Cranberry Orange Muffins Gluten Free

Right after our daughter was diagnosed with celiac, we cleaned out our pantry and made our home gluten free. Then my husband decided to go 100% GF with her in a sweet act of solidarity. It’s true that it was partly done for health benefits, but my husband is a sensitive soul, and I know the idea of eating anything with gluten, even when Bunky isn’t around, would make him too sad.

So when I bake for my girl, I also bake for my man – who is a pastry enthusiast. If there was an Olympic sport for pastry eating, he would be a gold medalist. On our engagement vacation in Mexico, he ate chocolate croissants EVERY DAY. Croissant is the pastry he misses most now that he’s GF.

Since there is NO WAY I’m going to tackle croissants (um, the French don’t even seem up to the task, according to several GF-ers who have recently traveled to Paris, sigh) but I decided his second most missed pastry, Cranberry Orange muffins ala Dunkin’ Donuts – yes, my man is both high-brow AND low-brow, which is one of the reasons I love him so – was entirely doable.

I immediately went online, fairly certain I would find a recipe quickly. Not so! Maybe not everyone GF needs a cranberry orange muffin fix like my husband. There were plenty of scone recipes, but the few GF muffin recipes were too fussy, requiring many flours, or the superfine (re: super-pricey) kind. Shocked that the internet failed me, I realized that I was going to have to make up MY OWN recipe.

Let’s face it – I’m a mom blogger, a fiction writer, a former self-defense instructor, but not a chef or baker. I can follow a recipe like a champ, but make up my own? My husband encouraged (er, begged) me to give it a go and I decided to try. And it worked!

Not the most flattering angle (for my man) but the manic bliss shines through.

On the first try, no less, which is great for me considering I have about zero time to fail. This is no doubt why I prefer to follow tested recipes.

However, this first taste of recipe success feels good, and I might be ready for more. Especially when Miss Bunky starts preschool full-time (sniff!) soon.

In the meantime, here is my pride and joy, my recipe baby, which my husband claims is a dead ringer for his beloved Dunkin’ Donuts-style muffins. I think he might have fallen in love with me all over again.

Cranberry Orange Muffins Gluten Free

This recipe is inspired in part by Nicole Hunn’s delicious Lemon Cupcakes from her cookbook, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, and a Food Network recipe for the gluten kind of orange cranberry muffin.


  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one medium-sized orange (preferably a juicy one)
  • about 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice from said orange
  • 2/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend has it already)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of full-fat or low-fat sour cream
  • raw sugar to sprinkle on top of each cupcake before baking (if desired)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter or cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Zest orange and set aside. Squeeze juice and run through a sieve to eliminate pulp and seeds. Place juice in a small saucepan with cranberries. Bring to just a simmer over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and set aside so the cranberries can cool and plump.
  3. In a large bowl, mix (by hand) butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, stir well. Then add vanilla and orange zest. Add the flour, xanthan gum (if necessary), baking powder, and salt. Beat to combine. Continue stirring until the batter becomes thicker and slightly more elastic, which means the xanthan gum has been activated. Add the sour cream to the batter and mix until combined.
  4. Finally, fold the cooled cranberries and orange juice into the batter. Do not overmix.

    Batter, after the cranberries have been folded in.

  5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups – for those who enjoy being extra precise, use an ice-cream scooper. Top each muffin with a generous sprinkling of raw sugar if desired.

    Please don’t judge the grease stained pan. Clearly, a new one is needed.

  6. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Proud baker with her finished muffins.

    You can’t tell from the picture, but three of those muffins actually have chocolate chips instead of cranberries. Bunky only likes her dried fruit dry, not baked, and prefers chocolate over just about anything, so I scooped out some batter before adding the cranberries so she could use chips. I have to say, despite my reservations, they came out delicious. The orange is subtle enough that it goes quite nicely with the chocolate. Below is a picture of her chip-filled batter, taken by Bunky, my budding food photographer.

    Please let me know how these turn out for you, and if you personalize them in a different way (nuts would go great too, I bet).

    By the way, the much anticipated post, So Many Flours, So Little Time Part 2, is coming soon!

    Thank you to for inviting me to the wonderful Gluten Free Fridays Recipe link up! Check out the other great recipes by clicking the button below.


9 thoughts on “Cranberry Orange Muffins Gluten Free

    • Hi Sharon, thanks so much for your comment! If you try making them, let me know how they turn out. My husband is already asking for another batch 🙂

      And I love GF shoestring too! I am totally addicted to that blog. I’m so happy she posts every day.

    • Thanks for your comment Kathy! I really like your blog, the mac and cheese recipe looks fantastic. I’ll definitely be making that soon. Let me know how the muffins turn out if you make them!

  1. My daughter and I enjoyed making these together and no one noticed that they were gluten free. I seem to always have a tinge of sadness with the outcome of my baked GF goods, but these didn’t leave me longing! I did sub 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries for the dried and added a bit of cardamom. Thanks!

    • Oh, I’m so happy that you enjoyed them! My husband has been asking about them, so this is a good reminder to make another batch 🙂 Baked goods should not come with any sad tinges, though I know with GF that is not always the case. I’m glad these were a treat for you and your daughter. Good to know fresh cranberries work just as well – and cardamom is always a welcome addition!

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Posts of 2012 | celiac kiddo

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