Made with fresh cranberries and orange, these Cranberry Orange Muffins are light, tender, and finished with an irresistible buttery crumble and sweet glaze.
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.
Whether enjoyed with a cup of Homemade Mulled Cider, a Homemade Latte, or as part of a holiday breakfast served alongside Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole and Maple Candied Bacon, these Coffee Cake Cranberry Orange Muffins are sure to be loved!
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.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Muffins
Do not be intimidated by the number of steps there are for making these Orange Cranberry Muffins. I have included detailed steps, but each step is incredibly simple and the muffin batter does not take more than 20 minutes of hands-on prep time--and that includes making the streusel and glaze!
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. 😜
- Place washed fresh cranberries into a food processor fitted with an s-blade and lightly process just to chop the cranberries. Set the cranberries aside to add to the muffin batter.
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.
- Melt the butter and let cool slightly while you whisk together the dry ingredients.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until very evenly combined and no lumps of baking soda or baking powder remain.
- Add in the orange zest and cranberry juice and toss to coat with flour. This will help the cranberries to stay suspended evenly throughout the muffin, rather than sinking to the bottom.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, orange juice, eggs, melted and cooled butter, and vanilla extract together until well combined.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the flour is fully moistened and the batter is just combined. Don't overmix the batter or your muffins could turn out tough.
Step Three: Prepare Streusel
The streusel topping is a completely optional addition. That said, the buttery, rich streusel turns good cranberry orange muffins turn into bakery-worthy coffee cake-like muffins that are absolutely irresistible!
- In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
- Add in the melted butter and mix the ingredients together until combined and crumbly. The streusel should resemble wet sand.
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.
- Fill each prepared muffin cup ¾ths of the way full. I find that the best way to do this is to use an ice cream scoop. It is the perfect amount of batter for each muffin and way less mess!
- Sprinkle the prepared streusel evenly over the muffins.
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.
- Sift powdered sugar over a mixing bowl using a fine mesh strainer. It is really important to take the time to sift powdered sugar in order to prevent lumps in your glaze.
- Whisk in 2 tablespoons of milk, adding up to an additional tablespoon of milk if needed until the glaze is smooth. You are looking for a consistency that when you pull your whisk out of the glaze, the glaze drizzles in a thick line off the whisk. If it is not drizzling easily, you need more milk. If it is too thin, you need to add additional powdered sugar.
- Drizzle the glaze evenly over the cooled muffins.
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.
- 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. And 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.
More Festive Baked Goods for Brunch
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
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar packed
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 3 tablespoons milk any fat percentage
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.