What's the difference between Cupcakes and Muffins?

Is it purely subjective... or is there a hard/fast rule  hidden somewhere in an obscure food dictionary?

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RosvithaP3 years ago

I have played a game with my muffins and turned them into cupcakes with chocolate ganache on my blog


I greet the answer from

mary candy

The quick-and-dirty answer on this is that cupcakes have frosting, whereas muffins do not.

How Muffins turn into Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache 1.jpg
bajablue (author)  RosvithaP3 years ago

That baby looks delicious!

kkeagan4 years ago
i call them muffins cause i make them in muffin cases...i turn all cakes into muffins so each piece comes with its own plate
I'm really intrigued by the chemistry mentioned in the first two comments. Anyone own a copy of On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee? That volume would most likely include a definition as well.

From what I've skimmed, it looks like Mcgee gets into the complex chemistry explanations of what defines individual baking and cooking processes. A great read for those who love to know their food on a deeper level, or the mad scientist food enthusiast. :)
The difference is more than size, frosting, or fruit - they are actually two quite different baked goods which share a similar shape.

The ingredients may be similar, but the quantities are not, neither is the process for making them.

Muffins and cupcakes are not the same! This is a more in depth explanation:

suayres6 years ago
Muffins are in the "quick bread" family of pastries. Most muffins sold today are really closer to cupcakes than they are true muffins. When you make a true muffin, it's made very similarly to biscuits: you mix the dry ingredients in one container, and the liquids in a second, and then quickly pour the liquid into the dry mixture and combine it only enough to bring it all somewhat together--you don't want to over-mix, because that develops gluten, yielding tough muffins. Cupcakes are made using the cake method: the butter and/or shortening is first creamed (beaten to incorporate air and make the fat(s) fluffy, then the sugar is beaten in, then the eggs, and finally the flour and baking powder is folded in carefully, and sometimes liquids are added, too. Most modern muffins are really too sweet, and too, well, fluffy. As you can see, cupcakes and muffins (true muffins) are very different critters! If you want to try a really good muffin, get your hands on an old Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook, and look for the recipe for white mountain muffins. Remember, muffins are supposed to be served with butter and jam--they should really be leaner and less sweet entities.
Goodhart6 years ago
The answer probably lies with all of the answers given so far, combined. Some muffins, for instance, have sugar granules sprinkled on them but not icing (frosting), muffins are normally of some size at least twice the size of an "cupcake"; the exception to these rules occurs in the the USA calls an English Muffin, which is flat and is more like Lemonie's provided description of a "small bread".
mary candy6 years ago
The quick-and-dirty answer on this is that cupcakes have frosting, whereas muffins do not.
lemonie6 years ago

You could read this:

Kiteman6 years ago
I believe the difference is size. A cupcake takes only a mouthful or two, a muffin takes two hands to eat without mess.