These Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins are soft and fragrant and easy to make in about 30 minutes. They’re bursting with a bright and tangy taste of orange and the subtle crunch of poppy seeds. Glaze your orange poppy seed muffins to make them a bit sweeter or leave them as is to store in your freezer and enjoy one by one.
Read on to find out the difference between a muffin and a cupcake, get all the tips and tricks for making these orange and poppy seed muffins, and learn how to create your own muffin recipes. Or just dust off your apron, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make muffins!
These orange poppy seed muffins are made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Dry ingredients for muffin recipes typically include flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. The wet ingredients typically include butter or oil, milk or buttermilk, and egg.
Here’s what makes these muffins special:
- Poppy seeds: The poppy seeds provide crunch. If you’ve had those poppy seeds a while, please make sure they don’t taste rancid before using them.
- Orange! These orange muffins have a triple punch of orange with orange juice, orange zest, and orange liqueur for increased depth of orange flavor from the aromatic compounds.
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Use store bought orange juice after straining out any pulp.
- Sub vanilla extract for the Grand Marnier.
- Sub the same amount of lemon zest and juice for the orange to make lemon poppy seed muffins.
Recipe tips and tricks
Base recipe for muffins
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 these baking recipes:
- blackberry lemon bread
- kale and cheese quickbread
- blueberry chocolate chip muffins
- oatmeal blackberry muffins
- sourdough discard apple muffins
- spinach and feta muffins.
It means that you too can use this baking ratio to 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 and only need to adjust the baking times.
The muffin method
Tip from the wise quacker: the muffin method is what distinguishes muffins from cupcakes. It’s more than just frosting!
The muffin method is used to make muffins but also pancakes and waffle batters like these apple waffles, quick breads, and the best skillet cornbread. Unlike the creaming method for cakes, where you beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, the muffin method is simpler. The key is bringing the wet and dry ingredients together at the very end.
Step by step
First combine the “wet” or liquid ingredients, except for the melted and cooled butter, into one measuring cup. If you use a two-cup measuring cup or larger, you can whisk everything together without a mess.
Step 1: Squeeze the orange juice and put it into the Pyrex measuring cup (Panel #1, below).
Step 2: 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 until combined (Panel #3).
Step 3: Combine the dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl, and whisk everything together, breaking apart any orange zest that clumps together (Panels #1 and #2, below).
Step 4: 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 to mix muffin batters only until you can’t see any pockets of dry ingredients (Panel #4, above) and not over-mix muffin batters. The minimal mixing avoids gluten development and keeps your muffins tender and not tough.
Step 5: Once you’ve mixed the wet and dry ingredients, fill the wells of a greased or lined muffin tin about three-quarters full. A large cookie scoop works well here.
Step 6: Bake the orange poppy seed muffins 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.
Step 7: Let the muffins cool for about 10 minutes in the muffin tin. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
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.
If you want to make 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.
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, you can freeze unglazed muffins. 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.
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.
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 is required to be at least 35% alcohol by volume.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins
- 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.
This recipe for orange muffins with poppy seeds was first posted on January 9, 2022. It was last updated for clarity on August 30, 2023.
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