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Cranberry Orange Bread:

Cranberry Orange Bread:  Fresh cranberries, paired with orange citrus in what can be called a bread or cake. A tender crumb filled with goodness and drizzled with a simple sugar glaze.  A homemade treat that will be appreciated for all of the people you make food gifts at Christmas for!

Cranberry Orange Bread cut on a fancy plate with the whole loaf behind it!

Looking for the perfect Food Gift at Christmas for those you care for.  This Cranberry Orange bread will make you the most popular person in the neighborhood.  It’s easy to make but still full of all of the flavors of the season.  It works well for your next-door neighbor, a co-worker or as an item to bring for your company potluck.

The cranberry orange bread is so light with a tender crumb, lots of my neighbors refer to it as a cranberry orange cake, or the Christmas Cake.

What is the trick to making Cranberry Orange Cake for baking gifts?

This Cranberry Orange Bread is super easy to make.  I used a mixer to mix it up (like this Kitchen Aid Here) but you could also use a hand mixer or even just a spoon and some manual stirring.

The trick for the bread/cake is to mix everything in one at a time and pay attention to the consistency and color changes to know when to go to the next step.

Process Shot of the batter steps for the Cranberry Orange cake. It shows 4 steps of the recipes and how the texture changes at each one.
  1. The first step is mixing the butter, orange zest and sugar alone.  The sugar completely mixes in and the color really doesn’t change.  It feels like a butter spread (see diagram 1). By adding the orange zest here the oils will be transferred equally throughout the dough for a more intense orange flavor.s
  2. Adding the eggs in one at a time to completely incorporate (see 2 and 3) The color lightens right away with the first egg, by the time you have added them all (diagram 3) the batter is much fluffier and lighter in color.
  3. You need to mix all of the dry ingredients together before adding them into the egg/sugar.  Mixing the dry ingredients allows for even baking throughout the whole loaf.  (second tip…. you can either use a sifter like this one here or you could use a mixing bowl, and a whisk to mix them all together.  This recipe doesn’t require sifted ingredients for the lighter texture like some recipes do, the sifter is just to spread the ingredients evenly.
  4. The next step is to add the buttermilk and dry ingredients alternatively.  When doing this, the batter will get much lighter in color and a little bit denser (see photo 4.)
    Side by side process shot of adding the fresh cranberries to the Cranberry Orange Batter/Dough and how they look in the pans before baking.
  5. I suggest using fresh cranberries in this recipe.  You can sub dried cranberries, but the fresh cranberries make this more festive and much more flavorful in my opinion.  Dried cranberries are a little sweeter due to the concentration in drying.  The fresh cranberries in this Cranberry Orange Bread are tart and go well with the amount of orange juice and sugar in the recipe.
    1. Whether you used a hand mixer, regular mixer or a spatula up until this point, when stirring in the cranberries fold them in by hand.  This will allow for more gentle handling of the cranberries so the red juice doesn’t turn the whole bread/cake dough/batter pink!
  6. Finally, pour the batter into prepared loaf pans.  (see diagram 6) (To prepare the pans butter the bottom and sides, then put in some flour and coat all sides.  This will make this Holiday food gift easy to come out of the pan for wrapping!

If you are looking for other recipes to give as homemade food gifts or holiday treats you can also check out Fearless Dining for her Gluten-free Cranberry Shortbread bars or my recipe for Blueberry Lemon Muffins  Tropical Christmas cookies   (They will make you wish you were on a tropical island and forget about the stress of the holidays I promise! ).

If you have your heart set on another bread gift recipe this recipe for Pumpkin bread never disappoints (especially the cream cheese glaze…..)  from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dishes!  I almost forgot…. if you need a bread the just screams holidays…. this Eggnog Bread from A foodie Affair will make anyone get in the holiday spirit!

PIN THIS TO YOUR HOLIDAY GIFT BOARD for when you are looking for ideas to give at Christmas! Also, Follow me on Pinterest to get more ideas to have for making easy delicious meals and appetizers for any entertaining!

Close up Of Cut Cranberry Orange Bread with sugar drizzle on a cutout white plate
Yield: 16 slices

Cranberry Orange Bread:

Closeup of Cranberry Orange bread with a sugar glaze drizzle on a white lattice plate for a snack.

Cranberry Orange Bread:  Fresh cranberries, paired with orange citrus in what can be called a bread or cake. A tender crumb filled with goodness and drizzled with a simple sugar glaze.  A homemade treat that will be appreciated for all of the people you make food gifts at Christmas for!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes



  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest, (zest from 1 very large orange or 2 medium oranges)
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (whole fat)
  • 2 3/4 cups fresh cranberries, (frozen ok too)
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Orange Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest


Cranberry Orange Bread

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Prepare 2 loaf pans by using butter to grease the bottom and sides of the pans.  Then place a small scoop of flour in the pan and tilt the pan to cover all greased areas with flour.  Dump remaining flour away.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream butter sugar and orange zest together on high for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Then one at a time, add an egg to the butter mixture.  Mix for one minute before adding the second egg, then again one more minute before adding the last egg.
  5. Add vanilla and mix for one minute more.
  6. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. 
  7. Turn the mixer onto low and 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture. Mix until combined Then add 1/3 of buttermilk and mix until combined.  Repeat this step two more times until all flour and buttermilk have been incorporated.
  8. Remove bowl from the mixer.
  9. Add cranberries to the dough and by hand using a spatula fold the cranberries in gently to not break the cranberries.  Mix as little as possible to just get them even to avoid the batter turning pink from any juices.
  10. Pour batter into the loaf pans (each pan getting half of the batter.) I use an 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 x 2 1/2" pa n--
  11. Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted to the center.
  12. Let loaves cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the loaf pan.  Then allow to completely cool for 30 minutes before pouring Orange glaze over the top.  
  13. Once you have glazed the bread/cake allow it to cool completely then wrap each loaf in cellophane and tie up with a ribbon for giving as gifts.

Orange Glaze

  1. In a small bowl add all ingredients and mix until well combined.


This recipe is adapted from Chef In Training .... 

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

16 slices

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306Saturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 129mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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Donna Tumolo

Sunday 6th of December 2020

What size tins are you using???

Michele Hall

Sunday 6th of December 2020

I use an 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 x 2 1/2" loaf pan--- even if you have a slightly larger pan, if you use a toothpick to check for doneness you should be fine! ~m

Dominique | Perchance to Cook

Thursday 30th of November 2017

This is my kind of holiday bread/cake! I LOVE orange and cranberry together and can't wait to try this recipe. This cake looks so moist, yuuuum!


Monday 27th of November 2017

Great taste!

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