| |

Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins

When I bite into an orange poppy seed muffin, I get the sensation of sunshine hitting my face on a crisp winter morning. They’re soft and fragrant and studded with poppy seeds.

Forget about lemon and poppy seed muffins. I have dreaming about these orange and poppy seed muffins ever since I made my orange and poppy seed waffles.

Quick and easy to make, you can glaze them to make them a bit sweeter. Or leave them unglazed, and they can be stored in your freezer to enjoy one by one.

one glazed orange poppy seed muffin and unglazed muffins on a cooling rack.

The muffin method

Tip from the wisequacker: the muffin method is used to make muffins but also pancakes and waffle batters, quick breads, and cornbread. Unlike the creaming method, where you beat butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy, the muffin method is simpler. The key is bringing the wet and dry ingredients together only at the very end.

This difference in method is what distinguishes muffins from cupcakes. It’s more than just frosting!

Tips and tricks

Liquid ingredients

For these orange and poppy seed muffins, first combine the liquid ingredients, except for the melted and cooled butter, into one measuring cup. If you use a two-cup measuring cup or larger, you’ll be able to whisk everything together without making a mess!

Squeeze the orange juice and put it into the Pyrex measuring cup (Panel #1, below). Then add enough milk to the orange juice to total a cup (Panel #2). Then add the two eggs and a splash of orange liqueur to the same measuring cup and whisk (Panel #3).

three panels showing a measuring cup with the orange juice, milk added, and then eggs and liqueur.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients for muffin recipes include flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. This orange poppy seed muffin recipe adds orange zest and poppy seeds to the other dry ingredients (Panel #1, below). Whisk everything together in a medium bowl, breaking apart any orange zest that clumps together (Panel #2).

Four panels showing the steps in making the orange and poppy seed muffins.

When you’re ready to bake the muffins, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients (Panel #3, above). I always add the melted butter separately because otherwise it clumps and curdles.

You can avoid this curdling by bringing the milk and eggs to room temperature before adding the cooled butter to the liquid ingredients. However, all that does is make a 15 minute recipe much longer.

It truly is important not to over-mix batters that use the muffin method. You want to avoid gluten development and mix muffin batters only until you can’t see any pockets of dry ingredients (Panel #4, above).

Baking the muffins

Once you’ve mixed the wet and dry ingredients, bake your muffins. If you want to make these orange and poppy seed muffins ahead of time, you can ready your wet and dry ingredients. But don’t combine them until you are ready to bake the muffins.

Fill the wells of your prepared muffin tin about three-quarters full. A large cookie scoop works well here.

a muffin tin filled with batter.

These orange poppy seed muffins bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, but every oven is slightly different. They should be starting to turn a golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the middle will come out clean.

baked orange and poppy seed muffins in the muffin tin.

Let the muffins cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.


Glazed or not, they’ll stay fresh and moist in an airtight container on your countertop for three to five days. To keep them for longer, store unglazed muffins in a freezer bag in the freezer.

Variations and substitutions

  • Use store bought orange juice after straining out any pulp.
  • Sub vanilla for the Grand Marnier.
  • Sub lemon zest and juice for the orange.

Create your own muffin recipes

In Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, Michael Ruhlman uses the following ratio (by weight) for muffins and quick breads:

  • 2 parts (8 ounces) flour – about one and three-quarters cups of flour
  • 2 parts (8 ounces) liquid
  • 1 part (4 ounces) eggs. Two large eggs.
  • 1 part (4 ounces) butter. That’s eight tablespoons or one standard stick of butter.

You can see examples of this ratio in my blackberry lemon bread, kale and cheese quickbread, or muffins including oatmeal blackberry, my sourdough discard apple muffins or spinach and feta muffins.

It means that you too can make up your own muffin recipe with whatever flavors you like! It also means that you can make muffins in bread pans and quick breads in muffin tins.


Do I have to weigh my ingredients?

You will get more consistent results if you weigh your ingredients, especially for baking. But I’ve made a few adjustments to the ratios in this recipe to make it easier for those of you who use cup measures instead of weights.

Can I freeze these orange and poppy seed muffins?

Yes, as long as they are unglazed. Once the muffins have cooled completely, put them in a freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. They’ll keep for 3 to 6 months.

Can eating poppy seeds show up on a drug test?

Yes, actually. Poppy seeds come from the same plants that can be used to make opium. While the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says that poppy seeds themselves don’t have any opioids, they can be contaminated with alkaloids like morphine and codeine that can be picked up on drug tests.

Why is there alcohol in this muffin recipe?

I often use a flavored liqueur or other liquor for vanilla because of how expensive vanilla has become. For those of you concerned about using alcohol, know that Grand Marnier has pretty much the same alcohol content as vanilla extract, which must be at least 35% alcohol by volume.

half of a muffin showing the interior crumb.

Related recipes

Check out some other uglyducklingbakery breakfast and brunch recipes:

Do you love orange? Make this orange zest French toast or some dehydrated orange slices for cocktail garnishes.

Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins

5 from 1 vote
Category: Breakfast
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12 muffins
Calories: 208kcal
This orange and poppy seed muffin recipe is quick and easy to make. And the resulting orange poppy seed muffins are aromatic, soft, and sweet.
Print Recipe


  • 1 Standard muffin tin
  • 1 fine grater for zesting the orange


Orange and poppy seed muffins

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons or 113 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled plus additional if greasing the muffin tin
  • 2 cups (250 grams or 8.8 ounces) bleached, all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • two small or one medium orange, finely zested and juiced
  • ¾ cup whole milk, plus a little more or less to total 1 cup of liquid
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Orange glaze (optional)

  • 1 cup (120 grams or 4 ounces) confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Orange and poppy seed muffins

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 12 cup standard muffin tin or line it with muffin liners.
    1 stick (8 tablespoons or 113 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • In a medium to large sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and orange zest, breaking up any clumps of orange zest.
    2 cups (250 grams or 8.8 ounces) bleached, all-purpose flour, ½ cup (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) granulated sugar, ¼ cup poppy seeds, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, two small or one medium orange, finely zested and juiced
  • Add the orange juice to a 2 cup measuring cup. You should have about ¼ cup.
    two small or one medium orange, finely zested and juiced
  • Add the milk to this same measuring cup to total 1 cup (8 ounces).
    ¾ cup whole milk, plus a little more or less to total 1 cup of liquid
  • Add the eggs and orange liqueur to the measuring cup and whisk until uniform in color.
    2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Add the cooled butter and wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix them together gently just until there are no more pockets of dry ingredients. Do not overmix the batter.
    1 stick (8 tablespoons or 113 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Use a large cookie scoop or ¼ cup measure to fill the muffin tin about three-quarters full.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops of the muffins have begun to turn golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
  • Cool the muffins in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then let them finish cooling on a cooling rack.
  • These orange and poppy seed muffins can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Once cool, muffins can be frozen (without the glaze) in a freezer bag for 3 to 6 months.

Optional orange glaze

  • Put the confectioners sugar in a small bowl and add the orange juice and vanilla and whisk together.
    1 cup (120 grams or 4 ounces) confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For drizzling over muffins, you may need to add water, a teaspoon at a time, to get to a pourable consistency.
  • Put the cooled muffins on a baking rack over a baking sheet or piece of wax paper. Dip the muffin tops in the glaze or drizzle the glaze over the muffins in a decorative pattern. Let dry.


Vanilla can be substituted for the Grand Marnier and has approximately the same alcohol content.
Store-bought orange juice can be substituted for fresh orange juice. Just strain out any pulp.
Unglazed orange and poppy seed muffins can be frozen in a freezer bag for 3 to 6 months.


Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 209mg | Potassium: 70mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 1mg
Love this recipe?Mention @Uglyducklingbakery or tag #uglyducklingbakery!

What’s next

If you make these orange and poppy seed muffins, please rate the recipe and leave a comment here. Or share your own muffin creations with me on Instagram!

Looking to learn?

Sign up to get recipes full of kitchen tips and tricks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.