Cranberry Nut Bread

5 stars based on 8 votes

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Sweet, orange-scented and chock-full of cranberries and walnuts, this bread is perfect for the holidays.  I came up with the recipe over the weekend because I had a ton of fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving.  There was a Cranberry Nut Bread recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag and I figured, “How bad could it be?”  Well, I should have known better. It was dry, tough and sunken in the middle.  A pound of butter, five loaves and one very messy kitchen later, I arrived at this version.

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It’s a classic quick bread, which means very easy to throw together.  The hardest part is chopping up the fresh cranberries because they like to roll all over the place.  But it’s important to use them as opposed to dried because they add a pleasant tartness and look so pretty and festive once the bread is sliced.

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Begin by combining the buttermilk, orange zest, orange juice, melted butter and egg in a small bowl.  You can use freshly squeezed orange juice or bottled – it doesn’t matter.  Also, since the recipe calls for only 2/3 cup of buttermilk, you might not want to buy a whole carton. It’s easy to make your own by combining regular milk with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar (see recipe below for exact quantities).

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Next, whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry.

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Stir gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.

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Add the chopped cranberries and nuts.

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Scrape the batter into a loaf pan.

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Bake for about one hour, then cool in the pan for ten minutes.

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Turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool completely.

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Slice, serve and enjoy!

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Recipe adapted with modifications from Cooks Illustrated

Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding to 2 teaspoons lemon juice or white distilled vinegar to wet measuring cup. Add milk until level reaches 2/3 cup. Let sit about 5 minutes until mixture curdles.

Cranberry Nut Bread

Servings: One 9 x 5-inch loaf
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, from one orange
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped coarse*
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, orange zest, buttermilk, butter and egg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and nuts. Do not overmix.
  4. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool loaf in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool at least one hour before serving.
  5. Note: Cranberries are a bit tricky to chop because they roll all over the place. You can use a food processor if you like but I think it's easier to just cut each one in thirds with a sharp knife; it's only one cup so it doesn't take long. If you're using frozen cranberries, be sure to chop them while they're still frozen.

Reviews & Comments

  • I plan to make nine small loaves of this for holiday gifts. Would they freeze well if I make them a few weeks before giving as gifts? If so, how do recommend wrapping for the freezer? Thanks.

    - Teri on November 20, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Teri, They freeze beautifully. I always double up by wrapping the cooled loaves in aluminum foil and placing in freezer bags. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on November 20, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    i just made the cranberry nut bread and it is amazing. such an easy recipe to follow. i also made the pumpkin crunch muffins. the topping is the best cause its so crunchy. i will be baking the pumpkin cheesecake for thanksgiving and know it will be a huge hit. jennifer’s recipes are all so delicious, easy and taste the way you hope they will. i’m hooked on her website.

    - andi on November 18, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Thank you!
    What a wonderful taste it has, and how easy is to make.

    - D on November 16, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jenn,
    I have just made this loaf and it is delicious, I should have made two because it is not going to last long!! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to develop this recipe, you are much appreciated in our house!
    Warm wishes,
    Deb

    - Deb on November 2, 2014 Reply
  • I was wondering if I can make this bread using a gluten free flour mix and would I need to modify any ingredients, such as baking soda and baking soda.

    - Sandie Stevens on October 31, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Sandie, Yes that’s fine and you shouldn’t need to modify the recipe but you’ll have to double check the mix to make sure there are no leavening agents in it.

      - Jenn on November 3, 2014 Reply
  • Any suggestions as to how long to bake if I were to make 2 or 3 mini loaves instead of the 1 large loaf.

    - Pat on October 31, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Pat, I’d start checking after 25 minutes.

      - Jenn on October 31, 2014 Reply
      • 5 stars

        I made 4 mini loaves recently and I baked at the higher temp for 10 minutes before lowering. Took about 30 in my oven.

        - Aimee on October 31, 2014 Reply
        • Thanks, Aimee!

          - Jenn on October 31, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Amazing and delicious!! Just like all the recipes on this site that I have made.

    - Cristina on October 28, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I love this recipe. Stumbled upon it a few years ago and it’s the first recipe I think of when I see fresh cranberries in the market. Just curious if you have ever made muffins with it?

    - Aimee on October 19, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Aimee, I haven’t tried it myself but can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t work. Let me know if you give it a go.

      - Jenn on October 19, 2014 Reply
  • Hi I just came across your website, and I am totally disappointed that I haven’t found this earlier. Your recipes sound absolutely delish and awesomely not to difficult. One question re: the cran walnut loaf, if I make this recipe in advance how long will it keep and will it it have to go in the fridge. Thankyou in advance!! so happy I found your site, just in time for the holidays.

    - claire on October 12, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Claire, Welcome to the site! I would say it keeps well for a few days (no need to refrigerate) but it also freezes well if you wanted to make it well in advance.

      - Jenn on October 13, 2014 Reply
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    - Corina on August 26, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is definitely the best cranberry nut bread I have ever eaten.

    - Jane Palmer on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • Best cranberry bread EVER, and I cannot believe how easy it is. So glad I stumbled upon this!

    - Sarah on December 7, 2013 Reply
  • Hi! I recently made the cranberry orange bread, without nuts, and it came out delicious. Super moist and tangy with just the right amount of orange flavor. This is my go to recipe for cranberry bread from here on out. I just might try it with walnuts next time!

    Thank you!

    - Jennifer Lovett on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • It would well with dried cranberrys too

    - Jillian on June 20, 2013 Reply
  • So yummy! My family a nd friends always want this made at Christmas time when cranberries are plentiful. (I get extra to keep in freezer) I don’t chop the cranberries & it turns out fine.

    - Berit on March 14, 2013 Reply
  • This is another one of our favorites from your recipes. I always use freshly squeezed orange juice and of course, the zest. I have substituted freshly milled flour with store bought flour and perfect results.

    - Mary on March 10, 2013 Reply
  • I love this cranberry bread and so do my 4 granddaughters. It is a great snack for after school. I’ve made it several times.

    - Kathy on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • I made the bread again and perfect results. This time I tried a few substitutions (just because…:) I used 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Also used 1 cup of white flour and 1 cup of whole unbleached white flour (that was freshly milled locally), and the bread is delicious! I love this recipe.

    - Mary on December 23, 2012 Reply
  • The loaf just came out of the oven, and it looks yummy. I only buttered my loaf pan, and it did not stick at all. I didn’t even have to run a knife around the edges. Can’t wait to have a piece for dessert.

    - Mary on December 9, 2012 Reply
  • This looks wonderful, and the recipe sounds like it ought to be delicious, but from the picture, the loaf looks way too flat, as though each slice is barely 2″ high, if that. If this recipe is too big for an 8×4″ loaf pan as you told one commenter, why isn’t the loaf higher and more “risen” looking? All the tea bread recipes I use come close enough to filling the pan so a slice is way taller than these. I use a lower oven temp, 300-325* and bake longer, and this way they bake through, and I don’t get too crispy a top or sides.

    - Stevie on November 3, 2012 Reply
    • 5 stars

      I used 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 0.5 teaspoons of baking soda, and it got higher and still fluffy, without tasting like baking s. or baking p. All the other ingredients were the same measure as mentioned in the recipe.

      - deny on November 19, 2014 Reply
  • i have always used the same cranberry bread recipe my entire life, but now i have switched to this one and i love it. my family loves this cranberry bread so much they ask for it all the time!

    - susan smoaks on June 27, 2012 Reply
  • Great recipe! The first time I made this it stuck a bit, so I lined the pan with parchment paper the next time and then greased and floured the pan and that seemed to do the trick. A friend of mine made this for a shower we hosted together and everyone loved it!

    - Becky on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • I made this for the holidays. Love the orange-cranberry mixture. thanks.

    - Kathy on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • I love this bread it turns out great every time!

    - Sherri on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • This is a yummy bread. I especially liked adding the orange zest. It made it all the more flavorful.

    - Toni on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • I made this bread with leftover cranberries at the holidays. It was delicious and a great combination of tart and sweet.

    - Marcia on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • The perfect bread to make after that holiday meal when there’s usually leftover cranberries and nuts (as a New Orleanian, I opt for pecans). To keep the pesky berries from rolling around while trying to cut them, I make a first cut by lining them up in the juice groove of my cutting board, then sliding a sharp knife over them to halve them. Once a flat side is present, it’s easy to continue chopping to the desired size. The possible sticking problem can be eliminated by using nonstick foil, fitting it into the pan using some low-level origami folds. Sliced, toasted, swiped with butter….a beautiful thing.

    - Arthur Okazaki on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Delicious and a great way to start my day

    - Carolyn on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • yum this was great!

    - Sarah on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This is so good. i am liking cranberry so much ,

    - MARIA on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is my review for this bread. It is AMAZING!!!! When i made it I kept going back for more. :)

    - Sherri on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is a great Thanksgiving recipe!

    - Jennie on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Again, thanks for the tips on sticking to the bottom of the pan. Lining the bottom with parchment paper and then spraying with nonstick spray did the trick. Wonderful, wonderful recipe! :-)

    - Becky on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Made this for a Christmas brunch. It turned out perfect! Moist and so pretty when sliced. Everyone loved it! Even my picky 8 year old, who will not eat or try anything.

    - Susan on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • We loved this bread! My son came up with the idea to beat a little powdered sugar and frozen orange juice concentrate into some softened cream cheese for a spread. Oh my! I can’t believe it, but but it made this wonderful bread even better!

    - Cindy L on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I made this around Christmas and my sister sang its praises over and over again. It’s so moist and flavorful.

    - Heather on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I made this recipe soon after I received the email with the post. It was delicious, moist, and very much a baked item that would make a great gift. I did in fact make this in a small loaf pan and it turned out perfect. this recipe is a keeper, which means I will bake it over and over again. It is a great way to use those abundant fresh cranberries I have in my refrigerator once Thanksgiving comes and goes. It is great toasted with butter!

    - Karen on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This recipe is so moist. Jacey made these and the bread is deliciousThe kids ate slices on their flight to Albuquerque which a loaf for us.

    Good choice for your website and readers

    - Cheri on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I have made this bread so many times. Absolutely perfect and delicious EVERY time!

    - Ashley on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I am not always able to find cranberries at the grocery store so I always buy extra around the holidays and freeze them. I have also used Craisons- lots of great flavors to choose from- when I don’t have cranberries on hand. This is a great Thanksgiving or Christmas bread! Yum!

    - Cinthy Tanko on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This looked so yummy when I saw it on your blog page! I tried it last weekend and the family went nuts over it! I even shared some with the neighbors…

    Thanks for the wonderful step by steps….It makes things a lot easier….

    - Karie on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I can’t get enough of this bread! I always want more and I love the fresh cranberries.

    - Sherri on February 2, 2012 Reply
  • What time and temp would I bake this recipe if I divided into 4 mini loaves? Graci!

    - debbie on February 2, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Debbie, Can’t say for sure because I’ve never tried it. But I’d keep the temperature the same (start at 375 and reduce to 350) but check after about 25 minutes and keep checking til done. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on February 3, 2012 Reply
  • This was some of the best quick bread I’ve ever tasted! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. It was so moist and flavorful and just plain delicous! One question, my loaf stuck to the bottom of the pan a bit, does anyone know what the problem might have been? Does it need more cooking spray, longer baking time, different pan? Thanks for the help! I’ve had a few people ask me for this recipe! :-)

    - Becky on January 19, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Becky, Are you letting it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto rack? Removing it too quickly would definitely cause the bottom to stick. Otherwise, it could be any of those things you mentioned. I’d start off with more cooking spray and experiment from there. Also, sometimes it helps to run a butter knife around the edges to loosen any spots that might stick and cause tension when trying to remove the loaf. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on January 19, 2012 Reply
      • Thanks for the tips… I did let it cool for 10 minutes (I always set a timer) and I did run a knife around the edge. I’ll have to play around with the cooking time and more spray. Also, my mother-in-law mentioned using parchment paper, an old trick her mother did to help prevent sticking. Or could you do the butter and flour dusting like on your banana bread recipe? By the way, I just made that one and OMG, that really is the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted. I got lots of compliments! Thanks for helping me be a better cook & baker! :-)

        - Becky on February 9, 2012 Reply
        • Becky, The parchment paper would work great…just be sure to spray that as well.

          - Jenn on February 9, 2012 Reply
  • […] holiday and happy new year! xoxo, Nat’s Knack Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread (adapted from here) Ingredients: – 1/3 cup orange juice – 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, from one orange – 2/3 cup […]

  • My mom and I saw this, and wanted to make it right away! Absoloutely delicious!! Thank you so much! I have a quick question also, in some breads I have seen it so it has a brown color. How do you give it the brown color? Again, thanks so much!

    - Laveen on December 23, 2011 Reply
  • I love fresh cranberries so when I saw your recipe I got really excited. I made 2 loaves this afternoon with the idea of freezing one of the loaves…I don’t think that is going to happen. This bread is so good! Thanks for another great recipe!

    - Mary Reid on December 11, 2011 Reply
  • Liesel your blog is yummy and this recipe sounds delicious. I look forward to making this and I will add it my facebook page- Favorite Cranberry Recipes. If you have other recipes featuring Cranberries, please share!

    - Cynthia Hill on December 7, 2011 Reply
  • Served this for breakfast this morning. Nothing left but a few crumbs – we have 4 teenagers! Will definitely make this recipe again during the winter months. Thanks, Jennifer!

    - Liesel on December 1, 2011 Reply
  • You are reading my mind! Making cranberry bread this weekend. Will give this one a try. Thanks!

    - Jessie on November 29, 2011 Reply
  • This looks so delicious!

    - Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on November 29, 2011 Reply
  • Hi Leisel, So nice to hear that you’re enjoying my blog! To answer your question, I don’t think an 8 x 4-inch pan would be big enough. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but it does rise almost to the top. That said, you could divide the batter into mini loaf pans…just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Hope that helps!

    - Jennifer on November 29, 2011 Reply
  • I’ve also always found the “back of the bag recipe” to be too dry, so I am looking forward to making your version this afternoon. Based on your pictures, it looks like your recipe could easily accommodate an 8 x 4 loaf pan… what do you think? We love your blog. Thanks!

    - Liesel on November 29, 2011 Reply

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