olive oil muffins

You all have no idea how close I was to dropping this charade of daily posting each November tonight. Because I was over it? Sadly, not close. (I’m apparently a glutton for punishment.) No, it was because I just plain forgot. Some friends came over for dinner (fantastic dinner, mind you, just you wait until I get those pictures off the camera!) and it got late and tired and whoops!

olive oil

That pretty much brings us up to now, and some muffins I made a couple weeks back. They’re from Giada DeLaurentis’s old show (the one where her cooking was “Italian” and not simply “Italian influenced”) and the moment I saw them, I knew I had to try them. Not very different from a standard muffin, the cool part is the oil is olive and not something neutral. I dug that she didn’t try to hide its flavor, and I really enjoyed the balsamic pick-me-up.

lemon zest
orange zest

Enhanced with lemon and orange zest and almonds (except I realized at the last minute I had forgotten them) they’re a great, simple, barely-sweetened everyday muffin, if you’re the muffin-for-breakfast sort, but don’t want yours to taste exactly like cake. They’re even better with apricot jam or a marmalade. On their own, they’re just, well, olive oil muffins. Nothing to gripe about but nothing to compose sonnets over, to be honest. But, I think this is a great simple recipe to have in your repertoire and I can imagine coming back to it to jazz it up with dried fruits, fresh berries and different nuts.

ready to bake

One year ago: Pumpkin Waffles

Olive Oil Muffins
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentis

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar, for sifting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

Blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, eggs, and zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vinegar and milk. Gradually beat in the oil. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Crush the almonds with your hands as you add them to the batter and stir until mixed. Fill the muffin tin almost to the top of the paper liners. Bake until golden on top and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins onto a platter and let cool for 5 more minutes. Sift powdered sugar over the muffins and serve.

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89 comments on olive oil muffins

  1. Susan

    Okay! You were honest, they aren’t something to write home about. I appreciate that. They read like a cake batter almost with all that sugar and oil. But I just can imagine the texture or how they taste. The combo is throwing me off!

  2. Simple and delicious! I have a jumbo recipe for bran muffins that calls for vegetable oil (I use olive), a box of raisin bran and a quart of buttermillk, and the muffins are most excellent. You can keep the batter in the fridge and just bake however many muffins you want in the morning. The batter keeps for several weeks.

    Meant to say that I used olive oil in your apple cake. I never have regular vegetable oil on hand. A cow-orker asked me today when I was going to make another one.

  3. Maddy

    Are you going to give us any thanksgiving-y recipes soon? my mom is asking me to make a cool side dish and i need your amazing ideas!!!! please?!

  4. I am actually eating a pumpkin muffin right now and the recipe called for olive oil, but I used vegetable oil instead, I wasn’t sure how olive oil would taste in the recipe…thank you for posting this!!!! Now I know it will be just fine!

  5. debby

    These look wonderful. Two questions: can I sub soy milk and would these be a good base (instead of say, crackers) for chopped liver?

  6. I have made Giada’s olive oil cake which was pretty good, but Dorie Greenspan’s Olive Oil and Yogurt cake was FANTASTIC!
    I will have to try these muffins, I love any baked good with the addition of olive oil instead of butter.
    and the balsamic vinegar is interesting!
    Stacey Snacks

  7. I’ve made the Dorie Greenspan Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake multiple times, and it’s great. I’ll have to give Giada’s a try. Re: Giada’s size, I don’t think she ever eats a full serving of anything, and she must work out. That, and great genes.

  8. Sarah K.

    I love the idea of olive oil in desserts (olive oil gelato, yum!). Has anyone ever tried making Patricia Wells’ Lemon, Almond and Olive Oil cake? It’s a recipe I’ve been wanting to try…

  9. Well these are intriguing. And yes, Giada’s size and Italian-Influenced cooking drives me a bit crazy myself. I watched an episode the other day when her Roman Aunt was on the show with her; it was hilarious how often the Aunt was like “why would you do that? That’s not how we do it in Rome!”

  10. I went to a Whole Foods culinary class this last year where we made an olive oil cake – it definately had a differnt taste but I really enjoyed it. I bet these are great!

  11. Half Assed Kitchen

    Interesting. I always avoid Olive Oil in desserts and reach for the Canola instead. But if you say it’s a go, I’ll have to try…

  12. I only use olive oil in all my cooking – baking included. I might have some canola stuffed in the back of the pantry, but I’m honestly not sure. I see no reason not to, and it’s healthier than alternatives, cholesterolicly speaking.

  13. Vanessa

    My comment has nothing to do with these muffins, however, it does have a muffin theme. Yesterday I made Elise’s Friend Heidi’s Friend Mrs. Hockmeyer’s Banana Bread, As Jacked Up by Deb, (in muffin form) which is THE BEST recipe for banana bread in the world. I am not one to throw banana bread praise around willy nilly. My banana bread standards are mighty high and, until now, was loathe to think that there should be any, gulp, spices detracting from the banana. However, the combination of the booze and the spices, with the salted butter, the intense banana-ness of it all… leaves me speechless. I find myself opening the container the muffins are in and just inhaling the incredible aroma. Thank you for making my conversion possible!

  14. Hmmm, may have to put off work for a bit to make these for breakfast today. I do believe I have all the ingredients. The danger will be in finishing them all off by myself before anyone gets home tonight. But olive oil is the healthy oil and almonds are the good fat, right?

  15. A combination with olive oil I had tried and loved is lemon muffins with olive oil and rosemary… I know, rosemary just adds to the weirdness of it all, but my reasoning behind it is that if I love basil daikiris, I might as well love rosemary in muffins!

  16. Ana

    i made a version of these for the first time a few months back, but used cornmeal in place of some of the flour, and mixed in some plump, fresh summer blueberries. they were fantastic, and the dense-but-light texture that the olive oil (as opposed to butter) gives is a welcome treat.

    i’m not saying i didn’t try a few with butter on them, either. delicious.

  17. Elizabeth

    Again a poster with nothing to say about this recipe except that…has anyone ever tried buttermilk muffins? A friend of mine introduced me to this simple muffin that has like three (3) ingredients, but is one of THE most versatile muffins I’ve ever come across. Want it plain?..check. Slathered with jam or jelly..check. Split and with a slice of country ham? Check and check! You’ve gotta try them and believe it or not, the recipe is from a Bellsouth Alabama Cookbook. And now, Deb, I’m going to give this a try. Another versatile muffin? Be still my heart.

  18. Deb

    I remember that episode. When I first saw it I thought “I should try those muffins…” and I never made them. I did, however, make her cornmeal cake, which came out fabulously. I have since modified it a few times and made a fantastic almond cake from it.

  19. Mmm, I love adding an olive oil flavor to recipes, especially desserts. Giada can be hit or miss, but I have to admit that her flavors tend to be pretty luxurious and rich. Gotta try these muffins!

  20. Is it said that the line in your post about composing sonnets was the part that caught my eye? The irony is, I’m supposed to be composing a sonnet right this minute, and instead I’m lusting over your blog. Are you my conscience, by any chance?

  21. alphie

    Off topic – did you see the Gourmet online cookie of the year feature? It has a favorite cookie since 1941 – lots of baking to follow.

  22. basketpam

    You know Deb, we all realize you have a life. And if you miss a day getting a recipe posted or something on line, no big deal. We all like seeing your creations and reading your blog but you MUST be allowed to live a life also. So, don’t feel guilty if you don’t post everyday. The earth will keep rotating and life will go on and we’ll all be just fine. Take time and have fun and smell the coffee. Sincerely, one of your loyal readers.

  23. Pamela

    When I saw “Olive Oil Muffins” I thought … blech! But the addition of the two zests and almonds (and the options you bring up), as well as your marvelous photography make these a must try!

    I always enjoy watching the beautiful Giada. She featured a simple pasta dish I used to make for my family all the time and I once made her Italian grilled cheese (mozzarella, w/ bread dipped in egg and nearly deep fried – to die for).

  24. MFM

    Deb (not the author):As a poor college student who didn’t have a zester for a long time, I have two zesting ideas. (1) The first is to use the small holes on your grater (the ones that look like the cheese grater holes, but much smaller). It’s a bit harder to avoid getting the bitter white pith when you shred the peel off, but it is possible. (2) The second is to use a serrated knife: note that I do NOT mean the kind with really big, well spaced, teeth, but the kind with itty bitty tiny teeth on it. It takes a bit of trial and error to angle the knife correctly, but you basically scrape the citrus fruit with the knife at a fairly steep angle, with very quick small motions. It definitely doesn’t take the pith off along with the yummy zest, but it does take a little while to get enough zest. I’d try the grater if I were you; I only used the knife when I didn’t have a grater either!

  25. Shilpa

    deb (not the author),
    Before I had a microplane (like in the pic above), I used a vegetable peeler and only peeled the most superficial part of the skin (no white stuff) then chopped the bits up with a knife. Of course, now that I have the microplane, I use it for everything and cannot live without it (it’s only $10 – if you bake at all and love parmesan as I do, you should go out and buy one!!).

  26. I made these last night as a host gift for a holiday party I’m attending. I added some dried cranberries and swapped the almonds on top for crushed walnuts. They came out amazingly! I will definitely be making them again – next time to keep all for myself! I also planning to make several batches to wrap as Christmas presents – a very economical gift in these fiscally challenging times :-)

  27. LCS

    Thank you. I made these last night, looking for something simple and easy for me to grab and go for “rush mornings” (the mornings, where you sleep in too late to make breakfast). I reduced the amount of sugar by 1/4, and they still turned out very good.

    Of course, I’m sure you may have heard this already, your website is lovely.

  28. Maryam

    I have been looking for a muffin – cookie recipe with olive oil for months!!!! Thanks for posting this, this is the best thing!

    Your pictures and they way you have organized your recipe profiles is very interesting, one can’t get enough going through them.

  29. Rebecca

    I was looking for a muffin recipe that I could make without fruit as I didn’t have any on hand, and this one sounded so intriguing. I left out the zest (I didn’t even have a lemon in the fridge) and threw in some poppyseeds just for fun. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the flavor after I ate the first one, so I ate another with raspberry jam and…HOLY SAUSAGE ON A STICK IT WAS SOOO GOOD! I also grew to appreciate the fruity flavor of the olive oil itself. These are now my favorite snack muffins because they’re not too sweet and I always have everything I need to make them on hand.

  30. marilyn

    Just made these and they are fantastic. I didn’t know what to expect and I forgot my almonds in the toaster and burned them…but they STILL taste fabulous.

  31. Stephanie B

    These are gorgeous! I left out the almonds (only because I didn’t have any) and they worked just fine. Hands down amazing muffins that I will make again and again. Thanks!

  32. Ume

    I must preface by saying I do not have much success when I bake. The precise measuring, the mixer (that I don’t have) and the details get me down before I even start. But today I got out my measuring cups, my immersion blender (with whisk fitting) and did the best I could. These muffins were absolutely delicious! I’m not a fan of cloyingly sweet desserts. These had a hint of fruit, citrus and some crunch from the almonds– perfect! Thanks Deb for building my confidence to try to baking again in the future!

  33. Symphonic Chef

    Just made these, and they’re divine. I didn’t bother waiting 10 minutes for them to cool, and they were divine while still hot. I added diced pecans to one half and chopped apricots to the other. Yum!

  34. Nishma

    These look really good and I will be trying them soon. I use olive oil in a cake with rosemary and dark chocolate chunks and it is fabulous. (Recipe from 101 cookbooks site.) I love the texture of the cake and have been wanting to use it as a base to try other flavorings. These muffins may provide an answer!

  35. Joana

    Hi Deb! This was my first venture into baking sweet things with olive oil, and I love these muffins. Perhaps of interest to you I made them with the new gluten-free AP mix that Shauna recently posted on glutenfreegirl. They taste great! I’ll let you know if I try out any of your other recipes gluten free.

  36. Maya

    I’m new here – great site! User Friendly – thanks! Lovely to look at.
    May I suggest tomatoes as the fruit of choice for these ‘salad dressing’ muffins. (Olive oil, balsamic vinegar…) I just made them again, adding chopped tomatoes (peeled, seeded in my case) to the last few – great! I used lemon, and clementine zest by the way. The first time I made these, I forgot the almonds till the last few. They are def. better WITH the toasted almonds. Last time I talked myself into using the expensive balsamic. No need. This time I used the cheap stuff. Delicious afternoon snack!

  37. Tracey

    Just made these for a Hospital bakesale. They’re in the oven as I write. I switched up the balsamic for lemon juice (fresh squeezed meyer lemons) and added poppyseeds to make, what I hope are, fantastic olive oil, lemon, poppyseed muffins.

  38. katheryn

    oh my god these are good! but of course i can’t make any recipe without altering it so i added pear, goat cheese, thyme, and goat cheese and they were wonderful.

  39. Dawn

    Deb, have you ever made Giada’s “Cornmeal and Rosemary Cake with Balsamic Syrup”? It sounds so interesting, but I’m afraid to waste fresh rosemary and balsamic on something too weird.

  40. Matt

    I substituted dark-chocolate pieces for almonds and it was delicious. We found the cupcake liners weren’t necessary if we coated the inside of the pan with olive oil before pouring in the batter.

  41. Vidya

    I admit I’m just not too sure of anything with Giada. Have you seen her recipe for gianduja bars? She instructs you to slather Nutella onto brownies. But these were great. I love Dorie Greenspan’s EVO and yogurt cake – but the balsamic in these really sets them apart.

  42. Tim

    I made these with pinenuts and they were great! The nuts settled to the bottom but I figure if I can help the muffin bottoms compete with the muffin tops interest-wise I can’t really lose.

  43. Hi Deb, I’m a longtime reader/tester of recipes but this is my first comment on the site. I think this recipe is a good illustration of some of the modifications I have to go through to make cooking work in Afghanistan, where quality of ingredients ranges from really amazing, undiscovered and unpolluted by pesticides local fruit and produce to the most generic and awful of imports (i.e. Kraft everything). Moreover, sometimes the appropriate kitchen tools are hard to find, so you have to improvise. I made this recipe in a cake pan, since muffin cups weren’t available at the time, and it turned out wonderfully. In addition to the almonds (we have fabulous local almonds here) I soaked a bunch of dried apricots and added those. It’s the first time I’ve made this so I don’t know what it’s like without the apricots, but they are a highly recommended addition. It made for a really great everyday snack cake, since baked stuff is also not really a thing here. Kind of hard when your milk comes in boxes. Anyway, I did the same thing with the peach cupcake recipe (baked it as a sheet cake) and it was awesome. In a way it turned out better because it didn’t dry out as much. Just thought I’d let you know that your site has gone international…

    1. deb

      Thank you for sharing! It’s very helpful for me to know what modifications must be made elsewhere. I’m going to check out your site now. :)

  44. Jill

    Whoever commented above that you don’t need cupcake liners and can just use oil should come over and clean all the stuck-on muffin off of my non-stick pan.
    Sticking issues aside, I just made these to send home with a new-mom friend (which: no, b/c they are all jacked up and falling apart) and my boys and I inhaled three of them straight out of the oven. Wow they are good! I suspect they will change taste with different olive oils, and since we have an entire cabinet full of oils and vinegars I now found a new way to play with some muffin flavors. Especially perfect since I never seem to have sour cream or plain yogurt around when I want muffins and I now I won’t need it!
    Also, I didn’t measure the zest, just used the zest of one lemon and one orange. They were delicious, thanks for the recipe Deb!

  45. Shanteri Baliga

    I made these for a c-workers goodbye party and had a hard time keeping myself and the roomie from eating more than half of 1! Of course they were all finished and no-one could figure out what the ‘flavor’ was. I decided to add a bit of rosemary right on top and that gave it a nice zing as well. Definitely a repeater for me……this on a day when I also made the sour cream cornbread which I made with red peppers and ate with bon maman raspberry jelly.

  46. Allison

    I just made these, and wow. You didn’t seem enthused about the recipe, so I took liberties. I subbed in some whole wheat flour, loaded it up with toasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almond slices. I did half brown/white sugar and put toasted sliced almonds on top. Also, I think our superior olive oil played a role, since we get it fresh from our olive groves in the north of Palestine. When they came out of the oven they looked incredible. My husband walked in at that moment and went crazy for the muffin with a slab of butter on it.

    Today was our first rain so I got in the mood to bake, but not to shop. This was perfect as I easily had all the ingredients, and it’s hearty and filling. This will become a staple!

  47. Elise

    Oh my. I just made these and they are amazing. I switched out 3/4 of the flour for whole wheat flour & I used poppy seeds instead of almonds. I would love to try and make these vegan. Any thoughts? Could i switch the eggs for bananas?

  48. These are tasty – a solid basic recipe that I can see making again. My 3-year-old likes them, too. One of my go-to cakes is an olive oil cake (from Abraço in NYC whose recipe Bon Appetit ran once) and this reminds me of it in muffin form. I omitted the orange zest and almonds only because I didn’t have them on hand, but the muffins would be even better with those ingredients included. I used my standard California Olive Ranch brand olive oil (which America’s Test Kitchen chose as the best supermarket brand) and that worked well.

    1. deb

      I’m obsessed with that cake too and have tried to reverse engineer it a few times — I’ve gotten close, but not exactly. Haven’t tried this recipe but perhaps I should. I always wonder if there’s just a little semolina in it for sturdiness (but not grit).

  49. Reir

    I made these today, these are really good. I did add chopped cranberries which went well with the orange flavor. Definitely a keeper for when I don’t want to soften the butter. For people who do not like muffins too sweet, the sugar can easily be reduced to 3/4th cup.

  50. Nat

    Is it crazy to substitute honey for the sugar here? I’m a novice, so I’m all ears if people think that would ruin these delightful sounding muffins. My kiddo goes to a sugar free school, hence the desire to omit sugar. My preliminary searches say it’s possible if you swap sugar for half or so of honey, decrease the liquids a bit depending on the amount of honey, add a smidge of baking soda, and lower the oven temperature. I don’t know if that would work here given the citrus. Would love to hear about do’s and don’ts in this arena.

      1. Nat

        Thanks so much for your response, Deb! I’m obsessed with your website and cookbooks. I made these tonight, & ended up replacing the cup of sugar with a half cup of honey from a local friend’s hive, used 2/3 cup instead of 3/4 cup of olive oil, added about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda, and baked in muffin tins at 325 for 14 min. I think I got about 34 mini muffins out of the recipe.

        Next time, I’d use the 3/4 cup of oil the recipe calls for unless the honey seems really thin. I would also increase the honey to 3/4 cup, as a half cup wasn’t enough. I’m 100% sure this would taste better with sugar (duh), but we still enjoyed them with honey.

  51. Omg yum. Used yogurt instead of eggs since I’m snowed in and can’t get to the store. (Approx. 2 tbsp. yogurt per egg) Used shredded carrots instead of almonds, allergies. Turned out crispy to perfection all the way around. Cooked for 35 mins due to yogurt. Huge hit with my board game covid pod.

  52. Stacey Kielman

    Stumbled across this recipe today and had to try it b/c it seems like it’d make a good canvas for all kinds of things….though I have no clue how I’ve not seen it before. Anyway, made them with the following modifications, and they came out quite tasty and satisfying, with chewy outsides and dense slightly spongy insides (kind of like a Madeleine). They looked a little funny because they did not mushroom on top, just went straight up like a souffle, so they aren’t winning the technical game from that standpoint, but I will definitely definitely make them again, perhaps with some rye flour or whole wheat, and a bit less sugar.
    -6 egg whites due to egg yolk allergy (using the proportion of 3:2 whites to whole eggs)
    -one whole lemon zested & one whole navel orange zested, zested the sugar before added the eggs, then just whisked it all until my arm was tired and it was fluffy
    -2.5 TBS half and half (the cream based dairy in lieu of milk dairy seems to be drier)
    -Toasted walnuts in place of the almonds, and folded the almonds into the flour before adding the flour to the wet ingredients
    -used ghee to grease the pan because I use ghee for almost everything, and it’s less messy and more consistent for pan greasing than butter, and quite tasty as well