This cranberry orange bread recipe combines the popular flavor of cranberry bread with the tart pop of citrus. Combined you have one of the absolute best and most moist cranberry orange bread recipes ever. It’ll be one of your go-to cranberry bread recipes every year.
The Best Cranberry Orange Bread
It all started when my mom convinced me to try mixing cranberry juice into my orange juice. The tart flavor of the cranberry perfectly balances the sweetness of the orange. Cranberry orange juice is still my favorite drink, but it’s gone far beyond just juice now.
I absolutely love the tartness of cranberries and how they can complement a sweet salad, baked good, or even soup so well. They’re amazing in these cranberry orange bites and in this strawberry spinach salad.
This cranberry orange bread recipe is actually one from one of my good friends Kristin. She made it for a baby shower we hosted together a few years ago, and I knew I had to have it. She so graciously shared it with me, and I’ve made this cranberry bread every year for the past eight years! And these cranberry orange bites.
It’s my favorite, just above this easy zucchini bread! And I think you’re going to love it because:
- It’s super moist and flavorful!
- It’s easy to double or triple – great for holiday gifts!
- It freezes really well!
- It’s just straight out delicious with nuts or not!
- Cranberries – you can use either fresh or frozen cranberries but don’t use dried, they won’t give you the same flavor. If you can’t find fresh cranberries or it’s not cranberry season, I’ve always been able to find frozen cranberries at Whole Foods all year long!
- Chopped nuts – I like to include chopped pecans or walnuts (personal preference) in this bread but if you aren’t a nut person, these can be skipped.
- Vegetable oil – vegetable, canola, or avocado oil work best
- Orange zest – freshly grated orange zest is best
- Orange juice – I typically juice fresh oranges for this since I’m already going to be zesting them but any orange juice works great
How to Make Cranberry Bread
The cranberry bread is fairly simple to make but does take a little bit of time because you start out by chopping all of the cranberries in half. Watch the video below to see how easy it is!
Before you get started, preheat your oven and spray whatever loaf pans (mini or large) you’ll be using with non-stick spray.
The first thing you need to do is chop the cranberries in half. Like I mentioned, this can take a bit of time but it’s totally worth it in the end.
And I don’t recommend using one of those chopper things or a food processor – you’ll end up with uneven pieces and little tiny ones. Less cranberry flavor mixed into every bite.
Once they’re all chopped, mix the cranberries with the sugar. Stir them around gently to frost them all.
Next mix your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) together in a bowl and set them aside. You’ll work with them in a minute.
In another bowl, combine the sugar, orange rind, and vegetable oil. Then add the eggs and combine.
Add the flour mixture, orange juice, and water to the bowl with the sugar mixture. Mix together until well combined.
Once the bread is done, serve sliced or just bite off chunks of the mini loaves like I do. No matter the way you slice it, it’s going to be delicious.
Add chopped nuts and cranberries to the batter and stir gently to combine.
Pour the batter into your greased loaf pans and bake in the preheated oven.
Bake until you can insert a knife or toothpick in the largest part of the bread (typically the center) and it comes out clean.
Let cool before removing from the loaf pan. Serve warm (or at room temperature) with butter or your other favorite spread.
Or wrap them up with these fun holiday tags and gift to friends, family, and neighbors!
Cranberry Orange Bread Expert Tips
Here are a few tips and tricks for getting the best cranberry orange bread every time!
Don’t substitute the oil for something healthier. The oil is what makes this one of the most moist cranberry orange bread recipes ever. It’s moist and absolutely delicious. If you do feel the need to make a substitution, substitute it with another oil like avocado oil.
Check the bread’s doneness with a knife. Every oven cooks differently, so when you think the bread might be done – stick a butter knife straight into the bread and pull it out. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. If it comes out covered in gooey batter, let it cook for a few more minutes.
Let the cranberry bread cool before cutting. If you try to cut it while it’s still hot, it’ll likely crumble when you’re cutting the bread. It still tastes good crumbly but won’t hold together as well. If you just let it cool a little longer, the slices will stay together well.
You can find frozen cranberries in grocery stores like Whole Foods on a daily basis. Or purchase them during cranberry season and freeze to use all year long.
Yes, you can use dried cranberries or Craisins in this bread recipe, but it is not going to taste the same. Dried cranberries are just not the same. They don’t carry the same amount of flavor, moisture, or tartness. If you’re totally out of luck and can’t find actual cranberries, they’ll work in a pinch but the bread will likely be a bit drier and sweeter than normal.
If you use Craisins or already sweetened dried cranberries, I’d skip the step where you sugar the cranberries or they’ll be way too sweet. I’d also recommend rehydrating them in either water or orange juice before putting them in the recipe.
Yes, this bread recipe will work without the zest – however, the orange flavor may not be as strong. If you don’t have dried orange rind, you can definitely use fresh orange zest as well. And if you don’t have either and really want to make this bread, you can omit it – it just won’t have as strong of an orange flavor.
Yes, you can use frozen cranberries. Simply let them thaw before using them in this recipe. Frozen cranberries are a great way to make this bread when fresh cranberries aren’t readily available.
Technically you could just pulse the cranberries then add the sugar to them, but you may end up with tiny bits of cranberry and really big pieces of cranberry, which could change the consistency and taste of the bread.
All of the above! This recipe typically makes 6-8 mini loaves depending on how full you fill the pan. It typically makes two full size loaves. And it typically makes 24 muffins. Just adjust the amount of time you cook the batter depending on what you’re making.
This cranberry orange bread will be good for up to a week wrapped in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag. If you’re not going to eat within a week, freeze.
Simply wrap and freeze wrapped in plastic. When you want to eat it – take it out and let it thaw before eating. The bread may not be quite as moist when thawed after being frozen, but it still tastes delicious!
Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups sugar + 1/4 cup to put on top of the cranberries
- 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries cut in half
- 2 Tbs grated orange rind
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray mini loaf pans with non-stick spray.
- Slice cranberries in half. Top with 1/4 cup sugar then set aside.
- Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups sugar, orange rind, and vegetable oil.
- Add eggs and combine.
- Slowly add flour mixture, orange juice, and water to sugar mixture.
- Once all mixed together, add chopped nuts and cranberries.
- Divide batter into 8 greased mini loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.