Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Muffins

Breakfast and BrunchBakingChocolateZucchini

These Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Muffins let you get away with chocolate for breakfast! Great for using up surplus zucchini. The cranberries are tart and a perfect contrast to the chocolate.

Photography Credit: Emma Christensen

These absolutely gorgeous Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Muffins are from a new cookbook that I’m really enjoying right now. It’s called The Cranberry Cookbook, and it’s by none other than Sally Vargas, one of our Simply Recipes contributors!

The pages of this cookbook are full of ideas for incorporating cranberries into every meal of the day.

Didn’t think you needed that many cranberry recipes? Think again! As usual, Sally has hit it out of the park and given us a collection of recipes that are sure to become favorites.

The Cranberry Cookbook

Most of us probably associate cranberries with Thanksgiving dinner, but Sally makes a convincing argument for giving cranberries some year-round attention.

The frozen and dried varieties are easily available any month of the year, she reminds us, and you can use them in savory recipes just as easily as sweet recipes.

The Cranberry Cookbook The Cranberry Cookbook To prove her point, she includes recipes in her cookbook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and for every season.

Here’s a sampling: Cranberry-Chocolate Babka, Grilled Beef Kebabs with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce, Turkey Sliders, Pickled Cranberries, Dark Chocolate Gelato with Bourbon-Infused Cranberries, and Cranberry Lime Ricky.

And, of course, these Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Muffins.

The Cranberry Cookbook The Cranberry Cookbook

As I flipped through Sally’s book, I kept returning again and again to these Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Muffins. They looked so rich and decadent — the kind of muffin that walks the line between breakfast and dessert. And so pretty!

I’m happy to say that they hold up to their promise. The zucchini keeps the muffins incredibly moist and rich, and the cocoa makes them feel like a real treat.

I was surprised by the whole cranberries called for in the recipe — I’m used to seeing dried fruit in muffin recipes like this. But they were perfect. They melted into jammy pockets during baking and made the perfect contrast to the richness of the muffin.

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

Oh, and don’t skip the pistachios on top! They add just the right amount of texture and crunch to every bite.

Convinced that you need more cranberries in your life? I hope so! Check out Sally’s book and make sure your pantry is stocked!

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Muffins Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 12 muffins

From Sally Vargas: "These muffins prove that any time of day is a good time for chocolate. Use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups to achieve beautiful rounded tops. Almond flour gives them a rich flavor and moist texture; it is simply finely ground almonds, which you could make yourself in a food processor. To give these muffins sparkle and color, sprinkle them with coarse sugar and a few pinches of chopped pistachios."

Sally also mentions that if you have trouble finding frozen cranberries at the store, frozen raspberries would make a good substitute.

If your grated zucchini seems very wet, use your hands to squeeze out the excess.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Cranberry Cookbook © 2017 by Sally Pasley Vargas. Reproduced by permission of Globe Pequot, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved.


  • 1 cup (150g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (110g) almond flour
  • 1/3 cup (28g) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (113g) honey
  • 1/4 cup (50g) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (3 to 4 medium zucchini; see Recipe Note)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar, such as turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green pistachios

Special equipment:


1 Adjust a rack to the middle position of the oven, and heat oven to 400F.

2 Prepare the muffin tin: Generously butter the cups and rims of a standard 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper cupcake liners. Have on hand a 21/2-inch ice-cream scoop.

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

3 Combine the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

4 Add the wet ingredients: Make a large well in the center of the bowl and break the eggs into it. Add the honey, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat with a fork to mix thoroughly. With a spatula, stir until the flour is well incorporated.

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

5 Stir in the zucchini and cranberries.

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

6 Scoop into the muffin cups: Using the ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cup, rounded side up, with about 1/3 cup batter.


Sprinkle the muffins with the turbinado sugar and pistachios, and set the tin on a baking sheet.

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

7 Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs.

8 Set the muffin tin on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on the rack.

Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

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Chocolate Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

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Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen is the managing editor for Simply Recipes, as well as a food writer and homebrewing expert. She was formerly the recipe editor for The Kitchn and is the author of three books on home-brewing, True Brews, Brew Better Beer, and Modern Cider. Emma is a graduate of The Cambridge School for Culinary Arts and Bryn Mawr College. She lives in San Jose, California.

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16 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Nancy

    Absolutely the best muffins ever. Chocolatey and tangy from the cranberries. Just delicious. Will definitely make them again. Can whole wheat flour be used instead of almond flour?

  • Oks

    I was also surprised at how runny the batter turned out to be, as well as how un-sweet it was – the amount of honey certainly didn’t make them “desserty” enough. I’ve added plenty of flour and some sugar, and they turned out to be fine. Fine, but nothing earth-shattering, though – I won’t make them again.

  • Virginia L

    I did make these using the unbleached white flour, and they are wonderful; the texture is very nice. Now I will indeed try them with the white whole wheat flour.
    Do you, please, have an adaptation without the zucchini, so we can make them all year ’round?

  • Laura

    A disaster. Don’t even bother. Batter is too wet. Muffins Are a sloppy mess. What a waste. Do you still actually test recipes before posting??? Clearly the zucchini needs to be drained.

  • Virginia L

    Will the muffins be as good if you replace the all-purpose white flour with white whole wheat flour?

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