This is a variation of our whole wheat muffins base recipe. These muffins taste like the holidays, but of course can be enjoyed year round! Packed with fresh carrots, whole wheat flour, dried cranberries, and a touch of citrus, these carrot orange muffins with dried cranberries will nourish your body and satisfy your tastebuds!
Three Must Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Carrot Orange Muffins
There is no need to peel the carrots, but clean them well. Leaving the peel on makes the bread more nutritious and reduces the number of steps – less work for you!
Use a fine grater to shred the carrots so they disappear into the muffins. Don’t drain or squeeze the carrots; it helps keep the bread moist. To guarantee moist carrot muffins, don’t use the pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store because they tend to be dry and will not create a tasty product.
Measure the flour properly to prevent dense muffins. Fluff, spoon, and level; don’t scoop and pack!
Whisking the dry ingredients together mimics sifting and evenly distributes the ingredients, so don’t substitute another utensil.
Don’t overmix the batter! Watch our muffin method culinary technique video to learn how to mix the batter just enough so that you end up with light and fluffy muffins.
When measuring brown sugar, pack it in the cup. If you are trying to reduce your sugar consumption or prefer less sweet muffins, reduce the sugar to ⅓ cup; the recipe will still come out great!
We use a dark non-stick muffin pan to bake these muffins. If you use a light colored pan, the cooking time will increase. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into a muffin in the middle of the pan. If it comes out clean, it’s done!
Use a portion scoop to distribute the batter into the muffin tins. This handy tool can help make perfect muffins, cupcakes, pancakes, and more. It also makes the work easier; just squeeze the handle, and the batter slides right out!
- White Whole Wheat Flour: substitute whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour for a similar taste, color, and texture. You can also substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour and ½ cup all-purpose flour. To make gluten-free carrot orange muffins, use a gluten-free flour mix, such as Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour.
- Cinnamon: substitute pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice. You can also substitute ¼ teaspoon cinnamon with ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, or a combination.
- Kosher Salt: We use Morton kosher salt. If using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use ¾ teaspoon. If you use table salt, use slightly less than ½ teaspoon.
- Dried Cranberries: substitute any other dried fruit or leave them out. Most dried cranberries have lots of added sugar (because they are naturally bitter to begin with), so try to look for a brand that might have less. Although lower in added sugars, we don’t recommend the cranberries sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners.
- Carrots: substitute ½ cup of the shredded carrots with shredded zucchini, shredded apples, mashed ripe bananas, canned pumpkin, or pureed butternut squash.
- Buttermilk: substitute plain yogurt, kefir, Greek yogurt, or sour cream. You can make your own buttermilk by mixing ½ cup milk or milk alternative with ½ Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice.
- Brown Sugar: substitute cane sugar, turbinado sugar, or coconut sugar, but note that the flavor will be slightly different.
- Canola Oil: substitute avocado oil. Do not substitute olive oil, as this has a strong flavor. Do not substitute vegetable oil, as this is not a heart-healthy oil.
- Eggs: to make these carrot muffins vegan, substitute the eggs with flax eggs. To make two flax eggs, mix 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseeds with 6 Tablespoons water and let rest for 10 minutes. Eggs help leaven the muffins, so a vegan version might not be quite as fluffy.
Add ¼-½ cup toasted chopped walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, or pecan pieces for more nutrition, texture, and flavor.
Add ¼-½ teaspoon of additional spices like ginger, cardamom, and/or nutmeg.
Can’t live without chocolate? Make carrot chocolate muffins by replacing half or all of the dried cranberries with dark chocolate chips.
Want to make mini carrot muffins? Prepare a mini muffin pan with liners or non-stick spray and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
The muffin batter works for quick bread too! Prepare a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper or non-stick spray. Cook for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Want more whole wheat muffin recipe inspiration?
Use our whole wheat muffins base recipe as a guide, or try out these tasty variations!
Use these kitchen tools for recipe success:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Nested mixing bowls
- Tovolo scoop spatula
- Portion scoop
- 12-cup muffin pan
- Reusable muffin liners
Find all of our favorite kitchen tools here!
Are these carrot muffins healthy?
Yes! The key ingredients that make these healthy moist carrot muffins a better choice than store bought varieties are whole wheat flour, fresh carrots, and less sugar than leading brands.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is a good source of fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, trace minerals, and phytonutrients. Replacing refined grains (i.e. white flour) with whole grains (i.e. whole wheat flour) may reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Carrots contain fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients that have beneficial effects on immune function, skin cells, heart health, cancer prevention, and more. Consuming a variety of natural colors is ideal. Incorporating vegetables into a breakfast or dessert recipe is an easy way to help you meet your daily vegetable needs!
Less Added Sugar
High sugar consumption is not good for health, and in general, most Americans eat way too much. Men should aim to consume less than 9 teaspoons (~36 grams) of sugar per day, and women should aim to consume less than 6 teaspoons (~24 grams) of sugar per day. Each carrot orange muffin has slightly more than 3 teaspoons (~12.8 grams) of added sugar. That’s way better than eating store bought varieties that are essentially carrot cake!
Learn more about health benefits of different foods and ingredients in our book, To Your Taste!
Serving Suggestions for Carrot Orange Muffins
We doubt you’ll be able to resist biting into a warm, fluffy muffin when it’s fresh out of the oven! Enjoy on its own for a satisfying snack or dessert, served alongside a Greek yogurt smoothie for balanced breakfast, or as a sweet addition to lunch.
Storage Tips for Carrot Cranberry Muffins
Because these muffins are moist, they will spoil more quickly at room temperature. Cool completely, then store the muffins in a bag or airtight container at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Got a busy few weeks ahead? Carrot muffins are great for the freezer! Cool completely, line flat in a bag or wrap individually or in pairs and place in a freezer-safe bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or reheat in the microwave in the morning!
Want more healthy whole grain recipes?
Try out these favorites, and as always, adjust to YOUR taste!
Carrot Orange Muffins with Dried Cranberries
- 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour*
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 2 medium carrots, freshly grated and undrained (~1 cup)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or muffin liners.
- In a large bowl, gently whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add cranberries to flour mixture. Toss to evenly coat.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together grated carrots, brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and orange zest.
- Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture. Using a spatula, fold ingredients until just moistened. Do not overmix.
- Use a ¼ cup portion scoop to divide out the batter. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Enjoy!