Filed under: Breads / Muffins
January 20, 2022

Orange Muffins

Fluffy and flavorful, these orange muffins really bring home the orange flavor thanks to orange zest and fresh juice. Olive oil adds flavor and keeps these muffins very moist.

5 from 18 votes
Yield: 12 muffins
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Fluffy and flavorful, these orange muffins pack a ton of orange zest and fresh juice. Olive oil and kefir keep these muffins very moist.

orange muffins

Ingredients for Orange Muffins 

Oranges: Navel, cara cara or blood oranges will work here. If your oranges are large two should do, if you are using blood (usually smaller) you may need four. Also, if using blood the muffins will be pink-ish! Don’t sub with lemon as the acidity levels of orange and lemon juice are different and can affect the recipe. 

Sugar: Granulated sugar. You may be able to reduce the sugar by ¼ cup but bear in mind they may be less tender. 

Olive oil: Use a good quality as the taste will come through in the muffin. If you prefer something flavorless opt for canola or grapeseed oil.

Flour: All-purpose here, but I do like to remove some and add a little bit of almond flour too. Skip it if you don’t have it on hand. If you desire to make these whole wheat use white whole wheat. 

Kefir: Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk drink. I use Lifeway Kefir’s plain (whole or low-fat). Lifeway also carry an orange flavored bottle and a vanilla kefir which would add some sweetness to the muffin. If you can’t find it, sub with buttermilk. 

orange muffins

How to make Orange Muffins 

Note that this batter should sit for at least an hour or even overnight before baking. 

First thing we’ll do is zest the oranges over the sugar and rub it with our fingers. This helps release the zest’s oils so the muffin will be more flavorful. 

Sugar & eggs will be beaten together until light and creamy. In addition to the baking soda reacting with the acids in the recipe, this step is going to add air into the batter so that the muffins become really fluffy. 

Oil drizzled in: do this slowly to allow the oil to emulsify into the eggs. Also, you don’t want to remove all the air out of the sugar & eggs that you’ve just beaten in. 

Add the dry ingredients, the juice and kefir and beat to just combine. Then the batter will sit at room temperature or overnight. This step gets the ingredients to blend well so the taste will be more rich, but also hydrates the flour. 

Tips for Perfect Homemade Bakery-Style Muffins 

The dome! I know you want the dome. It’s my favorite part too! To get it we need to employ a few tricks: 

  1. Let the batter sit for a while before baking. Give it 1-2 hours at room temperature or store it in the fridge overnight. 
  2. To get them to rise taller, set your liners in the muffin pan in alternating cups so: 2 in the first row, then 1, then two, (assuming you’re using a 12 cup tin). Leaving this space, so that the muffins aren’t baking next to each other will help them rise. 
  3. Sprinkle with a generous amount of sugar on top of the batter right before they go into the oven, for a crunch top. You could also use poppyseeds here or make your own streusel. 

orange muffins

Oil vs butter in muffin recipes 

When I first baked these I used softened butter which I creamed with the sugar. The muffins were great – you can do this if you prefer. But they were a tad drier and definitely dried out more the next day. 

Oil-based cakes, as you may know, keep for longer and tend to be more moist. This is because oil is liquid at room temperature. An oil based cake or muffin makes a loftier cake with an even crumb, so that’s my preference here. 

Can I turn this orange muffin recipe into an orange loaf cake? 

Yes I think that would work. In a loaf pan the batter will take much longer to bake, set the oven to 350 and give it an hour, checking with a skewer for doneness. If you wanted to turn this recipe into a cake bake at 325 and divide into two 6 or 8 inch cake pans. 


Orange Muffins

Fluffy and flavorful, these orange muffins pack a ton of orange zest and fresh juice. Olive oil keeps these muffins very moist.
orange muffins
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 12 muffins
5 from 18 votes


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 105g
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • zest of two oranges
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 300g
  • 1/4 cup almond flour, 60g can substitute with 2 tablespoons additional all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plain kefir 120g
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 120g
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling


  • In a large bowl, add the sugar and zest the oranges over it. Rub the zest and sugar between your fingers until it’s well-distributed and becomes like wet sand.
  • Add the eggs and using a hand mixer, beat the mixture until very light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. With the mixer on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Beat to combine.
  • Add the flour, vanilla, salt and baking soda and fold gently. Then, with the mixer on drizzle in the kefir and orange juice, beating until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set at room temperature for 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
  • Once it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two 12 cup muffin trays with liners, six in each, alternating cavities so that no muffins are next to each other. Portion the batter into the cups, filling ¾ of the way. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top and bake for about 18 minutes, or until you can press the top of a muffin and it springs back.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    These are wonderful! I used buttermilk instead of kefir since I didn’t have any and it worked out just fine. I also soaked some dried cranberries in the orange juice and added to half my batter along with some chopped walnuts. They are delicious on their own or with the additions. Will definitely return to this recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Everything I’ve ever made from Sam has been a winner, and these are no exception!! So light and delicate, with a really good orange flavor, and the sugar on top just makes them extra special. It’s citrus season so make these as fast as you can!

  3. Is it ok to leave the batter out for 2 hours with the raw eggs? If overnight, do I let the batter come to room temperature before baking?

  4. 5 stars
    Moist and delicious and not overly sweet which I really love with muffins. The orange really stands out, but the taste is very different from something like an orange cranberry muffin and I love that. I think the use of cara caras rather than naval oranges makes a huge difference. It gives the muffin almost a honeyed taste. I made them twice in a week so I could keep having them for breakfast!

  5. 5 stars
    This was a great recipe to allow my homegrown tree ripened oranges to shine. The muffins had a wonderful orange flavor. Neighbor’s son gave them 2 thumbs up! Another friend’s son ate almost all of the ones I gave her, was not sorry at all and told his Mom they were so good!

  6. 5 stars
    These muffins smelled lovely in the oven and had a beautiful orange taste! Great way to use up that haul of oranges. I used vanilla paste instead since my oranges were more tart and it added a nice balance. I ended up baking this recipe twice in one day!

  7. 5 stars
    These are so moist and tasty! Wonderful orange flavor and the crispy sugar top is so good. 18 minutes was a bit long for my darker muffin tin, those ones got a bit burned on the bottom unfortunately so if you have dark tins I’d recommend checking them a bit sooner.

  8. 5 stars
    So tender, fluffy and flavorful and they rose so high! I got 14 muffins from the batch. The only thing was mine came out a pretty green. I used cara cara oranges and buttermilk. Should I have used a light colored olive oil instead of evoo? They would be great for Sr Patrick’s day. Delicious!

    • Hi Noreen! Was it an orangish-green? Send me a pic via DM! Idk if you’ve seen my orange cake yet but I had the same result. It’s usually just the acid & dark orange juice reacting with the baking soda but it’s fine to eat.

  9. These orange muffins sound delicious! Can I substitute orange extract for the vanilla or will it overpower the recipe? I can’t wait to try these. I have a blood orange olive oil that I will use as well.

  10. 5 stars
    This recipe is so fun, so delicious, and so unique! I happened to have some pixie olive oil that I was able to use with it, which was so fun!

    I also loved her tips for getting the classic muffin top. I’ve never heard of them before and they totally made a difference.

  11. 5 stars
    Made these with fresh picked oranges with my toddler and they were fantastic!

    I had never had an orange muffin before and now I question why! I will definitely make again. Thank you very much for this great recipe. You provided some great tips that I will use for future muffins too!

    Side note, the bottoms on my thinner muffin tin pan overcooked the bottoms a bit. Next time, I wonder if I should cook for less time or lower temperature a bit?

  12. 5 stars
    Huge hit! There’s nothing sadder than a dry, too crumbly muffin. These were not sad muffins. The instructions were spot on to make fluffy, moist, domed muffins. I do wish I had used a nicer olive oil, but the kefir and cara cara oranges gave it such a great tang. They were gobbled straight up. Planning on making them again soon!

  13. 5 stars
    These were fantastic! I made the batter on Saturday evening, and they baked up wonderfully on Sunday morning. I forgot to get kefir or buttermilk at the store, but was determined to try this recipe to use up some older oranges. I used a 1:2 ratio of sour cream:water (40g sour cream, 80g water) based on Cook’s Illustrated recommendation for substitutes for kefir and buttermilk. I definitely want to try kefir in the future, because I’m sure it’s lovely. 18 minutes of cook time worked well for me, and they came out with perfectly domed tops. I don’t have a hand mixer, but used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. I was able to get the sugar + egg mixture pretty fluffy, but I wonder if maybe I should have used the whisk attachment instead for this step? Thanks for the recipe, Sam!

  14. 5 stars
    These were so delicious. I have an orange tree, so I was so happy to see this recipe show up on my Instagram! I did the overnight in the fridge and they baked so tall and dome-y!!! However, amateur tip: USE the liners. I thought I was going to be cool and just grease the tins and I ended up with blackened exteriors and a smoke alarm going off. ?‍♀️ …But the inside, and the crackly, sugary tops were perfect.

  15. 5 stars
    These were delicious! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a recipe for orange muffins before, but these were scrumptious. Really great orange flavor. The tip about letting the batter sit for a bit was helpful in getting a really good rise out of them. I did the buttermilk substitute since I didn’t have kefir. I also really like the very handy feature on your recipe to double or triple the recipe measurements easily!

  16. 5 stars
    I don’t think 5 stars are enough for these cuties! I’m in LOVE with these muffins. First of all I value the idea of a muffin made with olive oil, second adding kefir makes it tastier gives it a “zing” that regular muffins don’t have. Love citrus so that’s an extra star!
    The instructions are on point, they made my muffins be tall and perfectly baked. People should definitely follow what Sam says to get a great result! Thank you Sam! This is a keeper! 🙂

  17. 5 stars
    You have done it once again! These muffins are a pure delight. Nice and light with great orange flavor. It will be hard not to eat all 12 in one sitting

  18. 5 stars
    Made these today, my daughter said they’re just so good I can’t stop eating them!! I used Cara Cara oranges. Made full size muffins per the recipe, 18 mins were prob a little too long in my oven. I then made mini muffins, baked for 10 mins at 400 and they were perfect! Thanks for another amazing recipe!!