It’s cranberry season!! I get just about as excited for cranberry season every year as I do for pumpkin season in early October. I just love those tart little berries more than I can express. And now that I’m near Aldi and can get a bag of fresh cranberries for $0.99, I’m even more excited! I decided to celebrate today by making these Orange Cranberry Muffins, which are a variation on the cranberry bread my mother always made every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its sweet, tart, and totally indulgent.
From Bread to Muffins…
I decided to turn my cranberry bread into Orange Cranberry Muffins because I like the automatic portion control and I always found the bread too delicate to effectively slice. I also upped the orange by adding a healthy dose of zest to both the muffin batter and the streusel topping. While we usually put walnuts in the bread too, I decided to keep it budget-friendly and skip the walnuts this time around (Aldi is also a great place to get inexpensive nuts, BTW).
I rarely make muffins because they’re loaded with sugar, so when I do I always freeze them after baking and cooling. Muffins and other baked goods freeze really well so you can just take one out every now and then instead of trying to eat an entire 12 muffin batch in a week. They thaw relatively quickly at room temperature, or a quick 30 seconds in the microwave should do the trick.
Orange Cranberry Muffins
- 1 large orange, zested and juiced ($1.00)
- 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.02)
- 1.5 Tbsp white sugar ($0.3)
- 1/8 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted ($0.26)
- 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.05)
- 2 cups flour ($0.27)
- 1 cup white sugar ($0.32)
- 1.5 tsp baking powder ($0.06)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda ($0.01)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 4 Tbsp butter ($0.52)
- 1 large egg ($0.27)
- 1.5 cups fresh cranberries ($0.50)
- Butter and flour for coating the muffin tin ($0.15)
- Use a zester or small holed cheese grater to remove the zest from the orange. Squeeze as much juice from the orange as possible. You'll need at least 1/2 cup, but no more than 3/4 cup juice. Set the zest and juice aside until they are needed. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Create the streusel first so it's ready to go on the muffins as soon as the batter is mixed. In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar, white sugar, 1/4 tsp of the orange zest, salt, and melted butter. Once mixed, add the flour and stir to combine again until the flour creates a sort of paste with the butter and sugar. Set the streusel aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for the muffin batter. Once mixed, add 1/4 tsp orange zest and the butter in chunks, then work the butter and zest into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the egg with 3/4 cup orange juice and whisk until the egg is incorporated. If you have slightly less than 3/4 juice from the orange, you can top it off with water to make 3/4 cup, but make sure you have at least 1/2 cup juice to maintain the flavor.
- Pour the juice and egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir just until the mixture has moistened. Do not over stir. Add the cranberries (whole or chopped) and fold them into the batter.
- Use about 1/2 Tbsp butter to coat the inside wells of a 12 muffin tin. Once coated in butter, spoon a little flour in each well and then tilt the tin until the flour coats all sides of each well. Dump out any excess flour.
- Divide the muffin batter between the 12 wells in the muffin tin, then top with a generous sprinkle of the streusel topping (make sure it's in clumps). Bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top. Let the muffins cool before loosening and removing them from the tin.
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How to Make Cranberry Orange Muffins – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Zest and juice the orange first because you’ll need some of the zest for both the streusel topping and the muffin batter. You’ll need 3/4 cup juice for the muffin batter, but if you can’t get quite that much, it’s okay. Just make sure you get 1/2 cup minimum.
To start the streusel combine 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar, 1.5 Tbsp white sugar, 1/4 tsp orange zest, 1/8 tsp salt, and 2 Tbsp melted butter in a small bowl.
Add 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour and stir until it forms a crumbly paste. Set the streusel aside.
To begin the muffin batter, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup white sugar, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. Stir until they are well combined.
Add 4 Tbsp butter and 1/2 tsp of the orange zest. Work the butter and zest into the flour mixture until it becomes a crumbly mixture.
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine one large egg and 3/4 cup orange juice (if you have slightly less than 3/4 cup juice, just top it off with water to make 3/4 cup). Lightly whisk the mixture to break up the egg. Add the egg and juice to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir just until all of the mixture is moistened. Add 1.5 cups fresh cranberries (whole or roughly chopped) and fold them into the batter. Do not over stir the batter.
Smear butter inside the wells of a 12 muffin tin. Spoon a little flour into each well, then tilt the tin to coat all sides with the flour. Dump out the extra flour.
Divide the muffin batter between all 12 wells of the muffin tin.
Add the streusel topping to each muffin. Make sure the streusel is in clumps.
Bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top. Let the muffins cool a bit before loosening and removing them from the tin.
I am not trying to be negative because I haven’t tried this yet, but I noticed in the picture they do not look really moist or dense. Can you tell me how moist they are?
We think they’re perfectly moist! But if you wanted to substitute the cranberries with a fruit that contains more natural moisture (like blueberries or sliced strawberries) you could totally do that! ~ Marion :)
So good! Because of another comment, I only used 4 tablespoons of flour in the streusel which worked well for me with plenty to cover all muffins (I made 13 so they didn’t overflow). I will definitely make these easy and delicious muffins again.
Anybody else have trouble getting the amount of juice required??( 2 oranges got me less than 1/2 cup)
It would be helpful if the ingredients list included the amount of zest. It would have saved me the time and effort of zesting the whole orange. Also, I did this in a minimuffin tin, and I believe 24 minimuffins equal 12 regular ones. I filled the tins too full and still had leftover batter. The muffins overflowed. They had square tops because they covered the whole pan. And they stuck. I should have known better, because I’ve made muffins before, but it might have helped if the instructions said something like “fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Also, I greased (with Crisco) but didn’t flour the tins, which I have done in the past with other recipes and never had such a problem getting the muffins out. I think this recipe has quite a bit more sugar in it than others I’ve made, and perhaps that made them stick more. But in the end, they were lots of VERY DELICIOUS broken muffin bits. I will make them again with less sugar and paper liners filled 3/4 full.
I forgot what I had written here. I made them again but used the full amount of sugar, and replaced the cranberries with jammy bits from King Arthur Flour. I did remember how they overflowed so this time I made 14 regular muffins. They were moist and delicious but I will try again with less sugar. The tops did overflow, but not as much, and they were totally flat, not round. One thing I did differently was to melt the butter and add it to the egg and orange juice, then add them all to the dry ingredients. I believe I’ve done this with other muffin recipes, and cutting the butter into the dry ingredients just seemed like too much work, but perhaps that is why they didn’t get round?
These muffins have become a holiday tradition in my house, but I tend to have problems with them sticking in the pan. I butter and flour the pan as instructed. Any suggestions?
Do you let them fully cool before trying to remove them from the muffin tin? Sometimes running a butter knife around the outside edge helps, too. :)
These are SO GOOD. I already ate two and they’re not even cooled yet. I left the cranberries whole and used 4 tbsp of applesauce in the batter instead of butter, which worked fine. I had the oven at 425 degrees for the first 5 minutes to get the tops all dome-y, and then reduced to 350 for the remaining 25. They probably could have baked for 25 minutes total instead of 30.
Great recipe! So much better than dense, heavy, sugary commercial muffins.
Recipe works well with blueberries too. Omitted orange zest and watered down the juice.
Yield was 6 in Texas size muffin pan. My new go-to!
Thank you, Beth!
Muffin batter turned out great. My only complaint is the streusel has too much flour, mine didnt turn out as the recipe says it should.
Streusel ingredients list does not include 1/4 tsp orange zest. Batter ingredients list does not include 1/2 tsp orange zest and 3/4 cup orange juice.
My family loves these! My nine year old would like to use this recipe to make tiny loaves for Christmas presents. How do you think that would work?
Hey, I was able to muddle through and get some delicious muffins but there are some errors in the ingredients list with the orange zest and juice.
Has anyone tried substituting whole wheat flour?
Raspberries were on sale this week so I swapped them in for the cranberries. It worked – so delicious and such an easy recipe for a beginner baker (like myself).
Anyone use frozen cranberries with these? I really have a hankering for muffins, but frozen is all I have.
I would imagine I need to let them thaw, drain off extra water
In case anyone else is reading and thinking of doing it, using frozen worked out just fine! I let them partially thaw and just dumped out excess water, but even having a few ice crystals on there still didn’t seem to effect the taste or bake time.
I was just wondering if this would work. Thanks!
I buy cranberries on clearance after Thanksgiving and just chuck a few bags in the freezer. I make all kinds of baked goods and chutneys with them. You can add them to muffins, scones, and quick breads frozen. I actually find they do better when added frozen than thawed.
I’ve made these 2x now and plan on making them again. They are so good!
These are incredible! I subbed brown rice flour to make them gluten free and reduced the fat by using 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp applesauce in the muffins. They turned out great! They smell like Fruity Pebbles to me, funnily enough, but taste much better!