Looking for a festive treat with the best flavors of the season? You will love this cranberry orange bread. It is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and sure to brighten up your holiday buffet.
I love making bread! When things get busy around the holidays, I especially love throwing together an easy-to-make quick bread for friends and family.
They are such a great snack to savor with a cup of coffee and good conversation.
Since quick bread relies on chemical leaveners (like baking powder) rather than yeast, it is super-simple to make and a great place for a novice bread baker to start.
This orange cranberry bread is my favorite quick bread recipe around the holidays! It is tender (thanks to the butter), has a cakey crumb, and the flavors will make your taste buds do a little happy dance. The optional glaze adds both sweetness and a little moisture.
The result? A cranberry loaf that will become a family tradition.
- Cranberries: Fresh cranberries are best in this cranberry bread recipe, but you could use frozen if you don't have fresh ones. Make sure to thaw and drain them to remove excess liquid.
- Sugar: Use white granular sugar for coating the cranberries.
- Orange zest: The orange flavor in this recipe comes from the zest of one orange.
- Lemon: Lemon zest adds a great flavor to the cranberries; the lemon juice combined with the milk helps to mimic the taste of buttermilk without the need to buy any.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour, not bread flour or cake flour.
- Milk: I recommend whole milk in this recipe, but you could use 2% if that is what you have on hand.
- Cornmeal: Fine yellow cornmeal (not polenta or grits) is what you will need.
- Brown sugar: I like the flavor of light brown sugar in this recipe. It adds a nice caramel flavor that goes well with the cranberries and lemon.
- Baking powder: Baking powder is needed to help the cornbread rise while baking. Make sure that you use baking powder, not baking soda.
- Salt: Don't forget the salt! Salt brings out all the flavors of this recipe.
- Melted butter: I like to use unsalted butter in my baking, but it is up to you.
- Eggs: Use large eggs if you have them.
- Confectioner's sugar: Also called powdered sugar, this is used to make the optional glaze.
- Milk or orange juice: For an even more punchy orange flavor, use orange juice to make an orange glaze. If you don't have it on hand, milk works as well.
Step By Step
For the full recipe with measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
First, start by preheating your oven.
In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, and flour.
Toss everything together until well mixed but be careful not to burst your cranberries.
Next, grease a 9 x 5 bread pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper so that the sides overlap.
Spray the parchment paper well. (The cranberry mixture will be a little sticky after it cooks!)
Spread the cranberries on the bottom of the pan.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and lemon juice. Set aside for 5 minutes so that it can thicken slightly.
Then, in a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a large spoon to form a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
Pour the wet ingredients into the well.
Stir until the flour mixture, and wet ingredients are just combined.
Finally, pour the batter on top of the cranberries in the pan and spread it out evenly.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
Place the bread pan on a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Using the parchment paper as handles, remove the bread from the pan and place it on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, flatten the top of the bread so that it lays flat when inverted. (Save the crumbs and toast them for topping yogurt!)
Invert the bread onto a serving platter and then carefully remove the parchment paper.
Cranberry Orange Bread with Glaze
If you want to glaze the bread, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and milk or orange juice in a small bowl. Add just enough liquid so that the mixture comes together.
Drizzle over the cooled bread.
Serve this cranberry loaf bread warm for the best flavor.
Tips, Tricks & Variations
- If you don't want to make the glaze, keep the top plain or dust with a little confectioner's sugar.
- For a more pronounced orange flavor, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of orange extract.
- Up to ⅔ cup of chopped nuts may be added. I especially like pecans or walnuts in this recipe.
- White chocolate chips are another fabulous addition to this cranberry orange loaf.
- Make sure you don't skip lining the bread pan with parchment paper! The cranberries will get very sticky as they cook.
- To make cranberry orange bread with buttermilk, omit the lemon juice and replace the milk with buttermilk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use frozen cranberries?
Yes, you can use frozen cranberries to make cranberry quick bread. However, be sure to thaw and drain them thoroughly before using.
This will help remove excess liquid that could make the cornbread soggy. You may also need to increase the amount of flour slightly if the berries are extra juicy.
Can I substitute dried cranberries for fresh?
Yes, you can use dried cranberries instead of fresh ones in this recipe, but you won't get quite the same results. The beauty of this recipe is that when warm, the cranberries create a sweet and tart jammy topping that is irresistible.
If you do use dried cranberries, make sure that they are rehydrated before using. I recommend using ¾ cup.
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Leftovers cranberry orange quick bread can be stored at room temperature for up to three days. The glaze will start to deteriorate after a day or two, but it is still safe to eat.
For longer storage, I recommend freezing. To freeze quick bread, let the bread cool completely. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap or freezer paper, and then place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to three months.
To use, defrost at room temperature.
Whether stored frozen or at room temperature, heat in the oven or microwave until warm before serving.
More Bread Recipes to Try
- Bread Machine Brioche
- Healthy Gluten Free Banana Bread
- Bread Machine Pumpkin Bread
- Bread Machine Hamburger Buns
- Quinoa Bread
Cranberry Orange Bread
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs beaten
- ¾ cup confectioner's sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 ° F. In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, and flour. Toss until combined
- Grease a 9 x 5 bread pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper so that the sides overlap. Spray the parchment paper. Add the cranberry mixture to the bottom of the pan.
- Whisk together the milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center.
- Pour the milk mixture, butter, and eggs into the well.
- Stir until just combined.
- Pour on top of the cranberry mixture. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the pan using the parchment paper. Use a serrated knife to flatten the top of the bread.
- Invert on a serving platter and carefully remove the parchment paper. If you want to glaze the bread, whisk the confectioner's sugar and milk or orange juice in a small bowl. Add just enough liquid so that the mixture comes together. Drizzle on top of the bread.