Review: Ina Garten’s 5-Star Blueberry Muffins Were … Not 5 Stars

Ina has a way of elevating classic dishes while also making them foolproof for the home cook. Her recipes are easy to follow and satisfy our cravings, but are sprinkled with just the right amount of Ina magic that they always steal the show. We’ve seen this time and time again in her dinner favorites (such as weeknight chicken and eggplant Parmesan) and also her desserts (including chocolate birthday cake and perfect pie crust).

Needless to say, I was eager to give one of her breakfast recipes a try — and what’s more classic than a blueberry muffin? The recipe has five stars on Food Network’s website from upwards of 65 reviews. And at first glance, the muffins looked super simple to whip up. Here’s what happened when I put them to the test.

Get the recipe: Ina Garten’s Blueberry Muffins

How to Make Ina Garten’s Blueberry Muffins

Ina’s recipe follows the classic muffin mixing method: Whisk dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another, then pour the wet into the dry and mix until just combined.

The dry ingredients are standard for muffins: flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. The wet ingredients, however, are where this recipe gets a bit interesting. Instead of milk, yogurt, or sour cream, this recipe calls for buttermilk, which is then mixed with melted butter, lemon zest, and two extra-large eggs (you can substitute large eggs if that’s what you have on hand). Muffin recipes that are mixed by hand often call for vegetable oil, but using melted butter makes these muffins just as moist while also adding flavor. It also means you don’t have to prep ahead to let the butter come to room temperature.

After you stir the wet into the dry, you’ll fold in two cups of fresh blueberries, scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin, and bake until “golden-brown” — although mine were more pale-yellow than golden (more on that below).

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s Blueberry Muffins

In terms of ease, Ina’s recipe gets a 10/10. Stirring the ingredients by hand eliminates the hassle (and mess) of breaking out an electric mixer. In fact, the only piece of special equipment you need is a fine-mesh sieve or sifter, to sift the dry ingredients.

Ina puts her signature touch on these muffins by using buttermilk as the liquid and adding lemon zest. The buttermilk gives them a moist and tender crumb, with a slightly tangy flavor (we use buttermilk in our bakery-style crumb muffins for this very reason). If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make a quick substitute with milk and lemon juice — you can use the same lemon you just zested for the batter. Speaking of the zest, it balances the sweetness of the muffins and brightens the flavor of the blueberries without overpowering the rest of the ingredients. In fact, lemon zest is part of what makes Kitchn’s blueberry muffins so tasty.

Despite how easy it was to whip the batter together, I had a few issues with the muffins themselves. Ina says to bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden-brown. But after 25 minutes, my muffins were flat and pale. I continued baking for five extra minutes (for a total of 30) before pulling them out — they still weren’t golden and certainly weren’t domed, but I didn’t want to risk overcooking them and having them dry out. The final product was a tin full of flat-topped, yellow-tinged muffins. When I broke into them, I found many of the blueberries had sunk to the bottom.

If you can get past their not-so-impressive appearance, these muffins are light and moist and bursting with blueberries. They’re not very sweet, which lets the fresh blueberry flavor shine through, and it doesn’t feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast. So were they good? Yes. Did they blow me away? Certainly not.

If You Make Ina Garten’s Blueberry Muffins, a Few Tips

1. Make sure your butter cools off a bit after melting it. If you stir steaming-hot butter into your muffin batter, you run the risk of curdling the eggs. I recommend melting it first thing, and by the time you’re ready to mix it with the wet ingredients, it will have cooled off.

2. Be sure not to zest any of the lemon’s white pith. The pith is the white layer between the fruit and the peel, and it has a very bitter taste. When you’re zesting your lemon, be sure to only add the yellow outer peel to the batter and none of the bitter pith. If you don’t have a lemon, try lime zest or orange zest!

3. Top with a sprinkling of granulated or turbinado sugar. Because these muffins aren’t very sweet on their own, I think they could benefit from a little sugar sprinkled on top — especially if your blueberries are on the tart side. It would also add nice crunch, and perhaps boost their appearance a bit. If you’re into a crumble on your blueberry muffins, you could top these with Ina’s streusel from her blueberry crumb cake.

Overall rating: 7/10
These are super easy to make, so they’re great for beginner bakers or kids. They’re moist yet light, and not too sweet — but at the end of the day, they’re nothing special. I would recommend these if you’re looking for a slightly more savory muffin to pair with dinner.

Get the recipe: Ina Garten’s Blueberry Muffins

Have you ever made Ina Garten’s blueberry muffins? Tell us what you thought! 

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