Start a Mouth-Watering Thanksgiving Morning Tradition

Fresh Cranberry Pecan Streusel Muffins Recipe

Over the years, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in many regions of this great country, each holding a special place in my heart because of the family and friends with whom I was blessed to share time. While growing up on a farm in Nebraska, I always looked forward to my Aunt’s moist, sweet cranberry bread appearing on my parents’ long dining table, which comfortably seats eighteen.

That recipe – now made countless times over the years for my own family – hailed from Ohio and is the inspiration for these perfectly sweet-tart fresh cranberry muffins. They’re just right for breakfast or brunch over the holiday weekend and easily can be made ahead and frozen, adding the drizzle before serving. Or stir them together, scoop into muffin tins and refrigerate overnight; top and bake fresh the next morning.

White whole wheat flour adds a rich, nutty flavor to the muffins and yields a texture similar to all-purpose flour in many baked goods, especially those leavened with baking powder. The orange juice adds sweetness to the batter surrounding the tart cranberries without imparting an “orange” flavor. Also, the streusel topping and drizzle may be left off but definitely add visual and textural interest, as well as a sweet touch.

Just guessing … these might become a requested family tradition at your house, too!     

Fresh Cranberry Pecan Streusel Muffins


  • 2 ¼ cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup toasted, chopped pecans

Topping (optional):

  • 4 teaspoons old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Drizzle (optional):

  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice or milk


Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 12 regular-size muffin cups; spray cups with vegetable cooking spray.


In medium bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in 2/3 cup orange juice, oil and egg until completely combined. Add cranberries and pecans, stirring until combined; batter will be thick. Evenly scoop batter into muffin cups. (If desired, cover with plastic wrap sprayed with vegetable cooking spray and refrigerate overnight to top and bake in the morning.)


If desired, in small bowl, stir together oats, 4 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle over muffin batter.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick in center comes out nearly clean. Do not overbake. Cool about 2 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack.


If desired, whisk together powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon orange juice; drizzle over muffins.

Makes 12 muffins



  • To toast pecans, place in heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2-4 minutes. Cool.
  • Toasting nuts adds an additional dimension of flavor which will not develop in baking since the nuts are stirred into the batter. If you have a nut allergy or aren’t a fan, simply leave them out.
  • Regular-size muffin cup liners – sprayed with vegetable cooking spray before filling – make for easy release of muffins when serving.
  • To make-ahead and freeze, bake and completely cool muffins. Double wrap in freezer bags. Thaw and top with drizzle before serving.
  • To make-ahead and bake the next morning, prepare batter and fill muffin cups. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator and add topping; bake, cool and drizzle according to directions.


Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.