Difference Between Muffins and Cupcakes (Muffin vs Cupcake)

You are probably familiar with the cupcake muffin debate. Both of the sweet treats carry so many similarities that it can be hard to acknowledge which is which.

It can occur that people are not able to tell the difference, or perhaps you do notice the differences but see them as practically the same thing. However, there is only one way to end the debate.

Here, we will be listing the differences between a cupcake and muffin by placing them into categories, highlighting what makes them both significantly different to the other.


Before moving forward and to stop the debate, it should be made clear that cupcakes and muffins are not by any shape or form the same thing.

They each have different qualities which set them apart from the other. Now that has been made clear, let’s move on to highlighting these differences.


One of the major differences between the muffin and the cupcake is how they are made and the ingredients used. Although it is true that they do share a variety of ingredients, some of those ingredients are altered and changed slightly to create that difference.


Cupcakes contain many of the same ingredients as the average cake (hence the name cup “cake”) however on a smaller scale. You will find that cupcakes use a higher dose of sugar content in their recipes and make use of butter.


With muffins, you will find that although the ingredients are similar to the cupcake, it will substitute the butter with vegetable oil.

The aim is for it to be a healthier version of the cupcake, so you will commonly find muffins with added currents, using healthier alternatives to butter, and different types of flour such as oat flour.

When mixing these ingredients together, it is done differently for both desserts. Whilst with muffins you can add all of the ingredients together to mix, cupcakes require more attention to detail. Add the ingredients for the cupcakes one by one in order to secure a smooth and lump-free batter.

How It Is Consumed

Another difference between the cupcake and the muffin is how they are consumed. By this, we mean that muffins have more options with how they are eaten. Prefer your muffin hot?

Go ahead and warm it up in the microwave and serve with ice cream. Or maybe you’d prefer it cold to eat on the go.

Cupcakes, however, are only eaten cold. You will usually find cupcakes with frosting on top and this is only applied once the cake has cooled down. Warming it up afterwards will alter the taste and mess up that frosting.


The toppings of the desserts are a major sign to show the difference between a cupcake and a muffin. If you see it is covered in frosting, icing sugar, or decorations, you are more than likely looking at a cupcake.

If it is plain, however, then you are probably looking at a muffin. By adding frosting to cupcakes, it adds to that sweetness needed for a dessert.

Muffins, on the other hand, are a little different for they do not need that extra sweet taste. There is a reason why many choose to have muffins for breakfast – this is because muffins do not necessarily have to be sweet. 

You can choose to have your muffins savory or baked with just the right amount of sweetness to suffice as a breakfast treat. Cupcakes, however, are made to be sugary and sweet, made for birthdays and celebrations or just general treats.

Shape and Size

The final point, and one of the most obvious differences, is the shape and size. You will find that the shape and the size of a cupcake is dramatically different from a muffin.

Cupcake – With a cupcake, it is generally smaller in size, half of its height coming from the tower of frosting on the cupcake’s head. As well as this, cupcake liners are mainly of a similar small shape and size.

Muffins – Muffins, on the other hand, differ greatly from the cupcake for they are larger and typically shaped like a mushroom. The head of the muffin is flat and rounded and makes up the largest part of the sweet treat.

Difference Between Muffins and Cupcakes

Muffin or Cupcake: Which One is Best?

There are always those people who prefer one over the other, and this can make people question which one is best. The answer is there is not one that is better than the other.

As explained, cupcakes and muffins differ tremendously – cupcakes are those sweet desserts which are typically made for celebrations or treats, whilst muffins have the option to be savory and can be eaten for breakfast.

Does this mean muffins are healthy? Sure, they can be seen as a healthier option compared to cupcakes, however that does not mean that muffins are healthy. It is still important to regulate your muffin and cupcake intake accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it is clear that there are many differences when it comes to the cupcake and the muffin. Although they come with much debate and they can be confused, both of these foods differ largely. For one, the way they are made and the ingredients used contribute towards this difference. 

Typically, muffins are made without butter, instead using healthy alternatives or oil instead. As well as this, the way the ingredients are mixed together also play a huge role in the end product.

Muffins have more options too, being able to be eaten both warm and cold. This also allows a person to choose to have it as a breakfast snack or as a warm dessert.

So, if you are looking for something to make, first think about the occasion. If you are in need of a sweet treat for your kid’s birthday party, cupcakes are definitely the way to go. 

However, you might also want something which you can enjoy any time of the day, in which case you would choose a muffin. But remember, there is no right and wrong in what you choose. Now this debate has been cleared, go and treat yourself to one of these delicious treats.


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