Bakery-Style Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

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With a pillowy soft texture, crunchy caramelized topping, and dark chocolate in every bite, these Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins may just be the muffins of your dreams. They look and taste gourmet but are easy to make.
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 50 minutes
5 from 13 votes

Over the last few years, I’ve realized I am a muffin person if the muffin is done really well, and these Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins are no exception. 

Each of these bakery-style muffins is bejeweled with dark chocolate chunks and boasts a melt-in-your-mouth, fluffy interior. A sprinkling of coarse sugar on top is the perfect finishing touch, giving every bite the perfect amount of crunch in contrast to the soft and tender crumb.

This recipe makes enough grown-up, gourmet muffins for breakfast, brunch parties, and weekly snacks. 

Table of contents:
1. Why this recipe works
2. Ingredient notes
3. Step-by-step instructions
4. Tips for making this recipe
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. Recipe card with notes

Muffins in muffin tin, one taken out and cut in half with butter slathered on it.

Why this recipe works

Light, fluffy, and soft

There’s nothing worse than picking up a chocolate chip muffin from your favorite coffee or donut place only for it to be dry and dense. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 

Which is why this chocolate chip muffin recipe produces light, fluffy, and pillowy soft muffins, the kind of muffins you dream of. 

Their heavenly texture is all thanks to a muffin batter made with vegan sour cream. The fat and acid in sour cream provide the muffins with moisture, richness, and just the right amount of tang. The result? A rich and tender muffin with a melt-in-your-mouth crumb!

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To add some contrast to the ultra-soft bites, we finished them with coarse sugar on top. It lends the perfect crunchy topping in contrast to the soft interior. 

Bakery-style big girl muffins

We call these big girl muffins in the RPL kitchen because they have the perfect amount of sweetness. Anyone with or without a sweet tooth will enjoy them.

If your sweet tooth is stronger than others, use the options we’ve included in the Tips and Ingredient Notes sections to make them sweeter.

Cinnamon and nutmeg bring even more flavor to the mix. They give the muffins a warm and comforting flavor while highlighting the richness of the chocolate. 

Lastly, swapping regular chocolate chips for chopped dark chocolate brings a level of sophistication that elevates the muffins to a whole new level (though of course you can use chocolate chips if you prefer).

Easy to make

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced baker, this recipe is just plain easy to make. Most, if not all, of the vegan pantry staple ingredients might already be in your kitchen and the batter is a breeze to put together. 

Let them do their thing in the oven and in less than 30 minutes, you’ll have big, bountiful muffins that your friends will think you picked up from a fancy bakery!

Overhead view of muffins on parchment paper.

Ingredient notes

Vegan chocolate chip muffin ingredients in various bowls on a red table.

Oat milk

This adds a neutral base for the liquid ingredients, which means it won’t add any overpowering flavors or textures. We recommend using a creamy full-fat oat milk for the best texture, like Califia and Oatly brands.

Substitute: Oat milk is the best option here because other plant-based milks, such as soy milk, may add more protein to the batter. More protein = different textures in the batter. That said, you don’t need that much milk, so the change likely won’t make a big difference. 

Vegan sour cream

For the best vegan chocolate chip muffins with the most luxurious texture, enter vegan sour cream.

Vegan sour cream is a rich yet slightly acidic ingredient that adds moisture and richness to the batter without making the muffins dense. It also adds a subtle tangy flavor that balances out the sweetness. 

How does it work? As the food science blog, Food Crumbles, explains, sour cream is a pro at adding epic levels of moisture to baked goods because it’s thick and fatty. And despite this richness, it still doesn’t weigh down batters. This is because the acidity in sour cream reacts with the baking soda, which creates gas bubbles in the batter, leaving you with light and fluffy baked goods.

I also use vegan sour cream to make my epic Vegan Pancakes and fluffy Vegan Lemon Cake. If you love the fabulous texture of these muffins, then you’ll want to give these recipes a try as well!

Tips for buying: Tofutti, Kite Hill, and Follow Your Heart are our favorite vegan sour cream brands and all work great here.

Substitute: If you don’t have access to vegan sour cream, you can try using a thick vegan Greek yogurt instead (we love the brands Culina or CocoJune). Consider adding an extra tablespoon of sugar, as yogurt is more tart than sour cream. 

All-purpose flour

This will give the muffins the best structure and a tender crumb.

Substitute: You can use 100% whole wheat pastry flour as a 1:1 substitution, if you’d like to sneak in a little nutrition. Check out the FAQ section for the other types of flour that work well.

Flaxseed meal

When you mix ground flaxseed meal and water together, they take on the same consistency as eggs. This mixture (called flax eggs) is the best egg replacer in this recipe because it binds the batter together and adds some extra fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids

Dark chocolate

This is a bakery-style muffin recipe, which is why we used chopped dark chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate chips. Dark chocolate is sweet yet subtly bitter in the best way, and gives these muffins a rich depth of flavor without being cloyingly sweet. Plus, the finely chopped pieces ensure that you get a bit of chocolate in every bite.

Substitute: You can make sweeter muffins by substituting vegan-friendly chocolate chips for dark chocolate. In our tests, both regular-sized and mini chocolate chips work, but mini chips disperse more evenly in the batter (affiliate link).

Cinnamon and nutmeg

These warm spices give the muffins a sophisticated flair. They also complement and enhance the chocolate beautifully without overpowering the rest of the muffin. 

Close up of one full muffin on a red table.

Step-by-step instructions

In a small bowl, make the flax eggs by whisking the flaxseed meal with the warm water. Set aside to thicken.

Next, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the milk and stir gently. This is how you make vegan buttermilk. Set it aside to curdle.

Chop the dark chocolate. 

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. 

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs, melted butter, and sugar together. 

To finish, add in the sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and whisk well to combine. 

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Stir until the two are JUST combined – do not overmix! 

The batter will be quite thick and not runny. Finish by folding the dark chocolate into the batter.

Fill the prepared muffin tins to the top with the batter. Sprinkle some coarse sugar on top of each muffin before pressing the reserved chocolate onto the tops.

Bake in the oven at 425ºF/218ºC oven for 6 minutes, then lower the temp to 350ºF/175ºC and bake for another 16 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Note: Baking the muffins at a high temperature before lowering it is known as the two-temperature system. It gives you beautifully risen, crisp-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside, and tall, bountiful muffins every time. Learn more about this method and how it benefits your baked goods in this guide by The Kitchn.

When they’re done, transfer the big, chocolatey muffins to a cooling rack to cool for a few minutes. Enjoy them right away or store/freeze them for later!

Tips for making this recipe

Use room temperature ingredients

If you want to avoid broken muffin batter, bring your vegan sour cream and milk down to room temperature first. To do so, measure out the milk and sour cream, then leave them on the kitchen counter for 20 to 30 minutes.

This takes time but it’s SUPER important. Room temperature dairy substitutions will, as Sally’s Baking Addiction puts it, “bond together easily.” The ingredients will be incorporated perfectly, the batter will be smooth and free of any cold sour cream chunks, and, most importantly, the muffins will taste their best.

Don’t overmix the batter

Use a spatula to gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, then stop. Stirring too many times and overworking the batter will knock out the air and give you tough, dense muffins.

Lined vs. greased muffin tins

We’ve had great success baking our Vegan Banana Muffins and Blueberry Muffins in a naked muffin tin that had been greased with nonstick spray or cooking oil (rubbed with a paper towel). 

Muffin liners are convenient but leave a ridged texture behind. Plus, if you leave the muffins in the lined muffin tin too long, they can become soggy.

We prefer to use unlined tins but you need to make sure you generously grease them (otherwise, the muffins will stick). 

Wait for the caramelization! 

You might think that a fresh from the oven, pillowy soft muffin with gooey melted chocolate in every bite is the best it’s gonna get. Wrong! 

After they cool completely, the coarse sugar topping caramelizes, the chocolate hardens, and the muffin is sturdier. 

I’m not going to tell you not to enjoy a warm muffin, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on the room temperature muffin (trust me, it’s sexier than it sounds!). 

Tailor to your preferred sweetness

These are grown-up muffins that don’t taste overly sweet. So if you’re craving a sweeter muffin, use a mixture of dark chocolate and semisweet chocolate, or a dark chocolate in the 60% range. 

For extra sweet muffins, use semisweet chocolate chips (ensure they are vegan-friendly). 

(1) If you opt for semisweet chocolate, use just 1 tablespoon of coarse sugar on top to avoid a too-sweet muffin. 

(2) When using dark chocolate, don’t chop it too finely (the larger pieces create nice big melty pools of chocolate). 

Overhead view of muffins on parchment paper, one is cut in half with butter on it.

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t have vegan sour cream. What can I use instead?

If you don’t have access to vegan sour cream, you can try using a thick vegan Greek yogurt instead (we love the brands Culina or CocoJune). Consider adding an extra tablespoon of sugar, as yogurt is more tart than sour cream. 

Which brands of vegan sour cream do you recommend?

Tofutti, Kite Hill, and Follow Your Heart are our favorite vegan sour cream brands and all work great here.

I don’t have flaxseed meal. Is there another egg substitute I can use?

Unfortunately, flax eggs are the only egg replacer we recommend using in this recipe. While aquafaba is normally a go-to egg replacer of ours, it resulted in dense and gummy muffins here.

How can I make these muffins more wholesome?

You can give the muffins a higher nutritional value by making a few simple substitutions: 

Flour: Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour, or use a 50-50 mix of spelt flour and all-purpose flour. Alternatively, try substituting up to 1 cup of all-purpose flour with oat flour (but don’t go any higher than that or the muffins will crumble and/or get too dense.

Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate with a higher cacao content (e.g., 75%) contains more flavanols, which, according to the American Heart Association, can help support your heart and overall cardiovascular health.

Can these be made gluten-free?

Unfortunately, we did not have good results testing these gluten-free. We tried a mix of gluten-free all-purpose flour and oat flour, and used a bit less milk to compensate. Sadly, they came out dry and gritty but also wet/dense.

If you are looking for a muffin recipe that we have tested gluten-free with good results, I recommend our vegan blueberry muffins!

How do you store chocolate chip muffins?

The freshly baked muffins are best eaten within 2 days. However, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. It helps to line the container with a paper towel to prevent moisture from building up, causing the muffins to become slightly soggy. 

Can I freeze these muffins?

Yes, they freeze pretty well for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Keep in mind that they won’t be as tender or fluffy after defrosting.

Close up of half a muffin on a red table.

If you love this Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe, please rate and review it below! Your support is always much appreciated :)

Overhead view of baked muffins in pan.

Bakery-Style Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

5 from 13 votes
With a pillowy soft texture, crunchy caramelized topping, and dark chocolate in every bite, these Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins may just be the muffins of your dreams. They look and taste gourmet but are easy to make.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Serving size: 12 large muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 mL) oat milk, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (115g) vegan sour cream, at room temperature (see Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 3/4 cups (345g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled or weighed
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional, adds a nice depth of flavor)
  • ¾ cup (155g) organic cane sugar
  • cup (75g) vegan butter, melted and slightly cooled (see Note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces (225g) 60 to 75% dark chocolate, chopped OR 1 ½ cups (255g) vegan-friendly chocolate chips (see Note 3)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons coarse or raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional but recommended, see Note 4)

Instructions

  • Measure out the milk and sour cream and allow them to sit on your counter to come to room temperature (20 to 30 minutes).
  • Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425ºF/218ºC. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin on the bottoms and sides with coconut oil or cooking spray–be generous to avoid sticking.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed meal and 4 tablespoons of warm water. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to gel up.
  • Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the milk and stir. This creates the "buttermilk". Stir and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Chop the chocolate (not too finely). Set aside ¼ cup (~30g) of the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips for the topping.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs, melted butter, and sugar until combined. Then whisk in the sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract. It’s okay if there are tiny chunks of sour cream unblended.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Gently fold together until JUST combined, do not overmix. The batter will be thick and not runny. Some clumps are okay. Gently fold in the chocolate with a silicone spatula.
  • Fill the muffin tins nearly to the top with the batter. Sprinkle a bit of the coarse sugar on top of each muffin and press the reserved chocolate pieces or chips into the tops.
  • Bake at 425ºF/218ºC for 6 minutes. Then, without opening the oven door, reduce the heat to 350ºF/175ºC and bake for another 16 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Use a small offset spatula or butter knife to loosen the muffins. Store cooled muffins in an airtight container on the counter for 2 to 3 days, or in the fridge for 5 to 6 days, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Notes

  1. Vegan sour cream is a magical ingredient here, adding moistness, richness, and great texture without making the muffins dense. When we tried this recipe with just oat milk, the muffins were good but somewhat dense.
  2. If you don’t have access to vegan butter, you can sub with melted refined coconut oil or a neutral-flavored oil of choice.
  3. If using regular-sized chocolate chips, use 1 ½ cups (255g). If using mini chocolate chips, use 1 ¼ cups (220g).
  4. If using semisweet chocolate, use 1 tablespoon of coarse sugar to avoid a too-sweet muffin. If using dark chocolate, it’s best with 2 tablespoons of coarse sugar.

Calories: 322kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 278IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 2mg

Recipe: Nisha Vora / Rainbow Plant Life | Photography: Megan Morello

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Tag @rainbowplantlife and hashtag it #rainbowplantlife

5 from 13 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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23 comments on Bakery-Style Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

  1. Breanna

    5 stars
    These were delicious! We have only had them warm, they just came out of the oven. We didn’t use nutmeg, it tends to be too strong for us. They are like a warm cinnamon chocolate chip hug, so comforting.

    From my kids: These muffins kind of taste like pancakes. They are great warm and dipped in soy milk. The inside is the best and the chocolate chips are yummy melted.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Breanna! It makes us happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe.

  2. Teju Jhaveri

    Hi!

    I’d really love to make these, however vegan sour cream isn’t available where I am – is there a good substitute for this?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks
    Teju

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Teju, you can actually find the answer to this question in the ingredient notes section! I’ll paste it here for your convenience:

      “If you don’t have access to vegan sour cream, you can try using a thick vegan Greek yogurt instead (we love the brands Culina or CocoJune). Consider adding an extra tablespoon of sugar, as yogurt is more tart than sour cream.”

      We hope you get the chance to make them very soon!

  3. Gen Alberts

    5 stars
    Those are great ! I followed the recipe and they are really moist ! I love how the science of the ingredients, the temperature and all the instructions makes excellent muffins! Way to go ! Will for sure make those again. I can’t wait for my daughter to wake up so she can have some in the morning ! :) I feel like they are not going to last long!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re over the moon to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Gen. Thanks for your kind words!

  4. susan

    5 stars
    Definitely bakery style and very delicious! I had to cheat and use vegan yogurt and soy milk, however they were still excellent!

  5. Sarah Westerhof

    5 stars
    These were delicious! The texture was amazing. My husband said they tasted like true bakery muffins and I completely agree. Thank you for sharing!

  6. maya

    5 stars
    the best cup cakes ever!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Maya!

  7. Jenn Odell

    Can you sub gluten free flour?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jenn, unfortunately, we did not have good results testing these gluten-free. We tried a mix of gluten-free all-purpose flour and oat flour, and used a bit less milk to compensate. Sadly, they came out dry and gritty but also wet/dense. If you are looking for a muffin recipe that we have tested gluten-free with good results, I recommend our blueberry muffins!

  8. Adriana Lopez

    5 stars
    Very tasty and not dense at all! I used the violife sour cream, and it worked great.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Adriana. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  9. Christine Tyrell

    Can you recommend a vegan sour cream you buy?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Christine! Tofutti, Kite Hill, and Follow Your Heart are our favorite vegan sour cream brands and all work great here.

  10. Steven

    5 stars
    All of my favorite dishes were written by Nisha so I trust her recipes. This one absolutely did not disappoint. The contrasting textures with the crunchy sugar, creamy chocolate, and soft crumb really elevate these muffins.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Aw, we are thrilled to hear that, Steven! Thanks for the kind review!

  11. Morgan

    Can you use soy milk instead? Or vegan heavy whipping cream?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Morgan, Oat milk is the best option here because other plant-based milks, such as soy milk, may add more protein to the batter. More protein = different textures in the batter. That said, you don’t need that much milk, so the change likely won’t make a big difference.

      1. Louise S

        Hi Nisha, these are just amazing. I made them for friends and everyone love them.
        Just a comment : the oat milk didn’t react physically to the vinegar and the texture didn’t change. I don’t know if it’s supposed to thicken ? I didn’t know it was possible to do buttermilk with oat milk.

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Hi Louise, so happy everyone loved the muffins! In my experience, oat milk doesn’t react too much with vinegar or lemon juice, just a little bit, as there isn’t much protein for it to react with the acidity. However in my experience, it still adds a certain lightness to vegan baked goods.

          You will see a much stronger reaction with soy milk as it has a lot more protein, but the additional protein means that it can also change the texture of the final baked good, so I didn’t include it as an alternative ingredient since I haven’t tested it myself.

        2. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Hi Louise, coconut sugar should work from a flavor perspective, but you won’t have the same texture unfortunately. When you whip the aquafaba with cane sugar, the sugar starts to dissolve which helps get you that crinkly shiny top. As far as I can tell based on my baking experience, coconut sugar will not do the same thing. Coconut sugar is also a bit drier than cane sugar, so it’s possible the brownies will have less moisture.

          As far cacao powder, you can try that, though the brownies won’t be as rich, as Dutch process cocoa powder has a higher percentage of fat and yields richer, more chocolatey tasting brownies.

          No need to include espresso powder, it is optional and helps bring out the chocolatey flvaors, but the brownies are still delicious without it.

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