Cook’s Illustrated [aka My Favorite] Blueberry Muffins

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Here we are: the Bar has happened, vacation is over and summer seems to be quickly approaching its end… I always have to stop myself from premature “summer is over” blues when August hits. Years of school has my mind thinking that all fun is ending, and winter is right around the corner. A silver-lining of being an adult? Summer doesn’t have to end after Labor Day (or before—poor kids!). It’s warm well into October, leaving plenty more weekends and evenings to frolic in the golden sunshine with shorts and tanks.


My one July regret is not getting the chance to go blueberry picking. Although particularly hot and steamy, I love the process of picking berries. Scouting for clusters of undisturbed, perfectly plump blueberries. Tasting a few as you go, still warm from the sun. Looking down at your basket at the work that you’ve done. It’s calming and satisfying.


And then there’s the baking that follows! I may not have my own berries fresh from the field, but grocery store berries haven’t disappointed. Blueberry is my favorite muffin flavor; and in flavor, these muffins here are not lacking. Part of the berries are cooked down into a jam, which is swirled into the batter just before baking. Then there’s the lemon sugar sprinkled on top for texture and tartness.


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I LOVE THESE MUFFINS. I’ve been making them for a few years and keep coming back to them, despite the few extra steps. (I even based this cake on the recipe!)


I originally got the recipe off of one of the first blogs I religiously followed: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. She stopped blogging a year or two ago. Now every time I click on the link to take me to the blueberry muffin post, I get a panicky feeling that the website will be gone and the recipe with it! So to ease my mind and share the joy of this beautiful recipe, I’m giving it a new home on the virtual shelf here amongst my other favorites.


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Cook’s Illustrated Blueberry Muffins
Serves: 12 muffins
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • ⅓ cup sugar (2⅓ oz)
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 2 cups (about 10 oz) fresh blueberries
  • 1 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar (8 oz), plus an additional 1 teaspoon separated
  • 2½ cups (12½ oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. To make the topping: Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and rub together with your fingertips until fragrant.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray your muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Combine 1 cup of the blueberries along with the 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; mash the berries with a spoon and stir frequently. Continue cooking until the berries break down and the mixture has a thick jam-y consistency; the volume should be reduced to about ¼ cup (about 10-15 minutes). Transfer jam to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, beat together the remaining 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar and eggs with a whisk until pale yellow and thick (1-2 minutes). Whisk in the butter and oil until combined. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, along with the remaining 1 cup of blueberries. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold until the dry ingredients are just moistened (It's fine that the batter is lumpy. Don’t overmix!)
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 prepared wells of the muffin pan, filling each fully (to the top). Add one teaspoon of the blueberry jam to the center of each well of batter. Use a skewer or dinner knife to carefully swirl the jam into the batter. Sprinkle the muffins with lemon sugar.
  7. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden and they spring back when gently pressed. Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing them to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days at most---> but they are best when still warm from the oven!

Notes/Credit: Pulled directly from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, originally from Cook’s Illustrated