Nantucket Cranberry Pie

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Nantucket cranberry pie is pure holiday magic—a delightful mix of pie, cobbler, and cake that’s incredibly easy to whip up.

Nantucket cranberry pie on plates with whipped cream.

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).

“Soooo yummy! A new favorite that will be made every winter for the rest of my life!”

Elizabeth

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 ingredients

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.

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.

Nantucket cranberry pie on plates with whipped cream.

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Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Nantucket cranberry pie is pure holiday magic—a delightful mix of pie, cobbler, and cake that’s incredibly easy to whip up.

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/Freezer-Friendly 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. Leftovers can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

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

  • Hi Jenn: I made this recipe this weekend using half cranberries and half Granny Smith apples, with 1/3 cup sugar as you suggested. The cranberries are definitely the dominant flavor – we could hardly taste the apples. So it was still very tasty and everyone enjoyed it but it’s better with just cranberries. But it was fun for me to experiment as I’m not an adventurous cook at all! Thank you again for everything.

    • — Betty McLaughlin on March 10, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is delicious!! What fruit can I substitute now that cranberries are no longer in season?

    • — Beverly on March 3, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Beverly, You could try rhubarb or a combination of rhubarb and strawberries.

      • — Jenn on March 5, 2024
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – I made this for Christmas – it was delicious and a big hit! I have one cup of cranberries left over (in the freezer) and I was wondering if I could combine them with diced apples to make another pie, since cranberries are no longer in season. If that would work, is there a variety of apple you’d suggest? And how much sugar would I use, assuming the amount needs to be reduced since apples are sweeter than cranberries? Also, should I thaw the cranberries before using them in this dish? Any suggestions you could offer would be appreciated, as always! I love your recipes; as you know, you are my go-to site for everything.

    • — Betty McLaughlin on February 29, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Betty, I do think this would be delicious with a combo of apples and cranberries. I would use a tart baking variety like Granny Smith and reduce the sugar in the base to about 1/3 cup. The cranberries do not need to be thawed. I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thank you so much! I’m going to try it – probably this weekend

        • — Betty McLaughlin on March 1, 2024
        • Reply
  • I just made this for the first time. This is so delicious. The only change I made was to add the zest of an orange and next time I will add additional pecans. Sooooo good! Thanks Jenn for another delicious recipe.

    • — Benna on January 16, 2024
    • Reply
  • OK made this for my Christmas ladies club luncheon. Ladies and I were not impressed. I’m an experienced baker by many years and followed recipe exactly. It’s definitely not any sort of pie but more like a coffee cake. I did read the reviews first, shame on me for not really paying attention. I’m making it a second time tomorrow and am making it more of a cobbler. I’ll cook I pkg of fresh cranberries with 3/4 cup sugar and one cup of water, letting it boil until most berries are popped. I will use this in the bottom of my buttered pan and then follow the recipe. It should turn out moist and less like a cake.

    • — Ommie7 on January 4, 2024
    • Reply
  • I love this with cranberries but my husband loves tart cherries and wondering if you think that would work? Many thanks

    • — Robbie Hardy on January 3, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Robbie, I’ve never tried it, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you make it!

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2024
      • Reply
  • Regarding the Nantucket pie: would a combo of cranberries and blueberries work? I love your recipes and tips! Thanks 😊

    • — Kathy on December 30, 2023
    • Reply
    • I do think that would work, Kathy – although the blueberries will muddy the gorgeous red color. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • Wow now that I made it for Christmas, it’s definitely among my top3 desserts from now on, thank you for the recipe. Cranberries are hard to get here in Hungary, and are quite expensive, but I don’t mind. 🙂

    • — Edit on December 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this for Christmas brunch. It was very easy to make and totally delicious! Everyone loved it. It is sweet, tangy and tart all at once. My sister described it as “This pie is having a party on my tongue” !
    Thanks for sharing this recipe Jen! Hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

    • — Cindy Farrell on December 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • I finally made this for Christmas breakfast. What an amazingly, terrific dish! Everyone loved it! Thank you for sharing this recipe and your wonderful talent.

    • — Christine on December 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is an easy and yummy dessert! The only thing I changed was the nuts to almonds due to my allergies to walnuts and pecans. In the future, I might not use them at all. I prefer eating this warmed with some half-and-half.

    • — Tracey on December 25, 2023
    • Reply

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