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Food Fight: Cupcakes vs. Muffins

“Isn’t a cupcake just a muffin with frosting?” This question gets pondered all too often.

“Isn’t a cupcake just a muffin with frosting?” This question gets pondered all too often, and if you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably asked it, as well.

That, or you’re just reading this to watch your faves go head-to-head in the ultimate smackdown: cupcakes vs. muffins! Okay, maybe it’s not the ultimate smackdown, but it’s definitely a cakey, calorie-laden one.

Let the games begin.

Taste

Cupcakes:

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They’re mini cakes! Photo: Pixtabay

No matter what that stubborn friend of yours says (“I like cupcakes, but I don’t like cake!”), cupcakes are ultimately miniature versions of whole cakes. They have cake. They have frosting. Hence the name – cupcake.

They’re made with the same ingredients as your everyday cake—meaning bread-based and topped with a layer of sweet frosting. If you’re lucky, there’s even filling inside!

Muffins:

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They’re mini bread loafs-ish! Photo: Pixtabay

Also bread-based, muffins get made with the same ingredients as your typical sweet loaf. Often filled with fruits, seeds, nuts, and other goodies, you’ll likely eat a muffin for a quick breakfast on the run. They’re (wrongly) considered the more “healthful” alternative.

Consistency

Cupcakes:

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Fluffy, not firm. Photo: Pixtabay

Cupcakes are a lot lighter than muffins when it comes to the bread base, but just the bread. The lightness is a result of the way butter gets creamed with sugar, and the cupcake batter is beaten for a longer time than that of a muffin to achieve a fluffier texture. The frosting added gives it a bit of top-heavy heft.

Muffins:

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Firm, not fluffy. Photo: Pixtabay

Even though both cupcakes and muffins use similar ingredients (butter, milk eggs, sugar flour), the texture and consistency of muffins are a bit denser because the batter isn’t as extensively beaten as it is for cupcakes.

What’s Working For You

Cupcakes:

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They’re fun to look at AND they taste good! Photo: @sugar_3_spice_everything_nice / Instagram

Cupcakes are a popular food. They’ve become a borderline pop-culture icon across several media platforms. You can probably name at least three different cupcake-centric reality TV shows off the top of your head.

You’re also more likely to double-tap a crazy colorful cupcake on your favorite Instagram handle than you are on a muffin pic, which tends to be different shades of beige and brown. We’ll even admit to going heavy on cupcakes here at Tastemade. Because we care.

Muffins:

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They’re healthy enough. Photo: @superhealthykids / Instagram

The “healthy” treat. While most muffins aren’t as healthful as we naively assume, they’re still generally better for us than cupcakes. Muffins are more likely to use wholesome ingredients such as whole wheat, oat, or nut flour. There are also more gluten, soy, dairy, and egg-free options readily available when it comes to muffins.

What’s Working Against You

Cupcakes:

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Yeahhhh, those can’t be great for you. Photo: @tonkaew / Instagram

The “unhealthy” treat. Cupcakes can be very taxing when it comes to the effect they have on the glycemic index. If you’re a baker, it’s insanely easy to overdo the top portion of a cupcake with frosting, candy, sprinkles, drizzle—you name it.

If you’re a consumer, it’s insanely easy to choose the most decadent option at a bakery in the name of making your taste buds happy (heads up: you may feel guilty afterward).

Muffins:

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YAWN. Photo: @mamzellelychee / Instagram

Aah, how do we put this – muffins aren’t very “hip.” Honestly, when’s the last time you laid eyes on a jaw-dropping muffin? You can only go so far when it comes to the toppings and glazes that grace the peak of a muffin because you’d essentially be crossing over into cupcake territory. It’s a slippery slope.

WINNER: Cupcakes

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Hooray! Let’s celebrate with a cupcake tower! Photo: @muyandreamartino / Instagram

This fight was a no-brainer. Cupcakes and muffins are both delicious in their own right, and they can surely coexist peacefully and amicably, but if someone tries to tell you a muffin is just a cupcake without frosting, please remove them from your life immediately.

Or simply hand them one of each and demand they eat those words (literally) right then and there. You don’t need that kind of nonsense in your life. Cupcakes are the undisputed champs. Done.