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Cranberry Orange Muffins

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Bursting with tart, fresh cranberries and sweet orange, cranberry orange muffins are special enough for a holiday weekend breakfast but easy enough to make any day of the week.

Close up of cranberry orange muffins arranged on a white platter.

If you’re having guests over for the holidays, there’s one thing I know for sure: you’re gonna want some easy breakfast options on hand.

Especially if you have family members that all get up at different times. You need to have something on hand for the early birds and the late risers.

I like making a pan of my make-ahead breakfast casserole or Mexican breakfast casserole, thawing some frozen fruit, and setting out a batch of freshly baked muffins. There’s a little something for everyone!

This year, I’m definitely going to be making these cranberry orange muffins. 

Two cranberry orange muffins on a white plate.

TART & SWEET CRANBERRY ORANGE MUFFINS

I love muffins. Whether I’m getting them at the bakery, with my morning Starbucks, or making them at home, they’re one of my favorite little treats.

I especially love changing up my go-to muffin recipe based on the seasons. 

In the fall, I’m all about apple cinnamon muffins. In the spring, it’s strawberry banana muffins. In late winter, it’s lemon poppy seed muffins

And during the holidays, I’m all in on these cranberry orange muffins.

I love pairing the tartness of cranberries with the sweet flavor of oranges. From cranberry orange cinnamon rolls to cranberry orange scones, it’s a flavor combination that just can’t be beat in my book.

This cranberry orange muffin recipe makes 12 perfectly flavorful, moist muffins. The batter comes together in just a few minutes and they bake in about 17 minutes, meaning that you can go from having no muffins to having a full batch of freshly baked muffins in just over 30 minutes.

With their crunchy sugar topping and beautiful flavors, these muffins are special enough for a weekend breakfast or afternoon snack. But they’re easy enough to make even on a weekday morning.

That’s my kind of recipe, ok?

Close up of cranberry orange muffins on a wire cooling rack.

HOW TO MAKE CRANBERRY ORANGE MUFFINS

Muffins are a great beginner-friendly thing to make. They are not fussy at all and don’t require any special tools, like a mixer. Anyone can make this recipe and wow their friends!

Ingredients you’ll need

To make these cranberry orange muffins, you will need:

  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cranberries
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Coarse sugar, for topping
Ingredients for cranberry orange muffins arranged on a beige countertop.

I have a microplane I keep on hand for zesting citrus, grating fresh nutmeg, and even grating parmesan cheese. They’re really inexpensive and super useful tools to keep in your kitchen!

This recipe calls for fresh cranberries. You can also use frozen cranberries; do not thaw them before roughly chopping them. If they are fully thawed when you add them to the batter, they could discolor it a bit.

Don’t stress about using freshly squeezed orange juice for this recipe. If you have it, great! But bottled orange juice will work just as well.

If you don’t like baking with vegetable oil, use your favorite neutral-flavored oil, such as avocado oil, instead.

Helpful resources

Making these cranberry orange muffins

This recipe makes 12 muffins, so line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Start by mixing the orange zest and granulated sugar in a bowl. Rub the two ingredients together with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. This will release the oils from the orange zest and make the muffins extra fragrant and delicious.

Chopped fresh cranberries tossed with sugar in a glass mixing bowl.

Toss the chopped cranberries with the orange sugar and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the egg, orange juice, buttermilk, and oil. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined.

Fold in the cranberries, along with their sugar, and divide the batter into the prepared muffin wells. I like to use a large cookie scoop (3-tablespoon size) to do this. 

Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar, then bake at 425°F for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, set the oven temperature to 350°F and set the timer for another 6-7 minutes. 

Unbaked cranberry orange muffins in a muffin tin, ready to go in the oven.

This is a baking method I learned from The Kittchen and I use it on all of my muffin recipes now.

The muffins are done when the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

I let the cranberry orange muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before setting them on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Batch of cranberry orange muffins cooling on a wire rack.

STORAGE TIPS

Store cranberry orange muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

You can also freeze them for longer-term storage. Pop them into a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to a month.

When you’re ready to enjoy a muffin, microwave it for 30-60 seconds to thaw it and warm it through.

Halved cranberry orange muffin on a white plate next to a whole muffin.

FAQS

Can I use dried cranberries instead of fresh?

Dried cranberries are naturally sweeter than fresh cranberries. I don’t recommend using them in this recipe since the amount of sugar has been determined based on tart, fresh cranberries.

If you are looking for recipes using dried cranberries, check out my cranberry bliss bars.

Can I make these cranberry orange muffins vegan or dairy free?

Yes! For a dairy-free version, swap out the buttermilk for my buttermilk substitute using your favorite dairy-free milk. 

For a vegan version, swap the buttermilk as noted above and use a flax egg in place of the egg.

Can I make these muffins gluten-free?

I have not tried this recipe using any gluten-free flours. However, I have had many readers successfully make my muffins and quick breads using a 1-for-1 gluten-free baking flour.

Is there a substitute for vegetable oil I can use?

If you don’t like to use vegetable oil, feel free to use your favorite neutral-flavored oil. Avocado oil would be great.

I don’t suggest using butter in place of the oil. Oil helps keep the muffins moist, so make sure to use a neutral oil in this recipe.

Can I make mini cranberry orange muffins with this recipe?

Sure, just keep in mind that your baking times will change. 

Start the muffins at 425°F – turn on the oven light, and watch for when the tops of the muffins have risen. At that point, turn the temperature down to 350°F (don’t open the oven door) and continue baking until the cranberry orange muffins are golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

You can follow the same baking method for jumbo muffins. You should get about 24 mini muffins and 6 jumbo muffins from this recipe.

Close up of cranberry orange muffins on a platter.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Bursting with tart, fresh cranberries and sweet orange, cranberry orange muffins are special enough for a holiday weekend breakfast but easy enough to make any day of the week.
4.78 from 9 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 31 minutes
Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients 

  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cranberries
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Coarse sugar for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, add the orange zest and granulated sugar. Mix the two together with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. Stir in the cranberries; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the egg, orange juice, buttermilk and oil. Create a small well in the dry ingredients, pouring the wet ingredients into the well and stirring just to combine. Fold in cranberries and their sugar.
  • Divide batter evenly into the prepared muffin wells using a large (3 tablespoons) cookie scoop. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.
  • Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes. Leaving the oven door closed, set the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for another 6-7 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

My favorite coarse sugar for topping muffins and quick breads is Sugar in the Raw Turbinado Cane Sugar.
If using frozen cranberries, do not thaw them before roughly chopping them.
Substitutions:
  • You may substitute the vegetable oil for any neutral-flavored oil, such as avocado oil.
  • For a dairy-free version, make a buttermilk substitute using dairy-free milk. 
  • For a vegan version, substitute the buttermilk as noted above and swap the egg for a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water, allow to thicken for 5 minutes). 

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffin | Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.05g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 74mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg
The default measuring system on My Baking Addiction is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided as a courtesy; please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
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