This Panera cranberry orange muffins recipe is moist and fluffy, bursting with fresh, tart berries and bright citrus flavor, finished with a crunchy sugar topping. Best of all, the bakery-style muffins come together in one bowl with only 15 minutes of prep. Enjoy them for a simple make-ahead breakfast, teatime snack, or a delicious Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Learn more
Cranberry orange muffin recipe from Panera Bread
You can’t beat this easy Panera cranberry orange muffins recipe! It doesn’t require an electric mixer or any fancy equipment. Just one bowl and some elbow grease!
Best of all, these Panera copycat muffins are moist and tender, brimming with tart, juicy cranberries, bright orange flavor, and blessed with high, sugar-crusted tops.
They store well and are just perfect for breakfast, snacking, and a side for your next Sunday supper. What more could you ask for in a batch of homemade cranberry muffins?
Do you love baking with cranberries? Then try our Ocean Spray cranberry bread and cranberry streusel muffins next!
Panera cranberry orange muffins come together with cranberries, orange zest, and a few other ingredients you probably have in your kitchen. Refer to the recipe card for actual amounts.
- Cranberries: Fresh or frozen will work. If using frozen cranberries, don’t thaw them but add them to the batter frozen.
- Orange zest: The outer peel of the fruit holds the essential oils that give the muffins that bold orange flavor.
- Sugar: Granulated white sugar provides just the right amount of sweetness to balance the cranberries’ tartness.
- Salted butter adds rich flavor and keeps the muffins moist. Melt the butter in the microwave or stove so it blends effortlessly with the other ingredients without needing an electric mixer.
- Buttermilk provides an acidic component that helps the muffins rise. It also gives them a moist, tender texture, while keeping the batter thick. You can make your own buttermilk by combining 3/4 cup whole milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes until thick.
- Eggs: 2 eggs provide structure and lift.
- All-purpose flour is the base of the muffin batter. For extra wholesome muffins, substitute whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour.
- Baking powder: This leavening agent helps the muffins rise.
- Turbinado sugar: Panera Bread sprinkles their muffins with coarse turbinado sugar to create those crunchy, sugar-crusted muffin tops. Brown sugar will also work.
How to prepare cranberries for muffins
As mentioned, both fresh and frozen cranberries will work in this Panera orange cranberry muffin recipe. If you’re using frozen cranberries, do not thaw them before adding the berries to the batter.
Halve or coarsely chop large berries. You can leave cranberries that are roughly the same size as blueberries whole.
And that’s it – your cranberries are ready to stir into the batter. There’s no need to cook them before adding them to the muffin batter.
Can I substitute dried cranberries in these muffins?
Sure! While I prefer the tart flavor burst of fresh or frozen berries, dried cranberries will also work in this recipe. I also have a dedicated recipe for dried cranberry muffins.
How to make Panera cranberry orange muffins
There’s nothing like homemade muffins – especially when they are packed with flavor like these Panera bread cranberry orange muffins. Your family and friends will love every bite of these!
#1: Combine dry ingredients
- Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
#2: Add wet ingredients
- Add the melted butter, eggs, whole milk, and orange zest. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. The batter will be thick and lumpy, and that’s how it’s supposed to be.
#3: Fold in cranberries
- Toss the cranberries with 1 tablespoon flour. Add to the batter and gently fold in.
#4: Divide batter
- Divide the batter evenly between 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with plenty of Turbinado sugar.
#5: Bake & cool
- Bake the muffins at 400°F for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Before you start breaking out your muffin pan, read through these tips. They’ll help you bake the best muffins possible!
- Zest the orange: When zesting the oranges, only scrap out the orange outer layer (where the essential oils and delicious flavors are hidden). Avoid grating any of the bitter white pith.
- Flour the cranberries: To ensure the berries don’t sink to the bottom, dust them with 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour before adding them to the batter. I also like to put extra cranberries on top of the muffins before baking for a pretty presentation.
- Check doneness: To see if the muffins are ready, insert a skewer or toothpick in the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t bake them for too long, or they might dry out.
What makes muffins moist?
There are a couple of tricks to achieve those nice, high domes on the muffin tops:
- Use buttermilk: The acid in buttermilk yields muffins with a soft, tender crumb and contributes moisture to the batter.
- Don’t skimp on the butter: Melted butter provides fat and flavor to the muffins.
- Avoid overmixing the batter: You want the batter to just come together so that everything is incorporated, but then stop stirring. Overmixing activates gluten in the flour, resulting in dry, dense muffins.
How to make tall muffin tops
To keep the texture tender, light, fluffy, and super moist so that they don’t dry out and crumble:
- Use a thick batter: You got that, thanks to buttermilk and just enough flour in the batter.
- Fill the muffin cups to the top: I like to use a cookie/ice cream scoop to equally measure the same amount of batter into each muffin liner.
- Bake the muffins at 200°F: Baking muffins at a high temperature lets them rise more rapidly and creates beautiful, golden-brown high muffin tops.
Panera cranberry orange muffins are so easy to make, and you change the flavor by adding different mix-ins! Try the following ideas:
- Nuts: 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts are a delicious addition to these Panera muffins.
- Chocolate chips: Add 1/2 cup white or semisweet chocolate chips.
- Orange glaze: Drizzle the muffins with an orange glaze. To make it, whisk 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice until smooth. Then dip the muffin tops in the glaze.
- Jumbo muffins: The batter is enough to bake 6 to 7 Texas-style jumbo cranberry orange muffins. Increase the baking time to 30 to 35 minutes.
- Mini muffins: You can also turn the recipe into mini cranberry orange muffins. Mini muffins need to bake for about 12 to 15 minutes.
Panera bread muffins are a great option for a prep-ahead breakfast, a festive holiday side dish, or a tasty addition to a weeknight breadbasket.
The muffins taste delicious on their own, but they also are phenomenal when swerved warm and spread with butter, honey, or a generous dollop of orange marmalade.
You can also pair the muffins with other cozy meals such as meatloaf, roasted chicken, or casseroles.
How to store Panera cranberry orange muffins
Let the muffins cool completely. Then place the cooled muffins into an airtight container or a large Ziploc bag.
The muffins will keep for 2 to 3 days at room temperature. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.
Reheat Panera orange cranberry muffins
Allow frozen muffins to sit on the counter as you preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4.
Frozen cranberry orange muffins need 10 to 12 minutes in the oven. Room temperature muffins only need 5 minutes to warm through.
More recipes with cranberries
Cranberries are fantastic baking ingredients, and I always stock up when fresh cranberries are in season. Here are a few more recipes you’ll want to have in your collection.
Other muffin recipes you’ll love
Here are some of my other favorite muffin recipes. Whether you want something chocolatey or fruity, we’ve got you covered!
Where are the reviews for this recipe. I like to see those and see what changes others are making.
Hi Terrie! Reviews only become visible after someone has left a comment. You can see them know if you click the review toggle next to the comment toggle. I hope this helps and happy baking!