Bakery-Style Cranberry Orange Muffins

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These Bakery-Style Cranberry Orange Muffins are the best baked good for the winter season. They are made with whole wheat flour, but perfectly light and delicious. This makes them a healthier option for this time of year. They are also made with fresh cranberries. The tartness blends perfectly with the citrus and muffin base.

Cranberry Orange muffins on a gray plate with cranberries and walnuts in the background

Achieving Bakery-Style Cranberry Muffins

There are a few tricks to a bakery style muffin. They are simple, but really important!

  • Make sure you have a good ratio of ingredients. I know, it sounds silly, but it is so true.
  • Be sure not to over mix your muffins. This will result in a tough muffin, instead of the lighter texture you are looking for.
  • Bake these muffins HOT! Most recipes call for baking at 350 degrees. Not these ones. That hot temp gives the best “oven spring” to your muffins.

Tips For Using Orange Zest In Baked Goods

Using zests in baked goods is the best way to get that citrus flavor in, it is intense and packs an amazing punch (in a good way). Start by washing your citrus first. Dry it well, then use a microplane to grate off just the zest. Remember, the white under the zest is called pith and it is very bitter. Not desirable in your baked goods! Now, most recipes will just have you throw it right in at some point. I prefer to mix it in with my granulated sugar first. This ensures it is mixing equally in the batter or dough.

orange sugar in small white bowl with a silver spoon in it

Mixing The Dry Ingredients

Part of having everything ready for a recipe is getting as many ingredients prepped before mixing as you can. So, we will mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

The Best Whole Wheat Flour For Muffins

For this recipe, as with almost all my recipes, most of my flour is whole wheat. Soft winter wheat is almost always my preference for muffins. It gives them a light delicate texture, very similar to an all-white batter. I have a Nutrimill Grain mill and use Farm Fresh Wheat for my soft winter wheat. If you do not have a grain mill, King Arthur Flour has a great whole wheat pastry flour.

woman adding baking powder to a bowl with flour

Mise En Place

Mise En Place simple means having everything in place and ready to go before you start mixing. Prep the dry ingredients as shown above, the orange sugar. I also cut the cranberries half. You don’t have to do this, but I really like the smaller chunks in my muffins.

woman cutting fresh cranberries on white cutting board with a chef's knife

Mixing the Cranberry Orange Batter

Now that all the ingredients are ready, let’s start mixing. Add the orange sugar to the oil and butter mixture. I love to use a blend of oil and butter. The butter for flavor and the oil because it makes the baked goods really tender! Mix well.

woman adding in orange sugar from small white bowl to large stainless steel bowl

Add in your eggs and mix. Now, after the eggs are added, do not overmix. This will result in tough baked goods. So, only mix to just barely combine. Next up is Greek yogurt, orange juice, and milk.

woman cracking an egg into a stainless steel bowl for making fresh cranberry orange muffins

Then add in your dry ingredients.

woman adding flour mixture to cranberry orange muffins from ceramic bowl into stainless steel bowl

Last is the cranberries. Fold these in carefully so you don’t break them up.

woman adding fresh cranberries to a stainless steel bowl for muffins

Preparing Them To Bake

I love to use a portion scoop (or cookie scoop) to scoop the batter in. It might seem a little anal, but it is important you have the same amount of batter in each pan. This is the size scoop I am using for the muffin pans. A good muffin pan is essential as well.

woman scooping cranberry orange muffins into muffin pans

To finish each muffin off I also place a few more cranberries on top.

Then sprinkle more orange sugar on top. This isn’t a must, but that flavored sugar gives such a delicious flavor!

woman adding more cranberries to the tops of muffins getting ready to bake

The Perfect Bakery-Style Cranberry Orange Muffins

They will bake up beautifully. The tops will dome and the edges will be a light golden brown. You can see the cranberries we added to the top add a really pretty touch, as does the orange sugar.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Muffins on gray plate with oranges, walnuts, and cranberries around it

Does this not look like the best breakfast muffin for this time of year? I think so too!!

cranberry orange stacked on top of each other

Do you need a gluten-free option as well? I really love these Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins! you could also make this Fall Fruit Salad with pears. It is so good and so simple to make! I also really love this fruit salad with quinoa. It is just as delicious!

Fresh Cranberry Orange Muffins

These simple whole grain muffins are wonderful. They taste delicious and are pretty easy to put together!
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword cranberry muffins, cranberry orange muffins, cranberry orange muffins with walnuts, whole grain muffins
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 13 muffins
Author Amy- A Red Spatula


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour You can also use another other whole grain flour your prefer, but I like the whole wheat pastry flour the best.
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar If you are trying to reduce sugar, you can easily go down to 3/4 cup without too much difference. You can also reduce it to 1/2 cup. but this is a more noticable difference.
  • 3 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or another neutral flavored oil
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2-1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries I like to give mine a rough chop, but you can leave them whole too.
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Orange Sugar Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    Prep your muffin tin by spraying with pan spray, or buttering with softened butter. Set muffin pan aside.
    Mix your flours, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
    Mix your granulated sugar and zest in a small bowl and set aside. You will want to make sure it is well blended.
    If you are cutting your cranberries in half, you can leave them whole if you prefer, do that now as well.
    Add butter, oil, and orange sugar to medium sized bowl. Mix well. Next in add the eggs, Greek yogurt, orange juice, and milk. Again, mix only to combine. Flour mixture is added in next. Mix to combine. Now add in the cranberries and walnuts. Leave a few cranberries out to top the muffins before baking.
    Scoop the muffin mixture into the pans. You should have the perfect amount for 12. Top with a few of the remaining cranberries.
    Now, mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and zest. Top muffins with this.
    Place muffin tin in the preheated oven.
    Bake for about 7 minutes, then turn the pan around. Most ovens have hot spots, generally in the back corners, it is best to rotate halfway through.
    The muffins will take between 14-18 minutes to bake. You can test with a toothpick. The trick is though, you want it to be just slightly underbaked when you remove it from the oven. The reason for this is there is a process called carry-over cooking. This means, the baked cook will continue to cook even when it is removed from the heat source. The residual heat in the muffins will keep cooking it after it is removed. So, make sure the toothpick has just a little wet muffin batter on it, but only a little. Another way to test it is to gently touch the very top of it. I like to bake it until about 1/2 inch in the center of the muffin is slightly underbaked.
    Remove from oven.
    Allow to cool about 3-5 minutes in the pan. Then, carefully remove and place on a cooling rack. They are delicious warm, they are delicious cooled, they are even delicious the day after! Make sure and wrap well if they won't be eaten the day of!
    Now, sit back and enjoy. You deserve it!
Do I have to use whole wheat flour?

No. I think you will be surprised at how good they are, but using all-purpose for all of it is fine too!

Can I use another whole grain flour instead?

For sure! There are a lot of great options out there. Rye is really good, as is spelt, kamut, and einkorn. If you are new to whole grains or serving these to someone who is, make sure and not use more than about 50% whole wheat.

Can I use 100% whole wheat?

Yes! The combined totals on the recipe for flours is 2 1/2 cup. I would reduce the amount of flour by 2 tablespoons if you are going to go 100% whole wheat.

Can I use dried cranberries?

You can, but it won’t be the same. It won’t have the same flavor as when you use fresh.

Do these freeze well?

They do! Make sure they are in an airtight bag or container, and completely cooled before packaging. They will stay good for at least 2 weeks.

Can I use all butter or all oil in the recipe?

You sure can! I prefer the mix of both for a few reasons. They butter lends flavor, but I love the texture oil gives to muffins!

Do I have to add in the walnuts?

Not if you don’t want them! We love nuts in our house, so I add them wherever I can. You can omit them, or even use another nut if you prefer!

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