Cranberry Orange Muffins

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Cranberry orange muffins packed with fruit and fiber for a wholesome breakfast treat. Tart cranberries and delicious orange-scented cake.

Cranberry orange muffins with citrus glaze

I took a quick peek in my fridge for some inspiration. I found a bag of whole cranberries and a few juicy navel oranges, they keep so well in the refrigerator! I was craving muffins but knew I should make them a little bit healthier for the family.

Fresh baked whole wheat cranberry orange muffins were the answer, the perfect solution to satisfy any craving. Cranberries are gorgeous ruby-colored fruit packed with naturally occurring flavanols (polyphenols), which have antioxidant capacity. With its nutritional benefits, it’s not surprising that it’s being used more often in recipes.

Washing ruby red cranberries in a colander

If you’ve even tried a whole cranberry before, they are very tart. They’re best-cooked in homemade cranberry sauce or even sandwiched in between Linzer cookies. Balancing the sourness with a little bit of sweetness is key!

Have you ever seen the inside of a cranberry? They are white or pink depending on the ripeness with a cute flower shape in the center.  I cut about 2/3 of the cranberries in half so that flavor could infuse into the muffin batter, and absorb some of the sweetness from the batter.

Spatula mixing sliced and whole cranberries into muffin batter

I press about 3 cranberries on top of each muffin so they would have that colorful berry appearance on top. If you really like a stronger zing, keep some of the cranberries whole while you fold them into the batter.

I use white whole wheat flour, made from a lighter colored white spring wheat that has a more mild flavor with all of the same nutritional benefits. The whole wheat grains in the batter gives the muffins and moist, cakey crumb on the inside, with a more textured exterior similar to cornbread.

spoon pouring frosting on top of a muffin

If you like a little more of a crunch, sprinkle some sugar on top of the muffins before baking, you may not even need the extra orange glaze, hmmm, we’ll see.

Oh yeah, the cherry on top! This super easy orange glaze is powdered sugar and fresh orange juice. I made the glaze thick enough so that it slowly drizzles down the muffin, but stays put on top. It adds a stronger hint of citrus flavor and compliments the slight tartness from the cranberries.

top down view of four muffins on a plate with white frosting

Each muffin is packed with fresh cranberries and orange-scented cake. With breakfast ready in under an hour, you’ve got a mini-meal packed with fruit and fiber ready to go. You can even freeze, defrost and reheat these muffins if you need a quick bite on those busy weekday mornings to go with your cup of coffee. Your family and friends will love this healthier version of their favorite muffin.

How do you create a cake-textured muffin?

When making muffins, it’s important not to over mix the batter. Gently combine the dry ingredients with the wet, until the dry ingredients are just absorbed. A lumpy batter is what you want, and a few unmixed spots are okay. Mixing more than needed can create a muffin that is tough and not tender. You can tell if you have over mixed the batter if you break the muffin open, and you can see little large tubular holes called tunneling. The mixing method for this muffin starts with creaming softened butter with sugar, instead of melted butter or oil. The creaming incorporates air into the batter, naturally leavening the muffin, helping to create a more tender and cake-like texture.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

Cranberry orange muffins packed with fruit and fiber for a wholesome breakfast treat. Tart cranberries and delicious orange-scented cake.
Pin Print Review
4.84 from 6 votes
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings 12 muffins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Cranberry Orange Muffins

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • ½ cup non-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest, about 2 oranges
  • 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ½ cups cranberries, fresh, plus extra berries for topping (3 per muffin)

Citrus Glaze

  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  • Cut 1 cup of whole cranberries in half, combine with ½ cup of whole berries. Set aside.
  • 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 sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 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, and 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. Beat in the orange zest until combined.
  • In a seperate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk together until combined.
  • Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk until just combined. Add the orange juice and milk, gently whisking until just combined and little lumps remain. Gently fold in the cranberries with a spatula.
  • Add about ⅓ cup batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup about ⅔ full. Top the batter with 3 additional cranberries and some sugar (if desired).
  • Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F degrees and bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total baking time is about 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Carefully remove muffins from the pan, and place them on a cooling rack.
  • Make the citrus glaze by whisking the sugar and orange juice. Gradually add more powdered sugar or juice as needed to modify the thickness. Drizzle over warm muffins. Allow it to cool briefly before serving.

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Nutrition Facts
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Amount Per Serving
Calories 254 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.3g
Cholesterol 50mg17%
Sodium 227mg9%
Potassium 6mg0%
Carbohydrates 43g14%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 350IU7%
Vitamin C 0.8mg1%
Calcium 60mg6%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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12 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. CakePants says

    These look wonderful! I’ve been looking for more recipes to try that use white whole wheat flour, so I’m glad to see this one – and what a lovely coincidence that they’re cranberry orange muffins (one of my favorite flavor combos!)! I’m always amazed at the transformation cranberries go through when baked. I can’t handle them when they’re raw…surprisingly, my dog seems to like them well enough!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, your dog’s taste buds are made of steel! I’ve definitely been substituting white whole wheat flour where ever I can. You can always substitute partial amounts if you want a texture closer to all-purpose flour, with some added fiber. Yay for cranberries!

  2. nancy says

    I never enjoyed cooking or baking. Jessica, your recipes have inspired me and delighted my family. These muffins were easy to make, delicious, and the whole wheat flour was a huge selling point to my health-conscious family. Thank you so much!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      It means so much to me to hear that I’ve inspired you to cook and bake! I’m glad you were able to create a healthier recipe that your family enjoyed 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Bethany! I froze some and have been reheating in the microwave and enjoying them whenever I need a quick breakfast, or not so indulgent dessert 🙂

  3. Lori says

    I made these this morning. They are delicious! Cranberry orange muffins are my favorite muffins and I haven’t been able to find a whole grain recipe that still tasted great. Well I have now! I didn’t use the glaze because I thought they were good as is. I also substituted canola oil for half of the butter. Anyway, thanks for the fabulous recipe!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for your feedback Lori! I agreem the glaze is just the cherry on top, but I like them without it too 🙂 Great idea for the substitution! I also froze them and reheated for a few seconds in the microwave and they were so tasty 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Melissa! Thank you for your feedback! You are right, I recalculated the nutrition information and it’s actually 25g. I hope you give it a try 🙂 I even like them without the glaze!

  4. DianaW says

    I’m wondering how to use this recipe in London, UK, where I’ve only been able to get dried (and therefore heavily sugar-infused) cranberries. I can rehydrate the berries with a little boiling water but certainly don’t want to add any more sugar to the recipe. Can I just cream the butter and rely on the cranberries to leach out the sweetness?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Diana! I think that rehydrating the dried cranberries in hot water until they plump up is a great idea. Then you could rinse it with water and dry it really well. Add in the 1 1/2 cups of the rehydrated cranberries and you are good to go. I think you’ll be able to remove some of the added sweeteners in this process too 🙂

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