Skip to Content

Panera Cranberry Orange Muffins Recipe

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.

panera muffins

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 muffin ingredients

Ingredients

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.
easy cranberry orange muffins

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!

step 1 mix dry ingredients

#1: Combine dry ingredients

  • Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
step 2 add liquid ingredients

#2: Add wet ingredients

  • Add the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, 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.
step 3 fold in cranberries

#3: Fold in cranberries

  • Toss the cranberries with 1 tablespoon flour. Add to the batter and gently fold in.
step 4 fill muffin pan

#4: Divide batter

  • Divide the batter evenly between 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with plenty of Turbinado sugar.
step 5 bake cranberry orange muffins

#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.

Baking tips

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.
jumbo cranberry orange muffins

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 400°F: Baking muffins at a high temperature lets them rise more rapidly and creates beautiful, golden-brown high muffin tops.
cranberry orange muffin recipe from Panera bread

Variations

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.

Serving suggestions

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.

Panera bread muffins

Storage instructions

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.

Panera cranberry orange muffins

Panera Cranberry Orange Muffins Recipe

Yield: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

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.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups / 240 g / 8.5 oz all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 cup / 100 g / 3.5 oz white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup / 1 stick / 115 g / 4 oz salted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml / 6 fl oz buttermilk
  • grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups / 150 g / 5.3 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (don't thaw frozen berries)
  • 4 tbsp Turbinado sugar

Instructions

  1. Prepare for baking. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C / gas mark 6. Line a 12-hole, standard-size muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients. Add the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, 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.
  4. Fold in cranberries. Toss the cranberries with 1 tablespoon flour. Add to the batter and gently fold in.
  5. Divide batter. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with plenty of Turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake. Bake the muffins for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Cool. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Store. 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.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 184mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 4g

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.

Panera bread cranberry orange muffins

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!

Lisa

Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Puzzled. Ingredient list has buttermilk, but no baking soda (as I would expect when baking with buttermilk), and then the recipe steps list whole milk, not buttermilk. I can only guess the recipe was originally created with whole milk, then someone had the idea to change it to buttermilk, but didn't make the needed updates --?? Have you made the recipe with buttermilk, and just as the recipe states? I want to make these as a birthday treat for my mother-in-law, who adores Panera's cranberry orange muffins, but I don't want a recipe fail on her birthday. :)

Lisa

Saturday 24th of February 2024

@Irena | Country Hill Cottage, Thank you for the reply, and -- wow! So obviously, it works; how interesting. I had the understanding (and so does foodandwine.com) that you must include some baking soda when baking with buttermilk.

https://www.foodandwine.com/buttermilk-what-is-it-how-to-use-it-and-how-to-make-it-7098015#:~:text=Baking%20with%20buttermilk,same%20way%20with%20baking%20powder.

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Hi Lisa! Thank you for catching that! Buttermilk is correct (whole milk was a typo) and I prefer the muffins with baking powder, not baking soda. I hope this helps and happy baking!

Andrea

Thursday 8th of February 2024

I made these and ohh my lord they are beautiful!! I’m just curious to get a little more orange flavor if adding some of the fresh orange juice from the oranges would you want to add additional flour or take away from the milk?

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Friday 9th of February 2024

Hi Andrea! You can fully or partially replace the buttermilk with orange juice (just make sure to use 3/4 cup of liquid total) and add the zest of 3 oranges. Another idea is to add some orange extract to the batter. I hope this helps you out and happy baking!

Sherry

Sunday 3rd of December 2023

These look good. Can’t wait to try

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Monday 4th of December 2023

We hope you love them as much as we do!

Ali Tobin

Sunday 19th of November 2023

Thank you!

J

Thursday 16th of November 2023

Interested in trying

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Thursday 16th of November 2023

Hope you enjoy them!

As Seen On

brand logos
brand logos
brand logos
Skip to Recipe
// First try loading jQuery from Google's CDN // Fall back to a local copy of jQuery if the CDN fails