This Unexpected Spice Will Take Your Blueberry Muffins To The Next Level

Soft, fragrant, and studded with juicy berries, blueberry muffins are a welcome sight at breakfast, brunch, or any time of day when the need to nosh strikes. And homemade blueberry muffins? Well, they're the most special of all. This baked treat is especially lovely in summertime when freshly picked blueberries are everywhere, but since they're also available in stores year-round we certainly won't say no to a muffin in the middle of the deep, dark winter. It's hard to improve on a classic confection like blueberry muffins — but we just discovered one exciting way.

According to Epicurious, adding some ground coriander to your batch of blueberry muffins (or any blueberry dish, really) will elevate the flavor and make them even more luscious. Coriander seeds are technically produced by cilantro plants, but the taste is nothing like that of cilantro. Coriander is most often described as citrusy or lemony, with notes of flowers and pine. Since the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council ranks lemon at the top of the list for flavors that pair well with blueberry, adding a spice described as "lemony" to these muffins seems to be a no-brainer. However, Epicurious shares that there's another, lesser-known reason why coriander and blueberry are a match made in heaven. 

Here's why coriander makes blueberries taste even better

The reason coriander takes your favorite blueberry muffin recipe up a notch has to do with a flavor compound called linalool. Epicurious explains that linalool is a naturally occurring flavor and odor compound, a type of terpene that's found in many plants. Plants produce these odors to either entice or drive away the animals that want to eat them. In the case of linalool's calming floral scent and citrusy flavor, it's definitely there to entice.  

According to AskingLot, several plants contain linalool. Coriander is one of them, along with basil, oregano, bay, citrus, and lavender. Epicurious notes that there is also a sweet, juicy berry that contains as much linalool as coriander — that's right, the blueberry! Believe it or not, bringing these two sources of linalool together actually makes blueberries taste more "blueberry-y." 

Serious Eats has found that all it takes to amp up that blueberry flavor is a ¼ teaspoon of ground coriander mixed into the batter. For muffins with a streusel topping, you can also add a pinch of coriander to the crumble. Now that you know the linalool secret, experiment with adding ground coriander to other blueberry recipes too, like pie, coffee cake, or layered yogurt parfaits.