Subbing your favorite fruit into your favorite muffin recipe is a breeze when you follow a few simple rules.
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Many of us grow up seeing the same fruits in the produce section every time we go to the grocery store. It can be a revelation to discover that - at least in the Northern hemisphere - blueberries are best in the summer, apples are an autumnal fruit, and winter is citrus season.

As a home cook, this can be both freeing and complicated. Shopping for in-season produce often means paying less for better quality and feeling more connected to farmers and the world around us. It can also mean that your favorite recipes need to be shifted around a bit.

How to Add Fruit to Any Muffin Recipe

blueberry muffins in a muffin tin
Credit: jm 24

If you're already a baker, you probably know that baking is both an art and exact science. You can sometimes get away with ingredient substitutions, but it can change the texture and flavor of what you're making, not always in a nice way. If you're extra cautious, you have good cause. When it comes to muffins, though, it's easy to make them using just about whatever is in season.

Start with your favorite muffin recipe. We like our Best Ever Muffins recipe, but whatever you love and is most comfortable to make is a good place to start. If you are starting with a recipe that already has fruit added, omit the fruit that's called for.

How Much Fruit to Add

For every cup of flour in the recipe, add about half a cup of whichever fruit you've got, whether dried, frozen, or fresh. If you're working with smaller quantities, it may be easier to think of it as a tablespoon or two of fruit per muffin.

What Kind of Fruit to Use

Berries, stone fruit, and orchard fruit will generally all work well in muffins. Bananas too, of course, are excellent, as are most other tropical fruits when drained and chopped. Avoid subbing citrus in using this formula - the zest and juice are great when added to baked goods, but the pulp gets soggy and mealy when cooked inside.

Using Frozen or Dried Fruit

In lieu of fresh fruit, you can always work with frozen or dried fruit too. Frozen and dried options, in fact, are sometimes easier to work with because there's less chance for the fruit to become soggy.

Size Matters

When using fresh fruit, think about the size of your fruit. Anything larger than a raspberry is best chopped, whether you're working with strawberries, apples, or plums. With fruit, like apples or pears, that's more fibrous, chop it a little finer - think small cubes.

Adjust Spices

Notice if there are any spices added that you wouldn't want with the fruit you're using instead. Cinnamon and nutmeg may be cozy with apples, but may not be as nice with raspberries. Don't be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations! Apricot is lovely with cardamom or almond extract. Apple is wonderful with ginger powder or fresh grated ginger. Raspberry and vanilla bean is divine. The best pairing is the one that you love - take inspiration from past desserts that you've enjoyed.

Manage the Moisture

If you're working with gloriously juicy fruits like in-season peaches or plums, drain them for 10-15 minutes after chopping them. If you really want to up your game when working with high-moisture fruit, cook it beforehand to reduce the water content and concentrate the flavor. Roasting, say, chopped peaches in the oven at 350 degrees F for 30 or so minutes is extra work, but you were going to turn the oven on anyway and the extra hands-on time is minimal.

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