These vegan orange cranberry muffins are a delicious combination of citrusy, sweet, and tart flavors. Bursting with flavor and color, they are perfect for the holidays or any other day when you want to add a little variety to your breakfast, snack, or dessert menu!
The combination of citrusy flavors and fresh berries is like a breath of fresh air on a warm spring or summer day. For easier citrus and berry muffin recipes, check out our vegan orange muffins, vegan blueberry lemon muffins, and vegan blueberry muffins.
What to expect?
These delightful vegan orange cranberry muffins combine freshly grated orange zest, dried cranberries, flour, salt, baking powder, and vegan buttermilk made with dairy-free milk and apple cider vinegar.
Since we are a vegan blog, this recipe does not contain eggs but uses a flax seed vegan egg substitute combined with olive oil as a binding agent. Once the muffins are baked to a delicious golden brown, they are topped with a mouthwatering orange glaze.
Many recipes focus on creating tall, mushroom-type muffins. While these muffins do not have much height, they have a bold flavor and soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Here is why you will love this vegan orange cranberry muffin recipe:
- It is easy to make – All you need is one bowl, 10 minutes of prep time, and 30 minutes of baking time!
- It is versatile – You can customize these vegan orange cranberry muffins with different flavors, fillings, and toppings. Check the variations section for more delicious ideas!
- It creates the best results – By following the instructions and measurements precisely as written, you will end up with moist and fluffy cake-like muffins.
- It is the most delicious – Before making this recipe, I researched what people like and do not like when it comes to muffins. These are the freshest, most flavorful, and most tender bakery-style muffins you will ever try!
- Dairy-free butter – The butter must be at room temperature and soft before use. Do not use cold butter.
- Cane sugar – Other dry sugars like coconut, brown, or white sugar will also work.
- Flax egg – The combination of finely milled ground flax seeds and water is an easy vegan egg substitute to bind the ingredients together. Do not use ground flax flakes.
- Olive oil – You can also use other neutral oils such as sunflower oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- All-purpose flour – You can also use whole wheat flour. For gluten-free muffins, you can use any gluten-free flour blend.
- Baking powder
- Orange zest (freshly grated)
- Dried cranberries
- Apple cider vinegar – Combining the apple cider vinegar and the baking powder creates a foam that leavens the batter.
- Dairy-free milk – I use oat milk for this recipe, but any non-dairy milk, such as cashew milk, rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk, will do! Like the butter, the milk needs to be at room temperature.
- Freshly squeezed orange juice + powdered sugar (optional for the final glaze)
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making vegan orange cranberry muffins
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (ca. 177 °C) and position an oven rack in the center. In the meantime, line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spray the muffin pan and liners, if desired.
- Mix the dry ingredients (orange zest, flour, salt, and baking powder) in a small bowl.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the room-temperature milk to make your vegan buttermilk.
- Then, add the soft, room-temperature vegan butter and cane sugar to the bowl.
- Use an electric mixer to whisk the mixture for only two minutes. The sugar will not melt during this step.
- Add the ground flax egg (do not use flakes) and olive oil and mix them well.
- Mix half of the dry ingredient mixture and half of the vegan buttermilk using a spatula or spoon.
- Lastly, mix well in the second half of the dry and wet ingredients. Stop mixing when the batter reaches a soft, fluffy, and pillowy texture. Do not overmix.
- Gently fold in the dried cranberries with a rubber spatula.
- Use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to distribute the batter across the muffin tin cavities evenly. They will be full. Add a couple of extra cranberries on top.
- Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes until lightly golden. When you can stick a toothpick in the center, and it comes out clean, they are done!
- Let the muffins remain in the pan and cool for 5-10 minutes. They will be very soft and moist, especially while hot. Once cooled, lightly run a knife around the muffin (if necessary) before removing them.
- To make the final glaze, mix one tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice with ½ cup of powdered sugar, then lightly glaze the top of each muffin. Although optional, the glaze is a must-have for the most delicious orange cranberry muffins!
- For the most flavorful muffins, use orange zest instead of orange juice.
- Use only the ingredients and quantities in the recipe for the softest, moistest muffin texture.
- If you do not have access to finely milled ground flax seeds, you can take whole flax seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder. The finer the seeds, the easier they are to absorb and bind.
- Mix the flour and milk with the batter using an electric mixer, or a spatula. However, mix quickly to avoid overmixing.
- Do not bake longer than 30 minutes, as it will dry out the muffins. In an oven similar to mine, 35 minutes is too long.
- Without cranberries – Omit the cranberry for delicious and citrusy vegan orange muffins.
- With lemon zest – For a different citrus flavor profile, swap out the orange zest for lemon zest, as I do in my vegan blueberry lemon muffins.
- Different fruit – Try these muffins with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or mashed bananas instead.
- With vanilla extract – Add a few drops of pure vanilla extract for a delicious vanilla flavor profile.
- With nuts – Add some extra crunch and protein to your muffins by adding crushed walnuts or pecans to the batter.
- With chocolate chips – Love chocolate? Fold in some white chocolate or milk chocolate chips to the batter.
- With spices – Enhance the flavor with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.
- With different toppings – Swap out the orange glaze for vanilla frosting, decorating sugar, or crushed nuts.
- Scale – A scale is critical for accurately measuring ingredients and creating the most delicious results.
- Electric hand mixer – An electric mixer is helpful when creaming the butter.
- Rubber spatula – A rubber spatula comes in handy when mixing the ingredients. It will also ensure you scrape all the batter from the bowl without leaving a drop behind!
- Muffin tray – I recommend using a muffin pan with 12 cavities of 3-in dia. x 1 in. (7.6 cm dia x 2.5 cm)
- Paper muffin liners – I use paper liners in all my recipes; however, using them is optional.
- Ice cream scooper – You can also use two spoons if you do not have an ice cream scoop.
These vegan orange cranberry muffins are best when you enjoy them the same day you make them. However, if you want to make them in advance or have leftovers, here is the best way to store them:
Room temperature – Store the muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
In the refrigerator – Once cooled, store the muffins in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
In the freezer – Once cooled, place the muffins in zippered plastic bags or an airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to three months.
Defrosting and reheating – To defrost, thaw at room temperature before eating. To serve warm, wrap in foil and place in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. Or, place the muffin on a microwave-safe paper towel or plate and microwave on high for approximately 30 seconds.
Yes, you can use both fresh and frozen cranberries in this recipe. You do not need to defrost the frozen cranberries first.
I do not recommend substituting orange juice for orange zest because zest is more flavorful. Also, the consistency of the muffin mixture will be off and result in a different textured muffin at the end.
I have not tested this recipe with orange extract. However, orange extract is more potent than zest, so you will only need to use half a teaspoon of extract for each teaspoon of orange zest.
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Vegan Orange Cranberry Muffins
- ½ cup Dairy-free butter
- 1 cup Cane sugar
- 2 Flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flax – 3 Tbsp water)
- 4 Tbsp Olive oil
- 2 cups All-purpose flour
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 2 Tbsp Orange zest freshly grated
- ¼ cup Dried cranberries or use fresh ones, but double the amount
- 2 tsp Apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup Dairy-free milk I used oat milk
- If you want this to come out just like in the photos with the moist and soft cake-like texture, use a scale to measure all ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (ca. 180 °C) and put an oven rack in the middle position. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. I don’t mind if the muffins stick to the papers, but if you do, spray the pan and the liners with non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix dry ingredients (orange zest, flour, salt, and baking powder) in a small bowl.
- Add apple cider vinegar to the room-temperature milk.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the soft room-temperature butter with cane sugar. The sugar will not melt in the butter. 2 minutes are enough.
- Add flax egg (from ground flax, not flakes) and olive oil. Mix them well.
- Add half the dry ingredients and half the “buttermilk” to the batter. Use a spatula or spoon to mix it well. Then add the second half and mix again. Don’t need to over-mix it. You’ll get a soft, fluffy, pillowy batter.
- Gently fold in the dried cranberries.
- Use two spoons or an ice cream scooper to arrange the muffin batter evenly. It will be full.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden. Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for about 5-10 minutes. They are very soft and moist, especially while hot. Run a knife around the edge of each muffin if necessary before taking them out.
- Don’t forget to glaze it (1 tsp orange juice + ½ cup powdered sugar)! It is a must-have to get delicious orange cranberry muffins.
- The orange zest gives more flavor than orange juice.
- If you can’t buy milled and finely ground flax seeds, grind the whole seeds in a coffee grinder. They absorb and bind so much better in a fine powder form.
- Using an electric mixer or a spatula to mix the flour and milk with the batter has the same result. As long as you do it quickly, you will not over-mix it.
- While these muffins don’t have a huge mushroom top, they are by far the most soft and moisture muffins I have ever eaten. Every time I adjusted the ingredients, I lost that texture.
- Don’t over-bake it, as they will turn dry. 30 minutes should be enough. 35 minutes is too long in my oven.
- I always use paper liners, so I never tested this recipe using only cooking spray.