Buckwheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks & Cacao Nibs

Buckwheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks & Cacao Nibs

Up until a few weeks ago, I had never made anything with buckwheat flour. Nor could I even recall enjoying anything made of buckwheat (other than the occasional soba noodle dish). Kind of crazy, right?

I realized this when Alanna posted a recipe for Chocolate Buckwheat Banana Muffins, and I thought to myself, “I wonder what that tastes like with buckwheat flour?” I could kind of imagine it, thinking back to my teenage days of slinging pancakes on the weekends. I remember watching the strange cement-colored buckwheat batter being poured onto the griddle, and then carrying the plate of rich browny-grey pancakes over to their table, noting their nutty smell in the dozen or so steps it would take me to reach my destination. I was curious, but apparently not curious enough to actually try them.

Buckwheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks & Cacao Nibs

When I mentioned this to Alanna, she also directed me towards another recipe on her blog for Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies. I decided to give those a try, since I am a horribly impatient person, and I need to be in exactly the right mindset at exactly the right time in exactly the right place to stop and look at a bunch of bananas and think, “hmmm, I should buy these and maybe bake something with them in a few days.”

So, I made myself some buckwheat cookies, and they were awesome. I don’t even really know how to describe the flavor, exactly. The buckwheat was nutty and earthy, with an intriguing almost bitter taste to it. But the strangest thing to me was the combination of the buckwheat with the cacao nibs. Together, they evoked the flavor of banana, despite the fact that there were none present in the recipe. I didn’t understand it, but it pretty much convinced me that buckwheat + banana + cacao nibs was a winning combination. And I knew I needed to suck it up and force myself to remember to buy a bunch of perfect yellow bananas, then wait.

gradient of wrappers

chocolate + egg + bananas

Turns out, waiting isn’t that hard when you’re really delusional and you convince yourself that you’ll be toootally up for whipping up a batch of muffins in the evening after a 10-hour day filled with inbox avalanches and discovering random manuscripts on your work shelf that you didn’t even KNOW WERE THERE, that call for proofs due the next day. Oh man, were these bananas READY by the time Saturday rolled around.

I had intended on making Alanna’s recipe, but as I was taking stock of my ingredients, I realized I had none of the other gluten-free flours I needed. (Or maybe I do and they’re in one of those unlabeled jars that I’m so sure I’ll remember the contents of when I put stuff in there. Welcome to my mystery kitchen, where we smell and taste everything, lest we make the mistake of putting cornstarch instead of powdered sugar into a big batch of homemade nutella……again.) So instead, I wound up adapting this banana bread recipe, which I’ve used in the past for banana muffins with excellent results.

Buckwheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks & Cacao Nibs

End result: Subbing out half of the AP flour for buckwheat yielded some dang delish muffins. I love the buckwheat with the banana, and the cacao nibs bring their awesome texture and bitter chocolatey goodness to the party. I told E to help himself to them if he wanted any, and his response was, “ehh, I don’t really like banana baked goods.” Then he tried one later anyway. At least one has disappeared per day since.

Buckwheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks & Cacao Nibs

Buckwheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks & Cacao Nibs

(inspired by The Bojon Gourmet, adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

yield: 12 muffins

  • 9–12 oz. of high-quality, extra dark chocolate (80% cocoa), roughly chopped
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • a splash of milk
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons of cacao nibs, plus extra for the top (note: I LOVE cacao nibs. If you don’t feel the same, you might want to dial it back to 2)

Preheat oven to 350°. Mash bananas in a large bowl, then add butter and stir to combine. Mix in sugar, egg, milk, and spices. Add baking soda and flour, and beat until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Line a muffin tin with wrappers. Evenly distribute batter into wrappers, then sprinkle some extra cacao nibs on top. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Buckwheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks & Cacao Nibs


  1. says

    these look super delicious! I’m yet to try buck-wheat muffins…..something I’m looking forward to after looking at these gorgeous muffins!

  2. says

    Looks like we are both on a muffin rush out here :) I never had buckwheat other than soba noodles and I am not very keen either. But now that you mention about the combination of chocolate and buckwheat tastes like banana, I am curious to give it a try. The only problem is, just like your E, my A, doesn’t eat anything baked with bananas! Ehh, worst case, I will eat it all ;)

    • says

      Yes! For a few moments after reading your post, I felt so unenthused about my sweet muffins, wishing they were savory ones instead. ;) The buckwheat + chocolate + banana is definitely a stellar combination though. (I’m looking forward to trying it in pancakes too. At least then there won’t be a ton of them hanging around for me to eat over the course of the next several days!)

  3. says

    Aw, yay!!! I’m honored to be the one to lure you over to the dark side (that was my attempt at a pun, as buckwheat in French is “blé noir,” or black grain). This post seriously warms my heart, and these look like muffin perfection. Beautiful pictures! I’ve been wanting to try Deb’s Jacked Up Banana Bread for some time (bourbon!); now I want to try your adaptation, too. Just to set the record straight, I usually end up with bread-worthy bananas not because of foresight and patience, but from buying bananas for smoothies only to have the fog come in causing me to eschew frosty breakfast beverages for something warm; hence a bunch of overripe bananas. I’m going to make these the next time that happens. :) Also, what is up with these people who claim to dislike banana baked goods? That mystifies me even more than people who don’t like chocolate…

    • says

      Thanks, Alanna! I’m so glad you did. :D

      It should be smoothie season soon out here (especially once I tune up my bike and start riding again — that makes me crave smoothies like a crazy woman), and our weather is fickle enough that I’ll probably wind up with some over-ripe bananas over the next few months! And I totally don’t get the not liking bananas in baked goods either. They add such great texture and subtle banana flavor — what’s not to like? It’s especially mystifying in Evan’s case, since he eats plain bananas all the time, but claims he doesn’t like them in actual delicious baked goods. HUH? But I guess I’m not that surprised, since we’ve been equally neurotic and polarized since we were kids. (He loves onions and doesn’t really like cheese……CHEESE!!!)

  4. says

    I love using buckwheat flour especially in combination with chocolate – it’s a combination that never seems to get old. These muffins sound wonderful, I love the earthy nuttiness you have going on with the buckwheat and the cocoa nibs.

    • says

      Thanks, Kathryn! It’s crazy what a good combo buckwheat and chocolate are, and the cacao nibs totally take it up a notch.

  5. says

    I love hearty whole-grainy sweet breads… the store-bought sickly-sweet ones always make me regret my decision to give them a try even though I know I’ll hate them.

    HA, my mom never had labels either since she bought everything in bulk, and made just about everything from scratch (including baking powder and powdered sugar); one time it got really exciting when there was a small oven fire, and she was attempting to toss baking soda on it to calm it down… she couldn’t figure out why it was getting bigger and bigger until she realized that she was indeed throwing powdered sugar on it instead. The house smelled like burnt caramel for a week.

    • says

      It’s so true. I’ve had my fair share of store-bought muffins and breads that were just way too sweet, and I could barely pick away at before deciding it was just hopeless.

      And omg, powdered sugar on an oven fire! That is too scary/funny (in hindsight). I can only imagine what that smelled like (and how much of a B it must have been to clean up!).

  6. says

    In northern Maine, the Acadians make these buckwheat crepes called Ployes. Oh my gosh, SO good. There’s one family up in Fort Kent who made Ployes super famous (throughout the state, at least), and they sell Ployes mix in the grocery stores and everything. I’ve never purchased the mix; I’ve never made them from scratch, either. I just had some at a festival a few years ago and I’ve dreamt of them since. It’s been a while since we’ve added something fun to our flour cupboard. I blame the terrible chestnut flour cake I made last Christmas. Buckwheat flour seems far more approachable than freaking chestnut flour, though. On a banana-related note, Kevin insisted we give our blender to Goodwill to avoid clutter in our new kitchen. To his credit, it was a pretty dilapidated piece of machinery, but how will we make smoothies now?! I guess super-ripe bananas will all be relegated to bread (and muffins!) in the future. There are worse issues to deal with… :)

    • says

      OK, so I immediately googled Ployes and omg, they’re like the crumpets of crepes! They have all those little bubbles on the top side which look perfect for catching and creating little pockets of saucy goodness. I must have one. Or many. I need to learn more about these things.

      I’ve never worked with chestnut flour either, and now I probably never will! ;) In theory, a chestnut flour cake DOES sound totally delicious and perfect for Christmas time.

      And I can’t believe you had to give up your blender! Noooooo. Do you have a food processor? My blender is tucked away in the storage space, so I use my food processor to make my smoothies. (I actually haven’t tried that with my new one though, which is 14-cup as opposed to the old 7-cup — I wonder if that will make single-serving smoothies more difficult. I feel like that sentence needs the hashtag #firstworldproblems.) I also wonder if you can make smoothies with an immersion blender if it has one of those cylinder attachments? I’m really dedicated to figuring out how you can make smoothies this summer! (And I already left a big ol’ comment on your post, but hurrraaay for your new place by the ocean!!)

      • says

        Oh, duh. The immersion blender! I have one of those. And for a while I was totally obsessed with it, but it seems I have basically forgotten about it. I’m going to make an attempt at a smoothie with it, and I’ll let you know how it goes. Carey saves the day!

        And I don’t want to give up on the chestnut flour, because like you said, it sounds so great for Christmas. Maybe I’ll try it again this winter.

  7. says

    What a coincidence, I just made a batch of buckwheat cacao nib cookies last week! It was the first time I used only buckwheat flour and its flavor came on a bit strong (not to mention the cookies came out an offputting grayish-purple, which was WEIRD, but kind of wonderful at the same time, haha). But I loved the cacao nibs, and I love the idea of throwing a banana into the mix! (Um, do I need to comment on the chocolate? I didn’t think so.) And I appreciate that this recipe incorporates both buckwheat and AP flour.

    I totally know what you mean about making the decision to deliberately leave bananas out for too long so that they”ll turn beyond edible and enter banana bread territory, but lately I’ve been craving smoothies fiercely after the gym, so, lucky for me, a freezerful of bananas is now a regular occurrence! I always hope that banana bread will transpire as well, but enough for hoping. I will make these muffins happen soon!

    • says

      Hehe! It’s the craziest color, isn’t it? Totally looks like dirt cement. Those buckwheat cookies of Alanna’s that I made were really tasty with the AP and whole wheat flour added in there too. They were actually almost cakey, and they got nice and crispy on the edges. I am on a mission to make a buckwheat oatmeal chocolate chip cacao nib cookie. I made my first attempt on the morning Eva came to visit and they were SO FLAT, like weird cookie crisp pancakes. But the flavor was still amazing (especially with the usual cinnamon + nutmeg + cloves oatmeal cookie spices).

      I’m totally anticipating the same smoothie craze and banana abundance in my place once I start riding my bike again. Exercise-fueled hunger is like nothing else!

      • says

        Does Vermont get as hot as New York? Because, after having been through an East Coast summer, I can’t imagine bike riding in the summer!

        • says

          It gets pretty gross up here, although I don’t think it’s as bad as NYC (where it feels like there’s heat reflecting off and radiating from every freakin’ surface). We have the beast that is Lake Champlain, though, and the sun beaming down on it all day kind of makes the entire town feel like a sauna. (I can take heat, but humidity = misery for me.) Luckily, I do most of my bike riding in the early am (like 6:30ish), and sometimes in the evening, which are the times I will ride to/from Johnny’s apt in the next town over. I will occasionally ride to town in the middle of the day if I need to take some stuff to UPS or go to the store, and it is HORRIBLE. Multiple shower day, for sure!

  8. says

    I am really intrigued by this buckwheat flour! The way your described it sounds like it would be something I could become very acutely obsessed with. And I am a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never had cacao nibs. But after seeing them here I did a little research on them and my goodness, they sound lovely! I then got a little carried away when I read that raw cacao beans have more antioxidants than any other edible plant, so I just ordered some ground up from mountain rose herbs to put in my morning juice. I hope it doesn’t taste too strange with the juice, since I know it will be bitter, but if I’m only putting in a teaspoon or so maybe it will still taste okay. Looking forward to using the beans & nibs soon though!

    I love these photos, too. That camera is just astounding!!! And of course you are amazingly talented, hence the lovely photos and tasty-looking muffins. The little nibs on the top look so pretty! I bet they’d make a great decoration on a cake or other pastry, too, rather than sprinkles. Much healthier than sprinkles, too :)

    • says

      Those flat pancake cookie failures were SO made of buckwheat flour and cacao nibs!! (With some oats and chocolate chunks too.) So if you liked those, you’ll definitely love buckwheat and cacao nibs, especially together. :) The original cookie recipe of Alanna’s that I tried was what inspired me to make those. I still really want to get them to work as more normal cookies, especially because I loved the flavor with all the cinnamon + nutmeg + cloves.

      You’ll have to let me know how that raw cacao powder is in your juice. I bet it’s going to be really good, because I’m pretty sure my friends that run the juice bar in town serve several drinks with raw cacao powder.

      And I loved the way the nibs looked on top of the muffins, especially in the second picture (which was my favorite of the bunch). They’ve totally become my high-brow sprinkle replacement (which I used to throw in/on everything for texture and chocolatey-ness).

  9. says

    i love the combination of buckwheat and chocolate. i can just imagine how awesome those flavors would taste with banana in the mix! i am totally loving your photos too!

    • says

      Thank you, Lindsey! Buckwheat + chocolate is such a great combo, and adding the banana takes it to an even better place. :)

  10. says

    Let me start by saying what a beautiful post and absolutely stunning pics…

    I have never made muffins with buckwheat but you have just convinced me that they will taste amazing specially with chocolate and banana…. Yummmmm!!!

    • says

      Thank you so much, Reem! (Also, between your comment and several others, I have to say that I feel a lot better knowing that I wasn’t the only person on the planet who wasn’t totally versed in the wonders of buckwheat flour.) :)

  11. says

    Lovely, as always. I love how moody your photos always are. I like moody photos.

    And, those muffins sound amazing. What great flavors.

  12. says

    I always found the word “buckwheat” cosy and nostalgic – it evokes images of free range French hens, an old farmhouse, complete with creaky, crooked wooden floors, vintage peeling wallpaper, and an errant loose stair banister (aka, heaven).

    These muffins fit into that daydream perfectly. I’m happy you finally decided to give buckwheat flour a go! :)

    • says

      Thanks, Valerie! And I agree, “buckwheat” is totally a cozy word. The French sounds a lot more elegant, which I also enjoy, but I — coming from my small town, pancake house background — certainly feel more attached to the former. :)

  13. says

    Oooh – I have only ever had buckwheat flour in pancakes before (which I love), but now I’m going to have to start experimenting with it in muffins and cookies and just about everything else! Also, I just went through my pantry and tried to label things, and throw stuff out that was either too old or I didn’t recognize… and there was stuff in there I just couldn’t figure out. Glad I’m not the only one who has to taste and double check ingredients all the time! :P

    • says

      I’m totally jonesing to try buckwheat in pancakes! :) I would actually love to make banana buckwheat pancakes with cacao nibs — I think it would be THE BEST.

      I am sooo bad about labeling, and I never, ever learn. I do it with all my bitters and shrubs too. I’ll just tell myself, “obviously you’re going to know what this is just by smelling it, why would you bother with a label?” There are definitely a few mystery jars kicking around my cabinets these days that I’m not quite sure about…

  14. says

    Mis-labelled ingredients, ah yes, the one I remember most is when I used almond extract instead of vanilla (and that stuff is stronnngggg) in blueberry muffins. They weren’t inedible, but they were NOT good.

    ANYWAY, I know I have buckwheat flour at the back of the cupboard but I’m always stuck for ideas on how to use it. Also, for some reason, I haven’t made muffins in a milllliiooonnnn yearrssss, but woah these are basically making me attempt to force the green bananas we have at the moment to ripen (I can ripen them with a death stare, right…?). And I can totally get away with eating loads of them because I need…studying food…fuel. I think my buckwheat flour supply will become depleted this weekend.

    Okay, so I’ve totally psyched myself up for making these muffins now. WOOH! YES!

    • says

      Oh MAN, yeah, almond extract is pretty crazy in big doses, especially when mistaken for vanilla. At least it wasn’t anise, that definitely would have made them inedible!

      And I’m so glad you made the muffins and loved them! I can’t believe how many I ate….I think about 6 or 7 in 4 days. I am kinda obsessed with this combo now. BUCKWHEAT BANANA PANCAKES, that’s all I have to say. (Plus cacao nibs too, oh yes.)

  15. Johanna says

    Hmmmmm…. these muffins filled our home with great smells and sweetened our Sunday!! They were super moist and tasty, very flavorful and a welcome alternative to the same old banana muffins I make when bananas turn brown. The recipe is a keeper!

    Oh, and a totally unimportant sidenote: it was the first time EVER a recipe for 12 muffins yielded exactly 12 muffins for me! Usually I have 12 plus a leftovers and have to eat the dough right from the bowl (terrible thing, isn’t it???). Not this time: exactly 12. Strangely satisfying :)

    • says

      Right?! I was so excited about how perfectly the batter portioned out. (I feel like I have the opposite problem, and I always wind up with stubby little muffins that don’t rise above the wrappers, or I only wind up with 11. I thought everything looked pretty promising when I had the batter all portioned out, then I peeked at them halfway through and was so happy to see them already rising up above the top of the tin. :D

  16. says

    So…the first time I tried buckwheat flour I mixed it with whole wheat flour (substituting for AP flour) and forgot to dial it back 1/4 cup or so and let me tell you…that was one dense, thick, and ugly muddy-colored bread. I was so dismayed after that one but since I still had a ton of buckwheat flour leftover I thought to give it another try, this time using AP flour instead of the whole wheat and it was sooo much better– what a relief! Jason still doesn’t dig buckwheat very much, saying it tastes “dirty” (as do walnuts, to him. Weird guy.), but he’ll dutifully take a slice to work for breakfast every day if I really encourage him to. :)

    You know, I’ve never tried baking with cacao nibs though. I’ll need to buy a pack and experiment. They look so pretty in the muffins speckled all about. And that recipe from Smitten Kitchen is awesome– she really does have some pretty kick-ass recipes.

    • says

      Hehe! Oh man, I can only imagine. And cacao nibs are so awesome. I love them in baked goods because they add such a nice crunchy texture. (And SK is totally my go-to site for a lot of basic recipes. She’s been doing it for so long that there are often recipes that are updated and tweaked to perfection, which is awesome.)

  17. says

    Better late than never to join the loving party on this score! For some reason, I have a really hard time finding mouthwatering chocolate-based muffin recipes–but this batter sounds so. Good. So glad I stumbled across this–thanks for sharing ;) have a wonderful day!

    • says

      Thank you, Ala! I’m definitely the same way with muffins. There needs to be lots of spices or interesting flours or crumb toppings to really grab my attention. :)

  18. says

    Hey! Love your work. One question bout these: could you specify what you mean by “splash” of milk? Tbsp or tsp? I made these a few weeks back and they were just a hair dry. Maybe my banana wasn’t super ripe enough, but I would love more advice about the milk component. Thanks! Salvegging

    • says

      I think the amount of milk I used was around 1-2 tsp. But my bananas were also very ripe, so I’d say the amount of milk you need is going to vary depending on how much moisture the bananas bring to the batter. For a drier ones, perhaps 1 tbsp or a little bit more would do the trick.


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