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Cranberry Orange Muffins with a rich, sour cream batter
Made with tart cranberries, fresh squeezed orange juice and bright orange zest folded into a wonderfully moist sour cream batter.
Have you ever gone into a trendy bakery/sandwich shop and lusted over their gorgeous seasonal muffins and cookies? Yup, me too. And, I’ve often wished they weren’t so expensive. Buying Cranberry Orange Muffins to enjoy with a cup of coffee is fine, but I can’t imagine buying a dozen to have on hand during the holidays for out-of-town company. Not very cost effective for sure!
I often think about how their muffins are so pretty, with big beautifully domed tops and a perfect light texture. Now we can all make them at home!
Ingredients needed to make Cranberry Orange Muffins:
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
- granulated sugar
- sour cream
- unsalted butter
- orange zest
- orange juice
- cranberries – fresh or frozen
- coarse sugar for topping
Packed with a full two cups of fresh cranberries, these lightly sweet muffins are delightful and delicious.
You know I couldn’t rest until I embraced the challenge and made my own bakery worthy cranberry orange muffins at home, complete with big beautifully domed tops and a perfect light texture!
I bet you’ll be looking for an excuse to make them again and again, like me!
The secret to the perfect domed tops is to let the unbaked muffins rest in the tin for about 15 minutes before baking.
For those you will serve right away, a nice orange infused glaze is a pretty great topping. Mix a little powdered sugar together with fresh orange juice and drizzle away. I don’t recommend icing or glazing the muffins until ready to serve.
How to make big, beautiful, fluffy Cranberry Orange Muffins:
- Start by whisking the dry ingredients together: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and the sugar.
- Next, combine the sour cream, melted butter, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice and eggs.
- Add the sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and blend until moistened.
- Gently fold in the cranberries taking care not to over-mix.
- Using a large ice cream scoop, portion the batter into 18 muffin wells or paper liners.
- Allow the unbaked muffins to rest at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before baking. This ensures plenty of loft and nice round domed tops.
- Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake!
- Drizzle with an orange glaze just before serving, if desired.
Sprinkle with a little coarse sugar just before baking.
The lightly crisp top makes a great first impression when biting into the muffin.
You need to try one Cranberry Orange Muffin warm from the oven. I’m practically drooling just writing about these treats! Your guests will be begging for the recipe and hoping you make more during their visit.
Our Cranberry Orange Muffins keep well for about 3 days but are best eaten slightly warm from the oven, or on the day they’re made.
Can you use frozen cranberries?
When properly stored in an airtight container, fresh cranberries freeze beautifully for up to 12 months. These muffins can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries so you may want to keep an extra bag on hand for later.
Cranberries have such a nice tart bite, they really make a statement in these not-too-sweet muffins. Oranges are readily available now too, and their sweet flavor is fantastic combined with cranberries.
Can you freeze these Cranberry Muffins?
Absolutely! These muffins freeze very well and thaw at room temperature in about 30 minutes. For a slightly warm muffin, microwave for 15 to 20 seconds before serving. The crispy, sugary top may soften, but the muffins are still very tasty. Enjoy 🙂
Baking tips for Cranberry Orange Muffins:
- Around the holidays is a good time to stock your kitchen with fresh baking soda and baking powder. Write the date opened on the can or box, and replace every 6 months or so for best results.
- You can use cupcake liners or just bake right in the muffin tin. Be sure to lightly spray the liners or muffin pan with vegetable cooking spray for easy removal.
- Reserve about a 1/4 cup of the fresh cranberries and scatter them on top of the unbaked muffins for a pretty presentation.
- This recipe makes 18 Cranberry Orange Muffins but is easily halved.
- You will need 1 juicy orange for the juice and zest.
- To freeze leftover Cranberry Orange Muffins, place them on a baking sheet and freeze for a few hours. Transfer the muffins to an airtight container for storage. Thaw the unwrapped muffins in the refrigerator overnight or for an hour or two at room temperature. If planning to freeze, I would skip the coarse sugar topping as it may seem wet after thawing out.
- Don’t forget to let the unbaked muffins rest at room temperature for at least 15-20 minutes before baking. This helps create the beautiful, big, domed muffins tops!
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Cranberry Orange Muffins
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup sour cream (8 ounces)
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, about 1 large orange
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice about 1 large orange
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 2 cups cranberries rinsed and dried
- coarse sugar for sprinkling on top
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 18 muffin cups or cupcake liners with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Make a well in the center.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the sour cream, melted butter, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice and eggs. For together with a spatula until blended. Pour the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture. Fold together with the spatula until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Gently fold in the cranberries. Divide the batter between the 18 muffin wells or paper liners. Allow the unbaked muffins to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before baking.
- Sprinkle the tops of the unbaked muffins with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake at 400F for 16-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool the muffins in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve slightly warm if desired.
- If desired, drizzle with an orange glaze just before serving. Mix together 1/2 cup powdered sugar with the juice of 1/2 an orange and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over muffins and serve.
- These muffins are best served the day they are made but keep well a day or two in an airtight container at room temperature.
- For best results, only drizzle icing on those that will be consumed immediately.
- Substitute frozen cranberries for fresh if desired. Allow the cranberries to thaw for about an hour at room temperature.
Here are a few more of our favorite fresh cranberry recipes to make for the holidays!
Cranberry Almond Breakfast Cake ~ Lightly sweet, moist and delicious, this easy treat is perfect as a breakfast (coffee) cake, a light dessert after lunch or an anytime snack cake.
Almond Cranberry Scones – Airy and light with pockets of almond deliciousness, these are the perfect lightly sweet scones terrific served for brunch or breakfast.
Cranberry Swirl Buns – soft almond scented yeast buns swirled with a fresh cranberry filling then topped with a simple drizzle of fresh orange juice mixed with powdered sugar.
Originally published November 2018, updated November 2020