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Cranberry Orange Muffins (Refined-Sugar Free)

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These Cranberry Orange Muffins are a healthier, 100% whole grain, naturally sweetened version of a classic holiday favorite. Bursting with cranberry and orange flavors, and warm spices too, these soft and tender muffins are a festive addition to your holiday table!


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And I promise, they are perfect for breakfast, brunch… and snacks too with their bright and festive colors. A healthy addition to holiday foods you can feel good about.

If you love Cranberry Orange Bread, I know you will enjoy these muffins too!

What to Love About These Cranberry Orange Muffins

  • Healthy and naturally sweetened, they are refined sugar free.
  • Bursting with holiday flavor with bright cranberry color.
  • Easy to make with a bowl and spoon, no mixer required!
Side view of a Cranberry Orange Muffin on a white plate with more in the background

Ingredients for Cranberry Orange Muffins

These muffins are made with 100% whole wheat flour but if you prefer, it’s easy to adapt the ingredients. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Fresh or frozen cranberries: I prefer fresh cranberries for these muffins, which are usually easy to find in the markets now.
  • Whole wheat flour: I’m using white whole wheat flour in this cranberry muffins, but you can substitute whole wheat flour or even all-purpose flour measure for measure.
  • Leavening: You will use both baking powder and baking soda in this muffins.
  • Seasoning: I love subtle warm spices in these breakfast muffins. I’m using fine sea salt, but table salt works fine too. You will also need ground cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla extract.
  • Natural sweetener: I’m using maple syrup, but honey works well too. If you want to substitute sugar for the natural sweetener, I recommend granulated sugar.
  • Juice and zest or a medium orange.
  • Milk: Both dairy and non-dairy milks work just fine
  • Cooking oil: Your favorite neutral oil works best here.
  • Large eggs to bind the ingredients together.

Kitchen Tools

While I tested this recipe using both whole cranberries and halved cranberries, I fell more in love with these muffins after mincing the cranberries. This allows them to be evenly distributed throughout the muffin.

To do this, I used a food processor, for about 5 seconds. The aim is to chop the cranberries into small pieces rather than puree them.

If you don’t have a food processor, I’m told you can also use either a potato masher or a meat tenderizer to achieve the same result. Again, keep in mind you don’t want to puree the cranberries, just mince them.

Top view of Cranberry Orange Muffins with morning breakfast coffee

How to Make Cranberry Orange Muffins

These muffins are incredibly simple to make. And are a great make ahead option for the holidays. While detailed step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, here’s a quick overview.

Preheat the oven to 425°F and coat a muffin tin with cooking spray; set aside. Then chop the fresh cranberries into small pieces, but not pureed.

Fresh cranberries chopped in a food processor

In a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Then whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl before adding to the dry ingredients and mixing until just combined.

Top view of bowls with Cranberry Orange Muffins dry ingredients and wet ingredients

Fold in the cranberries.

Top view of Cranberry Orange Muffins batter with fresh cranberries folded in

Divide the batter evenly in the muffin tin and bake at 425°F for 5 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 375°F and continue baking 12 to 14 minutes more.

Top view of baked Cranberry Orange Muffins in a tin

Remove the muffins from the tin and let them cool on a rack.

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Side view of Cranberry Orange Muffins cut in half
Cranberry Orange Muffins (Refined-Sugar Free)

Cranberry Orange Muffins (Refined-Sugar Free)

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes

These Cranberry Orange Muffins are a healthier, 100% whole grain, naturally sweetened version of a classic holiday favorite. Bursting with cranberry and orange flavors, and warm spices too, these soft and tender muffins are a festive addition to your holiday table!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour * (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from one orange)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and coat a standard 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, chop the cranberries until they are broken into pieces. but not pureed. This should take about 5 seconds or less.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, milk, maple syrup, eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the cranberries.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups to almost full. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes. Without opening the door of the oven, reduce the temperature to 375°F and continue to bake for another 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden, and when tested with a toothpick in the center, comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove the muffins from the tin and let them cool on a rack.

Notes

Storing the Muffins:

Let the muffins cool completely and then store them at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator for 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Flour:

I'm using white whole wheat flour in this recipe, but you can substitute all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour measure to measure.

Honey/Maple Syrup:

Both of these ingredients are refined sugar-free. However, if you want to use sugar instead, I recommend using 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup granulated sugar.

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4 Comments

  1. These sounds delicious & nutritious. Do you think I could reduce the maple syrup to 1/2 cup. I’m trying to watch my carbs.

    1. Hi Heather! They are SO good and yes, you can definitely reduce the maple syrup to 1/2 cup. That is my preferred measurement too, but the guys in my house love it best at 3/4 cup.

  2. I made these muffins gluten-free w/ half organic oat flour & half organic brown rice flour, one extra egg & lots of orange zest. They are delicious, will definitely make them again

    1. They sound amazing! Thank you so much for trying them and letting us know how you made them and the ingredients you used. And I agree– LOTS of orange zest!

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