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.

Lite gluten free chocolate muffins have 180 calories & under 2 teaspoons of sugar. Still rich and generous, with all the rich chocolate flavor. Have it all!

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 slicedLite gluten free chocolate muffins have 180 calories & under 2 teaspoons of sugar. Still rich and generous, with all the rich chocolate flavor. Have it all!

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.


  • Connie
    July 18, 2020 at 3:29 PM

    I am a little confused. The recipe calls for two eggs but then you say :”In place of the 2 egg whites, use 1 whole egg for a total of 2 whole eggs”. Does the regular version of the recipe take whole eggs or egg whites?

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 19, 2020 at 7:59 AM

      You’re right, Connie! That was confusing. So sorry about that. I’ve fixed it to read (for the lighter recipe): In place of the 2 eggs, use 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites.

    July 7, 2020 at 3:35 PM

    Hi, I came acros your page a few days ago and right now I am eating choc and lemon muffins made by your recipie. I have to say I am really pleasantly surprised how well they came out. Thanks for the good work!

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 7, 2020 at 6:19 PM

      I’m so glad you’re feeling encouraged, Ivana! Thanks so much for letting me know.

  • Elaine Lyon
    January 14, 2017 at 6:52 PM

    This is exactly the gluten free and light recipient I have been looking for! I’m so excited to try making this!

  • Mary C.
    January 4, 2017 at 1:05 PM

    Question, I have an egg allergy. Can I substitute eggs with applesauce or banana?

    • January 4, 2017 at 2:39 PM

      I haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitute, but if you’d like to try I do not recommend using applesauce or banana, which don’t provide structure, only moisture. I always recommend a “chia egg,” (just google that phrase). Here, I’d try using 2 chia eggs (using ground, not whole, chia seeds). Good luck!

  • Marcia Kimpland
    January 4, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    Hi Nicole, I prefer using almond flour for baking – just prefer the taste and texture. Do you know how I can adapt this recipe using almond flour? Thanks!!

    • January 4, 2017 at 2:41 PM

      I’m afraid you can’t simply replace all purpose gluten free flour with almond flour, like you can’t replace conventional all purpose gluten free flour with almond flour and have the recipe turn out. Almond flour requires recipes formulated specifically to be made with it. I recommend that you try my Paleo recipes. You should find something you like there. But I’d also try this recipe as written. These muffins are so good!

  • GF Baker in AZ
    January 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    I made these yesterday, and they were fabulous! I had to use vanilla yogurt instead of buttermilk (none in the fridge), and they came out perfect. The texture was great, and the taste was nice and chocolatey without being too sweet. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • GF Baker in AZ
      January 22, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      PS – I am really enjoying the lighter recipes, too. Life is about balance, I believe there is a place for both richer and lighter recipes. Thanks for adding these to your offerings.

  • Chris Stephan
    January 17, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Can I use Better Batter for this recipe?

  • Cindy
    January 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    Lighter is a thousand time better than lowfat or nofat,,, in which they replace the fat with sugar. I love a lighter fare. Why not! And hurray for you for not fussing about your weight to your kids. I’m not even close to being thin but I figure this is the way God made me. Although I do watch, I try not to fuss. These look so great. I often buy Udi’s muffins for a quick breakfast on the run. I usually feel guilty about eating them but now I can make these and think about you instead!!!! Thank you Nicole for all you do!
    ~ Cindy

    • January 15, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      Good for you, Cindy! And thanks so much for the kind words. :)

  • Marilyn McLeod
    January 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    These look so tasty. I’m glad you’re offer some “lighter” fares, as I can’t eat very much sugar. I tried making some oatmeal raisin cookies the other day with NO sugar (just some agave) and they turned out like little hockey pucks! Things just need a little sugar for the texture I guess! I will definitely try these and the blueberry muffins, as I love love love blueberry muffins! Thanks for all of your wonderful recipes.

    • January 15, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      Agave is a sugar, Marilyn, but there are so many variables in a recipe so who knows why you got hockey pucks! I am building up to making lighter cookies. That’s actually completely different in terms of low fat/low sugar, so it’s been bumpy, but I’ll get there eventually! So glad you’re enjoying this type of recipe. Thanks for the kind words. They’re much appreciated!

  • Samantha
    January 15, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Thank you!!! I am so excited about these lighter recipes. I love to bake and I love sweets. I usually don’t go into baking thinking about the calories or fat content…maybe I should?! Once in a while it is really nice to bake something that is better for you…and still have great flavor. Thank you for these recipes…I love them! Keep them coming if you can:)

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Hi, Samantha, So glad you’re into them. Lighter baking is definitely its own challenge, and for me recipe development is all about new challenges! So you will definitely see some more lighter recipes from time to time on the blog. :)

      • Samantha
        January 15, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Yay! You are the best Nicole:)

  • Sarah
    January 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    I love the lighter recipes! I am tired of blogs with tons of butter and bacon, etc. – it just isn’t realistic to eat that way and stay healthy. I will try these for sure

    • dgf
      January 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Actually it is a great way to stay healthy. Fat does not make you fat and makes you eat less because you are satisfied. Sugar and an over indulgence of carbs make you fat, these need to be a treat once in awhile.

  • anna
    January 15, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    These look delicious! So dark and chocolatey. Mmm… I do have one question, though. What brand muffin/cupcake papers do you use? All of the ones that I have tried end up sticking to the baked goodie, and spraying them with a bit of baking spray makes them greasy. I absolutely dont mind going paper-less with baking anything in a muffin tin, but sometimes you just need that pop of color or print. Thank you!

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      I use If You Care brand muffin liners, Anna. I love them, and I get them in the regular grocery store. But if you want something prettier, just search the web for “greaseproof” liners. That’s what you need to make sure they don’t bleed, and don’t stick. There are tons of sources online for them these days!

      • anna
        January 15, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        That’s the brand parchment paper i use! I’ve never seen their muffin liners at my local grocery stores. I will have to order online. Thanks a bunch!

  • Michelle
    January 15, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    I am loving these lighter muffin recipes, not because they are lower in calories, (but really, why would I complain about that?) but because they have such a great texture. I loved the blueberry ones, and these will make a perfect 3pm snack. Thanks so much for the wonderful recipes!

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      You bet, Michelle! So glad you’re enjoying this type of recipe. :)

  • Sarah M.
    January 15, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    you could also try buying the little cartons of just egg whites :) I use these recipes as an excuse to buy a small one (same size as a small single serving milk carton) and then use whatever’s left to make a fluffy tasty low-calorie omelette :D

  • Mare Masterson
    January 15, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Oh my goodness…I must have these! Going grocery shopping tonight…lowfat buttermilk just made the list. I have everything else in the pantry!

    FYI Nicole, someone I know since the 70s in NJ has seen my bread and bagel pictures on FB and she posted this yesterday: “You have convinced me and I have ordered the book.” I also told her to come to your blog.

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      Mare, you’re the best GFOAS ambassador! Love it. Thank you!

      I have to say that, although you can pretty easily sour your own milk and make “buttermilk,” and even though what you buy in the grocery store as buttermilk isn’t really true buttermilk, it’s really wonderful for baking, whatever it is!

      • Mare Masterson
        January 15, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        Having the “buttermilk” in the house gives me an excuse to make onion rings too! :) (like I need an excuse!)

  • Mary Garrard
    January 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I agree about wasting food, even if it’s something relatively small like an egg yolk. So, I usually use two eggs instead of one whole egg and two whites, and haven’t found any difference in the outcome.

    • Linda
      January 16, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      I made them yesterday with two whole eggs instead of the 1 whole/2 whites in the recipe and they turned out great! I was just running a little short on my farm fresh eggs and that’s why I made the change.

  • Jennifer S.
    January 15, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Thank you for this – really – I’m all over “lighter” stuff but not fat free – blech! I love baking but end up eating so much of it myself, so this is perfect. I’m so glad that there are options….

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      I agree about the options, Jennifer! Always good to have. Different strokes for different folks and all that. ;)

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