The Homemade Trials: Muffins!

If you have been reading Macheesmo for longer than a few weeks you’ve maybe ran across one of my mix rants. But to review, I really don’t like mixes for things like pancakes and muffins. They just don’t make sense to me.

But, to be honest, I had never actually calculated the real value of the mix. Are they cheaper? Are they better for you? How does a mix taste compared to a made-from-scratch version?  Of course, all of these questions can be answered by running a few muffin options through my Homemade Trials series!

For this installment, I compared a homemade blueberry muffin recipe with a mix and also some “fresh” blueberry muffins from the bakery section of my grocery store. Let’s see who wins!

My muffins


I didn’t use some fancy muffin recipe for my version. I literally googled blueberry muffins and based my recipe on the first result. The whole point is that these muffins aren’t anything fancy. I did use a lot of fresh blueberries though.

8 large muffins
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...


Homemade Blueberry Muffins


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
pinch of cinnamon

Helpful Equipment

Muffin Tin
Print Recipe  


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and lightly butter or oil your muffin tins.
2) Stir together crumb ingredients in a small bowl and set aside for later.
3) In a medium bowl stir together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder for muffins.
4) Stir in wet ingredients and finally fold in blueberries.
5) Divide batter between muffins, filling each about 2/3 full. You should get 8-10 muffins.
6) Sprinkle each muffin with crumb topping and bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
7) Let muffins cool a bit before serving.

Lightly adapted from this allrecipes version.

Muffins are about as easy as it gets when it comes to baking. You basically just stir together all the dry ingredients, then stir in the wet ingredients, then fold in whatever add-ins you have (blueberries), divide the batter between muffin tins and top with the crumb topping.

The crumb topping probably led to me losing one of the categories, but man was it good.


Let’s take a look at all of the muffins lined up.

My homemade version is on the left, the mix muffin is in the middle, and the bakery version is on the right. As you can see, the size varies greatly which obviously impacts nutritional calculations later.


Let’s break down each category and see how my muffins did!


This one is a no-brainer. Obviously the bakery option is the fastest. The mix comes in second even though you still have to stir together ingredients for it. The real trick is that the mix muffins only bake for 14 minutes because they are so small so you gain some time there over the homemade ones which need 20-25 minutes to bake.

Oh well, TIME goes to the bakery version for sure.


Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 5.37.34 PM

No surprises here really. The bakery muffins are super-expensive. Well, they are still cheaper than if you were to buy a muffin at Starbucks or something, but it’s not even close to the other two.

If I hadn’t used fresh blueberries and organic dairy for my version, I probably could’ve gotten close to the mix cost per muffin, but I doubt I ever would’ve come in below it.

The COST category goes to the MIX!


Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 5.25.56 PM

This category was super-hard to judge because all of the muffins were way different sizes. My homemade version and the bakery version where at least twice as big as the mix muffins so you can probably divide those categories by two to get a closer estimate.

Of course, none of the versions are really good for you because muffins are basically just big blocks of carbs and sugars.

I used real ingredients like eggs, butter, milk, and blueberries in my version which somehow makes it appear less healthy in a chart.  The mix version used all kinds of “food products” that read more like a science experiment than a recipe. You can see the full ingredient list for the mix here.

People can debate me on this one, but I’m calling this a TIE between the mix and the homemade. I think they are roughly the same if you divide the homemade in half.



This one was sort of surprising actually. I had Betsy blind taste test the three different muffins and she ranked them as follows (I agree with her rankings as well):

1) Homemade. It’s no contest. The fresh blueberries and crumb topping rock. This is what a muffin is supposed to be.

2) Mix. Surprisingly the mix came in second. The important part about this is that the muffin needs to be freshly baked. If you let these sit for even an hour, they degrade pretty quickly. But right out of the oven, they aren’t terrible.

3) Bakery version. This was shocking to me because I thought these would be good. They looked moist, but because they were being stored in an airtight container they ended up really soggy and had a bad texture. I wouldn’t pay a buck for one.

Taste goes to Homemade. It’s not even close!


The bakery version definitely loses. They tasted bad, were expensive, and not worth the time it takes to drive to the store and buy them.

That said, this was closer than I would’ve liked between the mix and the homemade version. Maybe the homemade version takes a tiny bit longer to prepare (maybe 10 minutes), and has a bit more sugar and fat than the mix, but just look at those two muffins. It doesn’t past the smell test to me to give this one to the mix.

When I want a muffin, I want a freakin’ muffin and not some weird pale lump of baked chemicals with freeze-dried berry pieces. I vote for the homemade version for this one, but what do you think?

Are you a fan of the mixes? Leave a comment!

21 comments on “The Homemade Trials: Muffins!

  1. I think it is cool of you to actually try a mix instead of just going with assumption. But I don’t think the bakery one is faster because you have to go and get the thing. I confess that planning ahead for when I want a treat is just not in my nature, so I would have to go out and drive to get the thing!
    Anyhow, your blog is awesome and I am glad that you all are enjoying your move.

  2. Great recipe, I will def try it. I always make blueberry muffins from scratch. I use the surefire Joy of Cooking recipe, and they disappear within minutes (I have two kids who love muffins). Storebought ones don’t compare at all. I sometimes play with whole-grain flours (add a bit more liquid/fat) or add flax and/or wheat germ, or even use coconut oil instead of butter or veg oil. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Macheesmo!

  3. I have yet to find a packaged muffin that actually tasted good. They all have this weird, greasy feel and an off flavor.

  4. I hear ya man!

    Nick, I’m about to get really geeky with food cost for a minute. My vote is HANDS DOWN the homemade version. Here’s why:

    When talking about pure cost of ingredients, don’t forget that the bakery is marking up the muffins by at least 60% (if they wish to remain in business.) What that means is per muffin, it should have cost the bakery 13.6 cents per portion given your prices.
    Plus, the serving size of the muffin probably weighs double what the mix muffins produced, and about 1/3 again what your homemade muffins made by weight. So, given that, adjusting for portion weight
    Homemade muffins cost you : 75 cents per unit
    Mix muffins cost you: 37.5 cents per unit
    Bakery muffins cost: 1.12 per unit.

    The only problem with these calculations is you are comparing organic blueberries to the dried blueberries in the mix.I’m sure the mix didn’t have the equivilent of 1 cup of blueberries in the mix. I’d hazrd to say it’s more like 1/2 cup. Plus,instead of butter, they use hydrogenated soybean and corn oil (margarine) You can expect that to be a 1/3 of the cost of butter. Also, the mix don’t have a crumble. Thus, that skews your results like so: (With the costs adjusted as if you made each muffin the same size as the bakery muffins so it;s easier to compare.)

    Homemade muffins: 54.25 cents per unit
    Mix muffins: 37.5 cents per unit
    Bakery muffins: 1.12 per unit. (And it only cost the bakery around 33 cents to produce it!)

  5. I someday want to figure out how to match supermarket bakery cornbread. I love the sweetness and slightly sticky top, and no recipe I’ve tried has compared. But, looking at the ingredient list on them… there are quite a few mystery science ingredients in there that make it no surprise I can’t recreate them with ‘real’ food.

    1. Hi Corinne- I use Ina garten’s corn muffin recipe. I like a sweet muffin also-so try her recipe and hopefully you will like it.

  6. Homemade is almost always the way to go if you have the time. A tip for the bakery muffins: cut it in half and throw it in the toaster oven (side note rant: I looove my toaster oven. I cannot understand why anyone would buy a regular toaster. To me, it is the epitome of a one-trick pony. I use my toaster oven a dozen times a week).

  7. Hey Nick,
    It seems like we all agree, don’t waste your time with the packaged muffins. It’s home made or nothing for me. The teenagers in my house are going through a (hopefully short) rebellion and they want easy. I guess that is why those nasty, chemically enhanced, muffins keep lining our grocery store shelves.
    Thanks for giving us confidence in the kitchen, it’s working!!

  8. I would go homemade for the taste, health benefits, cost, verity and of course the joy of cooking something good. When I say health benefits I mean you know what is in the food. As you pointed out is does not really take much longer to prepare and the benefits of homemade are huge.

    Thanks for this write up, I really enjoyed reading this post. I figured homemade was best and you proved it with your experiment.

  9. Just on visual appeal, the homemade version are the hands down winner. I’m with you, the more confident I become as a baker, the more I move toward incorporating homemade versions into my life.

    Thanks to your blog post on Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread book, I now bake my own bread. Next, I want to try your recipe for English muffins.

  10. How can I re-create store bought breakfast sausage? Like Jimmy Dean/Bob Evans sausage patties? I tried just using ground pork mixed with spices but it was not right! The taste was okay but the texture was all wrong. Any ideas? I love your site btw!

    1. I might be able to help here… if you are looking for that Jimmy Dean texture… take your pork mixture and blitz it in a food processor with a few drops of water until it forms a nice ball, then portion them out. It will then give you that texture.

  11. I’ve never had a store-bought muffin that I’ve liked. They’re all so soggy and sticky and just…unpleasant. Yuck.

    The homemade recipe you used is my go-to blueberry muffin recipe. I usually double the amount of fresh berries the recipe calls for, and the muffins come out absoultely delicious every time.

  12. All other factors nonwithstanding, I think that homemade blueberry muffins are the only kind worth a tupenny damn; all the rest of ’em are sickingly sweet…

  13. I was suggested this web site through my cousin. I am now not sure whether or not this publish is written by way of him as no one else realize such particular approximately my problem.
    You’re wonderful! Thank you!

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