The first time I had fresh papaya was in Thailand. I was 8 years old and my mom got to attend a conference in Bangkok so she brought me along for the ride. Our first morning there, I was starving – thanks to a combination of jetlag and skipping dinner the night before – and raced down to the hotel restaurant, hoping to see a buffet lineup with waffles and eggs and bacon. What I got were plates of fruit – pineapple, papaya, and honeydew – and toast and jam. I was disappointed, to say the least, and was fully expecting to walk away hungry, but something about that fresh fruit turned out to be exactly what I needed. I’m sure we ate other amazing things during our stay, but the only thing I can remember is the fruit.

Ever since that trip, I’ve always associated papaya with Thailand – exotic and refreshing. It makes me feel a little fancier, even if it’s just going inside a muffin.

Fresh papaya

This might be my official summer fruit

Papaya Ginger Muffins (44 of 750)

Adapted from  750 Best Muffin Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury
Makes 32 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe papaya
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup diced papaya
  • 3 tbsp turbinado sugar mixed with a dash of ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and grated ginger. Set aside for 30 minutes. Mix with eggs, mashed papaya, and butter until well blended.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in diced papaya.
  5. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are firm at the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool.

Papaya and ginger, who would have thought? It’s actually a pretty great flavor combination – the cool, buttery richness of the papaya with the subtle spicy zing from the ginger.

The original recipe called for candied ginger, but I omitted it because I find it’s got a tendency to be overpowering, even for a ginger-lover like me. To keep the flavor of the ginger, I incorporated fresh ginger into the granulated sugar and topped it with coarse sugar mixed with ground ginger. You still get that heat and ginger flavor, but it doesn’t completely overwhelm the rest of the muffin, namely the milder flavored papaya.

Don’t worry, papaya, I’ve got your back. I’ll never let ginger overpower you.

Muffin batter

Papaya-orange is one of my favorite colors

Muffins on toast

Muffins on toast