Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

These easy cranberry muffins with fresh cranberries are an updated version of the classic recipe from Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House in historic Savannah, Georgia. They’re a great make-ahead breakfast, a festive Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish, and a delicious addition to your next Sunday supper.

Wooden bowl of the best cranberry muffin recipe on a table.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Easy Cranberry Muffin Recipe
  2. The Secret to Moist Muffins
  3. Ingredients for Bakery Style Cranberry Muffins
  4. How to Make Cranberry Muffins from Scratch
  5. What to Serve with Fresh Cranberry Muffins
  6. Preparation and Storage Tips
  7. Recipe Variations
  8. Tips for the Best Cranberry Muffin Recipe
  9. Cranberry Muffins Recipe

If you have an abundance of fresh cranberries this season, I hope you’ll use them to make my grandmother’s cranberry pie, this one-bowl pumpkin cranberry bread, and a pan of apple cranberry crisp, too!

Why You’ll Love this 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. Here’s why you’ll love them:

  • Moist and Flavorful. The cranberry muffins are moist with a tender crumb and have a great sweet-tart flavor.
  • Versatile. 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.
  • Make-Ahead. The freezer-friendly muffins can be baked in advance and stashed in the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy them. Perfect for hosting guests or special holiday meals.
Whisking flour and dry ingredients in a white bowl

The Secret to Moist Muffins

To keep the muffins light, tender, fluffy, and incredibly moist so that they don’t just crumble:

  • Use full-fat sour cream. The acid in the thick, rich, sour cream yields a muffin with a moist, tender crumb. The fat in the sour cream also contributes moisture to the batter.
  • Enough fat. The oil keeps baked goods exceptionally moist, so don’t skimp on the fat in these bakery-style treats!
  • Do not over-mix the batter. You want it to come together so that everything is combined, but then stop stirring. Mixing too much activates the gluten in the flour and results in dry, dense muffins.
Bowl of fresh cranberries tossed with sugar.

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.

Electric mixer in a process shot showing how to make cranberry muffins from scratch.

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 a moist and tender crumb. You can also sub with plain whole milk Greek yogurt.
  • 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.
Scooping muffin batter into muffin tins.

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 with about 10 minutes of prep time!

You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Cream together the wet ingredients with a handheld electric mixer or the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients.
  4. Toss together the cranberries and sugar.
  5. Fold the cranberries into the batter.
  6. Divide the batter in a muffin pan that’s lined with paper and spritzed with cooking spray.
  7. Sprinkle coarse sparkling sugar over top, if desired.
  8. 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.
Close up side shot of fresh cranberry muffins in a muffin tin.

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 or Christmas jam.

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

Overhead shot of cranberry orange muffins in a muffin tin.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • How to Store: 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. You do not need to refrigerate them.
  • How to Freeze: To extend the life of your muffins, store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat: If the muffins are frozen, allow them 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.
Homemade fresh cranberry muffin on a plate with a bite taken out.

Recipe Variations

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cranberry Muffins with Streusel Topping: Prepare this streusel topping. Sprinkle on top of the muffin batter, pressing down gently. Bake according to recipe instructions.
  • Drizzle the tops of the cool muffins with orange glaze made from confectioners’ sugar and orange juice.
  • Add chocolate chips to the batter for a decadent twist.
  • Cranberry Muffins with Dried Cranberries: While I prefer the tart burst of flavor from fresh or frozen cranberries, dried cranberries (such as Craisins) will also work in this recipe. If you want the dried cranberries softer in your muffins, you can soak them in a little bit of orange juice until soft, drain off the juice, and then stir the cranberries into the batter.
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 a crisp sugary muffin top that you’d find on a bakery style muffin, sprinkle coarse sugar on top before baking.
Close up side shot of a homemade cranberry orange muffin.

More of Our Favorite Muffin Recipes

Square side shot of a bowl of cranberry muffins.

Cranberry Muffins

5 from 4 votes
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.


  • 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


  • 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.
    Whisking flour and dry ingredients in a white bowl
  • 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.
    Electric mixer in a process shot showing how to make cranberry muffins from scratch.
  • 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.
    Bowl of fresh cranberries tossed with sugar.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with optional coarse sugar, if desired.
    Scooping muffin batter into muffin tins.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
    Close up side shot of fresh cranberry muffins in a muffin tin.
  • Remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    Square side shot of a bowl of cranberry muffins.


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

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

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Heidi says:

    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. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Heidi! You’re not going crazy! I tweaked the old recipe to make it even better this year. 🙂

    2. Melissa W says:

      Can these be made into jumbo muffins?

      1. Blair Lonergan says:

        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!

  2. Cindy says:

    Can these be made as mini muffins? If so, how long should they bake?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      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.

      1. Jackie says:

        5 stars
        My kids and I tried this recipe with frozen Alaskan cranberries, orange zest and chopped pistachios. Loved making a double batch, enough for regular AND mini muffins. The sour cream and sugar topping were great touches. Thank You!

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          Thank you so much, Jackie! Mini muffins are such a good idea. We’re glad you enjoyed it!

    2. Melissa says:

      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. Blair Lonergan says:

        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!

  3. DeeMyers says:

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

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you, Dee!

  4. Vanessa says:

    5 stars
    I didn’t have any sour cream but I did have yogurt in my fridge and it came out so good. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re so glad it turned out well for you, Vanessa!

  5. City girl says:

    I made these muffins and I believe there is an ingredient missing or possibly a misprint of the recipe. I followed the recipe exactly as written, however, there was either too much flour or not enough oil or sour cream or possibly a missing liquid ingredient. The batter was very floury and not at all as pictured. I ended up adding a few tablespoons of half and half.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Hi! We will double check the recipe. 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. Thank you for your feedback. We hope you still enjoyed the recipe!

  6. Donna says:

    5 stars
    I needed a quick and easy muffin to add to my last Christmas basket and this was the recipe I chose. So glad I did, too! What great muffins they were. Light and fluffy, and oh so, very delicious! No, the recipient could not eat just one!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you, Donna! I’m so happy to hear that!