These delicious and easy Vegan Cranberry Muffins are loaded with tart fresh cranberries (option for dried), a hint of orange, and chocolate chips. They take just 5 minutes to mix up and are the perfect breakfast, dessert, or snack in fall and winter.
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Hey Internet, it’s about dang time I did another muffin because, hey, I don’t think I’ve published one since my summer Lemon Blueberry Muffins. Time for some fall (or almost winter, ugh) muffins featuring… cranberries!
And chocolate, because… well just because.
These vegan cranberry muffins are awesome because A.) they’re super easy to make; B.) you can make them jumbo like I did or regular size (no modifications necessary); C.) you can use dried or fresh cranberries here--I tested them both. More on that later.
There’s just something about muffins. I mean, they’re easy. They’re the perfect portion size, unless you make jumbo muffins like I did… oops. And they’re way more portable than a slice of cake.
Plus, even though there’s chocolate, they’re socially acceptable to eat in the morning.
Anyway. These muffins are amazing and perfect for fall or winter. You could actually make them up any time of year, as dried cranberries are pretty regularly available.
Like some of you, I LOVE the Great British Baking Show, and I learned from that show that you should soak dried fruit before baking with it so it doesn’t become tough. So, all you have to do to use dried cranberries instead of fresh is soak them for a little bit.
That’s great news for me because I love cranberries--any tart fruit, really. I’m kind of sour like that. ;)
And because they go SO well together, I’ve included a bit of orange in this recipe as well!
Alright, time to get on with the recipe.
What You’ll Need
Let’s first talk about those dry ingredients.
Next, kind of in between the wet and dry ingredients, we have sugar. I used coconut sugar for a slightly lower glycemic and warmer flavor. It is kind of like light brown sugar in flavor, but slightly more like cane sugar in texture.
Again, see the substitutions section below if you want to use a different sugar (spoiler alert: you can).
Onto the wet ingredients. For binding, I used a couple of flax eggs. For texture and moistness, I used a combination of unsweetened applesauce and homemade vegan buttermilk.
Vegan buttermilk? Let me just tell you how easy it is to make vegan buttermilk for just a second.
Take your nondairy milk and put it in a vessel like a cup.
Still with me?
Pour in a touch of vinegar or lemon juice.
That’s it. No really.
It will curdle fairly quickly. Stir it up and there’s your vegan buttermilk.
It is fantastic in baking, and it’s great to use if you’re using baking soda (since you’ll want an acid to react with it).
Moving on. For flavor, vanilla extract, a little orange juice (fresh or store bought), and, optional, orange zest! If you really wanted to punch up the orange flavor, you could add orange extract or just sub out some of the buttermilk for more orange juice.
Now, the cranberries. I tested this recipe multiple times with both dried and fresh cranberries.
My favorite? The fresh. So tart and flavorful. All you need to do is coat the fresh cranberries in a little flour (I just toss the cranberries with a few droplets of water from my freshly washed hands, then with a half tablespoon of flour).
For dried cranberries, though, just rehydrate them in some hot water for 15-20 minutes before mixing them in (drain off the soaking water, though). It can be challenging to find unsweetened dried cranberries, though, if you’re looking for them.
The chocolate is totally optional so you could leave it out if you want. But, like, why?
Just kidding. These muffins are totally refined sugar free if you leave out the chocolate chips, so if you still want that choco-fix but you’re watching your sugar, try some unsweetened cacao nibs!
But for this recipe I used semi sweet chocolate chips. Not all brands are dairy-free.
Trader Joe’s has one variety of dairy-free chocolate chips (not chunks), so does Target, and some regional chain grocery stores. Guaranteed vegan chocolate chips include Hu Kitchen, Lily’s, and Enjoy Life.
My favorite is Hu Kitchen, though I only had Trader Joes’ on hand the day I photographed these.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
I used regular all purpose flour for this recipe, but I can see it working well with whole wheat or spelt flour. Just use a bit more moisture (as the batter calls for it, it should still be a thick batter; one you scoop instead of pour).
For gluten-free vegan cranberry muffins, I recommend using a quality cup for cup flour like King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour.
Coconut Sugar is a sugar very similar to light brown sugar in taste, though it’s a little less moist. You can substitute it with organic cane sugar or organic light brown sugar, though and the recipe should work fine.
Flax eggs are my go-to egg replacer. Once ground, mixed with a little water (1:2, ground flaxseed to water), and set for a few minutes, they become a gel binder consistency perfect for replacing eggs.
However, you can substitute ground chia seeds, or a commercial vegan egg replacer like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer if desired.
Applesauce works great as a low fat oil-replacement. You can certainly use oil if you wish, or use another replacer like mashed banana or pumpkin puree, both of which would be delicious in this recipe.
I mentioned above (and I’ll mention again below) how easy it is to use either dried or fresh cranberries, but you could really use any fruit you’d like. Seeing as how this is a vegan cranberry muffin recipe, though, I assume you want cranberries…
Again, use whatever chocolate you like in this recipe or none at all. Regular non-dairy chocolate chips are fine, but unsweetened cacao nibs are less processed and sugar free, if you prefer that. Or just omit them all together, if you’d like.
Tips for Making Vegan Cranberry Muffins
Note: I used a jumbo muffin tin for this recipe but I also tested it with a regular muffin tin and it works just fine. Altogether they hold the same amount of batter, it just depends on what size muffin you’d like to make. The bake time will differ slightly, though, so read my baking directions accordingly. You could also make this in a loaf tin for cranberry bread!
Note if using dried cranberries: Soak your dried cranberries for about 20-30 minutes in very hot water (not boiling), then drain off the water before adding to the batter.
- I like to make all my muffins and cakes in one bowl, but if you wish you can still mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls and then combine.
- Start by mixing together your flax eggs. They’ll set on the counter in 10 minutes, or in the fridge in just 3-5 minutes. Just don’t forget to add them (I do this more often than I’d care to admit).
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius) and grease the cups of your muffin tin with coconut cream like I do, or spray with a baking/cooking oil spray.
- Start by mixing your dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk to evenly distribute the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
- Make a well in the center with a spatula or clean fingers and pour all wet ingredients in the center.
- Mix until just combined. It should be a thick spreadable batter. It’s okay if a little powder remains.
- If using fresh cranberries: Rinse your hands briefly and just toss the cranberries so they’re a little moist. Then sprinkle on a tablespoon of flour and toss till they are coated. This helps them from sinking in your muffins, and also helps contain the juices when they pop during the baking process.
- Add the cranberries and chocolate chips or cacao nibs cranberries at the same time and mix through gently.
- Using a spoon, divide the batter between your muffin cups. It should make about 6 jumbo muffins or 12 regular size muffins.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius) for approximately 22-25 minutes for regular sized muffins or 28-33 minutes for jumbo sized muffins. Mine were just done at 23 minutes and 28 minutes, respectively.
- Let your muffins cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before attempting to remove them, then let them cool completely on a cooling rack. Store covered at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
More Sweet Vegan Breakfast Ideas
I’m really going with the idea that this is breakfast. You can argue if you’d like, or peruse my dessert section.
But check out some of these great sweet vegan breakfast ideas:
- Coffee and Walnut Cake
- Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal
- Vegan French Toast Sticks
- Chocolate Banana Muffins
- Waffles with Raspberry Compote
- Lemon Blueberry Muffins
- Chia Pudding 5 Ways
- Coconut Cacao Granola
As always, I hope you love this breakfast recipe–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. We don’t normally make recipes 4 times in 3 days. That’s either stress baking or recipe testing… or somewhere in between.
These vegan cranberry muffins are:
- Sweet but tart
- And great for kids AND adults (and kids-at-heart, like me)!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!