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Nantucket Cranberry Pie

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Nantucket cranberry pie is a simple and lovely dessert that says ‘holidays.’

Adapted from an old Gourmet magazine recipe by the late food writer and novelist Laurie Colwin, Nantucket cranberry pie is not actually a pie but rather a cross between a pie, a cobbler, and a cake. It is the easiest dessert you can imagine—and, yet, astonishingly delicious. Whole fresh (or frozen) cranberries and pecans are scattered into a pie dish, covered in sugar, and then topped with a simple one-bowl cake batter. As the dessert bakes, the cranberries burst, mingling with the cake batter and pecans to create a dessert that is buttery, tart, sweet, and crunchy. The “pie” can be served warm or at room temperature, plain or topped with unsweetened or very lightly sweetened whipped cream (the dessert itself is plenty sweet).

Why is the dessert named after Nantucket? The origin of the recipe is unclear, but one could assume it’s because cranberries are grown primarily in the northeastern United States with Massachusetts having some of the oldest cranberry vines dating back to the time of the Pilgrims. Fresh cranberries are easy to find during the holiday season and can be frozen for use year round; there is no need to thaw them before using. If you have an abundance of cranberries, you might also enjoy my cranberry nut bread or cranberry apple crumble.

What You’ll Need To Make Nantucket Cranberry Pie

nantucket cranberry pie ingredientsNote that there is no leavening agent in the cake batter; the eggs alone act as a leavening. If using frozen cranberries, add a few minutes to the bake time.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.

Make the cranberry-pecan base: Add the melted butter to a 9-inch deep-dish pan and swirl it around to grease the sides (or use a pastry brush to brush the butter on the sides). Spread the cranberries and pecans evenly in the pan.

cranberries and pecans in buttered pie dish

Sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside.
sprinkling sugar over cranberries and pecans

Make the topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the the butter and sugar.

melted butter and sugar in mixing bowl

Beat on low speed until combined, then add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract.

adding the eggs, vanilla, and almond extracts

Beat until smooth, then add the flour and salt.

adding the flour and salt to the batter

Mix until evenly combined.

batter for nantucket cranberry pie

Pour the batter over the cranberries and pecans in the pan, using a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the top evenly with the sparkling/turbinado sugar.

batter poured over cranberry mixture and sprinkled with coarse sugar

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Keep in mind that the bottom of the dessert will remain gooey, so just check the cakey top.)
nantucket cranberry pie fresh out of the oven

Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or topped with unsweetened or very lightly sweetened whipped cream. The pie can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. Cover loosely with foil and store on the counter at room temperature.

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Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Nantucket cranberry pie is a simple and lovely dessert that says ‘holidays.’

Servings: 8 to 10
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

For the Cranberry Pecan Base

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ⅔ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

For the Topping

  • 12 tablespoons (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sparkling or turbinado sugar, for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Make the Cranberry-Pecan Base: Add the melted butter to a 9-inch deep-dish pan and swirl it around to grease the sides (or use a pastry brush to brush the butter on the sides). Spread the cranberries and pecans evenly in the pan and sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside.
  3. Make the Topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt until evenly combined.
  4. Pour the batter over the cranberries and pecans in the pan, using a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the top evenly with the sparkling/turbinado sugar. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Keep in mind that the bottom of the dessert will remain gooey, so just check the cakey top.)
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or topped with unsweetened or very lightly sweetened whipped cream (the dessert is plenty sweet as is, and unsweetened cream is a nice foil; ice cream is a bit too sweet for this dessert).
  6. Make-Ahead Instructions: The dessert can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. Cover loosely with foil and store on the counter at room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (10 servings)
  • Calories: 361
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 40 g
  • Sugar: 28 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 134 mg
  • Cholesterol: 80 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Easy. Delicious. Will make again!

    • — Lia on December 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Been making Nantucket Cranberry Pie as soon as I saw the original recipe. I made it using chopped cranberries and nuts, and they were tossed with the sugar. . I’ve made it in ramekins to give as gifts and as entire pies. ( I would scoop the cranberries and put them in a ramekin and top it with the batter, and the recipients loved them). It is one of those recipes that is always a hit, so easy and delicious. I am going to try this recipe using whole berries as I have never tried it that way before. Thank you for always inspiring me in the kitchen.

    • — Karen T on December 3, 2022
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  • Made this for family get together. AMAZING!!! Couldn’t have been any easier. So delish my sister n I finished it off for breakfast.
    Jenn your recipes are always my go to and never disappoint. 😋

    • — Jackie F on December 1, 2022
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  • Made this at Thanksgiving and boy, was it great! EVERYONE loved it so this one is now in my holiday lineup! The combination of sweet and tart was perfect and it was so very easy to make. I’m teaching my 8 yr old great grandson to make this one!

    • — Linda Brewer on November 30, 2022
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  • Not only was this scrumptious but it was easy and quick to prepare. This warm cranberry pie is perfect on a chilly winter day. I didn’t change a thing on the recipe.

    • — Carole on November 30, 2022
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  • I made the Nantucket Cranberry Pie for Thanksgiving. It tasted ok, but didn’t look as delicious as yours. The cranberry/nuts/sugar layer stayed put on the bottom. It didn’t blend into the cake layer at all. Do you know what I might have done wrong?

    • — Judy on November 28, 2022
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    • Hi Judy, Sorry to hear you had a bit of a problem with this. Did you use a deep dish pie plate?

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2022
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      • I thought it was a deep dish pie plate, but I guess not. This was so delicious, I will buy another pie plate and try again! Thanks!

        • — Judy on December 4, 2022
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  • Another Jenn Segal hit and keeper in our house. The list is long and just keeps on growing! I’d like to play with this recipe and substitute frozen rhubarb from my garden for the cranberries. I’m thinking 2 C rhubarb, 1/2 C sugar. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    • — Melissa Recka on November 28, 2022
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  • What an absolutely wonderful dessert. I have a feeling this will be a go to recipe, as I always have frozen cranberries.

    • — Sharon P on November 26, 2022
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  • This was a joy to eat and SO easy to make (no typical pie crust)! I made this for Thanksgiving and had never made it before – that’s how much I trust Jenn’s recipes! I’ll admit that I am not a huge fan of cranberries, but, in this pie, they taste delicious. I plan to make this again for Christmas. I made it the day before Thanksgiving, and it was still good (and crispy on top!) Thanksgiving day and the day after for leftovers.

    P.S. I think I read that it was too sweet to eat with ice cream, but I actually thought it tasted great with vanilla ice cream. Maybe that’s my sweet tooth talking.

    • — Karen on November 26, 2022
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  • I wanted to like this because I love the vast majority of the recipes on your blog but this one didn’t work for us. The top layer was very dense and the cranberries needed to be sweetened. I’m glad I tried it because it’s different but will make alternative recipes in the future.

    • — Andrea on November 26, 2022
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  • Made this for dessert to bring to a friend’s house after Thanksgiving Dinner. It was amazing! A huge hit!

    • — Jacki G. on November 26, 2022
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  • Made this for Thanksgiving and it was a surprise hit! Had leftover cranberries so decided to make this on the spur of the moment, everyone loved it. This is definitely a keeper. It was even better the next morning with tea. My husband couldn’t stop eating it lol. The flavor of the cranberries in the cake mmmph perfection!

    • — Christene MA on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was delicious! Cranberries are a favorite at our house and this truly highlighted the cranberries. I did make one change: I cut the sugar in the cranberry-pecan mixture in half. We prefer our fruit on the tarter side rather than sweet.
    I did have a problem. For the first time the top of my cake did not come out “smooth” but had multiple bumps in it. This did not take away from the taste or texture, It just was not as pretty. (There are just 2 of us and it didn’t last more than about 24 hours.) Any suggestions as to what I did wrong?
    Thank you again for a great recipie.

    • — Babs on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Babs, So glad you enjoyed this! It’s normal for the top of this to be a little bumpy; that’s just the nature of the pie so you didn’t do anything wrong. (See the second to last pic on the recipe page and you’ll see that mine is bumpy as well.)

      • — Jenn on November 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • An absolutely delicious dessert for the holidays. I am going to try it this summer substituting another very tart fruit, rhubarb. Rhubarb grows in my backyard.

    • — Carol Tillotson on November 26, 2022
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  • I made this for Thanksgiving and it was delicious and a hit with everyone! I love all of your recipes, but I think this may be my new favorite!

    • — Stacey on November 26, 2022
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  • So delicious yet so simple! This was a great addition to our Thanksgiving desserts.

    • — Christine on November 25, 2022
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    • I’m wondering if this pie can be made using leftover freshly made cranberry sauce?

      • — Deborah Wheelock on November 26, 2022
      • Reply
      • Unfortunately, I don’t think that will work — sorry!

        • — Jenn on November 29, 2022
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  • I made this for thanksgiving and it is the BOMB! Love everything about it! Thank you Jen!

    • — Chowlover on November 25, 2022
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  • Made this today and it is soooooo delicious!!! My husband and I both love it. Easy to make, also.

    • — Karen G on November 25, 2022
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  • Amazing! I used a 8×8 glass pan and added a few tbs of orange zest…definitely making again

    • — Celeste on November 25, 2022
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  • Everyone! around the table loved the look and taste of this cranberry cake. And it’s really fun and easy to make. A keeper, for sure, for brunch, tea, dessert, fall holidays!

    • — Cathy Walthers on November 25, 2022
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  • I made this for Thanksgiving but I made cupcakes instead of pie. You need to use silicone liners but they turned out delicious.

    • — Cindy on November 25, 2022
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  • I made this for Thanksgiving dessert yesterday. It was an absolute hit! I doubled the vanilla extract and omitted the almond because my mother detests almond extract. Everyone wanted the recipe. I’m enjoying leftovers with my morning coffee. I would definitely bring this in lieu of coffee cake or for afternoon tea.

    • — Arlene on November 25, 2022
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  • Easy to make and delicious! And wonderfully different from the usual desserts I make.

    • — Denise on November 24, 2022
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  • This is a very good cake and so simple to make. I felt it was even better the next day. Next time I’m trying it with walnuts.

    • — Susan on November 24, 2022
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  • Move over chocolate–there’s a new treat in town!! Seriously, every single family member RAVED about this dessert. Exactly the right balance of crunch, tart, and sweet! The only change I made was to pre-toast the pecans. Thank you Jenn for the perfect finish to Thanksgiving!!

    • — Susan on November 24, 2022
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  • Delicious! Easy to make and look forward to sharing with coworkers!

    • — Diane T on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • We loved this! For those needing gluten-free, we made with King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten-free flour and the results were perfect. We’ll look forward to enjoying this recipe again. And we award bonus points for being a very easy recipe to make.

    • — Judy on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was delicious!!!

    Followed recipe exactly, but added 3 ounces of almond paste to batter (Odense brand) because our family is crazy for almond desserts. Just pinched off pieces of almond paste and added to batter while the mixer was on. We’ll be adding this to Christmas morning breakfast since it can be made ahead. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

    • — Nalani on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made last night for after dinner dessert and my husband raved about this! Both sweet and tart.

    • — Patricia on November 22, 2022
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  • A wonderful new addition for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I made it exactly as the recipe directed, and it was perfect. I loved the hint of almond flavor.

    • — Terry Klein on November 22, 2022
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  • I have been making Nantucket Cranberry Pie for at least 30 years. This is a family favorite and one of my favorites to give as a gift. I always have a bag of cranberries in the freezer to make Nantucket Cranberry Pie any time of year.

    • — Carole Bruno on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • This looks delicious. If I baked it the day before, would it reheat well the next day? Warm, gooey cakes and cobblers are always so heavenly. How would you suggest reheating? Thanks a bunch!

    • — Getting my ducks in a row on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • I do think it’d reheat nicely. I’d warm it in a 300°F-oven til warm; I’m guessing 20 min or so.

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2022
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  • This cake/pie is so good! It’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s crunchy. It’s absolutely delicious.
    Oh, and bonus- it’s a cinch to make.
    Thank you for another great recipe.

    • — Betty on November 21, 2022
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  • This is delicious!

    • — Candy on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Could you substitute almond flour instead of all purpose?

    • — Betsy on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Betsy, Are you needing to make it gluten-free? I think I’d opt for a gluten-free flour blend over almond flour.

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2022
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      • No I was just wondering if it would add some extra almond flavor. I made the recipe as is for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit! All your recipes I’ve tried have been!

        • — Betsy on December 2, 2022
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  • Made this on a whim tonight for Sunday dessert. It was a huge hit! I realized halfway through that I had no almond extract, and subbed in orange extract– as I never tried the original, I can’t say how it compares, but the orange complemented the cranberries really nicely! This recipe will be going into the regular rotation this winter.

    • — Erin on November 20, 2022
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  • This recipe if filling my Sunday kitchen with sweet promises! It’s not my Thanksgiving but I’m not going to let that stop us from enjoying yours. TEW

    • — Terri on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • How about chopped up pears instead of cranberries???

    • — Lindsay on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Lindsay, I think this dessert will be too sweet with pears, but you could definitely use pears in this recipe.

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • This looks really yummy and I’d love to make it for Thanksgiving dinner; however, a couple of my guests are gluten-free. Do you have any versions with almond flour or another gluten-free substitute?

    • — Ralonda on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ralonda, I think this recipe would work well with gluten-free flour.

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • I’m going to make this to enjoy with Thanksgiving Day breakfast! It will give me energy for all the cooking ahead. Thanks, Jenn. Looks like another winner!

    • — Laura M. on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • I think I’ve just discovered Thanksgiving morning breakfast! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    • — Alex S. on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for.
    It’s something special and different for Thanksgiving dessert.

    • — Laura A on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hello, Jenn,

    I have this recipe from my sister in law in Homer, Alaska. She uses wild Alaskan cranberries and calls it “Cranberry Pie Cake!” It is delicious with either domestic or wild cranberries!

    • — Karen on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can you freeze this recipe?

    • — Yvonne on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yes it should freeze well. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • I just wanted to thank you for this recipe, as I am positive I have just (rather unwillingly) added another item to our Thanksgiving menu (along with your Rustic French Apple Tart). It looks fantastic and simple, I must try it! I love that it can be made a day ahead, I adore cranberries and can already imagine the crunchy pecans and cake along side them. Your recipe newsletter that arrives via email to read along with my morning coffee have become a real visual delight. Thank you for another winner, my family thanks you for all of your gifts, and I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

    • — Sandy on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Happy Thanksgiving, Sandy! 💕

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    Sounds wonderful!
    Could you double this for a large group in a 9×13 cake pan?

    • — Laura on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Laura, Yes I think that will work; the bake time may be a bit longer. I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    LOVE your recipes! My son-in-law is allergic to most nuts – not hazelnuts. What do you think of substituting chopped hazelnuts for the pecans in the Cranberry Pie. I make a very similar apple version – and it always gets rave reviews – and is SO easy!

    susan

    • — Susan on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Susan, I think hazelnuts would be wonderful here. The original recipe actually calls for walnuts.

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
      • To serve at a buffet style dinner, can these be made in paper lined muffin pans?

        • — Jerrie on November 21, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Jerrie, I worry they would be too wet on the bottom for paper liners. Sorry!

          • — Jenn on November 21, 2022
          • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Your recipes are always spot on and part of our family’s everyday cooking. My son has a nut allergy so I cannot use the pecans or almond extract. Any suggestions?

    • — Jules on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jules, You can leave both out; it will still be delicious. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • This looks pretty fantastic and I’m going to try it. Could you sub blueberries, for instance, for the cranberries at other times of year? Maybe chopped stone fruit?

    • — DavidM on November 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi David, I do think it would work with other tart fruits, but you may have to reduce the sugar. Cranberries are super tart, so a lot of sugar is required to balance out the flavor. (The original Nantucket cranberry pie actually calls for an additional 1/4 cup sugar, but I find it a bit too sweet.)

      • — Jenn on November 19, 2022
      • Reply
      • This is a fantastic recipe! I’ve made a similar one with walnuts and orange juice and extract instead of pecans and almond extract. It is a huge hit with everyone who tries it! Best part: it is wonderful the next day as a breakfast treat. Warm it up a bit (even the microwave will do for an individual slice) and enjoy it all over again.

        • — Joy Buford on November 24, 2022
        • Reply

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