Is A Muffin Top Really Just A Scone?

There is a palpable difference between muffins and scones, but what about the muffin tops? Muffin tops have a different texture than the actual muffin and have been compared to scones. But, is this an accurate comparison?

Looking over the ingredients list, scones and muffins are deceptively similar. In fact, they are both considered quick breads because they each use a leavening agent so the dough can rise quickly. However, it is the cooking technique and, sometimes, the toppings that truly set them apart. The end result is that scones are either irregularly shaped or cut into triangles, while muffins are round because they are cooked in special pans.

The muffin top is its own culinary delight entirely. They cook differently from the muffin itself, which gives it a richer flavor and crunchier texture, like a scone. But, they are different, each with its own flavor and style.

Muffin tops

There is a convincing argument that muffin tops are the best part of the muffin, and for good reason. In fact, muffin tops have grown from a cult classic to a delicacy that people specifically order at coffee shops and bistros. They have even found their way into romance novels, as romance novelist Evie Mitchell pointed out, "When life gives you muffin tops, embrace it. Because if I've learned anything, it's that you're delicious, just as you are."

Muffins are cooked in tins or wrappers, which give them their round shape. The tops are directly exposed to the oven's heat and not trapped inside the tin, which allows them to brown more than the base of the muffin, famously called, "the stump," by Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld."

The unique reaction taking place on top of the muffin during cooking is the same thing that happens to a grilled cheese sandwich when the cheese oozes into the frying pan. The Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between sugars and amino acids, is in full force, and it provides a rich flavor and crunchy texture.


Scones are a quick bread that are thought to have been invented in the 1500s. Baking soda is used to make them rise and they are brushed with an egg wash to give them a beautiful brown color and crunchy texture. The primary difference between scones and muffins is that they have more of a biscuit texture because cold fat is cut into the dough and the dough is much thicker than wet muffin dough.

There are a wide range of options when it comes to scones. They can be savory or sweet and you can also add a variety of toppings like blueberries. In fact, there are American versions that use fry bread, which is a fun twist on a classic recipe.

American scones are slightly different from their British counterparts in terms of flavor. Chef Andrea Geary lived in Scotland for eight years and is considered an expert on the subject. During an interview with America's Test Kitchen, she says," It's really about the butter ... you don't put a lot of butter in because you slather butter on it when you eat it!"

So, although there are many variations on muffin tops and scones, and they are both delicious, they are slightly different from each other.