Grandma Barbara’s Chocolate Chip Nut Muffins

Forgive me Grandma Barbara, but I tinkered with your Classic Muffin Recipe a bit. And I also added chocolate chips. Because…well…chocolate makes anything better!! And nuts. Because…same.

My Grandma Barbara was my Dad’s mom.  She passed away when I was 11. My childhood memories of her are afternoons sitting in her kitchen watching her bake…cakes, custards, cookies, pies.  Pies.  Hmmmmm. Whenever she baked a pie she would make thumbprint tarts with the left over pie crust.  Yummm.  

When my family sold my grandparents house in the 1990’s, I inherited all of Grandma Barbara’s recipes.. There were hundreds of them. Sometimes they would have notes in the margins (“if using large eggs, only use 1”). Baking instructions were minimal – “Bake in hot oven…”.  

Did I mention that Grandma Barbara cooked on a wood burning cook stove?  Yeah.  Right up until she died in 1976. It was cool. And kind of terrifying for a little kid. It was a big monster of a thing that took up half of the wall in her kitchen. 

So her cook temperatures were…let’s just say, “flexible”. 

This muffin recipe was one of the first things of hers that I tried to make.

These are muffins.  Plain old muffins.  No blueberries, or cranberries or nuts.  I assume that occasional she added mix-ins. But more often than not, these were most likely served with butter and jelly. 

See her note at the top? “with large eggs this is too much milk”. There is also a note on the back that says “5 Tbsp sugar is 1/3 cup”. And see what I mean about oven temperature? Thanks Gram! 

Here is her Grandma’s original Muffin recipe:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp. Crisco, melted

Sift dry ingredients. Add beaten eggs, then milk. Add shortening & stir in quickly. Grease muffin tins. Hot oven. 15-20 min. 

I have made these muffins dozens of times. Often, I added blueberries, or chocolate chips to the mix.  And they were great.  Tasted like I was a little kid again.  But they always tasted a bit dry and a little tough to me.  So I started tinkering.  

I changed the milk to buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a great substitute by adding 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 scant cup of milk, and letting it sit for 5 minutes or so.

We really like moist, light muffins with a big muffin top. So I added baking soda and a little more flour. This makes the muffins less dense and gives them more lift. I also increased the sugar to 1/2 cup. I changed the Crisco to butter and added more of it.

You can’t beat Grandma Barbara’s muffin making basics…dry ingredients first, add wet ingredients and mix quickly. Don’t over mix! Over mixing is a sure way to make tough, dense muffins. Don’t do it!

Then I added chocolate chips.  Because…well…chocolate makes anything better!! And nuts. Because…same.

The result was a moist, light muffin with a high, crispy muffin top (did I mention, we LOVE muffin tops!!). 

See these muffin tins? They are Grandma Barbara’s. Can you tell?

Here is my modified recipe

Grandma Barbara’s
Chocolate Chip Nut Muffins

Prep Time: 10 min      Cook Time: 20 min      Total Time: 30 min
Yield: 12

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (this can be a mix. I use whatever nuts I have in my cabinet)
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tray with non-stick spray or use paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk beaten eggs, buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until just mixed (don’t over stir, or they will get tough.)
  4. Gently fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Divide batter into 12 muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Don’t overbake, or they will be dry.
  6. Let cool 5-10 minutes and enjoy warm! 

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