Chocolate Orange Swirl Muffins

While we could sit here and spend our time together arguing about whether these are technically decadent enough to be a cupcake or a muffin, let’s instead agree to agree that these are hands-down the lightest, most tender muffins ever known to grace my kitchen.

The subtle orange-flavored batter is studded with chocolate chips while ribbons of chocolate-infused batter run through each muffin so every taste has the hint of orange, touch of chocolate and a burst of unbelievable fluffy, moist crumb.

Although beholden with their fare share of calories, these blessed muffins are a refreshing change from the heavy, rich treats of the holidays. With “orange” and “muffin” in the title, I’ve nearly convinced myself they could classify as health food.

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Chocolate Orange Swirl Muffins

One Year Ago: Cherry Cheesecake Cookies
Two Years Ago: Thick and Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Orange Swirl Muffins

Yield: Makes about 12 muffins

Chocolate Orange Swirl Muffins


  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup canola oil or melted butter
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one medium orange (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, regular or mini-sized


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (for dark, nonstick pans) or 350 degrees for regular muffin tins. Line tins with cupcake liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate medium-size bowl beat together the egg, oil or butter, buttermilk, orange juice, vailla and orange zest. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix together just until moistened. Don’t over mix! You may even see some small dry spots – as long as the mixture is evenly moistened without being overmixed, it will be fine.
  4. Into two bowls, divide the batter in half. Sift the cocoa powder in to one of the bowls and fold in half of the chocolate chips. Fold the remaining chocolate chips into the other “white” bowl of batter.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the prepared muffin tins, alternating the orange and chocolate batters. Fill the cups 2/3 full. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 or 17-18 minutes at 325 until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the muffins for five minutes in the tins. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source: adapted from Wolfgang Puck

33 Responses to Chocolate Orange Swirl Muffins

  1. Leann says:

    I’m indecisive about making these with butter or oil. Can you tell a difference?

  2. Sydney says:

    These look divine! How do you think these would taste if I substituted lemon juice/zest instead of orange juice/zest? I can’t wait to try these!

    • Mel says:

      Sydney – I personally don’t care for the lemon/chocolate combo but the orange/chocolate combo is somehow amazing! Having said that, if you like lemon/chocolate together then it is definitely worth a try to change out the orange for lemon. Good luck if you try it!

  3. Viktoriya says:

    Oh my goodness words cannot explain how good these are! I made them and in the end wished I had doubled the recipe due to my little siblings greedy hands!:))

  4. Stacy says:

    These are delectable!

  5. Ashley says:

    Oh man, yet another great recipe- thank you! Changed nothing, and used fresh squeezed orange juice and full fat buttermilk. I froze the choc chips and did not very gently fold into each batter until last minute b/c I like when they keep their shape instead of getting all melty/streaky looking. That worked well; these muffins are not only good looking but more importantly taste fabulous. Thanks again!

  6. Nicole says:

    Ohhhhhhh these are so good! And mostly pantry staples to make them. I subbed coconut sugar again with great results. This is a super fantastic recipe, where have they been all my life? I feel like I’ve just been let in on a really awesome secret 🙂 Thanks again!

  7. Karen U says:

    This recipe sounds delicious! How about subbing some applesauce for the oil to reduce the fat content? What ratio would you use? Thanks!

  8. To says:

    Wow, they taste so fine and came together so fast… definitely on my “tried and loved”-list!

  9. Erika says:

    These are amazing! Seriously amazing! The choc/orange combo is so good & they are super moist. I am surprised they are so moist because the only “bad” stuff in there is the oil & choc chips. I even used about 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour. And I didn’t even use the butter! These will be made again & I will keep upping the WW flour to see how they do. Thanks for the awesome recipe Mel!

  10. Beth says:

    Just tried these the other day and they were a big hit. I actually don’t think they are all that bad for you, if you use lowfat buttermilk and canola oil there isn’t that much saturated fat. They have a very delicate texture and who doesn’t love chocolate and orange together!

  11. Jill says:

    my kids LOVE these muffins. they never last more than a day in our home. One of my favorite recipes you’ve shared. thanks so much!!

  12. Amy Wolin says:

    These were SO GOOD!!! I’ve got my 3rd batch in the oven, after giving the first away and the second half devoured already by my family. (And I have a 4th batch waiting, my hubby way over grated the oranges so I’m using up the zest and orange juice while I have them!) Freezing some for emergency happy muffins. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing. I love every single recipe I try off your blog!

  13. […] from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally adapted from Wolfgang […]

  14. […] Chocolate Orange Swirl Muffins {Sugar Rush #9} I just bought some orange sticks…a Christmas time must-have in my opinion! These are like the muffin version… FANTASTIC:). 7 Mel December 13, at 13:56 pm. Holli – usually adding 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk . […]

  15. Tammy says:

    I made these this morning….let’s just say there are not too many left! Fabulous!

  16. Sheena says:

    These are currently baking in my oven and smell sooo yummy! Can’t wait until they are done! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes! This isn’t the first one I have tried and loved! You are Fabulous! 🙂

  17. Tracey says:

    Just out of curiosity, did you bake these as full size muffins, or mini muffins? They look like regular size, but I can’t tell for sure. Do you think they would work in the mini size, and would I cook them for the same amount of time? Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      Tracey – I baked these as full-size muffins. I suppose they could work as mini-size but it would be fairly time consuming to alternate the batters in those tiny little cups. If you try it, I would cut the baking time down by at least 5-8 minutes and check often so they don’t overbake.

  18. nicole says:

    love them. you are right orange and chocolate go so well together!!

  19. grace says:

    if ever there was a time and place for orange and chocolate (which there doesn’t seem to be, have you noticed?), it’s christmas. these are lovely.

  20. kathleen says:

    These look amazing! I think I’ll add them to my Christmas brunch menu!!!

  21. Tracey says:

    YUM!! I just bought some orange sticks…a Christmas time must-have in my opinion! These are like the muffin version….FANTASTIC:)

  22. Holli says:

    So I can’t buy buttermilk where I live. Is sour milk always a perfect substitute? many of your recipes call for it and I would love to make them.
    Wondering if you know?

    • Mel says:

      Holli – usually adding 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk will give you great results as a substitution for buttermilk, so if you can’t find the real thing, the soured milk is a good option!

  23. Ash says:

    They look beautiful.

  24. HollyL says:

    Yum.. sounds like such a delicious combination!

  25. Kim in MD says:

    Wow…these muffins look amazing! Chocolate and orange are such a fabulous combination! I can’t wait to try this recipe! 🙂

  26. briarrose says:

    Oh my…..Love it! I could not pass these up.

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