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These simple and flavorful Cranberry Muffins are an updated version of the classic recipe from Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House in historic Savannah, Georgia. Bake the easy muffins with sweet and tart fresh cranberries as a make-ahead breakfast, a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish, or a delicious addition to your next Sunday supper.

Wooden bowl of the best cranberry muffin recipe on a table.

Easy Cranberry Muffin Recipe

I first came across this easy cranberry muffin recipe in a vintage cookbook from Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House (now called Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room) in Savannah — a cozy little Southern diner that serves comfort food lunches at communal tables. The wildly popular spot may be best known for its fried chicken, cornbread dressing, biscuits and corn muffins, but these homemade cranberry muffins are hidden gems that deserve some love, too!

After making them many times, I’ve tweaked and updated the recipe to make these muffins the absolute best. They’re moist with a tender crumb and have a great sweet-tart flavor. You can jazz up the base recipe with walnuts or orange zest if you prefer Cranberry Nut Muffins or Cranberry Orange Muffins, or pile them high with streusel for bakery-style treats.

Whisking flour and dry ingredients in a white bowl

How to Prepare Fresh Cranberries for Muffins

You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe. If you’re starting with frozen cranberries, do not thaw them before adding the cranberries to the batter.

Halve or coarsely chop the larger berries (small cranberries that are about the size of blueberries can be left whole), then toss them with sugar. That’s it — the cranberries are ready to stir into the muffins! You do not need to cook the cranberries before adding them to the batter.

Bowl of fresh cranberries tossed with sugar.

Ingredients for Bakery Style Cranberry Muffins

This is an overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of homemade cranberry muffins. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • All-purpose flour: the base of the batter.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: leavening agents that help the muffins rise.
  • Salt: to enhance the other flavors in the muffins, balance the sweetness, and add depth of flavor.
  • Vegetable oil: keeps the muffins incredibly moist. You can substitute with melted unsalted butter.
  • Granulated sugar: for just the right amount of sweetness.
  • Eggs: give the muffins structure.
  • Vanilla extract: for warm flavor.
  • Orange zest: an optional ingredient if you like Cranberry Orange Muffins.
  • Sour cream: use the full-fat variety for the most moist and tender crumb.
  • Cranberries: fresh or frozen will work. You can even sub with dried cranberries if you like.
  • Coarse sparkling sugar: an optional topping that gives the muffins crunchy, sugar-coated tops.
Electric mixer in a process shot showing how to make cranberry muffins from scratch.

How to make Cranberry Muffins from Scratch

This cranberry muffin recipe is a great option for prep-ahead breakfasts, a festive holiday side dish, or a quick addition to the weeknight bread basket. Best of all, you can mix together the batter in about 10 minutes!

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Cream together the oil and sugar in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest (if using), and sour cream to the oil mixture.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the oil mixture.
  5. Toss together the cranberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  6. Fold the cranberries into the batter.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between 12 standard muffin cups that are lined with paper and spritzed with cooking spray.
  8. Sprinkle coarse sparkling sugar over top, if desired.
  9. Bake the muffins in a 375°F oven for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Scooping muffin batter into muffin tins.

What to Serve with Fresh Cranberry Muffins

The muffins are tasty on their own, but they’re also delicious when served warm and spread with butter, honey, or a dollop of orange marmalade.

Pair the cranberry orange muffins with any of these cozy meals:

Close up side shot of fresh cranberry muffins in a muffin tin.

Storage

Allow the muffins to cool completely. Store in a large Ziploc freezer bag or other airtight container. The muffins will last for 2-3 days at room temperature, or you can freeze the muffins for up to 3 months.

To Reheat

If the muffins are frozen, allow to sit on the counter for a few minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°F. Frozen muffins will require about 10-12 minutes in the oven; room temperature muffins will only need about 5 minutes to warm through.

Alternatively, you can microwave one or two muffins at a time for 15-30 seconds, or just until warm.

Overhead shot of cranberry orange muffins in a muffin tin.

Recipe Variations

There are a number of ways that you can adapt this simple recipe to suit your tastes. Here are a few ideas:

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Add 2 teaspoons of loosely-packed orange zest to the basic muffin batter.

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

Fold 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts into the basic muffin batter. Other nice options include pistachios, pecans and almonds.

Cranberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Prepare this streusel topping. Sprinkle on top of the muffin batter, pressing down gently. Bake according to recipe instructions.

Blueberry Cranberry Muffins

Use ½ cup of fresh or frozen blueberries and ½ cup of fresh or frozen cranberries for a nice combination of sweet-and-tart ingredients. You do not need to thaw frozen blueberries and you do not need to halve or chop the blueberries before adding them to the batter.

Homemade fresh cranberry muffin on a plate with a bite taken out.

Can you use dried cranberries instead of fresh cranberries in muffins?

Yes! While I prefer the tart burst of flavor from fresh or frozen cranberries, dried cranberries (such as Craisins) will also work in this recipe. Here’s a delicious cranberry orange muffin recipe that uses dried cranberries.

Hands holding a basket of homemade fresh cranberry muffins.

Tips for the Best Cranberry Muffin Recipe

  • Properly measure the flour. Always spoon and level the flour or weigh it on a kitchen scale — do not scoop it out of the package. Incorrectly measuring the flour packs it too tightly into the measuring cup and results in dense, dry muffins.
  • The key to a perfect muffin is just barely mixing the ingredients. You want them to come together, but a few lumps are fine. This way they’ll stay moist and tender!
  • Fill the muffin cups nice and full. I like to use an ice cream scoop to make sure that each cup has an equal amount of batter, ensuring that the muffins bake evenly in the oven.
  • To check if the muffins are done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out.
  • Bakery-Style Cranberry Muffins: For those crisp sugary muffin tops that you find in a bakery, sprinkle coarse sugar on top of the muffins before baking.
Close up side shot of a homemade cranberry orange muffin.

More Recipes to Make with Cranberries

Wooden bowl of the best cranberry muffin recipe on a table.

Cranberry Muffins

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 12 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Cooling Time 15 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings 12 muffins
Calories 208 kcal
These simple old-fashioned Cranberry Muffins are a delicious make-ahead breakfast, cozy side dish with supper, or festive addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas table.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ¼ cups (269 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, plus additional 2 tablespoons for cranberries
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons loosely packed orange zest (optional, if you want to prepare cranberry orange muffins)
  • ½ cup (113 g) full-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, cut larger cranberries in half
  • Optional topping: coarse sparkling sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Spritz the liners with nonstick spray; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on low speed to combine the oil and ¾ cup of sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue mixing for 2 more minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition.
  • Mix in the vanilla extract, the optional orange zest (if using), and the sour cream until smooth.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix just until the batter is thick and smooth; do not over-mix.
  • In a small bowl, toss together the cranberries and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar so that all of the cranberries are coated.
  • Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold the cranberries into the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with optional coarse sugar, if desired.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • Properly measure the flour. Always spoon and level the flour or weigh it on a kitchen scale — do not scoop it out of the package. Incorrectly measuring the flour packs it too tightly into the measuring cup and results in dense, dry muffins.
  • The key to a perfect muffin is just barely mixing the ingredients. You want them to come together, but a few lumps are fine. This way they’ll stay moist and tender!
  • Fill the muffin cups nice and full. I like to use an ice cream scoop to make sure that each cup has an equal amount of batter, ensuring that the muffins bake evenly in the oven.
  • To check if the muffins are done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out.
  • Bakery-Style Cranberry Muffins: For those crisp sugary muffin tops that you find in a bakery, sprinkle coarse sugar on top of the muffins before baking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffinCalories: 208kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 4gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 210mgPotassium: 108mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 104IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: cranberry muffins, cranberry orange muffins, fresh cranberry muffins
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Sides
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Hi Blair, I am planning to bake these cranberry muffins today. The recipe sounds so intriguing. Ii do have a question. Am I mistaken, confused or just simply crazy? Did you post a different cranberry muffin recipe a couple years or so ago. I have a different one in my file marked as yours. Anyway, going to try this one today. Thanks.

      1. Hi, Melissa! Absolutely! You’d just need to bake them for longer. I’d try baking them at 350 degrees (so that they don’t get too dark) for 28-32 minutes. I haven’t tested this, though, so it’s just an estimate. Keep an eye on them — they might need less time, or they might need more!

    1. Yes, that should work fine! I generally suggest baking mini muffins at 350 degrees F for 14-16 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They may be done in less time, or they might need a little bit more.

    2. I tried these muffins but the batter was very very thick and dry. I followed all instructions. They’re in the oven now, I hope they turn out. Usually my muffin batters are more liquidy/runny. Not sure what i did wrong

      1. Hi, Melissa! The batter should be thick — that helps the muffins rise high. If all of the ingredients are properly measured, the muffins should be moist and tender when baked. It’s hard to know what may have gone wrong in your kitchen, but hopefully they turned out well!

  2. 5 stars
    Love this easy recipe…it can be versatile depending on what you add. I love pecans and they go well with cranberries.