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Cranberry orange muffins are sweet, tart, and perfect for breakfast. They’re a great way to use extra fresh or frozen cranberries.
I’ll find any excuse to bake, and chillier temperatures are a very good excuse.
Baking in the morning is especially a favorite thing to do. I’m not only filling the kitchen with warmth and cozy aromas, but it sets up the rest of my day for deliciousness.
Ingredients for cranberry muffins
Now, for some people Thanksgiving is when they pull out the cranberries, and that’s the end of it.
But those tart little jewels are more versatile than people think, and are perfectly wonderful in all sorts of breakfast items.
I always make sure to buy enough cranberries so I can freeze the extras and experiment with recipes all winter.
Cranberries do well when paired with orange, which makes sense considering many cranberry sauce recipes include orange juice and zest. That citrus finish with the tart cranberries just screams winter to me.
I like to make sure the tart flavor shines through, so these muffins might have less sugar than you’re used to putting in. I finish them off with a sprinkling of sparking sugar on top, just to add a little bit of extra sweetness and a bit of crunch.
- Cranberries, thawed if frozen
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Orange zest (use fresh from an orange, not jarred orange peel)
- Baking powder
- Pure vanilla extract
- Sparkling sugar or turbinado sugar (optional)
How to make cranberry orange muffins
First, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners, or coat with nonstick spray.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the orange zest.
Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk and vanilla.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, then fold in the cranberries.
Divide the muffin batter among 12 muffin cups.
If using the sugar topping, sprinkle it evenly over the tops of the muffins.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Let the muffins cool in the pan slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
I like to serve muffins warm; note that cooled muffins will release from their papers more easily.
Store leftover muffins in an airtight container for 3-5 days at room temperature, or in the refrigerator.
Cranberry orange muffins can be easily customized to your preferences.
For more orange flavor, add a bit of orange juice to the wet ingredients. Note that citrus makes milk curdle somewhat, so don’t be alarmed!
Swap in up to 1 cup whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. You can also use a gluten-free all-purpose blend.
Use ½ teaspoon almond extract in place of the vanilla.
Dried cranberries can be used in place of the fresh cranberries. I recommend soaking them in orange juice or water before using.
If you don’t soak the dried cranberries, they will take in a lot of the moisture from the batter and can lead to a dry muffin.
Other cranberry recipes to enjoy
Have lots of extra cranberries on hand? Try these:
- Spiced Cranberry Ice Cream
- Cranberry Mustard
- Cranberry Breakfast Cookies
- Cranberry Coffee Cake
- Apple Cranberry Crisp
If you have cranberry sauce on hand rather than whole cranberries, try my cranberry breakfast bread instead!
Cranberry Orange Muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cranberries, thawed if frozen
- Sparkling sugar, Optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F and put paper liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in orange zest until fragrant. Beat in egg, then stir in milk and vanilla.
- Pour flour mixture into wet mixture and stir until combined, but do not overmix. Fold in cranberries.
- Fill muffin pan wells about 3/4 full. Sprinkle sparkling sugar over the tops of the muffins, if using. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.