Fresh Cranberry Muffins

Fluffy, slightly sweet and tart Fresh Cranberry Muffins start the day off right! These muffins, made with fresh cranberries and bright orange zest, are beautifully balanced and perfectly delicious for any occasion. Bake a batch to make any day a celebration during the winter months. Makes 12 muffins.

A stack of two Cranberry Muffins on a white plate, surrounded by cranberries and orange slices

2023 Update: This recipe was originally shared in January 2013. I have simplified this recipe, as well as added measurements by weight. The post has been updated with new photos, as well as more tips and tricks. I hope you love them!

This post contains affiliate links.

Fresh Cranberry Muffins recipe 

A random list of things I am currently loving for no apparent reason… from the year 2013, when this recipe was originally shared:

  • The Les Misérables movie soundtrack. (I don’t care if y’all didn’t like it. I was impressed, even if Amanda Seyfried’s voice does sound like, uh, bird-y. And then the combination of Bellatrix and Borat? Don’t even get me started, y’all.)
  • Good health. (Because getting a flu shot AND a migraine on the same day is a health doozy.)
  • Researching celebrity baby names… then feeling incredibly grateful to my parents for giving me the name they did.
  • Kolaches. (If you haven’t had one, you need to get to a Czech bakery pronto to check them out. My favorite flavor combo? Raspberry and cream cheese.)
  • Fresh cranberries in anything and everything I can get my hands on, including these lovely little muffins.

Enter… these muffins, which have the most delicious flavor and just the right amount of cranberries.

Why I love this recipe:

This Cranberry Muffin recipe is an older one of mine that came into fruition after I randomly purchased a few bags of cranberries around Christmastime… and then didn’t make cranberry sauce. Whoops.

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    I’ve tinkered with it over the years, and it’s getting a massive overhaul for this holiday season with a new base and more orange flavor. We’re using simple ingredients to transform the humble cranberry into a star.

    This bakery-style muffin recipe is delightfully tart with a nice balance of orange brightness. They don’t call for a streusel topping or a sweet orange glaze, but they sure do taste amazing.

    Here are some more things to love about them:

    • This muffin recipe makes 12 massive, wonderfully fluffy muffins. (Pro tip: make two batches if you want extra muffins.)
    • All the flavors sing, but none of them overwhelm the palate. There are bursts of tart cranberries paired with bright citrus flavor, which are the best this time of year.
    • They’re great for sharing and bite-sized for kids. You could bake these early and serve them to brighten up busy mornings or even serve as an afternoon snack. 
    • They are perfect to bake in advance for a special occasion, like Christmas morning.

    If you love cranberries, these delicious muffins are calling your name!

    Other muffin recipes we adore: Apple Cinnamon Muffins | Coffee Cake Muffins | Strawberry Lemonade Muffins | Chocolate Chip Muffins | Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with a Nutella Swirl | Mixed Berry Muffins

    Need some breakfast or brunch inspiration? Head on over to my Breakfast and Brunch recipe index for more ideas!

    Ingredients to make muffins with cranberries in bowls on a pink countertop

    What you need to make this recipe:

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    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • All-purpose flour — I always use unbleached AP flour, but you can use the regular kind, too.
    • Baking powder — this is really important to making the muffins rise. It is not the same thing as baking soda. Make sure it’s fresh!
    • Kosher salt — I’m partial to medium-grain kosher salt. A similarly sized sea salt would also work here.
    • Sour cream — this adds creaminess and moisture to our muffin recipe. I used a full fat sour cream while developing this recipe. A lower fat or nonfat sour cream probably will work, but I have not tried that. I do not recommend substituting this for Greek yogurt, which is lower fat than sour cream.
    • Vegetable oil — or an unflavored neutral oil, like canola oil or avocado oil, is what you’re looking for here. I do not recommend using melted butter or softened unsalted butter in its place.
    • Granulated sugar — also known as white sugar, this is our sweetener for the muffins. There is no substitute.
    • Orange zest — from two clementines or from one larger navel orange. Squeeze this for fresh orange juice later to sip!
    • Egg — we’ll need two large eggs to give the muffins structure, as well as some rise.
    • Vanilla — this recipe calls for pure vanilla extract. It helps the other ingredients sing, and there is no substitute.
    • Milk — you can use whatever milk you’ve got on hand. We had 1% the day I was photographing these muffins, and that works, as does a nonfat milk, whole milk or even a nondairy milk.
    • Cranberries — you may use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe. Please do not substitute dried cranberries, as those are sweetened and have a different texture than whole cranberries.
    • Demerara sugar — or a larger grain sugar, like raw cane sugar or even sparkling sugar. This adds extra crunch and sweetness on top of our muffins.

    How to make Cranberry Muffins with Fresh Cranberries

    Prepare. This means to preheat the oven. You’ll also want to add the muffin liners to your muffin tin. Set ‘em aside.

    Combine the dry ingredients. Measure the flour, powder and salt into a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

    Mix the wet ingredients. Add the sour cream, oil and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Whisk vigorously to combine. You could also use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for this part.

    Add the orange zest, egg and vanilla to the wet ingredients. Whisk to combine.

    Finally, pour in the milk. That’s our last wet ingredient. Just stir until it’s incorporated into the other ingredients.

    Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to stir them together until just combined.

    Next, measure in the cranberries. Fold them into the muffin batter.

    Scoop four tablespoons (or ¼ cup) of the batter into each muffin cup. I like to do this with a cookie scoop, but you can use a measuring cup, too. They will be filled to the top.


    Why do we fill them to the top?

    We want these muffins to be fluffy and TALL… and as they bake, beautiful domes (as shown in the photos in this post) will form. 

    Add that demerara sugar to the top of the muffins for some sparkle and extra crunch. You can also use raw cane sugar or even sparkling sugar if you don’t have demerara.

    You can also sprinkle the muffin tops with additional cranberries, if desired. I did that for these photos, and some burst while baking. If you’re into juicy cranberries, this is a solid move.

    Bake in the preheated oven until fluffy and golden brown.

    How do I know when they’re done?

    The tops of the muffins will be golden brown. But also give them a test by inserting a toothpick and checking the toothpick when removed to confirm the muffins are not raw in the middle.

    Let cool before serving. You can leave them in the muffin tin or transfer to a wire cooling rack.

    Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

    How to store and freeze

    How to store: Let any leftover Cranberry Orange Muffins cool completely before placing in an airtight storage container. Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Let them come to room temperature or warm through in the toaster oven.

    How to freeze: place the cooled muffins on a parchment-lined baking sheet and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for 4-6 hours, or until frozen solid. Transfer them to a freezer bag and store for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge. Reheat in toaster oven until warmed through.

    Cranberry muffins in a muffin tin after baking, with one muffin turned on its side

    Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

    I love serving muffins at an at-home brunch or a casual morning (or midday) event, like a playdate.

    These Cranberry Muffins are a fun seasonal twist to share with your people.

    Here are some things I’d do if I want to host with ‘em:

    • Bake the muffins early. Since they keep in the fridge, you can make them a day in advance, and set them out on the counter to warm before guests arrive.
    • Serve with coffee (with a splash of gingerbread coffee creamer for seasonal flair) or other breakfast drinks, like mimosas or cranberry bellinis.
    • Make two batches if you’re serving several folks. My little family of four can take down a majority of these muffins for breakfast without thinking!
    A white plate holds several Cranberry Muffins stacked on top of each other

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are fresh or dried cranberries better for baking? 

    It depends on the baked good! For these muffins, I highly recommend using fresh cranberries.

    Should you rehydrate dried cranberries for muffins? 

    While I’m sure some muffin recipes call for this, this one needs fresh or frozen cranberries.

    Can you use Craisins instead of fresh cranberries? 

    I do not recommend that swap at this time for this cranberry orange muffin recipe.

    Can I freeze extra muffins? 

    Yes! To freeze, place the cooled muffins on a parchment-lined baking sheet and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for 4-6 hours, or until frozen solid. Transfer them to a freezer-safe baggie and store for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge. Reheat in toaster oven until warmed through.

    How do I know when the muffins are done? 

    A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin will tell you if they’re cooked through. If it comes out clean, the muffins are done. If there is batter on the toothpick, you’ll need to bake them for longer.

    A hand holds a bitten-into Fresh Cranberry Muffin above a pink surface with a bowl of cranberries and orange slices

    Quick tips and tricks to making the best Orange Cranberry Muffins

    • Bake ’em in advance for a playdate or kid-centric gathering. My kids adore these, and yours might, too!
    • If you’ve got kids, let them help! Measuring, scooping and spooning things for muffins is a fun task for kids in the kitchen.
    • Make two batches for a crowd. (I do not recommend doubling the recipe because things can go wonky with baked goods when this happens. Make two separate batches. Bake them together. Make sure you’ve got two muffin tins if that’s the plan.)
    • Turn them into mini muffins. Use a mini muffin tin* (affiliate link) and keep an eye on them as you bake. I’d check them at the 15-19 minute mark to see if they’re cooked through.
    • How to store: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

    More breakfast recipes with cranberries:

    Now who wants to bake these muffins?

    A stack of two Cranberry Muffins on a white plate, surrounded by cranberries and orange slices

    Fresh Cranberry Muffins

    Erin Parker, The Speckled Palate
    Fluffy, slightly sweet and tart Fresh Cranberry Muffins start the day off right! These muffins, made with fresh cranberries and bright orange zest, are beautifully balanced and perfectly delicious for any occasion. Bake a batch to make any day a celebration during the winter months.
    4.92 from 50 votes
    Servings 12 muffins
    Calories 192 kcal
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 24 minutes
    Total Time 28 minutes


    • 2 cups all-purpose flour 240g
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder 8g
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt 3g
    • ½ cup sour cream 135g
    • ¼ cup vegetable oil 54g
    • 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
    • 1 ½ tablespoons orange zest 10g
    • 2 large eggs ~100g
    • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla 9g
    • ½ cup milk 140g
    • 2 cups fresh cranberries 240g
    • 1 ½ tablespoons demerara sugar 22g

    As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.


    • Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 12 parchment muffin liners into a muffin tin. Set aside.
    • Measure the flour, powder and salt into a bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
    • Combine the sour cream, oil and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk vigorously to combine.
    • Add the orange zest, egg and vanilla to the wet ingredients. Whisk to combine.
    • Pour in the milk, and stir until combined.
    • Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.
    • Measure in the cranberries. Use a rubber spatula to fold them into the muffin batter.
    • Scoop four tablespoons (or ¼ cup) of the batter into each muffin cup. They will be filled to the top, and this is okay — it’ll mean they have amazing domes once baked.
    • Sprinkle the demerara sugar on top of the muffins.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for 24-26 minutes, or until fluffy, golden brown and baked through. An inserted toothpick should come out clean.
    • Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
    • Enjoy warm or at room temperature!


    How to store: Let any leftover muffins cool completely before placing in an airtight storage container. Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Let them come to room temperature or warm through in the toaster oven.


    Serving: 1 muffinCalories: 192kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 116mgPotassium: 143mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 129IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 1mg
    Keyword baking recipe, Breakfast, Christmas breakfast, cranberries, cranberry, cranberry recipe, easy breakfast recipe, easy muffin recipe, holiday breakfast, muffin recipe
    Course Breakfast & Brunch
    Cuisine American
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    A woman with dark curly hair wearing a black tank top in front of a white wall

    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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    1. I love your list of favorite thing…especially the cranberries part. 😉 These muffins look perfect for breakfast or anytime as snack. I know I’ll love them! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend.

    2. We only just discovered fresh cranberries as they are not native here. I love how tart they are. Much to my mother’s chagrin. haha… she cannot handle anything sour. But I so loved it in crumble. If I ever get my hands on more, I want to try them in your muffin recipe. I might like them even more.

      1. Oh wow! Where’d you find the fresh cranberries? And it makes me so happy that you love their tartness. I love them so much, and I certainly hope that you can find them sometime in the near future to try these muffins… or fresh cranberry scones… or just a plain cranberry glaze because they are all DELICIOUS.

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