My baking enthusiasm is inversely related to the temperature outside. The more the temp drops, the more I want to be in the kitchen teaming with a hot oven and good company. The perfect recipe for my mood: bright, festive Cranberry Orange Muffins.
When the itch to bake increases near the holidays, it’s tempting to always opt for a sweet or decadent dessert (my Grandma Dorothy’s Orange Cookies with Cranberries are a treasured favorite this time of year).
But, we need balance (and breakfast!) too.
With the traditional holiday flavors of cranberry and orange, these festive muffins will make any day sweet.
Right around this time, cranberry orange muffins at Starbucks and Panera become a fixture (right along with the red cups).
Unfortunately, most bakery muffins are loaded with ingredients that essentially make them cake. No offense to cake intended, but when I am craving a muffin, I prefer it to be delicious AND nutritious.
This healthy muffin recipe, made with simple, wholesome ingredients you are likely to have in your pantry right now, is a standout far and above what you’ll find from a bakery or a box.
The pop of fresh orange zest and honey baked together taste like sunshine on a winter day, as these poppyseed Orange Muffins prove.
Today’s recipe takes that winning orange/honey combo a step further with the welcome addition of cranberry.
I anxiously await cranberry season each fall because I adore fresh cranberries in baking! There’s something special about taking a fruit that’s fresh and in-season this time of year and making magic.
It’s hard to not love the results. This perfectly sweet, moist Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake with almond glaze is ideal for a family gathering. Healthy Cranberry Apricot Bars with a glorious streusel topping are one of my favorite on-the-go snacks.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Muffins from Scratch
I promise these healthy cranberry orange muffins will be a delightful baking activity destined to satisfy. I tested several iterations to get them precisely right for you.
Some muffin musts:
- Moist and Fluffy. It’s the standard for all of my healthy muffin recipes.
- Healthy. These muffins are sweet enough to balance the tartness of the cranberries, but not too sweet that they lose their appeal as a wholesome breakfast. (For the best of both the cake and muffin world, check out these Carrot Cake Muffins.)
- Easy. You don’t even need a mixer!
- Substantial without Being Heavy. While these muffins are tender, their crumb is still sturdy enough to support the cranberries and stand up to their fresh, bright flavor.
Cranberry orange muffins are a taste of home and simply wonderful to have around.
Enjoy them as a care-free snack, grab-n’-go breakfast amidst busy holiday errands, or make them a part of a brunch spread.
Better yet, pair these with a cup of French Hot Chocolate and any guests to whom you serve them aren’t likely to leave!
- Cranberries. A jewel of holiday baking. I love fresh cranberries here for their extra burst and luster.
- Milk. You can use any kind you like. If you have some leftover from other holiday baking, you can even make these cranberry orange muffins with buttermilk.
- Orange Zest + Juice. These two are the secret to that stellar orange flavor. The zest is combined with sugar to maximize its oomph.
- Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt helps make these muffins extra fluffy and moist while keeping them on the healthy side.
- Butter. For richness. A little goes a long way, and I promise it’s 100% worth it.
- Flour. All-purpose flour helps keep the muffins light and fluffy, while white whole wheat flour packs an added nutrition punch.
- Cinnamon. Adds a hint of coziness and spice.
- Honey. A delicious way to add natural sweetness and a fantastic pair with the orange.
- Orange Glaze. The finishing touch you don’t want to skip. It looks beautiful and makes the muffins taste extra festive.
- Add the sugar to a bowl, then zest the orange over the top.
- Rub the two together.
- Juice the orange into a glass measuring cup. Pour in the milk, then whisk in the yogurt.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the sugar mixture.
- Add the eggs, butter, and honey to the milk mixture.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and stir gently until combined. Add the cranberries.
- Scoop the batter into the wells of a muffin pan.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool completely, then finish with the glaze if desired. DIG IN!
- To Store. Store muffins in a paper towel-lined airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
- To Freeze. Freeze muffins in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw and enjoy as desired. I like to individually wrap the muffins first, so I can use them for quick breakfasts and snacks.
For even more tips on storing your cranberry orange muffins, check out this post on How to Store Muffins.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Muffin Pan. A must-have tool for making muffins.
- Batter Scoop. For even baking and a better rise.
- Whisk. I love the smaller size of this whisk.
- Measuring Cups. With these, you can mix and measure in the same cup!
Cranberry Orange Muffins
FOR THE MUFFINS:
- Zest and juice of 1 orange about 1 tablespoon zest and ½ cup juice
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup milk plus additional as needed, at room temperature
- ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt at room temperature
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour or additional all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 ¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries if frozen, do not thaw
FOR THE ORANGE GLAZE (optional but delish!):
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or fit with paper liners.
- Place the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Zest the orange in directly over the bowl.
- With your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant.
- Juice the zested orange into a large (liquid) glass measuring cup. If making the glaze, reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice in a small bowl and set aside. Into the measuring cup, pour enough milk to make 1 cup of liquid (the amount of milk you need will vary based on the juiciness of your orange). Whisk in the Greek yogurt. Set aside while you measure the rest of the dry ingredients (it will thicken up a bit).
- To the bowl with the sugar, add the all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- To the bowl with the rested orange juice and milk mixture, add the eggs, melted butter, and honey.
- Whisk to combine.
- Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold gently to combine, stopping as soon as the flour disappears. The batter will be lumpy. Very gently stir in the cranberries. With a muffin scoop, large spoon, or measuring cup, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
- Bake the muffins for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are golden, the muffins spring back lightly when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then gently remove each muffin from the pan and place on the rack to finish cooling completely (don’t leave the muffins in the pan for longer or they may start to steam and become soggy). The muffins will be very delicate at first but will firm up as they cool.
- While the muffins cool, make the glaze: to the bowl with the reserved orange juice, add the powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled muffins.
- TO STORE: Store muffins in a paper towel-lined airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze muffins in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw and enjoy as desired. I like to individually wrap the muffins first, so I can use them for quick breakfasts and snacks.
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