These cranberry pecan muffins with streusel topping are bursting with fresh cranberries in every bite. They’re incredibly tender, and they’ll make your kitchen smell amazing while baking. Pecans add a tasty crunch and nutty flavor, while orange zest and a little bit of fresh-squeezed orange juice add tons of sunny brightness.
I love baking muffins, especially during the fall months. They come together quickly and easily, so I actually find them to be incredibly relaxing. Fresh cranberries have a fairly short seasonal availability, so when they finally arrive, I love using them in recipes like muffins and scones (check out these cranberry goat cheese scones; total deliciousness).
Cranberries and pecans are always an excellent combination, and these muffins are no exception! Your whole family will love them.
Ingredients For Cranberry Pecan Muffins
- All-purpose flour
- White granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Fresh cranberries
- Baking powder
- Half-and-half (or 50% heavy cream + 50% whole milk)
How to Make Fresh Cranberry Muffins
Step 1: Prepare Streusel Topping
Combine the streusel topping ingredients in a small bowl, incorporating the butter with a fork (or pastry blender) until the mixture is crumbly and there are no flour patches.
Step 2: Chop Cranberries
Add the cranberries to a food processor along with 2 tablespoons of sugar. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the cranberries with a knife and cutting board (toss with the sugar after chopping).
Ideally, you want a lot of very coarse pieces of cranberries. It’s great if some of the pieces are only halved or are practically whole. This means you’ll be able to taste the tartness of the berries and get some nice, juicy texture while eating the muffins.
You can chop them more finely than this if you prefer, but the flavor will be more subtle.
Step 3: Prepare Muffin Batter
This is a standard, easy muffin recipe. Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, followed by the melted butter, cranberries and pecans. Don’t over-mix.
The reason I don’t add the melted butter along with the other liquid ingredients is because if the half-and-half, orange juice or egg have a slight chill, they might cause the butter to clump up and not incorporate evenly.
Step 4: Portion Batter And Streusel Topping Into Muffin Pan
Divide the batter evenly in a lightly greased, standard size muffin pan, then top with the streusel.
Step 5: Bake, Then Cool
The muffins are finished baking when the topping is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of one of the muffins.
Recipe Notes and Substitutions
- Yes, you can technically use dried cranberries in this recipe. However, the muffins will have a different flavor and texture. Think about what it would be like if you baked blueberries muffins with dried blueberries instead of fresh ones. I highly recommend making this recipe with fresh cranberries while they’re in season!
- I recommend using toasted pecans in the filling, because they have a crunchier texture and nuttier flavor. Raw pecans will work fine if you don’t want to take the extra step to toast them. I don’t recommend using toasted pecans in the topping since the nuts might darken too much before the muffins finish baking.
More Muffin Recipes
You can also see my full archive of breakfast recipes here!
Cranberry Pecan Muffins
For The Streusel Topping
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
For the Cranberry Pecan Muffins
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 7 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups using Spoon & Level Method)
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup toasted or raw pecans, chopped (see notes)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons half-and-half (or 50% heavy cream + 50% whole milk)
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- Place an oven on the center shelf and preheat oven to 375 degrees F; lightly grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin (I used baking spray with flour).
- Prepare the streusel: in a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, salt, and pecans until evenly combined. Use a fork to press in the butter until the mixture is crumbly without any flour patches.
- Place the cranberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few until very coarsely chopped; think mostly halves or quarters. Some large, barely chopped cranberries are good because they’ll add a nice texture and tartness. If you prefer a more subtle flavor, it won’t hurt the muffins if you chop them more finely. However, you won’t be able to taste as much cranberry flavor.
- Place the flour and orange zest in a large bowl, pressing the zest into the flour to break up any clumps. Add the remaining sugar, baking powder and salt, whisking to combine. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg, half-and-half, and orange juice. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, followed by the melted butter, cranberries and pecans.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin pan, then top evenly with streusel. Bake for 16-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Muffins will keep in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months (wrap individually before freezing so they don’t stick together).
- Place on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes, stirring a couple times, until fragrant and slightly darker.
- Heat in a small skillet over medium heat, swirling occasionally and then more frequently near the end, until dark and fragrant, 4-7 minutes. This is faster since there’s no oven to preheat, but you have to watch them carefully and stir frequently once they begin darkening since the heat is more direct.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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