Filled with bright cranberry and citrus flavors, this Cranberry Orange Bread is a perfect breakfast, snack, or make-ahead holiday side for this time of year. It freezes beautifully, too!

baked cranberry bread loaf on rack.

Cranberry Orange Bread

Every year when it gets close to time to plan Thanksgiving recipes for kids, I start to crave Cranberry Orange Bread for a holiday brunch or to serve as an easy side dish. This recipe, which is a version of the one my grandmother made each year for the holidays, is bright in flavor from the fresh cranberries, orange zest, and juice, and holds up really well if you make it ahead of time.

In my mind, it’s a perfect make-ahead Christmas breakfast or snack, topped with a thick smear of cream cheese. And it’s been so fun to see my kids develop a love for this bread, too!

One of the main selling points of this quick bread is that you can make it way in advance and freeze the loaf for future use, which is great if you have some time before the super busy holiday season.

You can even make a double batch and save one loaf for a future day. It comes together with a simple stir in one bowl after you gather everything and grate the orange zest.

(You may also like my Easy Pumpkin Muffins, Cranberry Orange Muffins and my Cranberry Orange Sauce.)

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Ingredients You Need

To make this bread you’ll need some pantry staples plus fresh fruit. Here’s a look at the ingredients:

ingredients in cranberry bread
  • All-purpose flour: This flour ensures the bread is light, tender, and delicious.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: A combination of these leaveners ensures the bread bakes through and rises properly.
  • Egg: I add egg to this bread to ensure it has a nice crumb.
  • Maple syrup: I like maple syrup in baking, but see the Ingredient Substitutions for other options.
  • Butter: I like to use unsalted butter in baking so I can then control the salt for flavor.
  • Vanilla extract: I use “pure” vanilla extract rather than imitation.
  • Fresh oranges: A medium-size navel orange is a good option here.
  • Orange juice: You can use bottled juice from the store or freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Fresh cranberries: Look for a bag in the produce aisle in fall. You can also use frozen cranberries if that’s what you have access to.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Honey can be substituted for maple syrup; or ¼ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons milk.
  • Dairy-free: Use canola or melted coconut oil in place of the butter.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the simple process involved in making this healthy quick bread. Scroll down to the end of this post for the full information.

how to make cranberry orange bread step by step.
  1. Place the cranberries into the bowl of a food processor and chop. This will help distribute the flavor and moisture evenly throughout the bread.
  2. Grate the peel of 1 orange with a fine microplane. Add to a medium bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Stir gently just to combine.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are lightly golden brown. Let cool fully on a wire rack and cut into slices.
loaf of cranberry orange bread on wire rack

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I store this Cranberry Orange bread?

You can store this bread in an airtight container, either sliced or whole, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or, wrap a whole loaf, once cooled, in foil. Place into a zip-top freezer bag and seal, removing as much air as possible.
Freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. (My grandmother always made this bread ahead of time for the holidays and froze it. We ate it right after it had thawed out, which is partly why I love it super cold!)

Can I make this Cranberry Bread dairy-free?

Sure, just swap in neutral oil (like canola) for the butter.

What goes well with this Cranberry Orange Bread recipe?

In my family, this is a side dish for Thanksgiving and then we eat the leftovers for breakfast on following days. We love it with a smear of cream cheese, though it would also be delicious with a little butter and honey—or just plain! It pairs well with chicken main dishes or turkey, or alongside soup like Butternut Squash Apple or Vegetarian Bean Chili.

sliced cranberry orange bread on plate

How to Store

Once cooled, store this Cranberry Orange Bread in an airtight container, either sliced or whole, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or, wrap a whole loaf, once cooled, in foil. Place into a zip-top freezer bag and seal, removing as much air as possible.

Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw from frozen, place into the fridge overnight or let thaw at room temperature.

Best Tips for Success

  • Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
  • You can eat this cold, at room temperature, or warmed up.
  • Top with butter, apple butter, honey, or cream cheese.
  • Try for breakfast or as a side.
  • Add ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts to the quick bread recipe, if you’d like.
  • Try the Cranberry Orange Muffin of this bread if you prefer.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so please comment and rate it below!

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baked cranberry bread loaf on rack.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Bread

This delicious Cranberry Orange bread is flavorful and tender—and it works really well to bake ahead and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve it. We love it topped with cream cheese, but butter and honey also work.
5 from 17 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cuisine American
Course Side Dish
Calories 226kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree F and grease a standard 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  • Place the cranberries into the bowl of a food processor and chop. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Grate the peel of 1 orange with a fine microplane into the bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir gently to combine.
  • Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are lightly golden brown.
  • Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then carefully transfer the loaf to a wire rack.
  • Cool completely before slicing. Serve cold or at room temperature with butter or cream cheese if desired.

Notes

  • Once cooled, store this bread in an airtight container, either sliced or whole, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or, wrap a whole loaf, once cooled, in foil. Place into a zip-top freezer bag and seal, removing as much air as possible.
    Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
  • You can eat this cold, at room temperature or warmed up.
  • Top with butter, apple butter, honey, or cream cheese.
  • Try for breakfast or as a side.
  • Gluten-free: Use 1:1 style gluten free flour blend.
  • Dairy-free: Omit the butter and use an equal amount of vegetable or coconut oil.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 226kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 232mg, Potassium: 131mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 261IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 72mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published November 2018.

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Comments

    1. I’ve only done it with fresh ones but let me know how it is if you make it with dried! (You would skip the grinding up step.)

    1. I haven’t tried it this way so I can’t say for sure, but I would guess 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour in place of 2 cups all purpose listed. Enjoy!

  1. Hi there, I love your recipes and this one looks so yummy! Do you think it would turn out ok with whole wheat flour instead?
    Thanks in advance!

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious!! Love tasting these holiday flavors without feeling too full & heavy right afterwards! I kept my bread in the fridge, but unfortunately it started to mold by the second day, so I recommend freezing anything you will not be consuming on the first day.

    1. Glad to hear it! (It’s possible the acid in the cranberries reacted with the leavening to make a greenish color, which is a rare but normal reaction and not mold.)

  3. I am so excited to make this! Just a quick question— am I adding a medium orange and the zest of the orange or just the zest?

    Thanks!

    1. I haven’t made this with any other fruit but I suspect it would work with slightly mashed or halved raspberries if that’s more appealing.

  4. 5 stars
    This cranberry bread is AMAZING! I love it so much and have been making it every week! I am having a hard time finding fresh cranberries now, though- could I sub frozen without ill effect? Thank you

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! Yes, you can use frozen. You may just need to let them thaw a little bit if they are hard to grind when fully frozen. Should work the same otherwise!

  5. Hi Do you think I could make this recipe into 3-4 mini loaf tins? Would that affect the cooking time? Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this and it was so delicious! I added the extra cranberries like you mentioned in your story. I’m not great at baking, but this was super easy & tasty. The entire family enjoyed it!

    1. I would thaw them slightly so that you can grind them up in the food processor. Should work okay though!

  7. 5 stars
    Loved it. Such delicate sweet taste and very wholesome almost like a cake. I never liked cranberries. Now I know how to use them to like them.

  8. 5 stars
    I served this on Thanksgiving morning as a breakfast option to balance out one of those really sweet Kringles!
    It was delicious. Nice bright flavors from the orange and fresh cranberry. Thank you for the new tradition, Amy!

  9. 5 stars
    I have made so many of your recipes Amy, and they are all a hit, but you knocked it out of the park with this one! I’ve made 4 loaves so far and can’t wait to serve it on Thanksgiving. Thanks for all you do!

    1. I would try a store bought egg replacer like the one from bob’s red mill or 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 teaspoon per egg. Let me know how it goes!

  10. I made this. recipe with gluten free ingredients. I used 1 cup almond flour and I cup gluten free all purpose flour by King Arthur. Delicious! Next time I’ll make it dairy free by substituting olive oil for the butter. yum!

    1. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure. Flavorwise they’d be fine, but they will be softer than cranberries so the batter may need a few extra minutes to bake.

    1. You can find the recipe on the Nellie’s Free Range site through the link at the very top or bottom of the post!