 12 muffin tin so I had to pack a lot of it in. I also have an electric stove. The muffins turned out dry, more toward the bottom of the muffin. Everyone loved the glazed though. Maybe if you have an electric stove, just cook for 25ish minutes at 375.

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