Cranberry Nut Bread

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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

Print Recipe
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.
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  • Liesel

    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!

  • 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!

  • This looks so delicious!

  • You are reading my mind! Making cranberry bread this weekend. Will give this one a try. Thanks!

  • Liesel

    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 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!

  • Mary Reid

    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!

  • Laveen

    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!

  • [...] 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 [...]

  • Becky

    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! :-)

    • Jenn

      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!

      • Becky

        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! :-)

        • Jenn

          Becky, The parchment paper would work great…just be sure to spray that as well.

  • debbie

    What time and temp would I bake this recipe if I divided into 4 mini loaves? Graci!

    • Jenn

      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!

  • Sherri

    I can’t get enough of this bread! I always want more and I love the fresh cranberries.

  • Karie

    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….

  • 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!

  • Ashley

    I have made this bread so many times. Absolutely perfect and delicious EVERY time!

  • Cheri

    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

  • Karen

    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!

  • Heather

    I made this around Christmas and my sister sang its praises over and over again. It’s so moist and flavorful.

  • Cindy L

    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!

  • Susan

    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.

  • Becky

    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! :-)

  • Jennie

    This is a great Thanksgiving recipe!

  • Sherri

    This is my review for this bread. It is AMAZING!!!! When i made it I kept going back for more. :)

  • This is so good. i am liking cranberry so much ,

  • Sarah

    yum this was great!

  • Delicious and a great way to start my day

  • Arthur Okazaki

    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.

  • Marcia

    I made this bread with leftover cranberries at the holidays. It was delicious and a great combination of tart and sweet.

  • This is a yummy bread. I especially liked adding the orange zest. It made it all the more flavorful.

  • Sherri

    I love this bread it turns out great every time!

  • Kathy

    I made this for the holidays. Love the orange-cranberry mixture. thanks.

  • Becky

    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!

  • susan smoaks

    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!

  • Stevie

    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.

  • Mary

    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

    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.

  • Kathy

    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.

  • Mary

    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.

  • Berit

    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.

  • Jillian

    It would well with dried cranberrys too

  • Jennifer Lovett

    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!

  • Sarah

    Best cranberry bread EVER, and I cannot believe how easy it is. So glad I stumbled upon this!

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