Why are my Muffins dry? Causes & Tips

by Beat Bake Eat

What Causes Dry Muffins?

Muffins are a breakfast staple in many households and they are fairly simple to make but sometimes instead of turning out soft and moist, they’re dry or hard or crumbly and we don’t quite know why. 

In this post we’re going to talk about some of the most common and uncommon reasons why muffins turn out dry and tips on how to prevent this from happening.

The most common and uncommon causes of dry, hard muffins and tips on how to prevent them from happening. | Beat Bake Eat

Common Causes of Dry Muffins

The following causes happen to almost all of us but with time and experience we get better at preventing them from happening.

1. Packing the flour into the measuring cup

When measuring flour it’s important to do so correctly by stirring it first to loosen, spooning it into the measuring cup, then leveling off the excess. 

With this method the flour sits lightly in the measuring cup instead of being packed, and therefore the correct amount gets added into the batter.

When the flour is packed, too much of it is added which naturally results in muffins that are dry and hard and dense.

Tip: Do not scoop the flour out of the bag or container! Instead you should fluff, spoon, and level. 

2. Over mixing the batter

What happens when you overmix muffin batter?

When flour is mixed with liquid, the gluten (wheat proteins) that gives baked goods their structure are activated and begin to develop. These proteins are responsible for holding baked goods together and keeping their shape.

The more you mix, the more the gluten develops, and if there is too much of it in the batter the muffins will inevitably be tough and most likely rubbery and dry because the batter is dense and therefore doesn’t expand as it should. 

When there is just enough gluten, it results in muffins that are tender and moist.

Also, some recipes instruct you to mix in wet ingredients after the flour has already been incorporated and from my experience with this technique, it yields muffins that are tougher and denser than they should be because it inevitably causes you to overmix.


  1. When mixing in the flour it’s best to use a spoon or a spatula, doing so with gentle strokes and scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl as you go. Using a whisk or an electric mixer can easily lead to over-mixing.
  2. Do the minimum amount of mixing necessary until the flour (and other dry ingredients) are fully incorporated into the batter. The best way to know when to stop mixing is when there are no more streaks of flour. The batter may be slightly lumpy but when it comes to muffins, that’s completely okay!
  3. When adding more ingredients to the batter after the flour has already been mixed in, like chocolate chips for example, gently and slowly fold them in until evenly distributed, about 3 – 4 strokes. 

3. Overbaking

One way to guarantee that your muffins turn out dry and hard is to over bake them, which is very easy to do. The longer they bake, the more moisture they lose.

Muffins are done baking when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs and the tops are domed and slowly spring back when lightly pressed. Sometimes, depending on the type of muffin, you can also tell they’re done when their sweet aroma begins traveling through the air.

Tip: When in doubt, pull them out! If you think the muffins are done, even if the timer says otherwise, check them right away! It’s much easier to salvage underbaked muffins than overbaked ones.

4. Cooling the Muffins in the pan for too long

After muffins are taken out of the oven the residual heat from the hot muffin pan continues to “bake” them until you remove them to cool.

Most muffins usually need to be removed after 5 minutes to prevent the outside from becoming hard or drying out.

5. The wrong substitutions

Sometimes we don’t always have all of the ingredients that a recipe calls for or we want to make it somewhat healthier so we replace it with something else. There are times when substituting an ingredient can work out perfectly and times when it won’t work at all.

That’s because when it comes to baking, even the slightest change can make a big difference. 

Unless you are an experienced baker and have done thorough research on the alternatives of the specific ingredient that you want to replace and or have asked the recipe author for suggestions, I strongly advise sticking to the recipe.

I often notice that people will substitute many of the ingredients in a recipe then leave a negative review when the end product doesn’t turn out like it should. Don’t be one of those people!

Uncommon causes of Dry Muffins

The following causes sometimes happen because of honest mistakes and sometimes it’s not our fault at all!

1. Baking temperature too high

You could have mistakenly set the oven to preheat at a higher temperature than what was stated in the recipe. 

The thing about this is that if you’re like most people, you’ll never know or think that you did this because once the muffins are out of the oven and are done, instinctively, you turn the oven off right away.

2. Forgetting an ingredient

This hardly ever happens but it does still happen.

Most of the time you don’t even realize until after the muffins are done baking and that’s only if you check the recipe to see if you missed anything.

Something as simple as adding 1 egg when the recipe calls for 2 can greatly affect the texture of the muffins and how moist they’ll be.

3. Using the wrong measurement

You may have used the wrong measuring cup or added the incorrect amount of an ingredient to the batter.

When it comes to baking, even just adding or omitting 2 tablespoons of an ingredient can alter the end results.

4. Oven not heating to the correct temperature

There could be something wrong with the temperature sensor inside your oven or the heating element (located at the bottom of the oven) could be damaged.

This is almost never the case but it’s worth checking if you notice that all of your baked goods keep coming out dry or hard or baked unevenly.

5. The recipe itself

Last but not least, the problem could just be the recipe itself.

Not all recipes are great, some are better than others, and we all have our own tastes and personal preferences. I’ve tried muffin recipes that I thought were just subpar while others raved.

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Tina April 5, 2020 - 10:06 am

Thanks, Crystal your knowledge on dryness problems with muffins was most helpful. I found that I was quilty of a few mistakes And can’t wait to correct them. Happy Baking, Tina

Crystal | Beat Bake Eat April 5, 2020 - 12:27 pm

That’s great! Thank you for leaving a comment to let me know, Tina. If you ever have any other questions related to baking, I’ll be happy to help!

MJ August 10, 2020 - 1:24 pm

Add the flour last… oh, I gotta try it this way. I’m always compulsively mixing and still end up with a chuck of un-mixed-in baking powder or something in the middle of a muffin. Thank you!

Crystal | Beat Bake Eat August 11, 2020 - 10:18 am

This has happened to me as well! Adding the flour last or mixing the dry ingredients in a separate bowl then adding them to the wet ingredients will prevent this from happening. I’m glad you found this post helpful, MJ.

KS February 13, 2022 - 11:49 am

Hi Crystal! I just stumbled upon this article (and your website) when my 2nd attemptvat lemon poppyseed muffins came out drier than I would like. Looks like I was guilty of shoving my measuring cup into the flour bag to measure out the flour! I was wondering though, glass bakeware, non-stick dark or light metal, traditional metal pans, disposable aluminum baking pans, and the newer introduction of silicone bakeware all have their own needs for baking temperature, which in turn, will affect the outcome of the final product. Do you have an article or advice on addressing it? In addition, I have noticed that in some recipes the temperature of the oven is given but no indication of the type (non-stick, silicone, or glass) of bakeware that particular recipe was created with. Is there a standard assumption that baking recipes use a particular type of bakeware?

Crystal | Beat Bake Eat February 13, 2022 - 10:18 pm

I used to do this too, all the time! Lots of people do.
Unfortunately, because I have not baked with all of these different types of materials, I do not have an article on this yet but I plan to in the future.
What I’ve seen people do is just use common sense to guide them.
Three things; I’ve noticed that my baked goods take longer to bake in glass pans vs dark metal pans, dark metal pans cool faster than glass, and the only difference (I’ve observed so far) between nonstick metal pans and traditional is the nonstick coating, which makes them easier to clean and possibly produces slightly crisper exteriors on baked goods.
It is standard to use a dark metal pan for certain recipes like brownies for example. I don’t think I’ve ever seen brownies baked in a glass pan.
But for recipes like a 9×13 inch cake I’ve noticed that people prefer to use a glass pan.
And for round cake layers, the pros seem to prefer light metal pans probably because it prevents the cakes from forming a crisp and or dark brown crust which isn’t ideal when it comes to regular cake.

KS February 15, 2022 - 7:54 am

Thank you for your valuable insights!

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