Orange Muffins are tender, lovely, and easy to make from scratch, with delicate flavors of vanilla and citrus from fresh orange juice and zest!
Muffins have always been one of my favorite things to bake and -- let's face it -- eat. So I love coming up with new variations of my tried-and-true recipes! And these Orange Muffins are just that.
Awhile back, I converted my longtime favorite Classic Blueberry Muffin recipe into Whole Wheat Lemon Blueberry Muffins. And since those turned out so yummy, I decided to experiment and see if that same base recipe would work with flavors of orange and vanilla.
Fresh Orange Muffins
And wouldn't you know it? It did! These Orange Muffins didn't just work...they turned out absolutely delicious. They're soft and tender but not too light, with a moist crumb. The fresh squeezed orange juice and orange zest lends them just the right amount of citrus flavor. And that citrus punch is nicely balanced by a generous amount of pure vanilla extract.
Orange Vanilla has long been one of my favorite scents for a candle, so I'm happy to report that the combo works equally well as a muffin flavor! 😉 Ha.
It seems that orange muffins are typically peppered with cranberries. And while those are certainly delicious, I have to admit that I love the simplicity of these "plain" Orange Muffins. That being said, it would be easy to jazz them up with a variety of add-ins:
- Fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries
- Dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, or raisins
- Chocolate chips or chunks
- Chopped toasted nuts
- Shredded coconut
- Poppy seeds
Ideas for Toppings
- These muffins are perfectly delightful plain and simple. I did sprinkle the tops with a bit of additional fresh orange zest after they cooled, but that was more to make them pretty for photos than anything. 😉
- I typically love sprinkling my homemade muffins with coarse sparkling sugar before they go into the oven...it gives the tops a nice, sweet crunch. Alas, I couldn't find my sparkling sugar when I made these -- ha.
- These muffins would also be yummy drizzled with a nice orange glaze.
- It's super quick and simple to make one by squeezing 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice into a bowl.
- Gradually stir in about 1 ⅓ cups of powdered sugar, adjusting the proportions (if necessary) until the right consistency is reached.
- Then mix in ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract and generously drizzle the glaze over the tops of the muffins!
Make 'em Healthy(-ish)
If you'd like to make these Orange Muffins a bit more wholesome, you may substitute whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour.
Whole wheat pastry flour is 100% whole wheat, but it lends baked goods a light taste and texture that's more akin to that of white flour. It's an all-star pantry staple at my house and I adore baking with it.
Tips, Tricks, & Equipment
- This recipe comes together quickly in the bowl of a stand mixer, but you can also mix it in a bowl by hand if you prefer.
- I finally broke down and bought some spiffy new muffin pans to replace the rusted-out ones that I've been using for years. So in case you're in the same boat and like the pan pictured in this post, here ya go! 😉
- I like to use a cookie scoop to neatly fill my cupcake liners, because otherwise, I make a total mess.
- When I made this recipe, the juice and zest from 2 large naval oranges was plenty.
- This is the whole wheat pastry flour that I usually buy.
- Vanilla is very expensive these days, but I maintain that it makes such a difference to the flavor of baked goods to use a good quality pure vanilla extract. I used to be a Nielsen-Massey snob --- and I still looooooove the stuff -- but I just can't stomach the price of the 32-ounce jug (that used to cost $30-something!). So now I just buy whatever real vanilla extract comes at the best price.
- Muffins are best enjoyed fresh. Completely cool leftover muffins may be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two days. After that, transfer any leftovers to the refrigerator. And hey, even a slightly stale muffin is delicious reheated in the microwave for a few seconds, particularly if it's been sliced open and spread with a pat of salted of butter. 😉
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup milk, at room temperature
- ½ cup orange juice, fresh-squeezed
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Work in the softened butter with an electric mixer or fork. Blend in the eggs, milk, orange juice, vanilla, and orange zest until all ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Evenly divide the batter between the 16 prepared muffin cups.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the muffins just test done with a toothpick, taking care not to overbake. After a few minutes, remove the muffins from the pans and cool on a wire rack, or eat them warm out of the oven with a pat of salted butter.
- I made this recipe using the juice and zest from 2 large naval oranges.
- Muffins are best enjoyed fresh. Completely cool leftover muffins may be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two days. After that, transfer any leftovers to the refrigerator.