These festive Cranberry Orange Muffins are a year-round favorite, but especially delicious during cranberry season. They are moist, fluffy, and full of flavor thanks to the addition of fresh orange zest and juicy cranberries.
Looking for a delicious and festive muffin recipe to make this holiday season? With their bright orange zest and tart cranberries, these cranberry orange muffins are moist, fluffy, and full of delicious flavor. They're perfect for Christmas morning breakfast or any other special occasion.
Plus, they're easy to make and use only basic ingredients available at most grocery stores. I tend to stock up on bags of fresh cranberries when they are in season and freeze them for use all year long.
We love this recipe, which is really just a modified version of our Cranberry Orange Bread transformed into muffins. They are delicious either way!
If you want to take your muffins up a notch, you can add a delicious streusel topping option that will make them taste as if they came straight from the bakery.
Do you have to cook cranberries before baking?
No, the cranberries don't need to be cooked before baking. However, before using fresh cranberries in this cranberry orange muffin recipe, make sure to thoroughly clean and dry them.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Flour - Regular all-purpose flour is all you need.
- Baking soda
- Oil - Vegetable oil or canola oil are our first picks, but olive oil actually works well in these muffins also.
- Granulated sugar - I'm sure maple syrup or brown sugar could be used as alternative sweeteners, but I haven't tested them.
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Orange juice concentrate - Using orange juice concentrate gives more citrus punch than just fresh orange juice and we like this better than orange extract for real orange flavor.
- Vanilla extract
- Orange zest
- Cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- Sugar for sprinkling
How to Make Cranberry Orange Muffins
Prepare. Preheat oven to 350ºF. You can line a 12-count muffin pan with paper liners or just spray them with baking spray. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.
Assemble. In a large bowl, whisk oil and sugar together, then add sour cream, orange juice concentrate, water, and vanilla.
Stir in dry ingredients by hand just until combined. It's okay if there are still some streaks of flour.
Toss the cranberries with one tablespoon of the flour before adding them to the batter. This helps keep them from sinking to the bottom of your muffins while baking.
Gently stir in the cranberries and orange zest by hand just until they are evenly spread throughout the batter. Again, be careful not to overmix or the muffins won't have the light, moist and airy texture that makes them so wonderful.
Cook. Use a rubber spatula to divide the muffin batter between 14 paper-lined muffin cups, and bake in the center of the oven for 16-18 minutes, until muffins are beginning to brown on top (you likely won't be able to use the toothpick test because of the cranberry juice)
Finish. Remove from oven, and let cool on a wire rack.
Tips for Success
Here's how to make sure your cranberry orange muffins recipe turns out perfect!
- Make sure to thoroughly clean and dry your fresh cranberries before adding them to the batter.
- You can use frozen cranberries in this recipe. There's no need to defrost them before adding them to the batter.
- To avoid overmixing, mix the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another, then combine just until combined.
- If you don't have orange juice concentrate (the little frozen cartons), replace both it and the water with ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon of regular orange juice. Using the concentrate gives you more orange flavor.
- On the sugar for sprinkling, I like to use something with larger granules like sanding sugar, or at the very least, sugar in the raw, but regular granulated sugar gives you a nice sugar crust too.
Substitutions and Variations
- Switch out the fresh cranberries for another type of fresh fruit like diced apples, pears, or berries.
- Add chopped nuts or chocolate chips for extra flavor and texture.
- For a healthier muffin, use white whole wheat flour or replace some of the oil with applesauce.
- You can replace the cranberries with blueberries or raspberries to make delicious orange blueberry muffins or raspberry orange muffins.
- Add some lemon zest and maple syrup to the batter for a delicious cranberry lemon muffin.
- For an extra orange flavor, add in even more freshly grated orange peel or some orange extract.
- Add a sweet orange glaze on top made with orange marmalade and powdered sugar.
- Replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour for a gluten-free option.
How to Store
These muffins are best enjoyed on the day they're made. To store, place them in an airtight container and keep them at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
These muffins can also be frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat frozen muffins, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and then heat them in the microwave until warm.
Yes, sweetened dried cranberries work great, although you won't get the same intensity as the tart burst of fresh cranberry flavor. Use ¾ cup of dried, sweetened cranberries instead of 1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe.
Don't overfill the muffin cups. Instead, fill them about ⅔ full. This allows the muffins to rise without overflowing the cup and prevents them from becoming dense.
Also, be sure to bake the muffins until they're just barely done. Overbaking will result in dry, crumbly muffins. You want the tops to be firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin should come out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
Yes, you can use frozen cranberries in this recipe. There's no need to defrost them before adding them to the batter.
Make mini muffins by spooning the batter into a mini muffin tin and reducing the bake time by about 5 minutes. This recipe will make about 30 mini muffins.
More Muffin Recipes
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Cranberry Orange Muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (282g)
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup orange juice concentrate
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
- Toss cranberries in one tablespoon of the flour in a medium bowl to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while baking. Mix the rest of the flour with the baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, oil, and sugar together, then add sour cream, orange juice concentrate, water, and vanilla extract.
- Stir in dry ingredients by hand until just mixed. Gently stir in cranberries and orange zest.
- Divide between 14 paper-lined muffin cups, and bake in center of oven for 16-18 minutes, until muffins are beginning to brown on top. You likely wont’ be able to use the toothpick test because of the cranberry juice, but the tops should spring back when you bounce a finger on them.
- Remove from oven, and let cool on a wire rack.
- If you don’t have orange juice concentrate (the little frozen cartons), replace both it and the water with ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon of regular orange juice. Using the concentrate gives more orange flavor than fresh orange juice though.
- On the sugar for sprinkling, we like to use something with larger, coarse granules like sanding sugar, or at the very least, sugar in the raw, but regular granulated sugar can also be used for a nice sugar-crust too.
- Streusel topping: If you want to top these with streusel instead, combine ⅔ cup flour, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut in 4 Tablespoons of very cold butter until the mixture resembles sandy crumbs. Sprinkle over the muffin batter before baking.