Gluten Free Banana Muffins with Chocolate & Buckwheat Flour

These gluten free banana muffins have a tender crumb that sings with the earthy flavors of buckwheat flour, bittersweet chocolate chunks, toasted nuts, and cacao nibs. Up your banana bread ante with these beauties!

gluten free banana chocolate chip muffins

Miffed by Muffins

My friend Kelly has impeccable taste. She’s always well-dressed, knows the best wines and cheeses, drives a cool car, and owns the most beautifully designed house.

gluten free banana muffins recipe ingredients

There’s only one area in which we disagree, and that area is muffins.

gluten free banana muffins recipe

Kelly and I met at Petite Patisserie, an organic, sister-owned French-style bakery on Potrero Hill that closed its doors several years ago. At work one day, Kelly confided that the main reason she applied to Petite Patisserie was that they didn’t sell muffins. When she said the word “muffins,” her face twisted into a mask of pure disgust, and she spat the word out as though she were tasting something extremely vile. Like a dry muffin.

gluten free flours for gluten free banana muffins recipe

I, on the other hand, love a good muffin. I would have much preferred baking a tray of hearty and paper-lined muffins to the bite-sized upside-down cakes that took hours to prepare at Petite Patisserie, stuck horribly to their non-stick silicone pans, and tasted cottony and sweet. But I do feel similar antipathy towards most cupcakes, which we also didn’t make at Petite Patisserie (except by special order).

gf banana muffins

Muffins vs. Cake

One thing I’m sure of is that muffins should be different than cake. (And definitely different than cupcakes.) They should be dense and nourishing, flavorful, and full of good-for-you things like whole grains, fruit and nuts; more like a quick bread than a fluffy pastry in need of buttercream. These muffins are just that.

These gluten free banana muffins with chocolate and buckwheat flour live up to their name. They’re packed with nutty buckwheat flour, mashed bananas, chocolate flecks, and crunchy walnuts, and bitter cacao nibs.

gluten free banana bread recipe

I initially made a batch in order to use up some over-ripe bananas, inspired by a heavenly banana cream cheese muffin that a (non-muffin-hating) friend brought to a party. I liked them so much that I immediately bought more bananas, which I proceeded to guard like a watchdog until they were bright yellow with black speckles, and ready for baking. I’ve made many batches since.

gluten free banana nut muffins recipe with chocolate

I adapted the recipe from this Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread, though I ended up altering nearly every ingredient to make it work with the gluten-free ingredients. I upped the eggs and leavening, reduced the sugar, and added chopped chocolate, as per Jay’s request. He was hovering around the kitchen going, “Oh boy, are you gonna put chocolate in those? Chocolate banana nut muffins are my favorite!” He’s no muffin-hater.

gluten free buckwheat muffins with banana, chocolate, and nuts

Alternative Flours for Gluten Free Banana Muffins

These muffins are undetectably gluten-free, thanks to a trio of flours. Sweet rice flour helps the muffins hold together. Oat flour adds fluffiness. And high protein buckwheat flour creates a sturdy crumb. The oat and buckwheat flours lend big flavor as well as nutritional value. Another secret ingredient – cream cheese – stealthily adds rich moisture and tang, giving the muffins structure. No gums or starches needed here.

When warm from the oven, these gluten free banana muffins are light and fluffy. As they cool, they settle into moist and tender little breads. I like them best somewhere in between, when the flavors have melded but the chocolate is still soft.

gluten free banana muffins recipe with chocolate chips

These are judiciously sweetened and hearty enough for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack. The earthy buckwheat, bitter cacao nibs, and dark chocolate all contrast beautifully with sweet banana. Their flavor is downright sophisticated. So much so that I wouldn’t hesitate to serve a batch to even the most stalwart, muffin-hating guests.

gluten free chocolate chip banana bread

Though if you want to be safe, bake the batter in a loaf pan instead and call it gluten free banana bread.

gluten free banana bread muffins with chocolate and buckwheat flour

Looking for more banana recipes? Try these:

Looking for more buckwheat flour recipes? Try these:

*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram,  Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make these gluten free banana muffins, I’d love to see. Tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet  and  #bojongourmet.*

Gluten Free Banana Muffins with Chocolate & Buckwheat Flour

I recommend using naturally sticky sweet rice flour (such as Mochiko brand); look for it in the baking or Asian section of your grocer. If gluten isn’t an issue for you, try using white and whole wheat flours in place of the oat and rice if you like. If gluten is a problem, be sure to use certified gluten-free oat flour.

I like these muffins best when they’ve cooled for fifteen minutes, but the chocolate is still soft, but they’ll keep for a few days at room temperature. I recommend “refreshing” leftovers in a warm oven or toaster oven. Ounce measurements are by weight.

Makes 1 dozen muffins

3/4 cup (3 ounces) oat flour
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) sweet white rice flour
1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) buckwheat flour (or teff flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (or plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, added with the banana)
3/4 cup (4 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (8 ounces out of peel) mashed, very ripe banana (from 2-3 large bananas)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts or pecans, plus extra for the tops
1/2 cup (3 ounces) fairly finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao mass), plus extra for the tops
2 tablespoons cacao nibs, plus extra for the tops (optional)
flaky salt, for the tops

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

Sift together the flours, baking powder and soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth, 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, then add the vanilla and mashed banana. Stir in the flour mixture with the mixer on low, then stir in the nuts, chocolate and cacao nibs until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to give the batter a turn to make sure it is homogeneous.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them to the tops. Top each with a few pieces of walnut, chocolate and cacao nibs and a few flecks of flaky salt.

Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs, about 25 minutes, rotating the muffins after 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before devouring.

The muffins will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days. Rewarm them in an oven or toaster oven for tastiest results.

35 thoughts on “Gluten Free Banana Muffins with Chocolate & Buckwheat Flour”

  1. Mm, these look everything you describe them to be! I can't tell you how much I agree with your sentiment—a muffin should not be cake-like. That would defeat its purpose altogether!

    I've never made the conscious effort to bake gluten-free before, but I could be well on my way—I have all the ingredients on hand except the rice flour. What would you recommend as a substitute?

    1. Hi Linda,

      Hm… a gf all-purpose blend, or almond or coconut flour, would probably by my top choices. Extra oat flour will likely work, but the muffins may be a bit more dense or dry or take longer to bake. If gluten isn't an issue, though, go ahead and use all-purpose. Let me know what you end up using and how it comes out!

      Ps. Your blog is beautiful, and I love the title! :)

    2. Cool – let me know how they come out! Oh, and you'll be better off using the weight measurement, since rice flour weighs a bit more per cup than wheat flour.

    1. Hi Sanderson, I know there are some vegan cream cheese substitutes out there, and I'd guess that any of them would probably work in these muffins, though I can't say for sure as I haven't tried it. Please let us all know what you end up using, and how it comes out!

  2. Oh my gosh, I can't believe there are people that don't like muffins! I'd say 90% of the time, I'd take a muffin over a cupcake. I mean, a really well-balanced cupcake is awesome, but they just feel so…fussy. (I say this as someone who cannot use a piping bag to save her life.) And I feel like there's so much room for making a not great cupcake when you have the two separate elements of frosting and cake. Sometimes there's too much frosting, or it's too dense, or too sweet, and/or the cake just doesn't stand up to it or tastes kind of meh — so much room for problems! And then I try to eat it and get frosting up my nose. Yuck.

    I love banana bread/muffins with chocolate chips, and adding in cacao nibs sounds so good! I've actually never worked with buckwheat flour before, but it's one of those things I've always been rather curious about. (This goes back to the days when I used to wait tables in a sap house that served weekend breakfast, and a lot of buckwheat pancakes. I remember how much richer and nuttier they smelled when I carried them from the kitchen to the tables.) I should stop being curious and actually do something with it. (And I should probably order a buckwheat pancake next time I'm having breakfast back home!)

    1. Ha! Well, to Kelley's credit, I don't think she likes cupcakes, either. :) I completely agree about the fussiness, the frosting up the nose, and the greater margin of error when it comes to getting the two different components right! On the other hand, I just had the best cupcake of my life at a party last weekend. They were tiny, gluten- and dairy-free chocolate cupcakes with coffee frosting and crunchy sugar on top, and though I begged and pleaded and gave the cupcake-maker my card, she wouldn't divulge the recipe. I very nearly cried, but managed to keep my dignity.

      I'm insanely jealous that you worked in a sap house! Those places sound like absolute heaven (though serving jobs, not so much). I'm pretty sure you will fall in love with buckwheat's earthy flavor (it tastes a bit like toasted hazelnuts with a whiff of cinnamon). I've added some of my favorite buckwheat recipes to the above post, and respectfully suggest that you get thee to thy kitchen and mix up a batch of buckwheat chocolate chip cookies without delay! :)

    2. Holy cow, buckwheat chocolate chip cookies!! Ahhh!!! Yup, those are totally happening this weekend. :D

      The abundance of meh cupcakes makes me have a huge amount of respect for people who can make amazing ones. (I also love a tiny cupcake, since it's much easier to eat!) There's this girl at the winter farmers' market who makes the most amazing, work-of-art cupcakes I have ever seen. And they are delicious. You can tell that she puts a lot of thought into making each one an "experience," rather than just cake and some frosting. (Like s'mores cupcakes with graham cracker crust on the bottom and the root beer float cupcakes with a cherry in the center and frosting that tastes like creamy soda foam — it's crazy.)

      Working at the sap house was so much fun. I didn't get to be around the actual sapping equipment all that much (I was in high school at the time, and all I knew was that there was this mysterious sliding door, and behind it was a lot of noise and steam, and some burly dudes yelling and cursing). I mostly stuck to popping candies out of molds and bagging up things and what not. Waiting tables at that age was SUCH a good experience for me, especially in a small town where everyone knows each other and most people are super nice. It's so much fun to go back there and see regulars that I used to wait on! :)

    3. Yay! I hope you love the cookies.

      Those cupcakes sound AMAZING – I wish I could try one right now! And your sap house experience sounds beautiful. I hope I get to visit one someday. :)

  3. These just finished baking in the oven. You are right, the whole house smells great! I made my husband find the sticky sweet rice flour, used buckwheat and GF all purpose baking flour. We didn't have the right type of chocolates so used a slightly less amount of what we did have. They are wonderful! Much appreciated as way to warm up after a long snowy cold day. Thank you again! Such genius.

  4. Just made these and they were delicious!! I will certainly be making these again! I've had buckwheat flour sitting around at home for months and now I've finally found a use for them. I did make some substitutions to increase the protein value of these though – replaced the butter for smooth peanut butter, used almond flour instead of rice flour and added 1 scoop of unflavored whey protein. The kitchen smelt amazing! Honestly so so so good! :D

  5. Hi – I'd love to make these but I don't have a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Is there some other method I can use?

    1. Definitely! Make sure the butter and cream cheese are really soft, and beat them and the sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. You could also try using an electric egg beater if you have on. Let me know how you like them. :)

  6. These are sooo good!! Finally I have found what I've been looking for to go with my morning coffee – healthy and tasty and gluten free! I changed the recipe slightly to 3 oz buckwheat flour, 2 oz ground almonds and 2 oz brown rice flour because that's what was available – and they were lovely and light. Thank you! :)

  7. Hello Alanna
    As I was browsing Ottolenghi site somehow yours caught my eyes Japanese sweet potato, it’s good but made a sumac aioli instead. Second attempt Multi grain sandwich bread it’s getting better I use Red River hot cereal. Didn’t expect to be that sticky for a moment I thought I was making Einkorn bread, kneaded by hand for almost 20 mins then gave up, end up with one mini loaf and 6 buns in 31/2 cookie rings. Turn out fabulous
    I do like your recipes because they not only different and creative but healthy and tasty.
    Third attempt tonight your muffin and ate one with a cup of Dark French roast straight black coffee, it’s superb. I substitute sweet white rice for potato flour and use 2oz Scharffen Berger unsweetened 99% dark chocolate but add 1/2 oz extra sugar because I only have 2 bananas. Next time shall try with sweet rice flour, 3 bananas without extra sugar, guess that would be sweet enough to handle that 99% cacao.
    Next might try croissant , is the butter not too much? I have been using Bruno Kitchen recipe
    Trusted no fail recipes

  8. Hi Alanna – I think you used to take my yoga classes at Open Door a long time ago. I like your website and enjoy making your recipes! I just made these muffins. Delicious! Athena

    1. Athena!! Aw, I miss Open Door and miss your classes. What are you up to? Are you still on Potrero Hill? Thanks so much for reading and for trying my recipe – I’m so glad you liked it. :)

      1. I miss Open Door too! It was the best place. I’m still teaching yoga and enjoy it – living in the Inner sunset. Eating the last Banana Muffin as I type this!

  9. I made these (with my typical massive alterations because availability), and it was the second best banana bread I’ve ever had. I used oat flour, gluten free flour, and cornmeal and omitted the cream cheese, chocolate, nibs, and nuts. I used a full 8 tablespoons of butter to counter the loss of the cream cheese. I am continually impressed with how reliable (and delicious!) your recipes are even with all the substitutions.

    The first best banana bread I’ve ever had was an early attempt to alter a typical recipe using oat flour, buckwheat flour, and adding a bit of honey that I made on the fly and didn’t write down. Thanks for putting me back on track!

    1. Hi Leigh,

      I’m so glad the recipe worked with those substitutions! Really good to know that you can swap in more butter in place of the cream cheese, which I don’t always have on hand! Thanks a bunch for the kind note.

  10. As always, this recipe was a huge success, even with a couple of substitutions. I used plain yogurt because it was what I had on hand, and used teff instead of buckwheat (because I just cannot get on Team Buckwheat). If they are this delicious with yogurt then I imagine they are simply decadent and worthy of a dessert tray with cream cheese. I’m looking forward to devouring one for breakfast every day this week.

    1. I’m on Team Teff too, especially with banana and chocolate – perfect substitute! I’m so glad to know that plain yogurt will work in place of cream cheese – I’ll add that into the recipe so it will help other bakers! I can’t wait to try your version. :)

      1. They come out so moist and with a little bit of tang from the yogurt. I just weighed it out in the bowl and proceeded with the recipe as written. I suspect sour cream would probably work, too. Teacher Appreciation Week is this coming week and these will be making it onto the treat tray in all their cream cheese-y glory alongside slices of your carrot cake, a vegan chocolate tart, and bergamot buckwheat cookies (I may not like buckwheat but who am I to deny others the opportunity to try it?). Again, thank you so much for bringing us delicious gluten free recipes that challenge everything we’ve come to believe about gluten free baking after years of subpar cakes and cookies. Even my wheat-eating friends want copies of your cookbook because the recipes are simply that amazing.

        1. Aw this sweet note is making my day!! What a lucky bunch to get to enjoy all your baking. Please let me know how you like the other recipes too. Thanks very much for the kind words! I completely agree about trying many disappointing gluten free baked goods and recipes over the years – it’s just not necessary anymore! It’s the best compliment when wheat-eaters like the recipes too.

    1. Since it’s a relatively small amount, you could use just about any flour you like the taste of. Millet, sorghum, more oat, or a GF AP blend should all work well. Nut flours might need a bit of tweaking since they don’t absorb as much moisture but I bet hazelnut flour would taste amazing (I’m actually working on a hazelnut flour banana bread recipe!) Coconut flour won’t work since it’s SUPER absorbent (but you could try my GF banana cake linked in the post that uses coconut flour). Let me know what you try. :)

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