Perfect bakery style muffins, made with orange and leftover cranberry sauce. Perfect for those Thanksgiving leftovers!
These Cranberry Orange Muffins are like those colossal muffins you get in the bakery. Perfectly moist and airy in the center, with juicy cranberries and bits of orange, with that sugar crunch to the muffin top. There is not one thing not to love about them.
One more thing? They answer the question of “what do I do with this leftover cranberry sauce?”
Homemade cranberry orange muffins might not be the first thing in mind for Thanksgiving leftovers recipes. Us fans of “Friends” probably think of the “Moistmaker Sandwich” beloved by Ross. Indeed, that is an epic sandwich, but you can get equally passionate about cranberry orange muffins!
In fact, add these to the list of one more thing that makes Thanksgiving leftovers so awesome!
Homemade Cranberry Orange Muffins
I am not talking about those little out of the box muffins. Go big or go home right?
This is an easy from scratch recipe. It takes full advantage of that leftover cranberry sauce. (I recommend my Mom’s Cranberry Sauce recipe which has some orange zest in it already too.)
The key to these muffins is the combination of light and airy muffin batter, as delicious as any cupcake mix, and the cranberry and orange zest. The sugar crunch on top just sets them completely apart.
They always get a big reaction, especially when you confess they are made with leftovers.
MOM’S CRANBERRY SAUCE My mom’s fresh cranberry sauce is the only one I will really eat. It’s both sweet & tangy with the flavors of pineapple and orange. A holiday must make!
Make Sure You Have Enough Cranberry Sauce
Some folks go easy on the cranberry sauce. I always make a nice big portion in anticipation of using the cranberry sauce for leftovers. Truth be told, I love Thanksgiving for the time with family and the great big traditional meal, but leftover recipes I look forward to big time!
So, don’t worry at all about having a packed fridge. If you make a batch of these, then I can promise you will go through the cranberry sauce quickly.
Muffin Making Tips
There are a few things to keep in mind with making muffins.
Muffins are similar to bread in that you use a leavening agent to make them rise and become nice and fluffy. In this case, I use baking powder. The baking powder is important to measure properly. Make sure to even off the top of your measuring spoon so you don’t use too much.
If you use too much baking powder, then it results in the dough rising too much, then falling under its own weight. When that happens you end up with a very dense muffin. Dense muffins might as well be called scones and given away anonymously at the next baked good fundraiser at your church or school. They will still be good enough to eat, but you don’t want to get a reputation as the person that makes muffins that might as well be paperweights.
Make The Most Moist Cranberry Orange Muffins
Use whole milk if possible. Yes, it isn’t going to be as diet conscious as using skim, but it will add a bunch more moisture to the muffin. The combination of moisture and airiness is what makes a great muffin.
Some folks even suggest buttermilk for that reason, but I think whole milk works just fine.
Next, don’t over mix the batter. I know it is tempting to mix until every little bit of flour is mixed into a soup of flour and milk and butter. However, over-mixing the batter results in a denser muffin texture too.
You just want a good mix and if there are still some little balls of dry ingredients, don’t sweat it. As long as you premixed your dry ingredients well then that will not be an issue. The moisture evaporating from the heat helps break those up.
In other words, you will not end up with hard little balls of flour in your muffins.
Also, don’t overpack the flour when you scoop it up to measure. If you are tempted to pack the flour down in your measuring cup then you may be adding too much flour as a result. If that is the case then your muffins may turn out sort of dry and crumbly.
Next, when you remove the muffins from the oven, then don’t let them sit in the pan too long. Use some tongs to gently pull them from the muffin tray and allow the steam to escape.
If you leave the muffins in the muffin tray, then you risk getting soggy bottom muffins that break apart too easily on top. Especially with oversized muffins like these, letting off some steam takes on special importance.
Besides Cranberry Orange Muffins, What else can I do with leftover Cranberries or leftover Cranberry Sauce?
There are so many ways to take advantage of your holiday meal leftovers. I love coming up with new ways to enjoy them and I always look for inspiration from others too. Happy to share!
Leftover Cranberries? Make a Cranberry Centerpiece with fall blooms. Or sugar them! Have you ever made Sugared Cranberries? They are not only delicious, but they are also beautiful, too! I make them and use them on my Charcuterie Boards, and even use them as garnishes for cocktails, like this CranApple Fizz!
Leftover cranberry sauce? Aside from these muffins, leftover cranberry sauce makes a wonderful topping on a pork loin. This Pork Loin with Balsamic Cranberry Glaze is yummy and has a showstopping presentation! This Sweet Onion Cranberry Chicken makes one meal for now, and one for the freezer for another time, genius!
Ingredients in Cranberry Orange Muffins
- baking powder
- orange juice
- orange zest
- leftover cranberry sauce
Of course, you don’t have to use leftover cranberry sauce. But it sure is convenient. I adapted this recipe from my friend, Candi, who blogs at The Devilish Dish. Candi and I have been friends for over 20 years, and she makes some amazing recipes! Her Berry Best Muffin Recipe is the one I used to make these. So, if you have a hankering for these, and you’re reading this and it’s not the week after Thanksgiving … check out how to make them with fresh or frozen berries.
Once you have creamed together the butter and sugar with your mixer, add in the fresh orange zest. It’s so fragrant!
Then you’ll go about adding all of your dry ingredients and your milk and orange juice.
Finally, fold in cranberry sauce.
Fill the muffin tins with liners, but spray the top of the pan with non-stick spray. These muffins will rise and get that “muffin top,” you want them to release easily from the pan. Sprinkle them generously with sugar to get that crunch when they brown while they bake.
Look how perfect they are!! No need for that trip to the bakery – grab a cup ‘o joe, and eat one warm.
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Let’s use that leftover cranberry sauce and make some Cranberry Orange Muffins!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups leftover cranberry sauce
- 2 Tablespoons orange zest
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill muffin tins with liners and then spray the pan to make sure they release. (these are big muffins that have that "muffin top" that heaps over the rim.)
- Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Mix in orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mix until smooth.
- In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the creamed mixture (beginning and ending with flour.) The mixture will be very thick. Blend well. Gently fold in cranberry sauce.
- Spoon into muffin lined tins, filling them almost to the top. Sprinkle the tops generously with sugar.
- Bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake an additional 15 minutes until muffins are done in center and a rich, golden brown on top.
This recipe is adapted from The Berry Best Muffin Recipe from The Devilish Dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 191 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 33mg Sodium: 190mg Carbohydrates: 41g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 23g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 4g