Cranberry, Orange, and Pecan Muffins are the perfect fall breakfast or afternoon snack for this time of year when fresh cranberries are on sale everywhere. These muffins are moist and soft with a perfect balance of both sweet and tart flavors.

With these muffins, I got my husband to eat cranberries in a form other than a Craisin or cranberry sauce from a can and that is saying something. I forget his exact words, but “surprisingly delicious” and “can I have another one” were among them. I am definitely making these for breakfast when my parents come to visit for the holidays!

Freshly baked cranberry orange muffins sprinkled with pecans still in the muffin tin.

🥘 Ingredient Notes

The ingredients in cranberry orange and pecan muffins laid out and labeled.
  • Butter – I like to use salted butter, almost always. If you use unsalted, you might need to add a touch more salt.
  • Brown Sugar
  • One Egg
  • Vanilla Extract
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Ginger – Ginger gives the tartness in these muffins a little more balance. Trust me – add it.
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Kosher Salt
  • Buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk, you can mix 1/2 cup whole milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • Orange Zest – I contemplated adding more than 1 teaspoon, but my husband thought it was plenty. If you want it to be really zingy, you can add a touch more.
  • Chopped Pecans – The pecans are optional but so good! I don’t usually like nuts in my desserts but these are an exception.
  • Chopped Cranberries – Make sure to use fresh cranberries as they add a lot of moisture to the muffins. I just gave them a quick chop in a mini-chopper to get them into nice, small pieces.
  • Optional: Large Crystal Or Sanding Sugar – This just gives the muffins a little sugar crunch on top and makes them a little sparkly. (I also use gold sprinkles because they are cheaper 😉 )

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • A Mixer
  • Measuring Cups/Spoons
  • A Muffin Tin

🥣 How to Make Them

To make cranberry orange and pecan muffins, begin by creaming together the butter and brown sugar. (Picture 1 – 2)

I like to use my stand mixer and the paddle attachment. While that is mixing away, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a standard muffin tin with paper liners for 12 muffins. Scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure all the sugar gets incorporated into the butter.

Next, add the egg and mix it in fully. (Picture 3) Beat in the vanilla extract next. (Picture 4 – 5)

A collage of images showing the process of making cranberry orange muffins, steps 1 - 5.

In a separate bowl, combine all-purpose flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. You can sift it if you want, but I like to just give it a nice fluff with a fork to disperse the ingredients in the flour and break up any big chunks. (Picture 6)

Now, slowly mix the flour into the butter/sugar mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. So add about a third of the flour mixture – beat well – half the buttermilk – beat well – a third of the flour mixture – beat well – the rest of the buttermilk – beat well – the rest of the flour – beat well. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure that everything gets mixed in well. (Picture 7 – 10)

A collage of images showing the process of making cranberry orange muffins, steps 6 - 10.

Now, fold in the orange zest, then 1/2 cup of pecans and 1/2 cup of cranberries. (Reserve the 2 tablespoon portions for later.) (Picture 11 – 13)

Scoop batter into the muffin tin – I like to use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure to try to maintain consistency in the size of the muffins. (Picture 14) Ideally, you want to fill them about 2/3 of the way full. (Picture 15)

A collage of images showing how to make cranberry, orange, and pecan muffins, steps 11 - 15.

Now is the time to use the reserved pecans and cranberries.

Sprinkle a little of each onto each of the muffins, then bake for 10 minutes.

Cranberry, orange, and pecan muffins baking in the oven.

After 10 minutes, crack open the oven door and sprinkle the muffins with some sanding sugar – I like to use large cane sugar crystals or gold sanding sugar but you can use whatever you have.

Cranberry, orange, and pecan muffins baking in the oven with sugar on them.

Finish baking for 10 – 12 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Freshly baked cranberry orange muffins sprinkled with pecans still in the muffin tin.

Let the muffins sit in the pan for about 5 minutes to cool, then remove them and serve or let them cool on a rack. Eat them while they are still warm, but let them cool to room temperature for storage. Once they reach room temperature, they can be stored in an air-tight container or plastic bag.

A freshly baked cranberry orange muffin sprinkled with pecans, ripped open in the paper.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

Can you leave out the pecans in this recipe?

Absolutely! The pecans give the muffins some nice texture and crunch but they are not an “essential” ingredient.

Can you substitute regular milk for buttermilk?

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use milk with about a tablespoon of white vinegar. Let it sit until the milk curdles. It won’t be as good as actual buttermilk, but it will work for baking purposes.

Can you make this recipe with dried cranberries?

You can make this with dried cranberries, but the muffins might be a little dry. I would add a squeeze of juice from the orange to replace the moisture that the cranberries release when baking.

Freshly baked cranberry orange muffins sprinkled with pecans stacked on top of a muffin tin.
Button linking to the Pinterest page for Southern Bytes.

🥫 Storage/Shelf Life/Reheating

Once cooled, store these muffins in an airtight container for 3 – 5 days. If you aren’t going to eat all 12 right away (with two people, we can’t) these muffins freeze really well. They are a great breakfast to make in advance for the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays when you have guests coming to visit – take them out of the freezer before going to bed and heat them up in the toaster oven, air fryer, or oven for a few minutes in the morning (remove the paper first) to get them nice and warm.

Serve them with a small pat of butter and they are breakfast perfection! (We also love them for an easy weekday breakfast or to top off a weekend brunch 😉 )

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • Make these muffins with fresh cranberries while the stores are selling them for really cheap and freeze them. They are an easy and delicious breakfast to have on hand.
  • If you don’t like cranberries, you can make this exact same recipe using blueberries and lemon zest. They are delicious!
Freshly baked cranberry orange muffins sprinkled with pecans stacked in front of a muffin tin.

Other Great Breakfast Recipes

Freshly baked cranberry orange muffins sprinkled with pecans spread out on a wood board.

Have You Tried This Recipe?
Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!

Freshly baked cranberry orange muffins sprinkled with pecans still in the muffin tin.

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Muffins

4.91 from 10 votes
Cranberry Orange and Pecan Muffins are the perfect fall breakfast or afternoon snack for this time of year when fresh cranberries are on sale everywhere. These muffins are moist and soft with a perfect balance of both sweet and tart flavors.
Author: Kari
Servings: 12 muffins
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 22 mins
Resting Time: 5 mins
Total: 37 mins

Ingredients  

  • ¼ cup salted butter softened
  • 10 tablespoons packed light brown sugar this is equal to ½ cup + 2 tablespoons, but is confusing written that way
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⅛ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup whole milk buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries chopped
  • cup pecans chopped

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cranberries chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pecans chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sanding sugar

Instructions 

  • Cream together butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment. Scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure all the sugar gets incorporated into the butter.
    ¼ cup salted butter, 10 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • While that is mixing, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a standard muffin tin with paper liners for 12 muffins.
  • Add the egg and mix it in fully.
    1 egg
  • Beat in the vanilla extract.
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a separate bowl, combine all-purpose flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. You can sift it if you want, but I like to just give it a nice fluff with a fork to disperse the ingredients in the flour and break up any big chunks.
    1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ⅛ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoons baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Now, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Add about a third of the flour mixture – beat well – half the buttermilk – beat well – a third of the flour mixture – beat well – the rest of the buttermilk – beat well – the rest of the flour – beat well. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure that everything gets mixed in well. 
    ½ cup whole milk buttermilk
  • Now, fold in the orange zest, then ½ cup of pecans and ½ cup of cranberries. 
    1 teaspoon orange zest, ½ cup fresh cranberries, ⅓ cup pecans
  • Scoop batter into the muffin tin – I like to use a ¼ or ⅓ cup measure to try to maintain consistency in the size of the muffins. Ideally, you want to fill them about ⅔ of the way full.
  • Now is the time to use the reserved pecans and cranberries. Sprinkle a little of each onto each of the muffins, then bake for 10 minutes.
    2 tablespoons pecans, 2 tablespoons fresh cranberries
  • After 10 minutes, crack open the oven door and sprinkle the muffins with some sanding sugar – I like to use large cane sugar crystals or gold sanding sugar but you can use whatever you have.
    2 teaspoons sanding sugar
  • Finish baking for 10 – 12 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • Let the muffins sit in the pan for about 5 minutes to cool, then remove them and serve or let them cool on a rack. Eat them while they are still warm, but let them cool to room temperature for storage. Once they reach room temperature, they can be stored in an air-tight container or plastic bag.

Notes

This recipe yields 12 muffins.
Storage/Shelf Life/Reheating
Once cooled, store these muffins in an airtight container for 3 – 5 days. If you aren’t going to eat all 12 right away (with two people, we can’t) these muffins freeze really well. They are a great breakfast to make in advance for the holidays when you have guests coming to visit – take them out of the freezer before going to bed and heat them up in the toaster oven, air fryer, or oven for a few minutes in the morning (remove the paper first) to get them nice and warm. Serve them with a small pat of butter and they are breakfast perfection!
Tips
  • Make these muffins with fresh cranberries while the stores are selling them for really cheap and freeze them. They are an easy and delicious breakfast to have on hand.
  • If you don’t like cranberries, you can make this exact same recipe using blueberries and lemon zest. They are delicious!
FAQs
Can you leave out the pecans in this recipe?
Absolutely! The pecans give the muffins some nice texture and crunch but they are not an “essential” ingredient.
Can you substitute regular milk for buttermilk?
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use milk with about a tablespoon of white vinegar. Let it sit until the milk curdles. It won’t be as good as actual buttermilk, but it will work for baking purposes.
Can you make this recipe with dried cranberries?
You can make this with dried cranberries, but the muffins might be a little dry. I would add a squeeze of juice from the orange to replace the moisture that the cranberries release when baking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffinCalories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 3gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 173mgPotassium: 108mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 154IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: cranberry muffins, cranberry orange muffins, cranberry pecan muffins, holiday breakfast
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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Hi, I’m Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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