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
Note 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.
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.
Sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside.
Make the topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the the butter and sugar.
Beat on low speed until combined, then add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
Beat until smooth, then add the flour and salt.
Mix until evenly combined.
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.)
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.’
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
- 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 and sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
So yummy!! Any other fruit that could be substituted! Apples?
Glad you liked it! 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.
Jenn, I’ve made this three times. Love it! Sweet, tart, crunchy, cakey. Easy and delicious. However, as some have stated, the cranberry mixture is all on the bottom. I have used a deep-dish Pyrex each time. Going to make it today for a potluck. Any suggestions for today or in the future because this is a winner! Thank you, Jenn
Glad you like it! This is more like a cobbler than a pie so it’s normal for the great majority of the cranberries to be on the bottom. Looking back at the picture on the blog, I think it’s a tiny bit deceiving as it may look like the cranberries are scattered throughout, but they really accumulate on the bottom.
Would this work well with sour cherries?
Hi Josie, I haven’t tried it but I think it would. Hope you enjoy!
…and I adapted the recipe even further. Reduced the sugar and it was still scrumptious. I made the recipe in a muffin pan so that it produced 12 wonderful little desserts. The sugar/butter combo on the berries and pecans was similar to an upside down cake texture and taste. With a generous dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and a twisted slice of navel orange on the plate this dessert received raves. Thank you so much
Can this dessert be frozen? I’m looking for a dessert that I can keep in the freezer and pull out and warm up in the microwave on demand.
Sure, JR, it should freeze nicely. Enjoy!
This recipe is easy and delicious as posted. I’ve also played around with ingredients based on what I’ve had on hand and/or allergies or preferences – and all were winners: walnuts instead of pecans or a mix of both, toasted and untoasted; gluten free baking mix, oat flour, or regular flour. I now replace all sugar with unsweetened applesauce, and top with a greek yogurt coconut milk homemade whipped topping. Yum, yum, yum – both family and friends love it. Thanks for a great recipe.
I’ve been meaning to make this since December . Wowser am I glad I did . Wonderful and very simple to make
Quick and simple to put together. Fresh cranberries give it that holiday taste. The tartness of the cranberries contrasts perfectly w the sweetness of the pecans. Mine wasn’t as pretty as the picture, but it was super delicious. Maybe next time, I’ll swirl the cranberries and pecans into the cake to see if that helps the resulting look. Served it as a holiday late breakfast w coffee and then as dessert. Everyone loved it!
This is absolutely scrumptious. I have already made it two or three times for us, plus I’ve made two as gifts that went over very well. The contrast between sweet and tart flavors, and between the smooth cake layer and the gooey/crunchy base, just makes it a delight to eat. A little whipped cream or Cool Whip on top makes it even better.
Made this twice over the holidays – another Jenn hit! Simple and delicious!
Simple cake and it’s fantastic. I’ll definitely be making this one again and again. It’s something you could serve as dessert or brunch. We loved it! Thank you!
Soooo yummy! A new favorite that will be made every winter for the rest of my life!
This is soo delicious, and I usually dislike pecans.
This is wonderful! Great taste and texture. Second time I made it I replaced the almond extract with 1/2 tsp of orange extract and about a tsp of fresh orange zest. Lovely both ways.
I made this for Christmas. It went over very well. Family members commented that it isn’t too sweet, but was still a nice treat. I agree! I served it with whipped cream. Would taste equally good with ice cream!
The cranberry pie is an absolutely delicious dessert. Have made it a few times already this holiday season. Just wondering if frozen chopped rhubarb could be used to replace the cranberries. If yes, what adaptations need to be made to the recipe. Thank you.
So glad you like it! I haven’t tried it with rhubarb – it should work but you may need to see how it comes out this time around and whether or not you need to increase or decrease the sugar a bit the next time you make it. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!
Like every recipe from onceuponachef this is a winner. Made it this weekend and it is wonderful. It goes unto my file of keepers. Jenn your recipes never fail me. Thank you.
Reviews are fabulous so want to try it. How about a substitution for a nut allergy?? Pumpkin seeds????
Hi Linda, I’ve never tried it but I suppose you could use pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!
Made this tonight, not only was it pretty, it tasted great. I followed your recipe to the letter. Thank you!
Thank you Jenn for yet another delicious recipe, and in this case I used the leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving. It is so unique, easy, homey and a lovely combination of the crispy crust and moist cake with hidden texture and pop. It was fun to make, perfect as you suggested with unsweetened (but I added vanilla extract) whipped cream, and my husband is still talking about it this morning. Appreciate all the work you do to develop and share great recipes and I will be making it again soon when my kids come home for Christmas!
Made it in 8×8 square glass pan. Most of cranberries on the bottom. Excellent. I have a very similar recipe I make with either apples or peaches (different flavorings, no sugar added to fruit). It also calls for the butter to be browned, not sure there is enough improvement in flavor to be worth the extra step. Will try this next with a combination of apples and last few leftover cranberries. Easy and and good tasting, would be even better with ice-cream.
Made it again in deeper round pyrex container – perfect!