These vegan chocolate mini muffins are moist, tender and full of chocolate flavor–a secret ingredient makes these perfectly sweet without any sugar!
My favorite type of muffin? It’s a close tie between chocolate or lemon poppyseed. There’s something so satisfying about eating cake in muffin form–and the best chocolate muffins and moist, close-crumbed and bursting with chocolate flavor. These hit the mark on all fronts! And if you’re avoiding refined sugar or even liquid sweeteners, these muffins are for you–they contain no refined sugar!
Instead, they use a secret ingredient: date paste.
What is date paste?
Date paste is made from blending dates with water until you have a smooth, sweet paste that can be used in all sorts of baked goods. Because of the natural sugar content in dates, they are a great way to add natural sweetness to your baked goods. They also add a good amount of moisture to these muffins. You might be surprised at how well date paste works in place of sugar!
Ingredients you’ll need for these sugar-free chocolate muffins
Many of these ingredients (like leaveners, oil and nut butter) you may already have in your kitchen. Medjool dates can be found at most markets in the dried fruit section. If you like, you can swap in all-purpose flour for the whole wheat flour and even the oat flour if you like (the texture will be just slightly less soft).
- Medjool dates, chopped and pitted
- Whole wheat flour
- Oat flour
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, like Hershey’s natural cocoa (not Dutch-process)
- 2 large, ripe bananas
- Neutral oil of choice (grapeseed, canola, vegetable, etc.)
- Nut butter of choice (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)
- Milk of choice
- Baking soda, baking powder and salt
- Sugar-free chocolate chips, if desired
How to make the muffins
Once you make the date paste, these muffins are very easy to make. Simply whisk all the dry ingredients together, then combine the wet ingredients. Stir everything together, add to a mini muffin pan, and bake!
What do sugar-free muffins taste like?
I can’t speak for all sugar-free muffins, but these particular chocolate muffins are moist and not too sweet with a soft, almost squishy crumb. If you add the optional chocolate chips, the mellow sweetness will be greatly enhanced with bursts of chocolate flavor. You can leave the date paste slightly chunky for a more rustic texture, but if you blend it until smooth, you won’t be able to tell there are dates in these!
Vegan Chocolate Mini Muffins (no sugar!)
For the date paste
- 1.5 cups Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup water
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
For the muffins
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup oat flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (like Hershey's natural)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup almond milk
- 2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil of choice (canola, vegetable, grapeseed, etc.)
- 1.5 tablespoons peanut butter or nut butter of choice
- 1/4 cup sugar-free chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini muffin tin or standard loaf pan with nonstick spray.
Make the date paste
- Place the dates and water in a small saucepan, uncovered, over high heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, add the baking soda. Mixture will foam up; reduce the heat to medium or medium high if mixture starts to foam over. After a minute or two, the dates should begin to break down. Use a wooden spoon to stir/mash up the dates a little. Let simmer for another five minutes or so until the dates break down into a paste-like mixture. Add an additional splash of water if the mixture starts to look dry before the dates have completely broken down. Once dates are a stir-able mass, set aside to cool. If you'd like the paste to be extra smooth, blend the cooled dates in a high-powered blender.
Make the muffins
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the date paste, vanilla, milk, bananas, oil and peanut butter and stir until well combined. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Place about a heaping tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin well or pour batter in prepared loaf pan. Bake for 12-13 minutes for mini muffins or about 40-45 minutes for a loaf. Muffins are done when the tops feel firm to the touch.
These look too good not to ry but id have to make adjustments. What do you think, would these ingrediants work? Whole meal flour to Gf plain flour, Banana to apple sauce, Almond milk to coconut, Pnut butter to pumpkin seed butter/Tahini, Choc chips to Cacoa nibs, Im a bit stuck on what to change Oat flour with? Also, im not sure if i should do a complete swop or tweek, any tips? I know, you’ll probably say experiment and i will. I can introduce oats into our diet when the weather gets colder, but id love this tall year round snack.
Hi Orla! So sorry for the delay in my response–for some reason WordPress doesn’t alert me to new comments when they’re posted anymore!
Anyway, I don’t have a lot of experience baking with plain GF flour, so I can’t say for sure how that would act in place of the whole wheat and oat flour–although I will say that the oat flour basically acts as a balancer to the whole wheat flour since the whole wheat tends to make baked goods a bit denser and tougher and oat flour helps keep them light and fluffy (as long as it’s used in conjunction with a gluten-full flour–otherwise it will just get very dense and gummy).
I think the milk and nut butter swaps should be fine–obviously switching to cacao nibs instead of chocolate will make these less sweet, so you might want to increase the sweetener if you like things on the sweeter side. Additionally, applesauce will be less sweet than banana, so again think about increasing the sweetener a little.
Let me know how your experiments turn out! I’d be very curious to hear how all of this bakes up! 🙂
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these muffins! They are my go to for everything. I make them on the weekend, throw them in a large ziplock, freeze, and use throughout the week. They freeze wonderfully. I’m about to try them with raisin paste since my daughter’s friend’s birthday is coming up and I was asked to make cupcakes. She is allergic to nuts and apparently all the dates (even organic) I can find “may contain nuts.” Just a tip for anyone…if you fill the cupcake liner to the very top, they puff up and create a lovely rounded mushroom top.
Ahhh Kristi so glad to hear you love these!!! Let me know how they turn out with raisin paste! And thanks for reading the tip for other readers 🙂 <333
On Monday I baked some cupcakes using mostly sugar, vegan butter and oil. Today I baked these cupcakes and have to admit these tasted alot better and are so much better for me!! I didn’t add the two tablespoons of oil and threw in some walnuts for a bit of texture and they turned out fine. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe !
Jamie, so happy to hear you liked them!! And good to know they work without the oil–the walnuts sound like an excellent touch!
These are SO good – they really are dance around the kitchen great. I halved the recipe, used a gluten free flour blend, and made the paste with about 10 prunes and probably 1 cup of water (I cooked the prunes a bit in water and pureed them with a stick blender). I also added walnuts. Absolutely perfect muffins and almost no guilt, thank you so much for the recipe!
I forgot I used canned coconut cream instead of almond milk.
Marilyn!! You totally made my day! Talk about best comment ever 🙂 So glad the GF flour blend worked out for you–thanks for letting us all know and so glad you enjoyed the muffins!!!
I made your recipe as stated….and these chocolate muffins were delicious!!! I couldnt believe how moist they were. Thumbs up!!!
Thanks for letting me know Stephanie!! So glad you enjoyed them 🙂
OMGOMG I LOVEeee those massive double chocolate muffins from costco. I haven’t had one in ages but when I was a kid my mom would always buy the packs that came with 3 flavours and I would eat all of the double chocolate ones before anyone else could even try a piece haha making the date paste sounds kind of daunting but I’m willing to try it if it means a healthier and yummier version of my beloved costco favourite!
Omg okay so I would be the one to take a piece of each muffin because I could never decide which one I wanted!! Except for one kind of darker brown colored one that I didn’t really like. And I’d pick all the blueberries out of the blueberry one. But the chocolate and lemon poppyseed!!! Swoooon.
Thanks for your lovely blog. Will try with PB2 since I’m using it to replace regular peanut butter. K.
Hi Karen–thanks for the lovely comment! You know, I’d be a little wary of using PB2 instead of full-fat peanut butter since I used it partly to replace the need for additional oil in the muffins. But I would be curious to hear how it turns out if you do try it!
I made your recipe in bread version and forgot to add the almond milk. I’m not sure it made a difference. It still came out perfect. I wonder if you need it? For the bread version you have to remember servings. I cut mine into 12 servings… still the sugar is very high 17g… but better then white sugar. Thanks for the recipe!
These are DELICIOUS!! I made these tonight using raisin paste instead of date (I had a TON of raisins I needed to use), and they came out WONDERFUL! My husband is addicted to sugar, and I am trying to show him that we can still have sweet, delicious treats WITHOUT refined sugar! These were the PERFECT recipe to win him over! 🙂 He’s already eaten 2 of them! Thanks for a fantastic recipe! We’ll make these often for SURE!
Jen, I am so happy to hear that you guys liked these!!! Thanks so much for letting me know 🙂 You’re awesome for helping your husband cut his sugar addiction–I know how powerful those sugar cravings can be!
Just wondering — these look great (!!) but do you think prunes will work as a sub for the dates?? I secretly love prunes and always have them lying around…
Thanks Amy! To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten a prune–are they as sweet as dates?
I just googled and according to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, yes, you can also make prune paste to use the way you would use date paste. Also apricot paste and raisin paste! I’m learning tons of new things 🙂 Hope that helps!
Ahh I just checked out where you got the recipe inspiration from over at a muffin myth! That’s a great recipe. Of course I liked that you made it chocolate. I’ve wanted to try doing cookies with all dates, but haven’t done it yet. These look delicious. Do you taste banana? I hate bananas, lol!
These look awesome!!! Goodness, I wish I had a slice right now! Since I don’t eat chocolate I’m gonna use carob! Yum!
That sounds great!! Just curious–why don’t you eat chocolate? I’ve been curious to try carob but just haven’t gotten around to it since I have so many chocolate chips on hand…
I’m jumping up and down about these! They look so moist and full of flavor! When I read the text on the photo, I thought it said Vegan Double Date Muffins, which I thought was a real knee slapper. Love the double chocolate. Love everything about the muffins…will action soon!
Haha–that would be a fab name for these. Bake these babies up and you’ll be on a double date in no time! 😉
Hope you like them!! They are definitely a moist, delicious muffin that I want to make again right now!!
These look delicious!! I love baking with dates too – they’re such a surprise aren’t they! Actually think they taste like candy as they are!! I’ve been off the sugar the last couple of months too *yawn* – good for my health – bad for my blog – haha 🙂
No WONDER you’ve been so MIA!! I’ve been missing your post :((( But GOOD FOR YOU for getting off sugar–and staying off for months!!! I’m so impressed. Did you have a plan for staying off or did you just cut it completely out of your diet? Do you think you’re going to keep not eating sugar indefinitely?? I’m so interested in no-sugar diets…
Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen
OMG these look so moist and YUMMY!!
Thanks Kristi! 🙂
Sandra - The Foodie Affair
I can’t wait to try these! Dates are great sugar substitution and healthy!!
I agree! I hope you like them! 🙂
Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
Aww such a good girlfriend!
AND OMG NO SUGAR?? Just dates!? These look fab, I’m so intrigued!
Oh why thank you 🙂 I enjoyed your instagram post of Michael’s whale texts lol!
These are so cute! I want to make something indulgent tasting this weekend, but not too unhealthy. This fits the bill. Thanks!! Great timing!!
So good to hear, Megan! Let me know how they turn out if you give em a try 🙂
I cannot believe how sweet and delicious these are yet are healthy! You are a genius!
Choc Chip Uru
Thanks Uru 🙂
Drool… chocolate & dates are one of my favorite combinations! I’m making this soon!! Thank you, Erika.
YAY! So glad 🙂 Thank YOU for the lovely comment 🙂
Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen
Ah that’s awesome that these are sugar free! Warm dates in the muffins sound delicious!
Thanks Alex 🙂 I was SO excited these turned out!!
janet @ the taste space
I have been loving dates, too, these past few weeks. What a great looking cake! I will have to try that baking soda trick next time.
Thanks Janet! Yes, I learned that trick from Katie at The Muffin Myth. It’s so interesting to see how the baking soda makes the dates completely break down!
I get so excited when I see no sugar or lower sugar recipes. This is one that I will have to put on my bucket list. Looks delish 🙂
Yay! Angela, I do too. I would love to cut sugar completely out of my diet but since that seems to be nearly impossible, these are great muffins to have in your kitchen arsenal!
Alex @ Brain, Body, Because
I don’t even know where to begin! These look faaaaaaabuuuuuulous!
I am conflicted, though, because they use two ingredients that I’m trying to avoid (wheat flour and peanut butter).
I think that I can probably buy 3/4 c. whole wheat flour in bulk from Whole Foods…but the PB is a stumper. Do you think it would work if I used 1.5 tablespoons of additional oil? I’m trying so hard not to have PB in the house, which didn’t make me sad at all…until now! I want these muffins so badly!
Also, do you think you used about 1/2 c. chocolate chips? Just guessing.
Alex @ Brain, Body, Because
ps – CONGRATULATIONS, ERIK!!!!!!
Alex! You are so great. Thanks for catching the chocolate chip omission–I fixed that. I used 1/4 cup (and then dotted the tops of some with a few extras…).
Okay so I was really conflicted in using wheat flour in these. I wanted SO BADLY to make them completely gluten-free and vegan, but whole wheat flour + oat flour is just SO GOOD and makes really puffy muffins. If you are okay using other flours, I would suggest subbing buckwheat or spelt flour for the whole wheat flour. Using all oat flour would probably make these really gummy 🙁 Or a gluten-free flour blend.
And yes! You can definitely use a little additional oil instead of peanut butter–I think 1 tablespoon would do the trick. Ha, I actually added the peanut butter just so I could decrease the fat coming from pure oil! Thanks for the kind words lady–hope you like them!!
Nancy @ gottagetbaked
Thank you thank you thank you! I need more recipes like this, Erika, so keep ’em coming! This will give me my carby chocolate fix in a healthy way. Lord knows I need the help – I keep stuffing my face and sitting on my butt. Summer’s coming and so is my lil sister’s wedding (I need to fit into a bridesmaid dress that is just a LITTLE BIT snug right now) and the way my gut is growing, I’m starting to feel a bit panicked. Maybe if someone dangled one of these muffins in front of me while I’m on the treadmill, I can get some exercise going. And yes, give the man a steak! He deserves it 🙂
Omg!!!! Wedding!!! I love weddings!!! How exciting–congrats to your sister!! I hope you post some deets on your blog–I LOVE hearing about weddings even though as time goes by I am less and less sure that I’ll be having one of my own! Hah. Nancy, if you lived here, I would drag your butt to kickboxing with me (best thing ever) and then I would happily dangle muffins for you in front of a treadmill. Haha you are the best 🙂
Kaylie @ Skinny Muffin
Um. These are crazy fabulous. Need.