Made with simple pantry ingredients, these easy Mexican Mantecadas muffins are lightly sweetened with a fluffy texture that will melt in your mouth.
Abe and I have been to Mexico a few times in the many years we’ve been together. Usually, it’s a cruise port. Also usually, it’s Cozumel, though Costa Maya is also lovely. One day we’ll get to the west side of Mexico!
One of our favorite things to do in Cozumel is EAT. Obviously. There are always so many tasty things to try, and one of our stops has to be a local bakery, where we pick up goodies like these delicious Mexican muffins to bring back on the ship.
These beauties are perfect for breakfast, brunch, or as a sweet treat with your afternoon coffee or tea. They are soft, crumbly, subtly sweet, and bursting with a bright orange-vanilla flavor.
And the best part? They are incredibly easy to make and they store like a dream, so you can enjoy them any time you want!
This page includes step by step instructions, as well as tips and notes. If you’d like to skip all that, feel free to scroll down to the full, printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
What are mantecadas?
The original mantecadas come from Spain, and are traditionally simple little sweetened loaf cakes made with flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and yeast. Often, a sprinkle of sugar on top before baking gave them a nice, crackly top.
These muffins are known as Azteca mantecadas, the Mexican variation of the original. Butter wasn’t always available in Mexico – or was too expensive – so they often substituted oil in their baking, as well as added a bit of readily available citrus.
If you’re ever in Mexico, stop by a panadería, and you’ll likely spot these pan dulce mantecadas sitting pretty in bright red cupcake liners!
These mantecadas are easy to make and are a perfect treat for any time of day! What are Mexican muffins made of? The same ingredients as all muffins, really – you don’t need any fancy ingredients to whip them up, just open up your pantry and get baking!
- All-purpose flour – feel free to use 1:1 gluten free flour here.
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Salt – I like to use kosher salt in all my baking, but table salt is also fine.
- Large eggs – keep them at room temperature for best results.
- Milk – also at room temperature. You can also use buttermilk for an even richer flavor!
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Orange zest – this is a completely optional mix in, but it adds a lovely, subtle orange flavor. You could also substitute in ground cinnamon for a warmer flavor.
- Unsalted melted butter – many other recipes for these muffins use oil, but for the best, richest crumb, go with melted butter instead.
How to make Mantecadas
- Preheat the oven 400 degrees F. When you bake the muffins, this gives them an initial lift, keeping them from going flat. Line a standard 12-count muffin pan with paper cupcake liners – red is traditional!
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set the bowl aside.
- In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together the eggs and sugar for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light, fluffy, and bubbly.
- Add the milk, vanilla extract and orange zest. Mix the batter for 1 minute.
- With the mixer running, pour the melted butter into the batter in a slow stream, until it’s well incorporated.
- Fold in the dry ingredients in 2-3 batches, being sure not to overmix – it’s okay if it’s a bit lumpy. Let the batter rest for 15-20 minutes, to allow to leaveners to react.
- Fill the prepared liners about ¾ of the way full. Don’t overfill them or they’ll spill over while baking!
- Place the muffin pan in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Don’t forget this step or your muffins WILL burn!
- Bake the muffins for 13-16 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out cleanly. These really do bake up quickly, so keep an eye on them so they don’t dry out.
- Allow muffins to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack. They are delicious warm or cooled!
Traditionally, these muffins are flavored with cinnamon or orange, but one of the best parts about this recipe is that it is essentially produces basic plain muffins. This means you can go wild with the mix-ins, so feel free to use this recipe as a base and let your creativity run wild!
For example, if you want a chocolate muffin, swap 1/3 cup of the flour out for cocoa powder, then add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chopped pecans. Add coconut flakes and substitute half of the vanilla extract for coconut or almond extract for a tropical version. Or simply swap the orange zest for lemon, lime, or grapefruit zest for a different sweet experience! You get the idea! Remember, baking is all about experimenting and having fun in the kitchen, so don’t be afraid to make it your own.
Allow them to cool completely, then carefully place them in an airtight container or plastic zipper bag. They will stay fresh for up to 3-4 days at room temperature.
If you want to freeze them, place them in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy them, thaw them at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
More muffins recipes to fall in love with!
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- 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup milk room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange zest optional
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- Preheat the oven 400 degrees F. Line a standard 12-count muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together the eggs and sugar for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the milk, vanilla extract and orange zest, mixing for 1 minute until incorporated.
- With the mixer running, pour the butter into the batter in a slow stream until incorporated.
- Fold in the dry ingredients in 2-3 batches, being sure not to overmix. Let the batter rest for 15-20 minutes.
- Fill the prepared liners about ¾ of the way full. Place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees F.
- Bake for 13-16 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out cleanly.
- Allow muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
To freeze: place them in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy them, thaw them at room temperature for a few hours before serving.