With a fluffy interior and a crispy golden top, these Orange Cranberry Muffins boast a vibrant citrusy sweetness complemented by bursts of tangy cranberry. They are truly delightful, making them a perfect fit for the holiday season.
This post may contain affiliate links which I earn a small portion in sales if a purchase is made. Rest assured though, it is never at any additional cost to you.
Festive Christmas Muffins
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, finding a recipe that effortlessly satisfies is a true gem. These muffins, beyond being crowd-pleasers, are a delicious combination of the flavors of orange and cranberry. They are bright, festive and best of all, easy to make.
- All-Purpose Flour– Provides structure and texture to the muffins. Make sure to measure your flour accurately to avoid adding too much flour to the batter.
- Baking Powder– Acts as a leavening agent, promoting a light and fluffy texture.
- Baking Soda– Enhances leavening, especially when combined with acidic ingredients.
- Salt– Intensifies the flavors of the other ingredients and balances sweetness.
- Large Eggs– Provides structure, moisture, and acts as a binder. Make sure to use room temperature eggs for the best textured muffins.
- Granulated Sugar– Adds sweetness and contributes to the muffins’ moisture.
- Greek Yogurt– Adds richness, moisture, and a slight tang to the muffins. Opt for full-fat for the best texture and flavor.
- Vegetable Oil– Contributes to moisture and richness. Avocado oil offers a neutral flavor and healthful qualities.
- Orange Zest– Adds a vibrant citrus aroma and flavor. When zesting, focus on the outer orange layer, steering clear of the bitter white pith for optimal taste.
- Orange Extract– Enhances the orange flavor without adding extra liquid.
- Orange Juice– Infuses a fresh citrus flavor into the muffins and acts as an acid, when combined with baking soda, that helps to give rise to the muffins.
- Cranberries– Brings a burst of tanginess that is a delicious companion with the citrusy notes of orange.
- Sparking Sugar– Although optional, sparkling sugar provides a delightful crunch and sparkly visual appeal. Sprinkle on just before baking.
Whether you’re using fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries in your muffin recipe, the key is adapting your preparation to each type.
If using fresh cranberries, rinse and pat them dry. Coat 1 cup of cranberries with flour to help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while baking. Then, gently fold them into the batter. Fresh cranberries contribute a burst of tartness and juiciness to the muffins.
If using frozen cranberries, there’s no need to thaw or rinse them before incorporating. Toss them in a tablespoon of flour while still frozen and then stir into the batter. An additional two minutes of baking time may be needed. Frozen cranberries add a similar burst of flavor as fresh ones.
For dried cranberries, hydrate them first by soaking in hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain, pat them dry and then coat in 1 tablespoon of flour before adding to the batter. Dried cranberries offer a chewy texture and a concentrated sweetness.
Top Tips for Perfect Textured Orange Cranberry Muffins
Room Temperature Eggs and Yogurt
Using room temperature eggs and yogurt helps in creating a softer and more tender crumbed muffin. Room temperature eggs blend smoothly, ensuring an even batter for consistent baking. Likewise, room temperature yogurt aids in proper mixing, distributing moisture evenly.
Thick Greek Yogurt
Thick Greek yogurt is key when making these Orange Cranberry Muffins for a couple of reasons. It adds richness, keeping the muffins moist and tender. The thickness also helps maintain a sturdy batter, preventing it from becoming too runny. Plus, it amps up the creaminess and flavor, making the muffins more indulgent and satisfying.
Hand mixing helps to prevent over mixing the batter, which can lead to dense and tough muffins. Plus, it’s quicker with less cleanup hassle.
Let Batter Sit for 10 Minutes
Letting the batter sit for 10 minutes before adding cranberries and then baking ensures better hydration and activates leavening agents. This leads to softer, more tender muffins with an improved texture and rise.
Bake at High Temperature and Finish on Low Temperature
Baking the muffins at a higher temperature of 450℉ for 10 minutes helps to create a quick and robust rise, lending to a more well rounded domed top. This rapid rise is then followed by reducing the temperature to 325°F, allowing the muffins to bake through evenly without overcooking the exterior. The combination of high heat for a short duration and lower heat for the remainder ensures a perfect balance of a golden, nicely browned crust and a tender, moist interior.
Filling muffin tins 3/4 full with a large cookie scoop ensures the batter expands and rises evenly. Using the scoop simplifies filling while maintaining uniform muffin sizes.
How To Test Doneness
To check the doneness of the muffins, perform a toothpick test by inserting it into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, the muffins are done. Additionally, lightly touch the tops with your fingertip; if they spring back, it’s a sign of doneness.
How To Make
- Preheat oven to 450℉.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, Greek yogurt, oil, orange zest, juice, and extract.
- Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in two batches, stir, and let batter sit for 10 mins.
- In a small bowl, coat 1 cup frozen cranberries with 1 tbsp flour, fold into batter. (See above section for instructions on how to use different types of cranberries.)
- Fill muffin liners 3/4 full, top with remaining 1/4 cup cranberries, and sprinkle sparkling sugar.
- Bake at 450℉ for 10 mins, then at 325℉ for 8-10 mins.
- Cool for 5 mins before transferring to a rack.
- Nuts– Add a crunchy texture by incorporating 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans into the batter.
- Spices– Enhance the warm and cozy flavors by adding a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter.
- Chocolate– For a delightful twist, fold in 1/2 to 1 cup white or dark chocolate chips into the batter for a chocolate-orange-cranberry combination.
- Citrus Zest Blend– Experiment with different citrus zests, such as lemon or lime, in addition to the orange zest for a citrusy burst.
- Coconut Flakes– Add a tropical touch by mixing in 1/2 to 1 cup shredded coconut into the batter.
- Almond Extract– Use almond extract instead of orange extract for an almond-cranberry flavor combination.
- Orange Glaze– Drizzle the cooled muffins with a simple orange glaze made with 1 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of orange juice and 1 teaspoon orange zest for an extra burst of sweetness.
Cool completely, then store Cranberry Orange Muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days or refrigerate for up to a week. For longer storage, freeze for 2-3 months in a freezer container. Thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best oranges to use for these muffins?
Varieties such as navel oranges or Valencia oranges are excellent choices. These oranges have a good balance of sweetness and acidity. Choose those that are firm, heavy for their size, and have a vibrant orange color. Additionally, using organic oranges or washing conventionally grown oranges thoroughly, can help ensure that the zest is free from pesticides or wax.
Can dried cranberries be used for this recipe and should I rehydrate them before adding to the batter?
Dried cranberries may absolutely be substituted for fresh or frozen cranberries. Lower the amount of dried cranberries down to 1 cup and hydrate them by soaking in hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain and pat them dry before adding to the batter.
What is a good fresh fruit substitute for cranberries in these muffins?
Fresh blueberries, raspberries or diced strawberries can be a delicious substitute for cranberries in these muffins. Just make sure to toss the berries in 1 tablespoon of flour before adding to the batter.
Can I reduce the sugar in these muffins?
The texture of the muffins will be altered if you choose to decrease the sugar; therefore, it is not advised to make such a modification.
Is there a gluten-free option that works well with this recipe?
I highly recommend to use a flour like this to make these gluten-free.
Orange Cranberry Muffins
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour *+ 1 tablespoon for coating cranberries
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt *see Note #1 below
- 2 large eggs *room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (preferably full-fat) *room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil *or any neutral oil of your choice
- 1 heaping tablespoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries *see Note #2 below
- 3 tablespoons sparkling sugar *optional, see Note #3 below
- Preheat oven to 450℉ and fill muffin tins with muffin liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, Greek yogurt, vegetable oil, orange zest, orange juice, and orange extract until well combined.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring just until combined. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss 1 cup of frozen cranberries with 1 tablespoon of flour.
- Gently fold in the flour coated cranberries into the muffin batter.
- Using a large cookie scoop, fill muffin liners 3/4 full with batter.
- Place the remaining 1/4 cup of cranberries on the tops of the muffin batter, filling in any gaps. Sprinkle each muffin with a small amount of sparkling sugar.
- Bake at 450℉ for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325℉ and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the muffin tops spring back to the touch.
- Allow the muffins to cool for about 5 minutes before transferring them onto a cooling rack.