Cranberry orange cupcakes have amazing flavor and are absolutely stunning. Moist and fluffy vanilla cupcakes filled with cranberry curd, swirled with orange buttercream frosting, and topped with sugared cranberries. These cupcakes are ideal for Thanksgiving or Christmas!
Ingredients for Cranberry Orange Cupcakes
- All-purpose flour – Level the measuring cups!
- Granulated sugar – For sweetness.
- Baking powder – Leavening agent to help the cupcake rise.
- Salt – Enhances flavors and contrasts sweetness.
- Milk – Room temperature.
- Vegetable oil – You can also use canola oil or another neutral baking oil.
- Egg – Large egg, room temperature.
- Sour cream – Adds moisture to the cupcakes.
- Vanilla extract – Vanilla extract adds amazing floral vanilla flavor.
Orange Buttercream Frosting
- Unsalted butter – Room temperature, softened butter.
- Powdered sugar – Also known as icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar.
- Orange juice – Freshly squeezed is best for the brightest orange flavor.
- Orange zest – Be sure to zest before your juice the orange.
- Vanilla extract – Adds a bit of underlying vanilla notes to the frosting.
- Salt – Provides some contrast to the intense sweetness of the buttercream.
- Heavy cream – Use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream.
- Cranberries – Fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries will work equally well.
- Granulated sugar – For sweetness because cranberries are tart and bitter.
- Orange juice – Freshly squeezed!
- Orange zest – Adds great orange flavor.
- Water – Water brings everything together.
- Egg yolks – Just the yolks! Use the egg whites for Swiss meringue buttercream frosting!
- Unsalted butter – Makes the cranberry curd smooth and creamy.
- Sugared cranberries – These sugared cranberries make for a gorgeous and elegant garnish! Check out this post on how to make the sugared cranberries.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Cupcakes
- Bake the vanilla cupcakes: The vanilla cupcakes in this recipe are my classic vanilla cupcakes. No electric mixer required! All you need to do is whisk together the dry and wet ingredients in a large bowl, bake cupcakes, and you have moist, fluffy vanilla cupcakes!
- Whip up the orange buttercream frosting: The orange buttercream frosting is a spin off my vanilla buttercream frosting with the addition of fresh orange juice and orange zest. The buttercream comes together in less than 10 minutes. To make the buttercream, I recommend using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer.
- Make the cranberry curd: Next step is making the cranberry curd. The process is similar to making a lemon curd with the addition of egg yolks and unsalted butter to make the curd thick, smooth, and creamy. The curd has amazing tart and citrusy flavor.
- Make the sugared cranberries: Sugared cranberries are quick and easy to make and add an elegant flair to the cupcakes. Check out this blog post on how to make the sugared cranberries.
- Assemble the cupcakes: Core thevanilla cupcake with an apple corer to make room for filling. Fill a piping bag with cranberry curd and fill the center of the cupcake. Use a piping bag fitted with an Ateco 857 piping tip to swirl the orange buttercream frosting on top of the filled cupcake. Decorate with sugared cranberries.
- Check out my baking tips blog posts on 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cupcakes and 10 Tips for Making Perfect Buttercream to learn simple tips and tricks to make these cupcakes the best ever!
- Make the cranberry curd up to one week before you bake the cupcakes. You can also make the orange buttercream frosting up to one week ahead of time as well. To use, bring the buttercream to room temperature and rewhip until it is smooth and creamy.
- Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Serve at room temperature for the best taste and texture.
Cranberry Orange Cupcakes
- Stand mixer fitted with a whisk and/or paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup milk room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp sour cream room temperature
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Orange Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp orange juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 6 oz cranberries fresh or frozen
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- ¼ cup water
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter cold and cubed
- 36 sugared cranberries click here for the recipe
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the milk, vegetable oil, sour cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk until the batter is combined and smooth.
- Portion the cupcake batter into the cupcake liners using a large cookie scoop, about ¾ full. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes until the tops of the cupcakes bounce back slightly when touched.
- Remove the cupcake pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Orange Buttercream Frosting
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add in room temperature unsalted butter. Whip the butter for 5 minutes on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides occasionally. The butter will be light, fluffy, and pale in color.
- Add one half of the powdered sugar and mix on the lowest speed setting until fully combined. Add remaining powdered sugar and continue to mix on low until incorporated.
- Add orange juice, orange zest, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on low until combined. Slowly drizzle in the heavy cream.
- Turn the speed on the mixer to medium-high and whip for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure the frosting is well mixed.
- In a saucepan, combine fresh or frozen cranberries, granulated sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and water. Cook the cranberry mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture will bubble, reduce, and thicken slightly.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a blender, food processor, or heat-safe container to use an immersion blender to puree the cranberry mixture until smooth. Be careful as the mixture will be hot. (See: tips)
- Add egg yolks to a bowl and whisk until broken up. Very slowly drizzle the hot cranberry mixture into the egg yolks whisking constantly to temper the egg yolks so they do not scramble. Transfer the cranberry mixture back to a saucepan and place over low heat. Cook the mixture for an additional 3 minutes whisking constantly until thickened.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add in cold, cubed unsalted butter, one cube at a time, whisking in between each addition.
- Once all the butter is added, melted, and well combined into the cranberry curd, transfer the curd to a heat-safe container. Cover the cranberry curd with a lid or plastic wrap and cool to room temperature. Once cooled, chill the curd in the refrigerator for at least two hours before using.
Assembling the Cranberry Orange Cupcakes
- Use an apple corer to remove the center of the cooled vanilla cupcakes.
- Use a piping bag filled with the cranberry curd to fill the center of the cupcakes.
- Use a piping bag fitted with an Ateco 857 tip to pipe a swirl of orange buttercream frosting to the top of the cupcakes. Start in the center, swirl outward, and pull slightly upward once you reach the edge of the cupcakes.
- Garnish the cupcakes with three sugared cranberries.