These soft, fluffy, and moist cranberry orange muffins pair the sweet/tart flavor of fruit with a hint of warm spice for the perfect festive breakfast or snack.
If you're looking for a quick and easy festive baking project, muffins are perfect. With the cranberry orange flavor pairing and a hint of warm spice, this 1-bowl muffin recipe has holiday feels baked right in!
This small batch recipe makes just 6 muffins, which is perfect if you have a random 1 cup of fresh cranberries leftover in your fridge from Thanksgiving. (But heads-up, you can also use frozen cranberries or dried cranberries!)
Or it's a great recipe if you feel like doing a little festive baking, but don't want a big batch of something. (And of course it's easy to double if you're feeding a bigger group and want a dozen muffins!)
Whip these up to have on hand for a quick snack or breakfast on-the-go. (I love adding cranberries in some form to my December breakfasts.) The best part is, there's just one bowl to wash!
Soft, Moist Orange Cranberry Muffins Ingredients and Substitutions
In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.
- Flour - use all-purpose flour here
- Sugar - granulated white sugar
- Baking powder - the main leavening agent in this muffin recipe
- Salt - a natural flavor enhancer; this makes sure our muffins aren't bland
- Baking soda - here we use a little bit of baking soda as a leavening agent in addition to baking powder because of the addition of an acidic ingredient (i.e., buttermilk)
- Cinnamon - for a little bit of warm background spice; feel free to increase it to up to ¾ teaspoon if you want to be able to taste the flavor of cinnamon more, and if you want these muffins festive and Christmasy, add ¼ teaspoon ground cloves as well
- Egg - helps make our muffins fluffy
- Vegetable oil - or you can use canola oil or avocado oil; using oil instead of butter helps make moist muffins
- Vanilla extract - for flavor and aroma
- Fresh orange zest - this adds tons of citrusy orange flavor to our muffins
- Buttermilk - helps create a soft, tender crumb
- Fresh cranberries - you can also use frozen cranberries (don't thaw them before using); and if you're wondering, yes, you can swap out the cranberries for blueberries to make awesome blueberry muffins
- Turbinado sugar - you might be familiar with this as "sugar in the raw"; this optional topping adds a touch of sparkle and sweetness to the tops of our muffins
How to Make Cranberry Orange Muffins
Step 1: Prep
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 6 muffin wells in a standard-sized muffin tray with paper liners.
Step 2: Make the Batter
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon to a medium bowl. Add the egg, oil, vanilla, orange zest, and buttermilk, and stir to combine (don’t over-mix, lumps are fine). Fold in ¾ cup cranberries.
Step 3: Fill the Tray
Divide the batter between the 6 lined muffin wells. Divide the remaining ¼ cup cranberries on top, lightly pressing them into the muffin batter. Sprinkle the raw sugar on top. If you have more fresh orange zest, feel free to sprinkle a little on top as well.
Step 4: Bake
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.
Craisin muffins. Omit the fresh cranberries and add ½ cup craisins (sweetened dried cranberries) instead. If your dried cranberries are soft, there's no need to soak them before adding them to the batter. However, if your craisins are dry and hard, soak them in hot water that's just off the boil for 3 to 5 minutes to rehydrate them. Then drain well and add to the batter.
Cranberry muffins with orange juice. Omit the ⅓ cup buttermilk and use ⅓ cup orange juice instead. Reduce the sugar from ⅔ cup to ½ cup.
Cranberry muffins with nuts. Add up to ½ cup of any type of chopped nuts you like. Pecans and walnuts are my personal favorite nuts to pair with cranberries.
Cranberry chocolate chip muffins. Add up to ½ cup of chocolate chips.
Cranberry muffins with streusel topping. If you like a sweet crumble topping on your muffins, it's easy to make! In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix together 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened), 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (lightly packed), 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract until it forms large crumbles. Skip the raw sugar topping, and sprinkle this crumbly mixture on top instead before baking.
Glazed cranberry muffins. If you want to make a quick icing to drizzle on top of the cooled muffins, combine ¼ cup powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon milk.
After the muffins have cooled to room temperature, arrange them in a single layer in an airtight container. Store them at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Cranberry Orange Muffins Recipe FAQs
Should You Chop Cranberries Before Baking?
No, for this recipe there's no need to chop cranberries before baking.
The whole cranberries soften in the oven and add bursts of tart, fruity flavor. However, if you prefer, you can coarsely chop the cranberries so the bursts of tart flavor aren't so strong.
Do Cranberries Need to Be Cooked Before Baking?
No, cranberries don't need to be cooked before baking.
In this cranberry orange muffins recipe, we use whole, raw cranberries. As the muffins bake, the cranberries soften.
What is the Secret to Moist Muffins?
Here we use 3 tricks to keep our muffins moist and fluffy:
- Adding buttermilk, which is acidic and makes our muffins really soft and tender.
- Using oil as the fat instead of butter.
- Stirring the batter only until combined, and being careful not to over-mix.
More Cranberry Baked Goods to Make
Soft and Fluffy Cranberry Orange Muffins Recipe
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup granulated white sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil or avocado oil or canola oil
- ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ tablespoon fresh orange zest plus more to sprinkle on top if desired
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup fresh cranberries divided into ¾ cup + ¼ cup
- 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar for topping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 6 muffin wells in a standard-sized muffin tray with paper liners.
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon to a medium bowl. Add the egg, oil, vanilla, orange zest, and buttermilk, and stir to combine (don’t over-mix, lumps are fine). Fold in ¾ cup cranberries.
- Divide the batter between the 6 lined muffin wells. Divide the remaining ¼ cup cranberries on top, lightly pressing them into the muffin batter. Sprinkle the raw sugar on top. If you have more fresh orange zest, feel free to sprinkle a little on top as well.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.
- Storage: After the muffins have cooled to room temperature, arrange them in a single layer in an airtight container. Store them at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.