Buttery, sweet, and bursting with blueberries.
Of all the blueberry muffin recipes in all the land, the Jordan Marsh blueberry muffin recipe bests them all. Here’s the official recipe for Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins, with a few (dare we say?) tiny improvements for perfect results, every time.
The Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin Recipe History
What are the Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins? The Jordan Marsh blueberry muffin recipe’s history originates way back to the early 1800s (more on that below). Centuries of muffin making, resulting in the recipe becoming one of the most popular recipes ever published in the New York Times, says something. As of this writing in August 2023, the recipe on N.Y. Times Cooking has over 15,000 5-star reviews.
Jordan Marsh’s blueberry muffin recipe is so good because it is:
- Easy to make,
- Makes a perfect dozen muffins,
- Has just the right amount of juicy blueberry muffins, and
- Yields a tender, buttery muffin that stays very moist for days
The Historic Role of Jordan Marsh Department Store in This Blueberry Muffin Recipe
I am pretty sure that I’m not the first, thousandth, or last person to assume that Jordan Marsh of the now-famous blueberry muffin might be the name of one person, perhaps, say, a kindly home baker who rose to fame as part of a regional baking contest or county fair award.
But no! The Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins’ history is quite different than that.
According to the New York Times, in 1985, the famed Times food journalist Marian Burros received a letter from a reader saying that the best blueberry muffin in Boston was not, in fact, the Ritz-Carlton recipe Burros had just written about. Rather, the reader noted, the best blueberry muffin recipe was served at the Jordan Marsh department store. Ms. Burros got a hold of the muffin and the rest was blueberry muffin recipe history.
But wait, there’s more to the story, because the source of Jordan Marsh’s original recipe remained unknown until very recently. According to the Times’s blueberry muffin recipe headnote:
[In 2023,] Mara Richmond of Burlington, Vt., wrote The Times to say that the developer of the recipe was her father, Arnold Gitlin, then the executive food consultant for Allied Stores, which owned Jordan Marsh at the time. His recipe, Richmond said, was an adaptation from one in Esther Howland’s 1847 cookbook, “The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book.”
The Best Blueberry Muffin Recipe: Tweaking the Jordan Marsh Recipe a Bit, and Why
Everyone should have a go-to, best blueberry muffin recipe. Blueberry muffins are an essential breakfast and brunch treat: homey, friendly, and beloved by all. A good blueberry muffin should be tender, sweet, and bursting with jammy blueberries. Extra points if they are still warm from the oven. The Jordan Marsh recipe does all of this.
But I think it can be improved and simplified — just a tiny bit. Don’t worry.
The Jordan Marsh recipe calls for fork-mashing some of the blueberries, and does not use lemon zest. This recipe skips the blueberry mash to save time, because the blueberries will cook and get jammy on their own.
Adding lemon zest heightens the flavor of the batter just a bit, without tasting lemony. But feel free to leave it out.
You will also like: Really Good Banana Bread and Blueberry Hand Pies
Some Notes on Baking the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins
Here are a few quick tips and notes for baking these muffins.
1. Use the right kind of blueberries.
I love wild Maine blueberries, but they do not make the best muffins. Wild blueberries taste sweet and have a beautiful, extra-dark purple juice. These little jewels are small compared to standard blueberries, and less common. They taste great, but tend to get lost in the blueberry muffin batter. Use standard blueberries for muffins to get nice, big bursts of jammy blueberry.
2. Know how to keep blueberries from sinking to the bottom of blueberry muffins.
Here’s a very helpful tip that you should know when baking with blueberries, both in cakes or muffins:
Toss the blueberries with a small amount of the flour mixture before folding them into the blueberry muffin batter. Use part of the flour measurement in the recipe, not additional flour. The flour forms a grippy coating on the blueberries, which prevents sinking. That said, this is a fairly thick batter, so I have never had a problem with blueberries sinking in these blueberry muffins when you stir the berries in plain to the large mixing bowl with the rest of the batter.
I also like to dot the top of the muffins with a few blueberries before baking. This ensures that there will be visible, juicy blueberries on the top of each muffin.
Note that the original recipe calls for for bakers to mash some of the blueberries, then use them along with the remaining whole berries. I skip this step because the blueberries get plenty jammy by simply baking them.
3. Use fresh or frozen blueberries (IQF blueberries) interchangeably for this muffin.
It is fine to use fresh or fresh-frozen blueberries for the Jordan Marsh blueberry muffin recipe. Do not defrost the blueberries before adding them to the batter. Just add them frozen. Note: frozen berries may take the muffins an extra minute or two to bake.
These, like other muffins, are at their very best right out of the oven, still warm. That said, they will be perfectly delicious for up to two days.
4. Know the secret to moist muffins.
The secret to moist muffins boils down to three things:
- Not overmixing the batter,
- The right ratio of fats and liquefiers to dry ingredients, and
- Baking the muffins in the oven for the right amount of time.
Overmixing the batter could result in gluten development from the two cups flour. The protein strands can form tough bonds, which could leave the blueberry muffins a bit tough. Once the dry ingredients and berries are fully folded in, stop.
“Liquefier” is a fancy professional pastry chef term for wet ingredients (the eggs, teaspoon vanilla extract, milk), plus sugar, which dissolves into a liquid when heated and baked. Here, the nice amount of sugar and butter makes these moist blueberry muffins.
Muffins can become overbaked quickly, thanks to their small size. The baking time should be fairly accurate on this, a total time of about 25-30 minutes. But ovens do differ, so test the muffins with a toothpick or cake tester about a minute before the listed time and go from there. Let them cool for about five minutes before removing them from the muffin pan.
How to Freeze Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins
Freeze your muffins in advance! It’s a great trick. (Not everyone wants to roll out of bed and start baking, bleary-eyed, before the coffee is even made.) Make the muffin batter, portion the batter into muffin cups, and freeze the whole muffin pan before storing each frozen muffin in a large freezer bag.
You can pop the raw, frozen muffins into the oven as many as a time as you like, whenever you want. They will just take a few extra minutes to bake. (Oh–and be sure to put the frozen raw muffins back in a muffin tray to bake.)
You can also freeze this muffins in an airtight container once they are baked and cooled. The Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
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The Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Zest of one lemon, optional
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups blueberries, washed and picked over for stems
- 1 tablespoon sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line with cupcake liners a standard 12-muffin tin. You may also want to lightly grease the top of the muffin pan.
- Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Scrape the mixing bowl. Add the eggs, lemon zest (if using), and vanilla extract. Cream the batter on medium-high again until very light and fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is fully and evenly incorporated.
- Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, alternating with the milk. Mix just until incorporated. Do not overmix.PRO TIP: I have never had this issue because the batter is nice and thick, but if you want to make sure that the blueberries do not sink when baking, toss them in a small bowl with a bit of the flour from the recipe.
- Fold in the blueberries by hand until evenly distributed. Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin tin cups. Sprinkle sugar on the top of each muffin, and bake on the center rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the tops feel springy and a cake tester comes out clean. PRO TIP: I like to check the muffins at 25 minutes, and go from there. Some ovens run hot.PRO TIP: If you have extra, dot the top of the muffins with two or three blueberries each, pressing them into the batter just a bit. These will ensure that each muffin looks beautifully bursting with berries.
- Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the muffin tin before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve with soft butter, preferably warm.