Do muffins have dairy in them?

Muffins are a popular baked good that can be enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack. Many people wonder if muffins contain dairy ingredients. The short answer is that muffins often do contain dairy, but there are dairy-free muffin options as well.

Quick Answer

Most traditional muffin recipes call for some type of dairy product like milk, butter, yogurt, or sour cream. So generally speaking, regular muffins you find at a bakery or make from a standard recipe will contain some amount of dairy. However, there are many dairy-free muffin recipes available for people with milk allergies, lactose intolerance, or who follow a vegan diet. Dairy-free muffins can be made using plant-based milk, oil, and yogurt substitutes.

Do Classic Muffin Recipes Contain Dairy?

The majority of classic, traditional muffin recipes include one or more dairy ingredients. Here are some examples of common dairy products used in muffin baking:

  • Milk – Often whole or reduced fat milk is used to add moisture and bind the muffin batter.
  • Butter – Butter is frequently used to provide flavor and richness.
  • Sour cream – Sour cream helps make muffins tender and lends tanginess.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt gives muffins moisture and a subtle tartness.
  • Cream cheese – Cream cheese is used in cream cheese-filled muffin recipes.
  • Cheese – Cheeses like cheddar or Parmesan may be mixed into the batter or used as a topping.

So if you see a muffin recipe that calls for any type of milk, butter, cream, yogurt or cheese, then yes – that muffin will contain dairy. Popular muffin flavors that typically contain dairy include:

  • Blueberry muffins
  • Banana walnut muffins
  • Chocolate chip muffins
  • Pumpkin spice muffins
  • Corn muffins
  • Bran muffins
  • Lemon poppyseed muffins

Most name brand or bakery muffins like Hostess or Entenmann’s also have some amount of dairy in the form of milk ingredients or butter in both the batter and crumb topping.

Are There Any Traditional Muffin Recipes Without Dairy?

While most standard muffin recipes call for dairy, there are a handful of traditional muffin varieties that are made without milk, butter, or other dairy products. Here are some examples of typically dairy-free muffin recipes:

  • Apple cinnamon muffins
  • Carrot muffins
  • Zucchini muffins
  • Cranberry orange muffins
  • Pineapple coconut muffins
  • Pumpkin muffins
  • Oatmeal raisin muffins

These types of fruit, vegetable, and whole grain muffins tend to rely on ingredients like eggs, oil, apple sauce, carrots, zucchini, oats, wheat germ, and fruit purees for moisture and binding instead of dairy products. However, it’s still important to check the recipe for any hidden dairy ingredients like butter before assuming it’s dairy-free.

Why Do Muffins Often Contain Dairy?

There are a few reasons why milk, butter, and other dairy products are used frequently in muffins:

  • Moisture – Dairy ingredients like milk or yogurt help add moisture to muffin batters. This helps create a tender crumb.
  • Binding – The proteins in milk act as a binder to help hold the muffins together and prevent crumbling.
  • Color – Milk proteins brown while baking which gives muffins an appetizing golden color.
  • Flavor – Butter, buttermilk, and cheese all provide rich flavor in muffins.
  • Rise – Fermented dairy like buttermilk or yogurt interacts with baking soda or powder to give muffins lift.
  • Tenderness – The fat in dairy products like milk, cream, and butter helps make muffins soft and tender-crumbed.

When making dairy-free muffins, other ingredients like plant-based milk, applesauce, oil, egg replacer, baking soda, and vinegar can be used to produce similar moisture, leavening, binding, tenderness, and flavor.

What Can You Use to Replace Dairy in Muffins?

For people who need or want to avoid dairy, there are many alternatives that can be substituted in muffin recipes. Here are some common options:

Dairy Ingredient Dairy-Free Substitutes
Milk Soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk
Butter Oil, coconut oil, margarine, shortening
Sour cream Plain soy yogurt, lemon juice + plant-based milk
Yogurt Coconut yogurt, soy yogurt
Cream cheese Tofu cream cheese, dairy-free cream cheese
Cheese Dairy-free cheese shreds, soy cheese, nut-based cheese

There are also many premixed dairy-free products that can conveniently replace dairy in muffin recipes:

  • Dairy-free yogurt
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Vegan butter sticks or spreads
  • Egg replacer mixes

With simple substitutions like these, it’s easy to adapt nearly any muffin recipe to be dairy-free.

Tips for Making Dairy-Free Muffins

Here are some top tips to help you make moist, flavorful dairy-free muffins:

  • Use an oil high in healthy fats like coconut oil or avocado oil for moisture and richness.
  • Swap in a dairy-free milk like almond or oat milk 1:1 for cow’s milk.
  • Add an extra egg or flax eggs as needed for binding.
  • Mix in fruit purees like banana, applesauce, or pumpkin for moisture.
  • Use lemon juice or vinegar to react with baking soda/powder for rise.
  • Stir in a touch more sweetener for enhanced flavor without the dairy.
  • Top with dairy-free icing, nut butter, coconut, or fruit for extra flavor.
  • Check labels to confirm any add-ins like chocolate chips are dairy-free.

With the right ingredients and a few tweaks, you can enjoy fluffy, delicious dairy-free muffins perfect for any time of day!

Recipes for Dairy-Free Muffins

Here are some tasty dairy-free muffin recipes to try:

1. Vegan Blueberry Muffins


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin tin with liners or grease.
  2. Mix the ground flaxseed and water. Let sit for a few minutes to thicken.
  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Add the almond milk, coconut oil, flax egg, and vanilla. Stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  6. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

2. Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar

Wet ingredients:

  • 15 oz pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients until combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).
  5. Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from tin.

3. Banana Oat Muffins

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar or coconut sugar

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir just until combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin liners.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Are Store-Bought Muffins Dairy-Free?

When buying pre-made muffins from a grocery store, bakery, or coffee shop, you typically can’t assume they are dairy-free unless labeled as such. Many mass-produced muffins contain milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, or whey powder. However, there are some dairy-free packaged muffin options out there. Be sure to read ingredient labels carefully. Look for:

  • Vegan muffins
  • Dairy-free labeled muffins
  • Muffins made with plant-based milk and oils
  • Muffins certified dairy-free from allergy-friendly bakeries

You can also find dairy-free muffin mixes from brands like Bob’s Red Mill to bake at home. Overall it takes a little searching, but dairy-free pre-made and mix muffins are out there!

Should You Avoid Dairy in Muffins?

Most people can enjoy muffins containing milk, butter, and yogurt without issue. However, there are some cases where avoiding dairy in muffins is recommended:

  • Milk allergy – Those with an allergy or sensitivity to milk protein need to avoid all dairy products including milk-based ingredients in muffins.
  • Lactose intolerance – People who lack the enzyme lactase cannot properly digest the milk sugar lactose. Dairy ingredients in muffins can cause gas, cramping, and diarrhea in these individuals.
  • Vegan diets – Vegans avoid all animal products including dairy for ethical, environmental or health reasons.
  • Casein-free diets – Some follow casein-free diets to help manage conditions like autism or ADHD. Casein is a protein found in dairy so these diets eliminate milk-containing muffins.

Thankfully with all the great dairy-free baking substitutes available today, avoiding dairy in muffins is easy for those who need or prefer to skip cow’s milk products.

The Bottom Line

Traditional muffin recipes typically call for butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt, or other dairy ingredients. So in most cases, regular bakery, homemade, and prepackaged muffins do contain some amount of dairy.

However, there are also many standard muffin varieties that happen to be dairy-free by nature, like pumpkin, oatmeal, or cranberry. And with simple substitutions, you can adapt just about any muffin recipe to be completely dairy-free. Options like dairy-free milk, yogurt, and butter make it easy to whip up or buy dairy-free muffins.

So in summary – many regular muffins have dairy, but going dairy-free with muffins is totally doable for those who need or prefer to avoid cow’s milk products.

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