How we tested
To find our favorite cornmeal, we made corn muffins with three different brands; we were surprised to discover how much the flavor and grind can vary among different brands. Some muffins had a barely perceptible corn flavor and a dusty texture, while others had a clean, pure flavor and gritty bite.
Our winning whole-grain cornmeal had a texture resembling slightly damp, fine sand. It made muffins with deep corn flavor and delicate crumb. The second whole-grain cornmeal produced great flavor, but the texture was coarser (akin to kosher salt), making muffins that were too coarse. The degerminated cornmeal had a fine texture (similar to table salt) but made muffins that were bland and dry.
Our conclusion? For the best corn muffins, look for more finely ground whole grain cornmeal. Degerminated cornmeal doesn't supply enough flavor, and if the cornmeal is ground too coarsely, your muffins will be too heavy.