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Freshly baked cranberry orange muffins sprinkled with pecans still in the muffin tin.
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5 from 1 vote

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Muffins

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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Resting Time5 mins
Total Time37 mins
Course: Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: cranberry muffins, cranberry orange muffins, cranberry pecan muffins, holiday breakfast
Servings: 12 muffins
Calories: 175kcal


  • 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 chopped fresh cranberries
  • cup chopped pecans


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


  • Cream together butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment.
  • While that is mixing, 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.
  • Add the egg and mix it in fully.
  • Beat in the 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.
  • 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. 
  • Now, fold in the orange zest, then ½ cup of pecans and ½ cup of cranberries. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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!
  • 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!
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.


Serving: 1muffin | Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 173mg | Potassium: 108mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 154IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg