Discover an easy tip to make the best, moist, and extra fluffy gluten-free cranberry orange muffins recipe! They have an extra boost of zesty flavor from an orange glaze frosting and can be made with fresh, frozen, or even dried cranberries. Dairy-free modifications included.
best gluten-free cranberry muffins
It would not be the holiday season without baking a batch of gluten-free cranberry recipes! This gluten-free recipe for cranberry orange muffins have the perfect balance of sweet and tart flavor, just like in this favorite gluten-free cranberry bread recipe!
These muffins are ideal for holiday brunches, food gifts, or even a weekday gluten-free breakfast. Plus, with such an exemplary taste and texture, everyone will enjoy them, gluten-free or not!
Gluten-free orange cranberry muffins use a simple, yet effective gluten-free baking technique. Letting the batter rest briefly before baking (discovered when creating gluten-free strawberry muffins) allows time for gluten-free starches to hydrate, soften and relax.
This guarantees a fluffier crumb, higher lift and eliminates any gritty texture, similar to other popular recipes for gluten-free banana muffins and moist gluten-free apple muffins. It’s time to enjoy the best bakery-style muffins again!
Just like all the recipes on my site, and in my gluten-free cookbook, I prefer to use simple, affordable, and readily available ingredients. Listed below are ingredient recommendations, along with any workable substitutions.
- Gluten-free flour – The most essential criteria for achieving the best orange cranberry muffins starts with a quality flour. I’ve found Cup4Cup gluten-free flour to be superior, but for an alternative gluten-free flour blend see my gluten-free flour resource.
- Eggs – This recipe uses 3 large eggs, which is more than a typical muffin recipe. Since the batter is thick, adding an extra egg adds moisture without making a gummy crumb.
- Sour Cream or Yogurt – Gives the tang of buttermilk, but keeps dough sturdier to help structure. For dairy-free muffins, replace with coconut or almond milk yogurt, the higher fat content the better.
- Butter – Melting the butter hydrates the ingredients more than softened butter. For dairy-free muffins, replace with vegan butter sticks.
- Oranges – You will need 2 oranges for the recipe. The orange zest flavors the muffins, while fresh orange juice is used to make the glaze frosting.
- Cranberries – Although it’s an extra step, I prefer to halve the cranberries before adding them to the muffin batter. It distributes the berries more to guarantee juicy bites every time!
how to make gluten-free cranberry orange muffins
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- Melt the butter so it has time to cool to room temperature before mixing with the other ingredients. Line standard-size muffin tin with liners or grease with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl whisk together the wet ingredients – cooled butter, sugar, yogurt or sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
- Add the dry ingredients – gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine until no flour pockets remain. Gently fold in the halved cranberries.
- Begin to preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is preheating, use a large trigger scoop to distribute the batter between the muffin cups.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
As the muffins are cooling, make the orange glaze frosting for the top. While the glaze is optional, it adds another layer of zesty orange flavor, and is highly recommended!
Juice the zested oranges and add 3 tablespoons juice to the powdered sugar. It should be thin enough to drizzle over the tops, but not so thin it doesn’t stick on top. Add additional powdered sugar or juice to adjust the consistency.
Place a piece of wax paper under the cooling rack to catch any drips. For a creamier glaze, replace the orange juice with milk, cream, or non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut milk and a dash of orange extract.
Why let gluten-free muffin batter rest
When testing the recipe, I experimented with baking the muffins immediately and letting the batter rest while the oven preheated. While resting did not change the flavor, it yielded a significant softer and fluffier texture!
Resting gives time for the gluten-free starches to hydrate and relax, leading to a pillowy soft crumb. However, if the batter sits too long too much moisture is absorbed, resulting in dry muffins.
Therefore, divide the batter into the muffin pan and let it sit for only 15-20 minutes before baking.
Even with the addition of butter and sour cream, this recipe for gluten-free cranberry orange muffins may easily be converted into dairy-free gluten-free recipe!
Replace the yogurt with coconut or almond milk yogurt, the higher fat content the better. For the butter use vegan butter sticks, but cut the salt to ¼ teaspoon. You may also use melted coconut oil.
Please note, the recommended flour, Cup4Cup, does contain milk powder in it, so it is not safe for a dairy-free diet. Substitute King Arthur Measure-for-Measure as an alternative.
using frozen or dried cranberries
If you want to make these muffins when fresh cranberries aren’t available, look in your freezer section. Coarsely chop the cranberries and then add, still frozen, to the batter. Please note, substituting frozen cranberries increases the baking time.
Instead of fresh or frozen you may use 1 cup dried cranberries for this recipe. For best results, soak them in 1/2 cup boiling water for 5 minutes to plump and hydrate them before draining and folding in batter.
If you don’t enjoy the tartness of fresh cranberries, dried gives a slighter flavor, like in this sweet Irish soda bread recipe.
storing and freezing tips
Once they have completely cooled and the glaze has set, store in an airtight container up to 2 days at room temperature. Do not store in the fridge, or they will dry out.
For optimal freshness, I freeze gluten-free muffins right away since they don’t stay fresh as long. Wrap the muffins in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag up to 3 months.
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step-by-step web story instructions for this recipe!
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Extra Fluffy Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Muffins
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled (see recipe notes for dairy-free)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup sour cream or yogurt full fat preferred (see recipe notes for dairy-free)
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of 2 oranges
- 2 ¼ cup gluten free all purpose flour I recommend Cup4Cup GF flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries halved (see recipe notes for using dried)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons orange juice (from zested oranges)
- Melt the butter so it has time to cool before mixing with the other ingredients. Line standard-size muffin cups with paper liners or grease with nonstick cooking spray. The oven preheats later while the muffin batter rests. (This allows time for the gluten-free starches to soften and hydrate with the liquids.)8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a large bowl whisk together the cooled butter, sugar, brown sugar, yogurt or sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest.½ cup granulated sugar,½ cup sour cream or yogurt,3 large eggs,1 teaspoon vanilla extract,zest of 2 oranges,¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- Stir in the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until no flour pockets remain. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the halved cranberries until evenly distributed.2 ¼ cup gluten free all purpose flour,1 ½ teaspoon baking powder,1 teaspoon baking soda,½ teaspoon salt,1 ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is preheating, use a large trigger scoopto distribute the batter between the muffin cups. Use slightly wet fingers to pat down the tops evenly. If desired, gently press in additional halved cranberries on top.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool while the glaze is prepared.
- For the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl. It should be thin enough to drizzle over the tops, but not so thin it doesn't stick on top. Add additional powdered sugar or juice to adjust the consistency. Place a piece of wax paper under the cooling rack to catch any drips. Use a small spoon to drizzle the glaze over the tops. Let the frosting set before storing.1 cup powdered sugar,3 tablespoons orange juice
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storing and freezingOnce they have completely cooled and frosting has set, store in an airtight container up to 2 days at room temperature. Do not store in the fridge, or they will dry out. For optimal freshness, I freeze gluten-free muffin leftovers right away since they don’t stay fresh as long. Wrap the muffins in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe container up to 3 months.
dairy-free muffinsEven with the addition of butter and yogurt, these muffins can easily be made into a dairy-free recipe as well! Replace the yogurt with coconut or almond milk yogurt, the higher fat content the better. For the butter use vegan butter sticks, but cut the salt to ¼ teaspoon. You may also use melted coconut oil. Please note, the recommended flour, Cup4Cup, does contain milk powder in it, so it is not safe for a dairy-free diet. Substitute King Arthur Measure-for-Measure as an alternative.
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