Each of these adorable lemon blueberry mini muffins has one whole blueberry in the center. They're so cute and just as fun to make as they are to eat. Perfect for a quick snack break or as a picnic treat!
I am obsessed with making muffins lately (expect more muffin recipes coming your way soon!) and these mini lemon blueberry poppyseed muffins are some of my faves!
I love the combo of lemon and poppyseed and I love the combo of lemon and blueberry, so decided the perfect way to celebrate these flavors was by concentrating them into adorable bite-size mini muffins.
If you're looking for a more full size lemon blueberry recipe or don't have a mini muffin pan, you may like my super moist lemon-blueberry sour cream pound cake which also has a lemon sugar topping!
why this recipe works
These mini lemon blueberry muffins are tiny but mighty thanks to a bright blueberry center just bursting with flavor. Lemon and blueberry are such a classic combination, and though these are mini muffins, I've used a few special techniques to dial the flavors up to the max.
What better way to ensure an even distribution of blueberries in mini muffins than to put one giant, juicy blueberry in the center of each muffin? It might seem a little fussy having to cover each blueberry carefully with muffin batter, but it's the best way to get that perfect blueberry center.
And the lemon sugar on top is, well, it's not the icing on the cake — but it is the sugar on the muffin!
These lemon blueberry mini muffins need a few special ingredients, but all of them should be easy to find at your grocery store! As always, I recommend weighing the ingredients for best results.
- Flour - Regular all purpose flour is fine.
- Sugar - Plain granulated sugar.
- Lemon zest - Fresh is best! Use a microplane or the small very pointy side of a box grater. You'll need the zest of one whole lemon, but half of it will be used in the batter and the other half in the sugar you sprinkle on top of the muffins.
- Buttermilk - I knowwwwww it's not the easiest to find but it's totally worth it for super tender baked goods. If you really, really, really can't find buttermilk see the FAQ below for some begrudgingly approved alternate ingredient suggestions.
- Poppy seeds - I like these blue poppy seeds from The Spice House (a ½ cup flat pack is $5.79 with free shipping!) but you can use any brand you like. (Save any leftover poppy seeds to use on homemade bagels!)
- Eggs - One large egg! Get it to room temperature quickly by submerging it in warm water for 5-10 minutes before cracking it open.
- Vanilla - Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, whichever you prefer.
- Blueberries - The bigger the better, but this is a great way to use any blueberries that are juuuuust starting to wrinkle.
- Baking powder - I like this aluminum-free baking powder.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt in all of my recipes. If you're measuring by volume, use half of another brand. If you're measuring by weight, you don't need to make any adjustments.
how long to bake mini muffins
Because they're so small and have a big ol' blueberry center, these mini muffins bake for just 10 minutes. They go into the oven at a higher heat — 400F — to activate the baking powder and give you a taller rise.
When a toothpick inserted comes out clean (or a thermometer registers between 190-210F) they're done. Just make sure not to pierce a blueberry with the toothpick or thermometer!
Let them cool completely before eating. They're small and delicate with an unstable center; if you try to peel the paper off while they're warm, the paper won't release cleanly.
how to make lemon blueberry mini muffins
Lemon blueberry mini muffins follow your standard muffin making procedure: mix the dry ingredients together, mix the wet ingredients together, then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined.
The only prep-ahead step is to make sure you soak the poppy seeds in advance (this also gives the buttermilk time to come to room temp). You also want to have the eggs at room temp so the melted butter doesn't solidify when you mix it into the other wet ingredients.
a few quick recipe notes
- DO NOT OVER MIX. This is the biggest mistake people make with muffin recipes. When you mix the batter together you're starting to create gluten strands — those gluten strands tighten up and create tough muffins with air trapped inside. For tender muffins gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with slow, smooth strokes. Stop mixing as soon as there are no dry bits in the bowl and walk away. Don't worry about lumps, they'll bake out in the oven.
- Your liquid ingredients need to be at room temperature before you add the butter. If your eggs and buttermilk are cold when you add the melted butter, the melted butter will firm up and incorporate unevenly.
- To quickly get eggs to room temperature: Submerge the eggs in hot tap water for 5-10 minutes.
- I use a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop to portion these out. If you're precise and press the muffin batter flat into the scoop (as opposed to heaping scoops) before dropping it into the muffin tins you will get exactly 24 mini muffins.
- I used this mini muffin tin by USA Pan. I like their muffin tins because they're easy to clean and they have a wide rim so you can take them in and out of the oven without bumping into the muffins. (These muffin liners fit it perfectly!)
lemon blueberry mini muffin recipe FAQ
Siiiiiiiiiiigh. You can use Buttermilk powder. Mix it in with the dry ingredients and use 57 grams (¼ cup) warm water in place of the buttermilk. America's Test Kitchen even approves of this swap (h/t to recipe tester Beth for this tip!). I tested this myself and it worked remarkably well, way better than I expected! I wouldn't say it's a perfect buttermilk substitute for every recipe, but I'll admit it does work just fine here.
The thing with any other substitute (including the milk + lemon juice "hack") is that it'll do its job activating the chemical leaveners OR it'll get you the tangy flavor you're looking for...and you will still end up with a functional muffin. It will "work." But it just won't have the same *chefs kiss* result you could get with real buttermilk. I wouldn't tell you to use buttermilk if it didn't make a difference in the end result!
According to Stella Parks' buttermilk substitution tests, the best substitute for buttermilk is actually kefir. But, if you're avoiding buttermilk because you're worried about having buttermilk left over, let me share this from Stella's research: "Buttermilk doesn't spoil, it gets better. There's nothing wrong with using buttermilk well past the sell-by date; its acidic nature and complement of beneficial bacteria make buttermilk much less perishable than fresh milk. And if it gets a bit tangier over time, that's a win for most recipes." Buttermilk also freezes exceptionally well. So if you buy it for these muffins, don't worry about it going bad — you'll have it for plenty more muffins in the future.
Poppyseeds have a hard outer shell which can be hard to digest if they don't soak before you bake them. By letting them soak for 30 minutes in the buttermilk, you soften the seeds and bring the buttermilk down to room temperature. This also infuses the buttermilk with poppyseed flavor.
You can but it'll be kind of weird to only have one blueberry in the middle. You'll also need to extend the bake time significantly.
I don't recommend it unless you have limited dexterity preventing you from stirring comfortably. One of the biggest reasons muffin recipes fail is because of over mixing. The high speed and power of most mixers will give you tough muffins with lots of tunneling inside. If you need to use a mixer, make sure to use the lowest possible setting and stop mixing as soon as the batter is combined.
Baking powder is double acting — it reacts first in contact with liquid and again in the heat of the oven. Letting the batter rest helps fully hydrate the baking powder and helps your muffins rise omre in the oven. This is a tip I picked up from Hummingbird High's sky high blueberry muffin recipe, and while these muffins won't rise nearly that high, the resting period will give them an extra boost and a nicer texture.
lemon blueberry mini muffins
- 113 grams all purpose flour
- 70 grams sugar
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- 2 grams diamond crystal kosher salt (½ tsp, use ¼ teaspoon of any other salt brand)
- zest of ½ a lemon
- 57 grams butter (melted)
- 57 grams buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 24 blueberries
lemon sugar topping
- zest of ½ a lemon
- 48 grams sugar
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a mini muffin tin with muffin liners.
- Soak poppyseeds in buttermilk at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk dry ingredients, including lemon zest, together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Add room temperature eggs and vanilla to buttermilk and poppyseed mixture. Slowly drizzle in melted butter, whisking well until thoroughly combined.
- Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and gently fold together with a spatula just until combined. Do not over mix.
- Cover muffin batter and let rest 30-60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rub granulated sugar and lemon zest together in a bowl to use for muffin topping.
- Use a 2 teaspoon scoop to portion muffin batter into lined mini muffin tin. Press a single blueberry deep into the center of each muffin, then use a toothpick to push (or twirl) the batter over the blueberries to hide them. Top each muffin with ¼-½ teaspoon lemon sugar.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes at 400°F. The muffins will not brown on top, but a toothpick inserted should come out clean (as long as you don't piece a blueberry).
- Let cool in muffin tin 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling completely.
- To quickly get eggs to room temperature, submerge them in hot tap water for 5-10 minutes.