Made with fresh cranberries and orange, these Cranberry Orange Muffins are light, tender, and finished with an irresistible buttery crumble and sweet glaze.
Enjoy one of these cranberry coffee cake muffins as a mid-morning snack alongside spiced Christmas Tea or add them to your holiday breakfast menu along with Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole and Maple Candied Bacon.
These Cranberry Orange Muffins are everything a muffin should be. They are sweet, buttery, tender, and light. With the addition of fresh, tart cranberries and notes of citrus from the orange juice and orange zest, these muffins also pack an incredible amount of flavor into every bite.
But the flavor doesn't stop with just the addition of cranberry and orange. These cranberry orange muffins are also finished with a buttery streusel and sweet glaze, becoming reminiscent of coffee cake in muffin form! And even though these deliver the quality and texture of a bakery-style muffin, these muffins are surprisingly simple to make.
Notes on Ingredients
- Cranberries: Fresh cranberries are best for these muffins, however, I have provided modifications for using both frozen or dried cranberries in the recipe card.
- Orange: For the best punch of orange flavor, use both orange zest and orange juice. You can juice the orange yourself or use prepared orange juice.
- Sugars: This recipe uses both granulated and brown sugar in the muffin batter, which helps to achieve a fluffy consistency with a rich finish. Brown sugar is best suited for the streusel topping and powdered sugar is used for the glaze.
- Butter: When baking, it is best to always use unsalted butter, unless otherwise stated, to control the sodium yourself. You will need to use melted butter for both the batter of the muffins and for the streusel.
- Using Frozen Cranberries: You can enjoy these cranberry orange muffins year-round by using frozen cranberries. I suggest processing the frozen cranberries in a food processor briefly and then adding the cranberries, still frozen, directly to your batter.
- Using Dried Cranberries: First of all, keep in mind that while you can use dried cranberries, I highly recommend fresh or frozen cranberries over dried cranberries for these muffins, as dried cranberries are much sweeter and chewier than fresh or frozen muffins and will change the flavor slightly of the muffin. To use dried cranberries in place of fresh cranberries, you will only want to use ½ cup of dried cranberries. You will also want to soak the dried cranberries in warm water for 15 minutes to plump them up. After soaking, drain off the water, pat the cranberries dry with a paper towel, then fold them into the batter as directed.
- Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Muffins: Use an all-purpose 1:1 gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour in both the muffin batter and streusel.
- Using Whole Grains: I love swapping out refined flour for whole grain flour when I can. This recipe works using whole white wheat flour, not whole wheat flour, in place of the all-purpose flour. Whole white wheat flour is still 100% whole grain but has a lighter density than flour simply labeled whole wheat. The muffins won't be quite as light and fluffy, but pretty darn close.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Muffins
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Prepare Cranberries
For the best flavor and texture, it is best to finely chop the cranberries before adding them to the muffin batter. This will ensure that every bite has a bit of cranberry flavor, but the muffins will not be overwhelmed with tartness. The best way to chop the cranberries is to use a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, chop the cranberries by hand. I just find that using a food processor makes this process MUCH easier! It can be hard to chop small round objects. 😜
Step Two: Prepare Muffin Batter
This recipe for Cranberry Orange Muffins requires no stand mixer or a hand mixer to make the batter. In fact, you DO NOT want to use a mixer, as that can result in tough muffins. Instead, it is best to whisk the dry and wet ingredients separately and then fold them together to just combine. This will ensure your muffin stays light and fluffy.
Step Three: Prepare Streusel
The streusel topping is a completely optional addition. That said, the buttery, rich streusel turns good cranberry orange muffins into bakery-worthy coffee cake-like muffins that are absolutely irresistible!
Step Four: Assemble Muffins
This recipe makes 18 muffins. Therefore, you will need to use three 6-cup muffin tins OR two 12-cup muffin tins. If you opt to use the 12-cup muffin tins, keep in mind that you will want to add a bit of water to any empty muffin cups prior to baking.
Step Five: Bake Muffins
It is best to bake the muffins on the center rack in a preheated oven. Do NOT be tempted to try to bake your muffins before the oven is fully preheated, as this will result in uneven baking.
muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Allow the muffins to cool in the muffin tin on a cooling rack, for 10-15 minutes.
Step Six: Prepare Glaze
Just like the streusel, the glaze for these Cranberry Orange Muffins is completely optional. It provides a sweet finish and helps to balance out the tart cranberry flavor. Plus making a powdered sugar glaze is one of the easiest things to do! I use the time that the muffins are cooling to prepare the glaze.
Storage Instructions for Muffins
Cranberry Orange Muffins should be cooled fully to room temperature before transferring them to an airtight storage container. You can leave the muffins at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate them for up to up 5 days.
These cranberry muffins also can be frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. I typically freeze half the muffins to enjoy at a later date. (Perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas Morning breakfast!!!) Defrost the frozen muffins overnight in the refrigerator and then enjoy the defrosted muffins within 3 days.
More Festive Baked Goods for Brunch
- Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- Pumpkin Muffins
- Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- Cinnamon Sugar Baked Donuts
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
If you tried this recipe for Cranberry Orange Muffins, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake Muffins
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup milk any variety
- ⅓ cup pulp-free 100% orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Muffin Batter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place liners in a muffin pan or grease well with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
- Place the cranberries into a food processor fitted with an s-blade and briefly process to chop up the cranberries. Alternatively, you can chop them by hand. Set the cranberries aside to add to the batter later.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. Add the chopped cranberries and orange zest and toss to coat the cranberries with flour. Set the mixture aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together eggs, milk, butter, orange juice, and vanilla.
- Mix dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients until just incorporated.
- Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to fill each muffin cup with batter, ¾ of the way.
- To prepare the streusel, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over each muffin.
Bake the Muffins
- Bake the muffins on the center rack of the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and cool them on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine sifted powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk until smooth, adding up to 1 additional tablespoon of milk.
- Drizzle the prepared glaze on the cooled muffins.