Paleo Cranberry Orange Muffins (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

These moist, delicious, and healthy paleo cranberry orange muffins are jam-packed with fresh cranberries and bright orange flavor! They’re made with almond flour, and are great for breakfast, snack, or dessert. Plus, they’re gluten-free, dairy-free, and low in added sugar.

Three paleo cranberry orange muffins on a plate with a muffin pan and mandarin oranges in the background.

There’s nothing I like more than freshly baked muffins, especially as the temps start to drop. These paleo cranberry orange muffins are sure to make you feel all warm and cozy inside. They’re moist and flavorful and make the whole kitchen smell delicious.

Another thing I love? Always having some fresh mandarin oranges on the counter for baking or to quickly peel when hunger strikes. But wait – mandarin oranges in the fall? Aren’t they just a summer thing? Nope!

We’re able to enjoy mandarin oranges in the fall months thanks to the counter seasonality of Chile. Chile is located in South America, where seasons are opposite that of North America. So, Chile is your main source of mandarins from August through November.

Paleo cranberry orange muffin batter in a bowl.

Health Benefits of Mandarin Oranges

Feeling stuffy or sick? Two mandarin oranges provide 120% of the daily value of vitamin C. Feeling backed up? Two mandarins provide 12% of the daily value of fiber – that’s a whopping 3 grams of fiber! This is all why Chilean mandarins are “Easy to Peel, Easy to Love.”

What’s the difference between mandarins and clementines?
Mandarin oranges and clementines are smaller varieties of the common orange that are typically sweeter and less acidic. Also known as “easy peelers”, clementines and mandarins are basically the same fruit, but with different periods of availability. Clementines are available during the Summer months, and mandarins are available during the Fall months.

What makes these muffins healthy?

These muffins are made gluten-free and grain-free thanks to almond flour. Almond flour is a paleo baking flour made from blanched and ground almonds. Almond flour is higher in protein and fiber than regular, all-purpose flour.

Plus, these muffins are packed with fresh cranberries. Cranberries are a rich source of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C. They’re also full of antioxidants, some of which may help prevent urinary tract infections.

Another bonus: these cranberry orange paleo muffins are low in added sugar. I swapped some of the maple syrup for applesauce to lower the added sugar content of the final product. Don’t worry – you’ll still get that touch of sweetness! 

Paleo cranberry orange muffin batter in muffin pan.

Can I substitute coconut flour for the almond flour?

Technically, no. If you have another nut flour on hand (i.e. cashew or hazelnut) you could swap that in at a 1:1 ratio. Coconut flour is highly absorbent, and just a small amount will absorb a lot of the liquid in your recipe.

Coconut flour tends to have a drying effect on baked goods, which is why you can’t substitute it in a 1:1 ratio for almond flour. I added a tablespoon of coconut flour to this recipe to absorb some of the moistness from the applesauce. 

Can I use dried or Frozen cranberries?

Fresh cranberries give a bit of tartness to these muffins to balance out the sweetness. I used fresh ones in this recipe because most dried cranberries are sweetened with extra sugar. If you can find no-sugar-added dried cranberries, feel free to use them instead but cut the amount in half.

Can you use frozen cranberries? Sure! No need to thaw them before adding them to the batter. Simply fold them in like you would the fresh cranberries.

Paleo cranberry orange muffins baked in muffin pan.

 What you’ll need to make these Paleo Cranberry Orange Muffins

Are you ready to make your house smell like the holidays? I forgot to mention these healthy muffins also double as a candle replacement. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Almond flour: This can be found at most grocery stores or on Amazon. The only thing you can substitute the almond flour for is another nut flour (i.e. cashew flour). You can’t use coconut flour as a substitute for all of the almond flour in this recipe. 
  • Coconut flour: I added a tablespoon of coconut flour to this recipe to absorb some of the moistness from the applesauce. Feel free to omit it if you don’t have any on hand (it’s not necessary, but muffins will come out moister).
  • Pumpkin pie spice: Completely optional! Adding the pumpkin pie spice enhances the holiday flavor. You can substitute this for cinnamon.
  • Eggs: Eggs are what help bind and leaven these muffins. If you’re vegan and would prefer not to use eggs, you can try using flax eggs. Keep in mind, I haven’t tried using flax eggs in this recipe.
  • Unsweetened applesauce: I replaced some of the sweetener in the recipe for applesauce to lower the added sugar content. You can replace the applesauce with mashed banana (about 1 medium-sized banana).
  • Maple syrup: Be sure to use PURE maple syrup, and not Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup 🙂 You could also substitute honey.
  • Coconut oil: I thought about not adding any oil to these muffins, but the oil helps give them a nice golden color. I only use very little (1 tablespoon), but feel free to omit. You could also use olive oil instead of coconut oil.
  • Mandarin oranges: The star of the show here! I use the juice AND zest of two mandarin oranges.
  • Cranberries: I used fresh cranberries in this recipe, but feel free to use frozen cranberries instead. Although the pictures on this blog post show WHOLE cranberries, I recommend chopping them a little in your food processor before adding them to the batter. This helps better distribute the bitterness of the cranberries. 

Let’s get cooking! If you make this recipe I’d love to see it! Feel free to share on Instagram and tag me @shapedbycharlotte so I can see it.

Yield: 12 muffins

Paleo Cranberry Orange Muffins (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Three paleo cranberry orange muffins on a plate with a muffin pan and mandarin oranges in the background.

These moist, delicious, and healthy paleo cranberryorange muffins are jam-packed with fresh cranberries and bright orange flavor!They’re made with almond flour, and are great for breakfast, snack, or dessert.Plus, they’re gluten-free, dairy-free, and low in added sugar.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour* (optional, see note)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice** (optional, see note)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest and juice of 2 mandarin oranges
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (whole or chopped)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and line 12 slots of a standard-sized muffin tin.
  2. Combine flours, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Combine eggs, applesauce, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and orange zest and juice in a separate bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet. Fold in cranberries.
  4. Divide the batter evenly amongst liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake until batter is set and golden on top, about 22 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely before eating to let the flavors meld. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Notes

*I added coconut flour to absorb some of the moistness from the applesauce. If you don't have any, feel free to omit this from the recipe. Keep in mind, the muffins come out a little moister.

**Pumpkin spice enhances the flavor of these muffins, but isn't necessary. You can substitute cinnamon if you prefer.

Thanks for reading Shaped by Charlotte! To see what other healthy and tasty recipes I’m whipping up in the kitchen, be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

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