Chocolate quinoa muffin-cupcakes (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free)

Comedian Jim Gaffigan pretty much nailed it when he described a muffin as a “bald cupcake”. (Don’t you just love that guy? Especially the voices?) Mostly nailed it. When it comes to muffins, packaged ones especially, it should be a hard sell to categorize as breakfast, except for the excuse to eat cake. But, there are always outliers. Sometimes the muffin-cupcake connection is sumptuously initiated the other way around. Breakfast so beautifully flavorful it should be iced and celebrated on the best of happy birthdays and un-birhdays.


These cupcakes…because cupcakes is what they were truly intended to be…are so full of goodness, light-and-just-right on the sweetness (and naturally sweetened), gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free (unless you use almond milk). They’re made with cooked quinoa and all it’s ancient superfood deliciousness, and are SO easy to make. My toddler and I basically poured everything into the blender, whizzed on high, and carefully poured out of the blender into muffin cups.


It doesn’t take long on this blog to see that I love quinoa. For this recipe I used Keen One Quinoa, original, which made prep even simpler with a pre-rinsed, perfectly measured packet. Keen One is Boulder-based and committed to sustainable, fair trade, organic ingredients. This quality really comes through in the flavor, lightness, and fragrance.


Little Monkey was all smiles with these chocolate muffins. We both were–in my case, for both myself and him, which says everything. And then again as cupcakes, shared with friends.

Chocolate quinoa muffin-cupcakes
Yield: 16 cupcakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

  • ⅔ cups dry quinoa, rinsed and drained (for 2 cups cooked quinoa)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate pieces, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼  cup liquid coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce (or pureed/mashed pumpkin)
  • ⅓  cup  pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • *Optional: frosting of choice (I love a plain dark chocolate glaze,  or this macadamia and cashew maple frosting from Love and Lemons)
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners or a coating of cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Place all ingredients except quinoa in a  high speed blender and process to combine. Add cooked quinoa one cup at a time and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into muffin tins, filling each cup just over halfway.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes  or until you press them lightly and they gently spring back. Let cool and ice/frost as desired.
  1. Kristie
    February 22, 2016

    I love Jim Gafigan!!! And I think I would love these!

  2. Wendy McMillan
    February 22, 2016

    Oh Kristie, you are so kind. I would LOVE to make some for you! 🙂

  3. Kate
    May 12, 2016

    Liquid coconut oil – fractionated or just melted regular coconut oil?
    Can the dark chocolate pieces be chocolate chips, or do you just get a dark chocolate bar…I have no idea what I’m doing, do I?

    • Wendy McMillan
      May 17, 2016

      I use melted regular coconut oil, and you can totally go with chocolate chips! I am so sorry this response is too late! I only just saw your comment…and SO SO sorry about the typo! THANK YOU for pointing out!! 🙂

      • Kate
        December 1, 2016

        So in the end, the typo worked out in my favor. I served the salty cupcakes to Markus’s family and now they don’t trust my baking. At Thanksgiving I made your vegan chickpea brownies and only my cousin, kids, and I ate them – and they were delicious, and we had leftovers. Yum!

        • Wendy McMillan
          December 6, 2016

          OOH, I’m sorry for my role in the cupcakes (though happy it worked out for you…kind of…and grateful you pointed out the typo!!)! But also, so happy the brownies were a hit!! I hope the takers’ reactions redeems you as a baker in the others’ eyes (but only if you want redemption). Thank you for the update!!

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