Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins | Lighter Option

Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins | Lighter Option

These gluten free chocolate muffins have tons of rich chocolate flavor and are really satisfying for breakfast. Make the lighter option, and they have only 180 calories, with all that rich chocolate flavor. 

Chocolate muffin sliced in half on a plate

These rich chocolate muffins have way way less sugar than I would usually use in muffins or cupcakes, and lots less butter. They’re tender and chocolatey, but clearly muffins and not cupcakes.

A chocolate muffin on a white plate with white jar and another plate of a chocolate muffin on white surface

The lighter gluten free chocolate muffin variation

This is not a “diet” blog. I don’t count calories, and I don’t ever want my 2 girls to hear me complaining about the way I look, so I never do it.

In the same spirit, I don’t generally provide nutrition information for my recipes (that, and it’s crazy labor-intensive to do it). The exception is when I offer a recipe as “lighter,” or “light.”

Since both fat (yum!) and sugar (yum!) are not only delicious but act as tenderizers in baking, it can be very, very difficult to bake light without ending up baking a tough muffin. That’s why every muffin ever made or sold in the 1990’s was low fat but heavy as a brick and tough as shoe leather—or packed with sugar.

Chocolate muffins raw in pan

What makes the lighter version so light?

In this lighter recipe, I cut out a fair amount of the butter, but added in some unsweetened baking chocolate and concentrated even more on reducing the sugar in the recipe. Fat may be calorie-dense, but it’s satisfying.

I do love the taste of sugar, but I think we all know how bad it is for us. And it tends to create cravings. That’s why these muffins have only 7 grams of added sugar per muffin. For some perspective, that’s less than 2 teaspoons of sugar in the whole muffin. 

I added a few chocolate chips to the batter, and then a few more to the top of the muffin, and the nutrition information includes those few chips. You could leave them out, but mini chips are great for lighter baking since they really do go a long way.

Chocolate muffins baked in pan

Ingredients and substitutions


The dairy in these muffins is in the form of both butter and buttermilk. Unsweetened chocolate should already be dairy-free, but make sure.

If you can’t have butter, try using vegan butter. Miyoko’s Kitchen and Melt brands are great butter substitutes. Otherwise, Earth Balance buttery sticks should work fine. Just use about half as much salt since Earth Balance is very salty, and about 1 tablespoon less liquid since it has more moisture than butter.

In place of buttermilk, you can use half non-dairy plain yogurt and half unsweetened nondairy milk. You can also use that combination with dairy if you can have dairy, but don’t happen to have buttermilk on hand.


In place of the eggs, try using two “chia eggs.” One “chia egg” is made by combining 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds with 1 tablespoon lukewarm water. Mix in a small bowl and allow the mixture to sit until it gels.

Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins raw, baked and sliced4 chocolate muffins on a metal tray with white paper on top of tray and the inside of a chocolate muffin on a white plate below

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 12 muffins


5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, chopped

2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups (210 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used my Better Than Cup4Cup blend, but Better Batter works, too)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten*

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) buttermilk, and room temperature*

2 ounces miniature or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, but included in nutrition info below)

*For the lighter option, in place of 2/3 cup of buttermilk, use 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) lowfat buttermilk at room temperature + enough water to make 2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) liquid. In place of the 2 eggs, use 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites. In place of the 5 tablespoons of butter, use 4 (56 g). In place of 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, use 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (84 g) granulated sugar. The nutrition information below is for the lighter recipe.


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin, and set it aside.

  • In a small, heat-safe bowl, place the chopped butter and chocolate and place over a small pot of simmering water, making sure the water in the pot doesn’t touch the bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Set the bowl aside to cool briefly.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the eggs or egg and egg whites, vanilla, and buttermilk or buttermilk and water mixture, and mix to combine. Add the (optional) 2 ounces chocolate chips, and then the melted butter and chocolate. Mix to combine. The batter will be thick but smooth. Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups, smooth the tops with wet fingers.

  • Place the tin in the center of the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 19 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Nutrition Information per lighter muffin, as calculated with recipes.sparkpeople.com (I only provide nutrition info for recipes that I call “light” or “lighter”):

    Calories 175.3 | Total Fat 9.1g | Cholesterol 28.6 mg | Sodium 116.7 mg | Potassium 111.7 mg | Total Carbohydrate 21.9 g (Dietary Fiber 1.9 g; Sugars 9.1 g) | Protein 3.0 g

  • Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipe unchanged, photos, video all new.


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