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Buttery and moist, these cranberry orange muffins are heavy on the flavor and bursting with cranberries in each bite.

cranberry orange muffins

Cranberry is an underrated fall flavor, dontcha think? It’s often lost in all the pumpkin pie and apple recipes flooding kitchens in the fall. Cranberry deserves some love! That being said, how about a POP of vibrant cranberry for breakfast? An abundance of cranberries in every soft, buttery bite. Paired with a bright zest of orange and a sweet orange glaze to finish things off.

Orange is cranberry’s soulmate. Like peanut butter is to jelly chocolate, Fridays are to wine, and french fries are to a chocolate frosty–> an obvious match made in heaven.

cranberry orange muffins on a yellow plate

cranberry orange muffins

Anyway, cranberry and orange are absolute perfection together and I’ve been dreaming about today’s muffins since I posted this particular cranberry orange bread recipe last year. I have since made that bread, I don’t know, about 1 million times. Sometimes with streusel, sometimes without (who am I?), but always always always with tons of cranberries and orange zest. Divine.

And so, today’s muffins were born. Festive, fluffy, cinnamon-spiced, and packed with flavor. We’re talking huge flavor! I used my blueberry muffins recipe as the base. Why? All that glorious butter flavor packed inside. Paired with juicy cranberries and bright citrus, the combination of flavor is unreal in these cranberry orange muffins.

2 images of cranberry orange muffin batter in a muffin pan and baked cranberry orange muffins in a muffin pan

These are simple to make. There’s nothing fancy, nothing strange about them. Just a few basic ingredients to make one outrageous morning breakfast.

The star of the show is obviously the cranberries. You may use fresh or frozen. I go a little heavy handed on them– and I think you’ll love that. Because you know when you bite into a “fruit” muffin only to find three small blueberries in one bottom corner? So all you’re really eating is baked flour, sugar, and butter masking as a “fruit” muffin? No, that’s not happening here. All crannies, all over the place.

Besides the burst of tart cranberries, I absolutely love the texture of these cranberry orange muffins. They have more of a cake-like crumb, which is a result of creaming butter and sugar together– as opposed to using oil. They’re light and fluffy, just like cupcakes. Also: they’re so moist. Two eggs, yogurt, and a splash of orange juice (for flavor!) are to thank for their tender, moist centers.

The sweet orange glaze adds to their charm. You can leave the glaze off, but it adds a little extra orange flavor. Kevin and I both liked the muffins with the glaze more. Shocking.

2 images of cranberry orange muffins

Warm from the oven, these glazed cranberry orange muffins are the best treat to cozy up with on chilly mornings. Or these brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts. Both winners.

And if you can’t get enough of cranberries for breakfast, try my cranberry Christmas cake next. But don’t limit it just to Christmas… or just to breakfast!

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cranberry orange muffins on a yellow plate

Cranberry Orange Muffins

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 muffins 1x
  • Category: Muffins
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Buttery and moist, these cranberry orange muffins are heavy on the flavor and bursting with cranberries in each bite.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) yogurt*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk (any kind)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (185g) fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)

Orange Glaze

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) orange juice

Instructions

  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. In a medium 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 and brown sugars and beat on high until creamed, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Then, beat in the orange zest until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk. Add the orange juice and milk, gently whisking until combined and little lumps remain. Fold in the cranberries with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling them all the way to the top. Top the batter with an additional cranberry or two, for looks if desired. (I like the pop of color on top of the muffins in doing this.) Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C), then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and bake for 18-20 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total times these muffins take in the oven is about 23-25 minutes.
  5. While the muffins are cooling for a few minutes, make the glaze by whisking the glaze ingredients together. Drizzle over warm muffins. Allow to briefly cool before serving.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Muffins without glaze stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. Cover and store muffins with glaze at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Glazed or unglazed muffins freeze well for up to 2 months.
  2. Yogurt: Use your favorite yogurt; I prefer low fat plain Greek yogurt but regular (not Greek) would be just fine. Try with orange flavored, vanilla, honey, nonfat, or full fat. Sour cream works as well.
  3. Cranberries: You can use 1 and 1/2 cups dried cranberries as a substitute for the fresh/frozen cranberries.
  4. Mini Muffins: For mini muffins, bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 11-13 minutes or until baked through. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

Keywords: cranberry orange muffins

There’s more where these muffins came from! Try this same recipe, 3 other ways: Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping, Apple Cinnamon Muffins (with lots of crumbs on top!), and Peach Streusel Muffins.

For a more hearty, bakery style muffin– try these chocolate chip muffins! And here is my insanely-over-the-top-in-the-best-way-possible Cranberry Orange Bread:

cranberry orange bread

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi, is there any way to substitute honey for the sugar?

    1. Hi Carole! We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes like honey. Thank you!

  2. I’ve made these a bunch with fresh cranberries and LOVE IT but can’t find any right now. If I’m using dried, do I need to reconstitute them or just put them in as is from the bag?

    1. Hi Vanessa, dried cranberries will work here — you can put them in directly from the bag, or you can rehydrate them by soaking them in water for a bit. Either works!

      1. Can’t wait to try these yummy looking muffins! Could you tell me what adjustments, if any, I’d need to make for jumbo sized muffins?

  3. Oh my, these are fabulous! Moist, loads of flavor! I have been a baker/cook for over 40 years and this is hands down, the best orange cranberry muffin I have ever had.. It’s a keeper! I didn’t have any oranges to zest, so I doubled the orange juice and wow!

  4. Hi Sally,

    I do not have all purpose flour at this moment, and I wanna try to make this recipe – I have cake flour and self raising flour. Any of these flour I can use instead?

  5. I’m fairly new to baking. I was looking for a cranberry muffin when I came across this recipe! It was a very easy recipe to make and they tasted very good. I could not believe how light and fluffy they came out. My husband loved them too! Thank you for such a fantastic recipe!

  6. Hello I’m attempting these for a friends birthday this week, can I swap the all purpose for whole wheat flour?

    TIA

    1. You can, yes, but the muffins will taste a little heavier.

      1. I use whole wheat pastry flour and they’re a little heavier than regular white flour but MUCH lighter than whole wheat.

  7. Hi!! Is it possible to use a sugar substitute to make a diabetic-friendly recipe?? Thank you so much.

    1. Yes! I use monk fruit by Lakanta and everyone LOVES my muffins and no one knows they’re sugar free! I also substitute orange essential oil (make sure you use one that is safe to ingest) instead of the orange zest. In spring and summer instead of cranberry orange, I make blueberry lemon. Wherever the recipe calls for orange, I use lemon and blueberries instead of cranberries. I love this recipe!

      1. this is exactly what was looking for.. being about to switch out the lemon or orange and or cranberries for blueberries. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Is there anything I can use instead of the yogurt?

    1. Hi Carol, sour cream would be a great substitute here.

  9. Hi Sally,
    Tried the recipe last night. Love the muffins! My buddy likes them too. I reduced the granulated sugar and they turned out fabulous! Thanks for sharing your recipe.
    Greetings from Malaysia.
    #StaySafe
    Joy

    1. Absolutely! 350 is the temp. Unsure of the bake time!

  10. I have made these before… delicious… I only have a small amount of fresh cranberries, frozen. Can I combine them with dried cranberries?

    1. Hi Kathy, dried cranberries will work here — you can put them in directly from the bag, or you can rehydrate them by soaking them in water for a bit. Either works!

  11. Can you combine the dried cranberries with the whole cranberries? Just thinking how that would work.

    1. You can use a combination of fresh and dried cranberries. Just keep the total amount to 1 and 1/2 cups. Enjoy!

  12. This recipe looks SO GOOOOD!!!! Just a quick question though, if I fill the batter all the way to the top, won’t the tins overflow? Thanks in advance!!!

    1. Hi Bowen! No, they’ll just rise up with beautiful, tall domes on top. Muffin batter is dense enough that it doesn’t spill over. Enjoy!

  13. i literally ran out of oranges yesterday; can i leave the zest and juice out?

    1. Hi Jeff, you could try replacing the orange juice with additional milk and omit the orange zest for a plain cranberry muffin. Or, you can simply use our master muffin batter and use cranberries as your add-ins.

    1. Hi Susan, absolutely — you can add about 1/2 cup of walnuts to the batter. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Helen, we can’t see why not. Or, you might enjoy these lemon muffins (swapping the blackberries for cranberries) instead.

  14. Hello Sally,
    Thank you for another great recipe. I made these muffins with frozen cranberries and a little icing on top to take to church tomorrow. Needed to sample one first. These muffins are so moist and not too sweet. Very delicious. I would add that I made your pumpkin loaf a few ago, and it disappeared very quickly. Very delicious also. Your recipes have never failed me yet. Bless you.

  15. Hi Sally, would love to try this recipe. Can buttermilk be used instead of yogurt..?

    1. Hi Mary, we don’t recommend leaving out the yogurt, but you could use buttermilk in place of the regular milk.

  16. This is the third recipe I have tried of yours. I am celiac and have made it gluten free by replacing the flour with half rice flour and half tapioca flour. I had some left over cranberry sauce from thanksgiving that needed to be used they turned out amazing!! Thanks

  17. Have you tried this recipe with oil instead of butter, or half and half?

    1. Hi Chris, you need the butter to cream with the sugar, so we don’t recommend it. (Unless you use room temperature solid coconut oil.)

      1. Love these! Cooking time was a few minutes less for me. Followed recipe as is. Used unbleached all-purpose wheat flour. Will make these again.

  18. Hi Sally,
    Curious if this recipe will work in a 6 jumbo muffin tin? Are all of your muffin recipes usually interchangeable between the regular 12 cup muffin tin and the 6 cup jumbo?

    Thanks!

      1. Hi Lexi,
        For clarity (baking novice here), do I solely use the baking time in the Blueberry recipe or am I to reference both the recipe amounts and the baking instructions of the Blueberry recipe to properly yield Jumbo Orange Cranberry muffins.

        Thanks again!

      2. Hi Christian! Follow steps 4-6 from that blueberry muffin recipe (filling 6 jumbo muffin cavities, bake time and temperature – including the hot air blast at the beginning of baking for extra tall muffin tops). Use the batter from this cranberry orange muffins recipe. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Lee, We haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flours, but some readers have reported success using 1:1 flour substitutes (like Cup4Cup). If you try it, let us know how it goes!

  19. This was a delicious recipe! I substituted one of the 2 tsp of vanilla extract for 1 tsp of almond extract and subbed cinnamon for freshly ground nutmeg. I also rough chopped the fresh cranberries and sprinkled flax, chia and hemp seed on top. I didn’t do the glaze because they were great without the extra sugar. I will definitely use this recipe again.

  20. This sounds amazing and exactly what I was looking for! I have a silly question as I am more of a cook than a baker lol Does it matter if my oranges are mandarins?

    1. Hi Destiny, Mandarins are a little smaller so you may need to use an extra one for the zest but they should still still be delicious!

  21. I am a very experienced baker and I worried that the batter was very thick. I read the recipe over and over, but could not see what I was missing. Anybody else thinks it was an unusually thick batter?

    1. Hi Polly, For beautiful muffin tops that rise up your batter should be thick. This initial hot burst of air lifts the muffins straight up, creating a solid dome. This only works with certain muffin batters that are thick and sturdy.

  22. Could I use cream cheese instead of yogurt or sour cream? Whipped Cream? Or whipped egg whites?

    I’m relatively inexperienced but not a huge fan of yogurt or sour cream.

    1. Hi Sam, yogurt or sour cream are best for this recipe. You can’t taste them in the final product, but they create a wonderful moisture and texture in the muffins.

  23. Hi Sally, Have all ingredients to bake these muffins, except yogurt. Could sour cream be substituted for the yogurt? Thanks.

  24. I’ve made these 3 times. Love the muffins but why can’t I make a tasty glaze? I f follow the recipe!

    1. Hi Julie! What seems to be the issue with your glaze? If it’s too thick, you can add more orange juice and if it’s too thin you can add more powdered sugar. An easy fix for next time!

  25. Hi Sally,
    Can I use pineapple instead of cranberries for a orange pineapple tropical combo? I can’t find a good recipe for pineapple muffins and your muffins are the best.

    1. Hi Rachel, that sounds delicious! Pineapple is a tricky ingredient to add to muffins since it’s so wet. We haven’t tested it, but I would try blotting the pineapple with a paper towel after chopping and before adding to the mix. Let us know if you give it a go!

  26. Hi Sally! When you say use orange juice do you mean to juice a orange or use store bought orange juice from a carton? Thanks!