Swirled Cranberry Cornbread Muffins

Festive Swirled Cranberry Cornbread Muffins are here to jazz up your Thanksgiving table! Fluffy cornbread muffins are swirled with cranberry sauce, giving them the perfect balance of savory & sweet. With less than 10 ingredients required, these cranberry corn muffins are just as easy to make as they are impressive to serve. A great side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

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Swirled cranberry cornbread muffins shown on top of a black plaid napkin atop a white surface. Some fresh cranberries are scattered around the muffins.

Treasured Family Recipe with a Twist: Swirled Cranberry Cornbread Muffins!

Of all the amazing Thanksgiving recipes we’ve shared on PWWB over the years, this recipe is nearest & dearest to my heart.

These cranberry muffins are the product of swirling (truly!) a little bit of PWWB flare into one of my most treasured family recipes, Grandpa Clarence’s cornbread. The result? A perfect combination of heartfelt tradition & newness.

Grandpa Clarence is my maternal grandfather. I’ve written about him a few times here on the blog, as his cooking & baking are central to some of my fondest childhood memories. Grandpa lived in Hawaii for most of my life so we didn’t get to spend too much time together throughout my childhood. Any time we were together, though, was always a special treat, figuratively & literally.

Grandpa is a fantastic baker. Our childhood visits to the island were always filled with Banana Muffins, Oatmeal Crispies, & of course: Grandpa Clarence’s Famous Cornbread.

Swirled Cranberry Cornbread Recipe Highlights

The fact that I get to share Grandpa Clarence’s cornbread recipe with you is kind of a big deal! He’s usually pretty secretive with his recipes – he takes a great deal of pride in tinkering with & perfecting a recipe.

& Grandpa’s cornbread recipe is just that – perfect.

You’ll love this cornbread muffin recipe because…

  • IT HAS CRAVEABLE TEXTURE. The cornbread itself is super light, fluffy, & flavorful. Grandpa’s recipe calls for a lot cornmeal, which creates the best texture & adds so much flavor to these easy cornbread muffins.
  • IS SUPER FESTIVE. To make them especially festive & fun to serve during the holiday season, I add whole cranberry sauce straight into the cornbread mix. The result? Each muffin is swirled not once, but twice, to ensure they’re filled with cranberry goodness in every single bite.
  • & IS SO FLAVORFUL & VERSATILE. These muffins are gorgeous, moist, tender, & perfectly savory-sweet. They’re easy to make, a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas line-up, & a delicious fall breakfast option, too.
Side angle of cranberry cornbread muffins stacked on top of a vintage muffin pan.

& the fact that you’re making Grandpa Clarence’s Cornbread? That’s just an added bonus. ♡ Read on to learn more about this Cranberry Cornbread Muffins recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

Cranberry Cornbread Muffins Key Ingredients

Only 9 ingredients needed to make these cranberry cornbread muffins & most of them are probably in your pantry already!

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The cast of characters includes…

  • All-purpose flour – For gluten-free muffins, feel free to swap out the AP flour with your favorite 1:1 gluten-free flour blend.
  • Cornmeal – Be sure to grab cornmeal for this cornbread recipe, not corn flour. While both cornmeal & corn flour are made from corn, their textures are drastically different. Corn flour is very finely ground, while cornmeal has a coarse texture.
  • Baking powder & baking soda – For rise. Using both BP & BS is key!
  • Sugar – For sweetness.
  • Eggs – To bind everything together.
  • Milk – For moist muffins! I typically use whole milk in this muffin recipe, but use your favorite milk variety – dairy or non-dairy.
  • Unsalted butter – For ultra buttery muffins!
  • Whole berry cranberry sauce – Many of the cranberry cornbread recipes I’ve seen call for dried cranberries, but I much prefer using whole cranberry sauce. It’s so pretty swirled throughout the muffins, & the flavor from the sauce is much richer than from dried cranberries. Plus, whole cranberry sauce is readily available at the store this time of year!

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

Fun Fact!

Grandpa Clarence’s classic cornbread recipe does call for one super secret ingredient that you won’t find in my recipe, only because I’ve tested these cranberry cornbread muffins with & without it & I honestly don’t find it to be necessary. (Sorry, Grandpa!!)

How to Make Festive Cornbread Muffins

With simple muffin ingredients come a pretty straight-forward muffin-making operation!

Swirling cranberry sauce into cornbread batter with a toothpick.
Note: full Recipe Directions with step-by-step photos provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The key steps include:

  • Mix the dry ingredients: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking to combine.
  • Mix the batter: Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Try not to overmix the batter! Overmixing activates the proteins in the flour, which makes muffins tough. Mix the wet into the dry, just until combined.
  • Swirl the batter: Line a muffin pan with paper liners, then add a little bit of batter to each of the cups. I like to use a 2-tablespoon scoop to keep everything uniform. Add some cranberry sauce over top. Use a toothpick to swirl the cranberry sauce into the batter. Repeat the layers once more, creating the most perfectly swirled muffins.
  • Bake! Bake the cranberry cornbread muffins until the tops are set & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Can I Make A Cornbread Loaf Instead of Muffins?

Yes! To bake this cornbread recipe as a loaf instead of individual muffins: Add the batter to a greased 9×13 baking dish, then swirl the cranberry sauce throughout it. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

A muffin pan with cranberry sauce swirled into cornbread muffin batter.

All that’s left to do is slather on some butter (or salted honey butter -yummm!) & devour!

Cranberry corn muffins placed in a vintage muffin pan. 2 of the muffin cups are filled with fresh cranberries.
Butter & cranberry sauce spread overtop a sliced cranberry cornbread muffin.

These Cranberry Cornbread Muffins embody everything that the holiday season is about: honoring family traditions passed down through the generations & creating new traditions to celebrate year after year. I can’t wait for you to try them.

If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Love festive seasonal sides? We’ve got you covered! Be sure to try our Extra Flaky Pumpkin Biscuits with Garlic Herb Butter, this Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage & Mushrooms, or this (Cheater!) Easy Sweet Potato Casserole next. Happy cooking! ♡

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Swirled cranberry cornbread muffins shown on top of a black plaid napkin atop a white surface. Some fresh cranberries are scattered around the muffins.

Swirled Cranberry Cornbread Muffins

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Total Time: 35 Minutes
  • Yield: 2022 Muffins 1x
  • Category: Side Dish Recipes, Desserts
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Festive Swirled Cranberry Cornbread Muffins are perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Fluffy cornbread muffins are swirled with cranberry sauce, giving them the perfect balance of savory & sweet. They’re just as easy to make as they are impressive to serve!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, divided


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin liners and set aside.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients: Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, & kosher salt to a large bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. Finish the muffin batter: Add the eggs and milk to a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Take care not to overmix the batter!
  4. Prep the muffins: Add 2 tablespoons of the cornbread muffin batter to each of the prepared liners. I like to use a 2 tablespoon scoop, to keep everything uniform. Add 1 teaspoon of the cranberry sauce over top, using a toothpick to swirl the cranberry sauce into the batter. Repeat once more with 2 more tablespoons of muffin batter and 1 more teaspoon of cranberry sauce. The muffin liners should be about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake the muffins for 15-18 minutes, until the centers are just set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly.
  6. Serve warm slathered with butter or salted honey butter (yum!). Enjoy!


  • Storage: Leftover cranberry cornbread muffins will keep, stored in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 1 week. You can also freeze baked cornbread muffins for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator & reheat in the microwave before serving.
  • Portions: As written, this cranberry cornbread recipe yields a large batch of 20-22 muffins, up to 15 as a side dish. For a different sized crowd:
    • Scaled down: To serve up to 8 as a side dish, halve the recipe, yielding 10-11 muffins.
    • Make it a mini: To serve a cozy crowd of up to 4, quarter the recipe, yielding 5-6 muffins.
  • Make it a loaf: If you prefer to make a loaf vs individual muffins, you can definitely bake cranberry cornbread instead of cranberry cornbread muffins. Add the batter to a greased 9×13 baking dish, then swirl the cranberry all throughout it. Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Overhead angle of cranberry cornbread muffins stacked on top of a vintage muffin pan.

Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu?

You’re in the right place! 🙌🏼 Here at PWWB, Thanksgiving is our absolute favorite holiday meal! Head over to our Thanksgiving Recipes archive for tons of incredible Thanksgiving dishes, ideas, & inspiration.

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Let’s make this your BEST Thanksgiving yet!

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Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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  1. 11.25.18
    Kathleen Dorsch said:

    Made these this morning, prior to drinking my coffee, and forgot to add the sugar! Turns out, they are still pretty delicious!

  2. 11.12.18

    This is such a brilliant idea!! My husband was just saying last night that he would love to see more cranberries in baked goods…and since we both love cornbread, this seems like the perfect recipe to try with our leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving in a few weeks. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

    • 11.12.18
      jess said:

      hey cj! so glad you’re loving the idea of these muffins!! they’re honestly so good, & yes! totally perfect for thanksgiving dinner or leftovers. please let me know if you try them! xo