Cranberry Swirl Muffins (or Jam Swirl, or…)

Thanksgiving and the harvest season have just passed–which means that most American refrigerators and cupboards are full.  Do you have an abundance of leftover cranberry sauce?  A bonanza of canned jam?  Well these Cranberry Swirl Muffins (or Peach Jam Muffins or…) may be just what you need. 

Cranberry Swirl Muffins with Coffee

Cranberry Swirl Muffins with Coffee

The origin of this recipe really began a few years ago, when I won a Thanksgiving Leftovers contest sponsored by the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel.  Since then I have felt obligated to come up with annual new ways of dealing with leftovers, and cranberry sauce is one of my favorites.  I am truly obsessive about it–and slightly afraid that this is how neurotics are made.  

Swirl in a spoonful of warmed cranberry sauce

Swirl in a spoonful of warmed cranberry sauce

Sealing the deal was the fact that the older girls were coming home from school and the family would be united again.  I found a recipe for swirled jam bread that I decided to adapt, changing bread to muffins, jam to cranberry sauce and unhealthy to almost healthy.  Okay it’s pretty much a new recipe but I’m thankful for the concept!

A bowl full of cranberry swirl muffins

A bowl full of cranberry swirl muffins

My middle daughter (formerly-known-as-my-picky-daughter) arrived home early on Thanksgiving, looking tired and hungry, and the still warm muffins were waiting.  Despite the long trip, she wrinkled up her nose at them and began rummaging through the cupboards.  Expediency won out, she circled back and tasted declaring, โ€œthese are good!โ€  By the time we left for Thanksgiving dinner, only crumbs remained. 

Whew, another foodie crisis averted. 

Cranberry Swirl Muffin Closeup

Cranberry Swirl Muffin Closeup

What are your favorite (Thanksgiving or other) leftover uses?

Cranberry Swirl Muffins

Sweet and nutty, cranberry swirl muffins are a tasty and healthy way to use up leftover cranberry sauce. Also good swirled with jam.
Author: Inger
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Bread & Muffins
Cuisine American
Servings 12


  • 1/4 c butter melted
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c skim milk
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans optional
  • Scant 1 c cranberry sauce warmed to soften


  • Combine beaten eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter.
  • Sift together flours, sugar and baking powder.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients and pecans stirring until just blended. Spoon into 12 lined muffins cups.
  • Top each muffin with a spoonful of cranberry sauce and stir to swirl in. (This isn't pretty but the results are worth it)
  • Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes until muffins are golden.
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

28 thoughts on “Cranberry Swirl Muffins (or Jam Swirl, or…)

  1. Kathy

    The words “cranberry swirl” just made me swoon. Looks like a lively holiday muffin. Hoping you have a wonderful holiday season, Inger, with lots of good food.

  2. lena

    these are glorious muffins to me…i like the generous amount of cranberry sauce in it..tho i hv not tasted cranberry sauce in muffins, i believe they must be so good that they were all finished within a short time! inger, who said they are not pretty? they look wonderful!

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks Lena. I think my daughter built up a lot of hunger for homemade food while away at school!

  3. Ivy Sew

    Hi Inger, what an awesome and delightful cranberry muffins! It’s also a great way to use up whatever leftovers and no wastage. Thumbs up to you and cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Kathy

    These muffins look like a perfect addition to any breakfast or brunch table during the holidays! Just lovely, Inger! I love to add leftover pumpkin to cooked oatmeal…so good!

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks Kathy! And great idea on the pumpkin–it is so nutritious I am always looking for new things to do with it!

  5. Beth

    Your muffins look gorgeous! I have a few turkey leftover recipes that I rely on, including a tetrazzini that I love.

    1. Inger Post author

      Tetrazzini is a great idea Beth! I make a turkey after Christmas to have leftovers when the kids are all home and should try this for something new!

  6. Lynn

    These look great! Somehow I ended up with leftover pumpkin purรฉe this year (of all things) instead of cranberry sauce.

      1. Lynn

        It’s like you read my mind – I was thinking that a pumpkin spice latte would be a good way to use it up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Will be trying that tomorrow!

  7. Louise

    Hi Inger!
    Well, you already know I have a slew of cranberry sauce just waiting for a “home.” I think it’s adorable that your daughter “gave in” for a taste, lol…I’m liking this recipe but this time, I may be using some strawberry/peach jam from Summer’s bounty. I need a reminder, yes, this early in the season, lol…Thanks for sharing, Inger. They look delicious!!!

    1. Inger Post author

      I have a few jars of jam left from last season, so that was my initial thought. Then I realized how close we were to Thanksgiving and the rest is history. I do always think of you and Marion though when cranberry sauce comes up!

  8. grace

    i feel like i’ve seen SO many uses for leftover cranberry sauce, but this one speaks to me. what a beautiful batch of muffins!

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks Grace. You know now that you mention it–and now that I am finally getting to read my Nov/Dec magazines, I AM seeing a lot of cranberry sauce. Perhaps I can skip feeling obligated about leftover recipes next year ๐Ÿ˜‰

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