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Homemade cranberry cardamom spice muffins combine favorite holiday flavors into one muffin. Each bite is bursting with fresh cranberries, orange, walnuts, cinnamon, and cardamom. The perfect fall breakfast, snack, or dessert!

cranberry cardamom spice muffins with orange icing on a white plate

Your search for the perfect cold weather weekend breakfast (or snack!) ends here. A perfectly tart and sweet combination of cranberry and orange is one of my favorite flavors this time of year, and I’ve used it as inspiration for many recipes like cranberry sauce and cranberry orange Bundt cake. Today we’re adding to the list with cranberry cardamom spice muffins– oodles of tart cranberries in a sweet orange scented batter with walnuts and plenty of delicious holiday cardamom spice flavor. I call this one “November in a muffin.” 😉

These Cranberry Cardamom Spice Muffins Are:

  • Tart and sweet, similar to cranberry apple upside down cake and cranberry Christmas cake
  • Perfectly spiced with warm fall flavors
  • Extra soft, buttery, and moist
  • Loaded with tart cranberries, fresh orange, and crunchy walnuts
  • A texture lover’s dream!
  • Drizzled with a sweet orange icing
  • Super quick– ready in just 35 minutes
overhead image of cranberry cardamom spice muffins

cranberry cardamom spice muffin batter in a glass stand mixer bowl

Behind The Recipe

I turned to my trusty master muffin recipe as the base of these Thanksgiving inspired muffins. What’s a master muffin recipe? It’s 1 muffin batter that can produce all sorts of different muffin varieties and flavors. Here are some of my other muffin recipes that begin with the same base muffin recipe: apple cinnamon muffins, peach streusel muffins, cranberry orange muffins, strawberry cheesecake muffins, and blueberry muffins.

This recipe creates soft and buttery muffins, thanks to butter and sour cream. Creaming butter and sugar together creates a fluffy base, so these definitely aren’t your typical super dense muffins. Rather, they’re impeccably soft, just like vanilla cupcakes. Lots of little ingredients paired together create big-time flavor in this recipe. I adore cardamom for its versatility and often use it in chai spice inspired treats like these chai spice snickerdoodles. It’s easy to go overboard with a strong spice such as cardamom, but I find that 1 teaspoon was the perfect amount distributed among 1 dozen muffins.

  • By the way: If you’re not into any of today’s add-ins, simply swap them out. That’s what makes this base muffin recipe such a staple in my kitchen– the flavor possibilities are truly endless. Try blueberries instead of cranberries, add chocolate chips or white chocolate chips, leave out the spices, try pecans instead of walnuts, etc.
2 images of muffin batter in a muffin pan and baked muffins in a muffin pan

How To Make Cranberry Cardamom Spice Muffins

These come together in a snap– much needed when your holiday to-do list is a mile long.

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together: flour, leaveners, spices, and salt.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients together: butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients & add milk and orange zest. Fold in the walnuts and cranberries.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin pan.
  5. Bake. These muffins take about 22-23 minutes.
  6. Make icing & drizzle onto muffins.

Quick Tip for Filling Your Muffin Pan

Fill the muffin pan all the way to the top with batter. Don’t be nervous about overflowing because we’ll start the muffins in an extremely hot oven. A hot burst of air will lift the muffins right up— and not out. Reducing the oven temperature after 5 minutes ensures the centers cook through while preventing the tops from burning. It’s a little trick I’ve been using for years and the super tall muffin tops never cease to amaze me!

cranberry cardamom spice muffins with orange icing on a white plate

Orange Icing

The icing is made from just 2 ingredients: confectioners’ sugar and orange juice. You’ll need the zest of an orange for the muffin batter, so cut that fruit open and juice it for the orange icing. The icing sets on top of the muffins after several minutes, creating an absolutely scrumptious icing “crust” on top. (!!!)

A couple other icings that would work: vanilla icing or the maple icing from my maple brown sugar cookies. So good.

cranberry cardamom spice muffins on a wood plate

More Favorite Muffin Recipes

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cranberry cardamom spice muffins with orange icing on a white plate

Cranberry Cardamom Spice Muffins

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12 muffins 1x
  • Category: Muffins
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Warm, soft, and fluffy cranberry cardamom spice muffins ready in 35 minutes!


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120gsour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup (63g) chopped walnuts
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (187g) fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw if using frozen)

Orange Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • juice of 1 orange (about 3 Tablespoons)


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the muffins: In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until just about combined. Add the milk and orange zest and continue to beat on low until combined. Fold in the walnuts and cranberries.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into each cup or liner, filling each all the way to the top. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 22-23 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack and drizzle with icing.
  6. For the icing: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice together. Drizzle over muffins.
  7. Muffins stay fresh stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: For longer storage, freeze muffins (without glaze) for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or warm up in the microwave if desired. Glaze before serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Muffin Liners, and Muffin Pan

Keywords: cranberry muffins, cranberry cardamom muffins

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. These look like the perfect Thanksgiving breakfast/ snack item that I’ve been looking for! I have a guess that is severely allergic to all nuts, would it be okay to simply omit them from the recipe? Thanks again for another awesome muffin recipe!

  2. These muffins are incredible ! The flavors of cardamon, orange and cranberry work SO well together. I had never baked with cardamon before, but I am definitely a fan now. Thanks Sally for my new favorite muffin recipe 🙂

  3. These are delicious!! Subtly sweet and spicy the glaze adds the extra something special so don’s skip it.

  4. Every Thanksgiving I make cranberry muffins for my family to eat while we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This morning I used your recipe, Sally, and we were not disappointed!  They were the best muffins I have EVER made, and I’ve made a lot of muffins!  They are SO moist and flavorful!  And I loved how big they were!  Thank you so much for such a wonderful recipe!  My question to you is, can the high heat for the first five minutes technique be used for any muffin recipe?

    1. Hi Danielle! I always use that high heat trick with muffins– any muffins! So happy you loved these so much.

  5. Hi Sally:

    I plan to make these for a Christmas brunch recipe.  Have you tried freezing them (without the frosting) and do they hold up well?  Or, should I make them fresh?  Looking to save time since I am hosting a large gathering and making ALL of the food.  These look like they will be a perfect addition to my menu.

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Debbie! You can make the muffins now and freeze them. But I suggest adding the icing on before serving. It tastes (and looks!) best when fresh.

  6. I made these for breakfast last Sunday and my husband can’t stop talking about them….this from the man who always says nothing but “It’s good, baby!” about every. single. thing I make. Seriously, these muffins are what dreams are made of. Spectacular!

  7. Good morning Sally. In the part of the world where I live fresh cranberries are hard to come by. Can this be substituted for dry cranberries or raisins?

  8. These are so good!  I love the cardamom/cranberry/walnut combo.  I bought a large jar of cardamom to make homemade pumpkin pie spice and I’ve had a hard time finding recipes that call for cardamom in order to use what I had left.  I was really happy to find this one!  Unfortunately my family refuses to eat “those wimpy muffins” after having so many jumbo muffins (made from you master batter recipe with various add ins), so I had to double the recipe and make ’em jumbo to avoid a riot 🙂 Another winner according to me and my bunch.  Light, moist and packed full of sweet-tart flavor.  

  9. These muffins are amazing! I’m having an issue with all of the cranberries and walnuts sinking to the bottom though. Any advice?

    1. Hi Lacie! Are you changing anything in the recipe? As written, this should be a thick muffin batter and the thinner muffin batter is, the more likely the add-ins will sink to the bottom. If they’re still sinking, toss both in a little flour prior to stirring into the batter. That will help!

  10. I’ve made a lot of muffins over the years, I just made these yesterday and they are seriously the best muffins I’ve ever made! The crumb is perfect, and they are so light and so delicious! I used dried cranberries because I didn’t have fresh, and I omitted the walnuts. The orange taste is very subtle, to me they taste more of cinnamon than of orange, so I would add more zest next time and perhaps a bit of juice. I got 11 muffins out of the recipe, filling the liners all the way to the top.

  11. The. Best. Muffin. I’ve. Ever. Had. OMG!!! Here at my computer in the evening and can not wait for breakfast tomorrow so I can have another one. I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and 1 cup dried cranberries instead of fresh or frozen, because that’s what I had at hand, and didn’t glaze them since the dried cranberries are sweet. Totally fabulous, thank you Sally!

  12. Hello Sally! Yay, It’s cranberry season! Is it possible to bake this as a bread in mini loaf pans? What would be your recommended time/temp?

    1. Hi Pamela! You can definitely use this batter to make mini loaves. The bake time depends on the dimensions of the loaves, but use a toothpick to test for doneness. 🙂

  13. Hello Sally! Do you think you could sub non-dairy butter and sour cream in the batter? Would love to try to make these vegan for a friend!

    1. Hi Katie, I have not tested this with non-dairy substitutes but let me know if you try!

  14. Thank you for this lovely recipe! It’s really hard to find cranberries here in the UK out of season. Could raspberries work?

    1. Hi Tiffany, You can use any berry here just keep in mind that raspberries are more delicate when mixing. You might be interested in my Master Muffin Recipe so that you can use whatever fruits or add-ins you have available.

  15. I love these muffins! If I wanted to make them as jumbo muffins, do you think that is possible? How long would you recommend baking then for?

  16. Nom!! Moooannn. These are amazing! So tender and just the right amount of tart. The temperature change to “pop” the muffin tops is brilliant. I used Skyr yogurt because I didn’t have sour cream. Definitely making these again!

    If I wanted to make min-muffins, do I need to reduce the amount of time they’re in at 425? Or keep it to 5 minutes.


    1. Hi Jamie, for mini muffins, bake at 350F the whole time – about 11-13 minutes. Enjoy!

  17. I was wondering if there is a specific kind of cardamom to use? I used a teaspoon of decorticated cardamom by Spicely (which seemed like a lot) and immediately after eating one of these muffins, I began to feel an incredible abdominal pain. I haven’t gone to the doctor yet (it’s been 36hours… the pain is still there), but I think the cardamom has given me a gall stone.

    I don’t know whether to thank you for helping me identify that I can’t eat cardamom or to be sad that I may need an operation lol. The muffin was tasty though, much like all of your other recipes. I was reading that the cardamom may have interacted with my HIV meds, causing the gall bladder to flare up. I will report back later, if I survive. My body would break out into little hives after baking your Apple Cider Donuts recipe, but that recipe called for much smaller doses of cardamom, so I didn’t think much of it. (thought it was a bug bite situation tbh)

    *I am writing this to warn others like me who may have a reaction to the cardamom not to make you feel bad. I am so grateful to you and your recipes.

  18. Loved it! Used the whole bag of cranberries, and there was enough to use them all. I used some extra to decorate the top with, and additional walnuts. I didn’t even add the glaze, because it was plenty sweet enough for me. Love using cardamom!

  19. These are delicious but I think I did something wrong, can you help? After creaming the butter and sugar and adding the eggs/sour cream, the mix looked split, rather than combined and creamy like the recipe indicates, is that unusual? Also my end result didn’t rise properly and the texture isn’t like your pictures. Did I mess up creaming the butter or would it have been something else? I had all my ingredients at room temp. Keen to get these right if you can help, thanks!

    1. Hi Jen! It’s normal for the wet ingredients to split a bit as even after bringing ingredients to proper room temperature, there is still some variation. If your muffins were dense, I would make sure to be very careful not to over-mix the batter, just until combined. Over-mixed batter is the most common cause of dense baked goods. Also check to make sure your baking powder and soda are fresh, we find they can lose strength after just a few months. Hope these tips help for next time!

      1. These muffins are fantastic! Even with the lower cholesterol substitutions I made, they are ridiculously flavorful and tasty. I know the original recipe has got to be even better, but with how good these came out, it’s hard to believe they’re a healthier version!
        If you need to watch your cholesterol, I recommend trying:
        1. whole wheat flour
        2. Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, 3. halve the butter and add 1/4 c canola oil to make up the difference
        4. use 2% milk

  20. I’ve been baking Keto recipes and I am quite tired of the flat, dense, cheese laden product they produce, so today I broke out and made this recipe with all purpose flour!!!

    WOW – FANTASTIC. I couldn’t stay away from my oven window enthralled with the rise due to the higher temp for the first 5 min. The fragrance was enticing!
    I did sub a couple of items to make sure my lactose sensitive husband could enjoy them and to keep the sugar/carbs down:
    – for the milk, I used one half 10% – 1/2 & 1/2 cream, and water
    – for the butter I used Lactancia lactose free
    – for the confectioners sugar, I used Swerve confectioners (erythritol/monk fruit blend)
    – for the Sour Creme, I used lactose free

    The muffins are “make again amazing”
    Thank you!

  21. I have a question what size muffin pan are you using with this recipe Is it the muffin or cupcake pan. I’ve seen recipes where they call cupcake size pans muffin pans.
    I don’t want to burn the top at high heat if my muffins are baking longer because I used the actual muffin pan. Thanks.

    1. Hi Denise! We use the same pan for muffins and cupcakes, so maybe they would be cupcake pans to you. Let us know if you give these muffins a try!

      1. Thank you. I made them back in 2020 and used a muffin pan and not a cupcake pan. They were delicious and moist I did add an oat crumble on top.

  22. During the mix process I was unable cream eggs sour cream and vanilla. Lumpy. Softer or melted butter would help. Then there was not enough batter for 12 full muffins. Maybe 3/4 full would work.
    Or more berries. Definitely the full range from sweet to tart. Excellent flavor. I did not know cardamom before. .