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. Hi Summi! Molasses is where most of the flavor comes from, so I suggest baking a different recipe where molasses isn’t the main flavor. How about any other muffins: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/breakfast-treats/muffins/

  1. Hi Sally! Love your recipes and would like to try this one. I would like to make mini muffins, could you please advise on what temp and how long to bake for those?

    Thanks so much!
    -Kay

  2. Hi Sally! I usually LOVE your cookie recipies but it was my first time baking something else from your blog, I tried this recipe as a something new to try incorporating natural ingredients (lemon, fruit, veggies) as i wasnt convinced they would go well with baked goods (ridiculous! i know!) I made as a goodbye present for one of my dearest friends (who’s a baker as well) It turned out REALLY well and really filling too!! was wondering if i could bake this into a loaf or a cake? What pan size would i need and how long for to cook? Any idea?

  3. My favorite gingersnap cookie recipe calls for a small amount of finely ground black pepper. I think I might add it to this recipe when I try it, maybe only about 1/4 tsp for the first time. Those who can’t get molasses might try any kind of dark syrup or honey with some ground anise added — if they can get those things…

  4. I love the combo of gingerbread and lemon. It is so good! I remember as a child having lemon curd spooned over a warm cake of some sort. It may have been a snack ‘n cake or a quick bread, I can’t remember. All I know is it made quite an impression on me as a child.
    I must try this recipe and the one for Gingerbread quick bread.

    1. Hi Susan, I remember the lemon sauce/curd served warm on top of molasses cake. You just brought back a new memory for me!! I think I’ll look into this!

  5. I was wondering what to serve my morning Bible class during the Advent session and this is perfect. Your cranberry bread is also on my list.

  6. These look delicious, Sally! I’m already getting excited for Christmas baking, and now that our church’s Christmas Eve choir has started practicing…I think it’s officially time to start thinking about all things Christmas 🙂 These muffins would be the perfect treat to bring along to choir practice. And tomorrow, I’m baking some muffins for my mom, who is attending a women’s breakfast event and has to bring something along. If she likes the look of these, I will definitely give them a try! And I am really intrigued about the lemon/gingerbread combination; never had it before, but I can’t wait to try it! Also, just wondering if demerara sugar is the same as dark brown sugar? I typically purchase light brown sugar, but we have some demerara sugar in the pantry…thanks anyway, Sally!

    1. Hi Erin! Demerara sugar is different than dark brown sugar, but you could definitely use it in place of the dark brown sugar. Won’t be a problem! Or just use the light brown sugar you have. 🙂

  7. Hi Sally!
    I love the combination of the gingerbread and lemon glaze! These are perfect Christmas morning, and I will be baking them. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    1. Hi Corrie, I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  8. Wow! We are so making these between now and the holidays!
    Great flavor combos!
    Sally, question…do you have a eggnog glaze recipe I could also use to sub in for lemon?
    Thanks out west in Arizona!

    1. I hope you love them, Christine! I don’t have an eggnog glaze but I would start by just mixing the one cup of confectioners sugar with 2-3 TBS of eggnog depending on how thick you would like it. YUM!

  9. Looks absolutely delicious! I think I’m gonna make some this morning. I do not have any yogurt in the house but I have sour cream. Can I substitute for sour cream for the Greek yogurt?

  10. Sally are you psychic? I was just thinking of trying to make gingerbread muffins for my breakfasts next week, and here is a new recipe! Mind = blown. Anyhoos, the pictures are lovely, and I’ll post a pic to Instagram if I make these. I’ve actually never had lemon with gingerbread before…should be an interesting combination, to say the least!

  11. These muffins are so good and packed with so much flavor! They smelled so wonderful while they were baking this afternoon. I absolutely love these muffins ♥️.

  12. I’m already baking these as I write these. they look very good in the oven. rising beautifully … After the ‘master muffin recipe’ (cranberry/orange), I just had to try a new muffin recipe! 🙂

    1. Just wanted to add: I sprinkled some slivered almonds on top as well (and the recommended sugar). I figured it would pair well with the autumnal flavours …

  13. Hi Sally!
    This looks very good! I’m wondering if i can add Biscoff cookie butter for extra flavor?! So love cookie butter!!!! If so, how much do you think i can add?

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Emily! That would require additional recipe testing– I fear the muffins would dry out. You may need to adjust the flour as well. Let me know what you try!

      1. Hi Sally! So i made this yesterday and added a spoonful of Biscoff cookie spread in the middle, they turned out soooo delish! I love these muffins! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  14. This muffin just hit the spot. I think it may be my favourite muffin ever. Perfectly soft with the perfect amount of sweetness. I’m not sure it really even needs the glaze 🙂
    Great recipe, Sally! Thank you.

  15. I have always had success with your recipes, however, this one was a fail for me. I double checked ingredients and I added everything. The muffins were dense, and needed more sweetness. I’m not sure what I did wrong. My husband are them anyway! Is 3 cups of flour correct? That’s the only thing I can think of that made them so dense.

    1. Hi Laurie, If they turned out dense make sure you are using full fat yogurt or sour cream and milk, and also make sure you are spooning and leveling (and not scooping) the flour.

      1. Thank you reply. It was totally MY fail! I went back and retraced my steps twice and figured out I forgot to add the baking soda. I knew something was wrong because I’ve never had a problem with your recipes. Thank you for your continued support.

  16. These were absolutely delicious, easy to make, and a hit with everyone who’s tried them. The lemon glaze is the perfect counterpoint to the warm spices. Thanks for the great recipe, and for the new-to-me tip of an initial hot blast in the oven. My muffins were loftier than usual!

  17. Hi Sally
    I haven’t made these yet because I have a question before I make these- I love this time of year!! You are the best !! I have apple butter that I would love to use in this recipe- how would I incorporate apple butter in these wonderful muffins! Looking forward to hearing from you!!
    Warm Regards
    Elisabeth Wasvick

    1. Hi Elisabeth! You could try swirling apple butter into the muffin batter after everything is mixed together. Start with about 1/2 cup. 🙂

  18. This is such a FANTASTIC gingerbread muffin recipe!! Loved the crispy tops when they were fresh out the oven, and then the next day, wow they are so fudgy and even tastier! Thanks Sally! 🙂

  19. I’m a huge fan if molasses and everything gingerbread. However I also like to be more gluten free
    Any idea how much almond flour and /or gluten free flours I could substitute? I’ve made my own substitutions on smaller recipes but this one I don’t want to waste all the good ingredients by getting it wrong.

    1. Hi Susan! While I haven’t personally tried it, you can try using a cup for cup gluten free flour for the all-purpose flour. I do not recommend almond flour.

  20. These are delicious! The lemon glaze totally makes them! I doubled the recipe to feed my hungry boys and it turned out just fine. Definitely my new go-to gingerbread muffin recipe for fall!

  21. Ok…so help. My husband is allergic to cinnamon! There are soooo many things I don’t bake bc of this. For this recipe, could I substitute allspice and still get the flavor? I love gingerbread and these would be great Christmas morning.

    1. Hi Kelly! Sometimes allspice contains cinnamon, so I would avoid that. Simply leave out the cinnamon and add a pinch extra of ginger and/or cloves. Or even add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, too!

  22. These are in my oven right now! I’m planning to put them in the kids lunch boxes (they love all things gingerbread!) so I skipped the glaze to avoid sticky fingers and just put the white sugar on top (regular, I didn’t have the coarse kind)…they look amazing, which is not unexpected because even the batter tasted so good! Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  23. I made the gingerbread muffins first thing this morning. I had been craving gingerbread for a while when I came upon your recipe. I didn’t glaze them, and I couldn’t wait unil they were cooled, so I threw one in the fridge for a couple of mins. It was heaven in my mouth! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe.

  24. These turned out great! Thanks for the weight measurement, I like to weigh my flour. Saving this recipe! The nurses at work loved these muffins. It made their day today:) Happy Thanksgiving!

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