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What Are the Differences between Muffins and Cupcakes?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree

Some differences between muffins and cupcakes are density, frosting, and what foods are baked inside. The density varies between muffins and cupcakes, but muffins are almost always denser because of the extra flour added. In addition, cupcakes usually have frosting while muffins do not. Another difference between the two is that muffins can contain food items like vegetables and even meat, which is something cupcakes usually lack. The line between these two items can be blurry, however, especially with modern cooks not being afraid to break standard cooking rules.

One major difference between muffins and cupcakes is that muffins are defined as bread, while cupcakes are defined as small cakes. Muffins generally have much more flour than cupcakes, which makes them denser. Even if all other ingredients were the same, the density of a muffin would stand out, though the appearance is similar. Sometimes cupcakes are made denser than usual, but they usually do not approach the density of a muffin. In addition, muffins are usually at least slightly larger than a cupcake, while cupcake sizes are generally standard or mini.

A cupcake.
A cupcake.

Another difference between muffins and cupcakes is that cupcakes are typically frosted. The frosting is often sweet or sometimes savory, but is it almost always present on a cupcake. On the other hand, muffins do not typically have frosting. They are usually eaten plain or with butter, fruit preserves, or other condiments. When muffins are frosted, more nutritious ingredients are often used, compared to frosting intended for dessert-oriented cupcakes.

A variety of fruits and vegetables can be used to make muffins.
A variety of fruits and vegetables can be used to make muffins.

Cupcakes usually do not have additions other than the occasional baked-in candy and the frosting that tops the cake. Muffins, on the other hand, often contain fruit, vegetables, or various other hearty foods. Unlike cupcakes, muffins are often designed to be filling rather than a dessert item offered at the end of a meal. In general, cupcakes are designed to be a dessert, while muffins may either be intended as dessert or a normal foodstuff.

Sometimes the line between muffins and cupcakes is a bit blurred. Muffins can be sweetened, and sometimes cupcakes are savorier than usual. Sometimes muffins are created with less flour than usual, and cupcakes may be denser than usual. Some people have difficulty telling muffins and cupcakes apart when both are frosted. Often, this is because frosting tends to cover up most of the breaded surface of the food, making it more difficult to identify other ingredients

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    • A cupcake.
      By: Ruth Black
      A cupcake.
    • A variety of fruits and vegetables can be used to make muffins.
      A variety of fruits and vegetables can be used to make muffins.