These bakery-style Chocolate Cranberry Muffins are tender, moist and bursting with flavor! Loaded with tart, fresh cranberries and decadent (white or semi-sweet) chocolate chips, then sprinkled with glittery sparkling sugar, this cranberry muffin recipe with chocolate is so delicious and impossible to resist!
These muffins with fresh cranberries are perfect for breakfast, brunch and dessert, plus they make a wonderful addition to your holiday table! Plus, they store beautifully for easy grab-and-go snacking! Continue to read on for helpful tips on preparing the perfect muffins! And, don’t miss the in-depth step-by-step photos and recipe video at the bottom of the post!
Update: This post was originally published in December 2015. I took new photos photos and made updates to the post below to include more information about bakery-style muffins with fresh cranberries. Plus, I’ve added step-by-step photos and a recipe video to show you exactly how easy these muffins are to make!
Happy week of Christmas (to those who celebrate the holiday)!! How is it going!? Are all the stockings hung from the chimney, presents beautifully wrapped, halls decked and are all things merry and bright?
Or, are you unfortunately like me this year? No stockings, no tree and not a single strand of festive lights in sight. But, hey, I did manage to put out four holiday decorations! And, I suppose four measly decorations are better than nothing, right?!
Lack of festive decor aside, I did finally manage to bake something jolly and totally delicious! So, I feel like we should focus on the positive – glorious, jovial, utterly delicious, marvelous muffins perfect for the entire holiday season!
Chocolate Cranberry Muffins: recipe overview
These bakery-style beauties are soft, tender, moist, and bursting with flavor! Basically, they will give any brick and mortar bakery a run for their money!
These muffins are exploding with tart fresh cranberries, bursting with melty, sweet chocolate chips and finished with sparkly decorative sugar! They are beyond delicious and definitely worth waking up for!
Not only would they make a perfect addition to your Christmas morning spread, but they also make a festive dessert! And, they are perfect for homemade gift giving!!
But, not only are these holiday muffins absolutely divine in the taste department, they also couldn’t be any easier to whip together!! Did I mention, there’s no stand (or handheld) mixer required! If you have two mixing bowls and 10 minutes of time to spare then you can easily make these utterly delicious muffins! Seriously, you simply mix a few ingredients together, and then go pour yourself a cup of coffee or eggnog, snuggle by the fire and 20 minutes later you have warm, fluffy, flavorful bakery-style muffins that will make your heart go pitter patter!
Why you will love this recipe
- Moist, tender and delicious!
- Bursting with tart cranberries and sweet chocolate!
- Not overly sweet so the cranberry flavor really shines!
- This recipe can easily be baked in a jumbo or standard muffin pan!
- They are perfect for breakfast, snack-time and dessert!
- Wonderful addition to your holiday table or perfect for homemade gift giving!
- Best part of all – there’s no mixer required!
What are cranberry muffins?
A muffin is a single-serving quick bread which rises with the help of chemical leavening agent, such as baking soda and baking powder, instead of yeast. While both muffins and cupcakes are made of batter containing flour and egg, and baked in a pan with cup-sized indentations (muffin tins), muffins are heavier in texture.
Cranberry muffins are prepared with fresh cranberries which result in a muffin that’s both sweet and tart in flavor. These muffins can also include a variety of tasty mix-ins, such as chocolate chunks, cream cheese or nuts. Additionally, the freshly baked muffins can be finished with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, honey or a smooth, rich glaze.
What do I need to make muffins with cranberries?
These muffins are made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients, plus fresh or frozen cranberries and white or semi-sweet chocolate! While the ingredients may be basic, when combined they yield irresistibly delicious muffins!
Ingredients you need to make this recipe
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the foundation of this muffin recipe. It helps the batter remain sturdy and thick. You can substitute a gluten-free flour blend if needed. Look for brands that can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio for regular flour.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Both chemical leavening agents provide lift and help the muffins rise.
- Salt: A touch of coarse kosher salt is needed to enhance all the flavors!
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon adds a touch of warm, inviting flavor.
- Eggs: Two large eggs provide structure and moisture, plus they help bind everything together.
- Sugars: Granulated sugar adds the perfect touch of sweetness and keeps the muffins light. You can substitute a portion of the granulated sugar for brown sugar; however it tends to weigh the muffins down.
- Oil: Oil provides moisture which creates tender muffins and prevents them from drying out. You can use canola, vegetable or coconut oil in this recipe.
- Greek Yogurt: Full-fat plain Greek yogurt helps keep the muffins ultra-moist and tender. You can substitute full-fat sour cream if you prefer a tangier flavor.
- Milk: Buttermilk provides even more moisture and helps lighten up the muffins crumb. You can use whole milk if you prefer.
- Vanilla Extract: Two teaspoons of vanilla adds tons of flavor!
- Cranberries: It wouldn’t be a cranberry muffin without the cranberries! You can use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe.
- Chocolate: Chocolate and cranberries go together beautifully! You can use white chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate in this recipe. I like a mix of textures, so I tend to use both chocolate chips and chocolate chunks; however you can use whatever you prefer! Or, feel free to substitute the chocolate with more cranberries or a different tasty mix-in! (Scroll down to read how to customize these muffins!)
Not a fan of the combination of cranberries and chocolate? No worries! You can add any type of mix-in you love! Get creative and create a bakery-style muffin chock full of the ingredients you and your family love! You can substitute any of the below options for the chocolate.
How to customize muffins
- Nuts: You can substitute 1/2 cup of any variety of nuts you love; however, walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios pair best. For the best flavor, I highly suggest toasting your nuts first!
- Raisins: Chewy raisins are perfect if you are looking for a healthier option!
- Orange: Cranberry and orange is a classic combination for a good reason! Increase the amount of cranberries to 1 3/4 cup. Zest two large oranges and add the zest to the batter when you add the yogurt.
- Ginger: Candied ginger is delicious with cranberries! Increase the cranberries to 1 1/2 cups. Finely chop 1/4 cup of crystallized ginger and add it to the batter with the cranberries.
Types of cranberries to use in muffins
How to prepare fresh cranberries for muffins?
For the best taste and most flavor, I recommend coarsely chopping the cranberries before adding them to the muffin batter. By cutting the cranberries you are essentially doubling the amount of cranberries, which gets you a better cranberry to batter ratio! I like to cut large cranberries in half and leave any tiny cranberries whole for a variety of textures!
Pro-tip: Looking to save time? Use a food processor – very carefully and quickly process the cranberries until just coarsely chopped.
Can I use frozen cranberries for baking muffins?
Absolutely! Both fresh and frozen cranberries work in this easy muffin recipe!
Do I need to thaw frozen cranberries?
There is no need to thaw frozen cranberries before making muffins! Simply remove the berries from the freezer, give them a quick rinse with cold water and let them sit at room temperature on the counter while you grab the rest of the muffin ingredients.
Can I use dried cranberries instead of fresh?
If you can’t find fresh or frozen cranberries you can substitute dried cranberries instead. However, please note that the taste and texture will be slightly different as fresh cranberries are juicy while dried cranberries are chewy.
Also, dried cranberries are much smaller than fresh cranberries and more dry berries will fit in a cup measure than fresh. Therefore, you need to adjust the amount in the recipe. You can use 1 cup of dried cranberries instead of 1 1/4 cup of fresh. I encourage you to rehydrate and plump the dry cranberries by soaking them in hot water for 10-12 minutes. Drain the berries, pat them thoroughly dry and proceed with recipe.
Pro-tip: Dried cranberries are typically sweetened. You might want to consider slightly reducing the amount of sugar (by 1-2 tablespoons) in the recipe depending on your personal taste.
Do you have to cook cranberries before baking in muffins?
You don’t need to cook the cranberries before baking! Just give the cranberries a quick rinse before using them in muffin batter!
How to make cranberry muffins from scratch?
These fresh cranberry muffins are so easy to make and only require 10 minutes of hands on preparation! Best part of all – there is no mixer required! Follow these simple, fool-proof instructions for perfectly moist muffins every single time!
Tip: Make sure your eggs and milk are at room temperature. Room temperature ingredients bond together more easily than cold ingredients, resulting in an evenly textured and smooth batter. (Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed measurements in the complete printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)
How to make muffins
Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set the bowl aside.
Wet Ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs and oil. Add in the milk, yogurt and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined and pale yellow in color.
Add Wet to Dry: Add the wet ingredients to the well in the dry ingredients. Fold together and gently mix until everything just comes together.
Add Cranberries + Chocolate: Gently fold in the cranberries and white chocolate.
- Fill muffin tins. Divide the batter into muffin tins, filling each nearly all the way to the top. Optional: Sprinkle with more chocolate chips or chunks and gently press them slightly into the muffin batter. Generously sprinkle coarse sugar all over the tops.
- Bake. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425 degrees F. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Bake for an additional 15-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool: Remove from the oven and place muffin pan on a wire rack. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and transfer them onto the wire rack to cool completely.
- Serve: Serve the muffins warm or at room temperature and enjoy!
How to make muffins with cranberries step-by-step photos
(Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed instructions in the complete printable recipe card at the bottom of the page!)
Expert tips for preparing the best cranberry muffins
While these muffins are incredibly easy to prepare, below are a few simple tips and easy tricks to ensure they turn out perfect every single time!
Tips for success
- Properly measure ingredients: This seems obvious, but properly measuring your ingredients is key! To properly measure flour, use a spoon and lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cup. Then, use the flat, straight edge of a knife (or similar object) to level off the top of the flour.
- Cranberries: You can use fresh or frozen cranberries in these muffins. If using frozen, just be sure to rinse them with cold water first and then let them thaw on the counter while you grab the rest of the ingredients.
- Milk: I highly recommend buttermilk for the moistest texture. However, you can use whole milk. Or, if you are in a pinch almond milk or 2% works as well. Do not use skim milk! For homemade buttermilk, combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Decorative Sugar: The sparkling sugar is completely optional, but it adds a delicious touch of crunchy texture and sweet flavor. You can find decorative (or sparkling) sugar in the baking aisle of major grocery stores.
- Use the muffin method to mix: The muffin method for mixing batter helps create a better muffin! Make sure you mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Then, mix the two together until just combined.
- Don’t over-mix: Don’t over-mix when combining the wet and dry ingredients! Over-mixing the batter will produce tough muffins! You want to gently fold the ingredients until they are just combined – the batter should be lumpy!
- Fill the muffin tins: Use an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter from the mixing bowl into the muffin tins. Fill the tins almost all the way to the top – don’t worry, the muffins won’t spill over.
- Start with a blast of heat: To help the muffins rise quickly and develop the perfect domed top – bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F degrees. Then, reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for an additional 15-17 minutes. The initial blast of heat lifts the muffins quickly, so don’t skip this step!
How to serve muffins?
These festive muffins are perfect for breakfasts on the go, afternoon snacks and easy desserts! Or, serve them as a part of your holiday brunch spread with monkey bread, sausage egg casserole and bottomless pomegranate mimosas!
This cranberry muffin recipe is delicious served freshly baked and warm straight from the oven. Or, make them in advance, then serve them at room temperature or lightly toast them in the oven!
You can enjoy these muffins plain, drizzle them with honey or smear them with soft butter! Or, if you prefer a sweeter muffin, try drizzling them with a sticky, rich glaze!
No matter how you serve these muffins, I guarantee they will quickly become a family favorite!
How long will muffins keep?
Leftover muffins do not need to be refrigerated! Muffins will keep and stay soft, fresh and moist at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Alternatively, you can extend the shelf life of muffins by storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
To store muffins: Before storing muffins, make sure you allow the muffins to cool completely on a wire rack. Transfer the muffins to an airtight container lined with a sheet of paper towel. Arrange the cooled muffins in a single layer and cover the top with another sheet of paper towel before sealing the container with a tight-fitting lid. Pro-tip: The paper towels will absorb the excess moisture from the muffins and allow them to stay fresher for longer.
Can you freeze cranberry muffins?
This cranberry muffin recipe freezes beautifully! I always double the recipe just to have a few muffins to store in the freezer for easy grab-and-go breakfasts!
To freeze muffins: Allow the muffins to cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping them individually in plastic wrap. Transfer wrapped muffins to an airtight, freezer-safe resealable bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
When ready to eat: Thaw muffins at room temperature on the counter, or gently warm the muffins in the oven. Alternatively, you can reheat muffins in the microwave at 50% until slightly warmed if desired. Do not over-microwave the muffins or they will become extremely hard and unappetizing. Pro-tip: Warm the muffins and drizzle them with honey or slather them with butter for an utterly delicious muffin experience!
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your muffin pan and mix together these marvelous Bakery Style Cranberry Muffins. They are good for the soul and for your stomach! Plus, your family will love you for it!
Until next time, Cheers – to soulful baking.
More simple muffin recipes!
If you are searching for more muffin recipes, check out these easy favorites:
More cranberry recipes!
If you love this easy muffins, try one of these delicious recipes with cranberries next:
- The Best Cranberry Chicken Salad
- Easy Cranberry Baked Chicken & Rice
- Cranberry Orange Relish
- Baked Camembert with Cranberry Compote
- Cranberry Margaritas
The best Cranberry Muffins Recipe, plus step by step video 👇
Chocolate Cranberry Muffins
- 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour – spooned & leveled
- 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs – at room temperature
- ½ Cup Canola Oil (can substitute Vegetable Oil)
- 1 Cup Buttermilk (or Whole Milk) - at room temperature (SEE NOTES)
- 2/3 Cup Full-Fat Greek Yogurt - at room temperature
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 ¼ Cups Cranberries (fresh or frozen) – coarsely chopped (about 4.5 ounces) (SEE NOTES)
- ¾ Cup Chocolate Chips - plus more for topping, optional (5 ounces) (SEE NOTES)
- Coarse Decorative Sugar – for topping, optional (SEE NOTES)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the cavities of a regular muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside
- Dry Ingredients: In a large sized bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set the bowl aside.
- Wet Ingredients: In a medium sized bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs and oil. Add in the milk, yogurt and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined and pale yellow in color.
- Add Wet to Dry: Add the wet ingredients to the well in the dry ingredients. Fold together, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to gently mix everything together. Be careful to mix until flour is just combined. (The batter should still be lumpy)
- Add Cranberries + Chocolate: Gently fold in the cranberries and white chocolate.
- Fill Muffin Tins: Pour the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each tin all the way to the top. Optional: Sprinkle a few chocolate chips onto the top of the batter. Very gently press the chips slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the tops of batter with decorative sugar.
- Bake: Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425 degrees F. Keeping the oven door closed, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Bake for an additional 15-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean – a few small moist crumbs is fine.
- Cool: Remove from oven and place muffin pan on a wire rack. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and transfer them onto the wire rack to cool completely.
- Serve: Serve the muffins warm or at room temperature plain or dusted with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
- Cranberries: You can either use fresh or frozen cranberries in these muffins. If using frozen, just be sure to rinse them with cold water first and then let them sit on the counter while you grab the rest of the ingredients. There is no need to defrost them first.
- Milk: I recommend using buttermilk for these muffins for the moistest texture; however, whole milk works as well. Or, you can substitute almond milk or 2% milk. I do NOT recommend skim milk!
- Yogurt: Full-fat Greek yogurt will produce the best flavor; however, you can use full-fat sour cream for a tangier taste.
- Chocolate: You can use white chocolate (pictured in post) or semi-sweet chocolate for these muffins. I like to use chocolate chips in the muffin batter and then add chopped chocolate to the top of the muffin batter before baking - just make sure you gently press the chocolate into the batter and then proceed with sprinkling on the decorative sugar.
- Decorative Sugar: I used decorative sugar for topping the muffins before baking, which is completely optional, but highly recommended! Decorative sugar is simply coarser, and has a larger crystal than granulated sugar. You should be able to find decorative (or sparkling) sugar in the baking aisle of most major grocery stores.
- Jumbo Muffins: Use a jumbo muffin pan. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then reduce oven to 350°F and bake for 22-25 minutes. Recipe makes about 6 jumbo muffins.
- Storage: While these muffins are best eaten the same day they are prepared, they can be stored at room temperature (in an airtight container) for up to 4 days. These muffins freeze well (and can be frozen for up to 2 months), so I recommend making a double batch and keeping some in the freezer!
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