Ultimate Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Crunch

By Jessica Sanders

I've been meaning to do a blueberry muffin post for a l.o.n.g. time - I looooooove a good blueberry muffin. Key word here - GOOD. A mediocre blueberry muffin isn't worth the calories or the energy it takes to chew it - I'm talking dry, crumbly, heavy, blueberry-flavor-less muffins - to be frank, they suck. Unfortunately, there are more bad muffins out there than good ones - very rarely do I stumble across a heavenly blueberry muffin in the outside world. I have a fantastic sour cream blueberry muffin that I make relatively often (sour cream is like, the best thing that ever happened to muffins), but I wanted to try something a little different. I was craving a little lemon action, some streusel or crunch on top. And then I came across these blueberry muffins at The Little Kitchen. These are in fact a Cook's Illustrated recipe - meaning that they were destined to be good. To blow the blueberry flavor into the stratosphere, you make a blueberry jam-type-thing and swirl that into the muffins - brilliant. Topped with crunchy lemony sugar, these babies are the ultimate in blueberry muffins. Bursting with blueberry flavor, crunchy on top, tender and soft inside (but not too dense or cakey), these definitely qualify as a good blueberry muffin. They're excellent, in fact - and freeze really well. Because there was no way I was trusting myself with a dozen of these babies in the house - 11 of them went promptly into the freezer to be enjoyed at a later date. Excellent blueberry muffins on demand, straight outta the freezer, into the microwave, and steaming hot onto your plate to be enjoyed with a hot cup of tea - heavenly. 


If you want to freeze these muffins, first let them cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cooled, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then toss the whole lot into a freezer bag. To defrost, just unwrap the muffin, set on a plate, and microwave for about 45 seconds. Voila. Hot muffins.

Ultimate Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Crunch

adapted from The Little Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated

yields 12 muffins


  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 1/3 oz)
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed, dried, and picked over (about 11 oz)
  • 1 1/8 cups (8 oz) + 1 tsp granulated sugar 
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (12 oz)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil
  • 1 cup 2% buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


For the topping:

  1. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.

For the muffins:

  1. Adjust rack to upper-middle part of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine 1 cup blueberries with 1 tsp granulated sugar. Allow to simmer and cook, smashing the berries with the back of a spoon until they're smushed. Stir frequently and cook until mixture is thickened and reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the rest of the muffins (about 15 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In another large bowl, whisk together 1 1/8 cups granulated sugar and eggs until thick, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the butter and oil slowly until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla. 
  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in buttermilk mixture and remaining 1 1/2 cups blueberries into flour mixture just until moistened. Don't overmix! The batter will be lumpy. 
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups - they will be very full. Spoon 1 tsp of the cooked blueberry mixture onto the top of each muffin, and swirl into the batter with a skewer. 
  7. Divide the lemon sugar mixture evenly among the muffin cups - just sprinkle on top of each muffin. 
  8. Bake the muffins until they are just golden on top, about 16-19 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about 3 minutes. Using an offset spatula (or a butter knife), remove the muffins from the tin and allow them to rest at an angle in their cups. Cool for another 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.