Cranberry Christmas Cake

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This Cranberry Christmas Cake is one of those recipes that is an instant favorite every single time someone new tastes it.

Tart cranberries, sweet buttery cake, and a fantastic texture all combined to basically beg me to eat another piece.

Cranberry Christmas Cake recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

About ten years ago, my friend Valerie made this cake to share with some friends. The moment I tasted it, I asked her if she would share the recipe.

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This is an absolutely perfect cake that takes very little effort to make. No icing, no topping, nothing else is necessary at all. It was reminiscent to me of a coffee cake in texture but much lighter than the typical heavy version.

This might be the only cake I’ve ever tasted that basically screams holidays to me. It is pure heaven to eat.

I made nine different desserts for a Thanksgiving event the first year I made this cake and this was my absolute favorite, by far. That hasn’t changed a bit over the subsequent years since we first tried this cake.

While I have no problem sending almost all other leftover sweets home with friends and family, I always save a few small pieces of this once just for myself.

This Cranberry Christmas Cake is one of my all-time favorite treats to enjoy with Cafe con Leche in the morning, afternoon, or evening.

Cranberry Cake is the Christmas dessert that everyone loves.

I’ve learned to stock up on cranberries each year. That way I will always have them in my freezer and we’ll be able to enjoy this cake throughout the year.

You’ll be wishing you had a few bags stashed in the freezer as well, just as soon as you take the first bite of this Cranberry Christmas Cake!

If my cranberry stash runs out frozen mixed berries work beautifully to make this sweet and buttery treat.

BEFORE YOU BAKE THIS CAKE – please read through the frequently asked questions. If you do have a question, please read through all of these FAQs. The odds are good that your question has been answered many times already.

Cranberry Christmas Cake is everyone's favorite food gift for the holidays.


Yes, you will use fresh, raw cranberries for this recipe. They will soften and burst as the cake bakes. There is a good bit of sugar in this recipe and it balances the tartness of the cranberries.

Yes, you can use frozen cranberries. I buy multiple bags of fresh cranberries every year when they start appearing in the stores. Just toss them straight into the freezer to have them on hand through the year. I use frozen cranberries almost every time I make this cake.

The batter or "dough" for the cake is very thick. You'll need to press it into the pan.

However, the dough will “freeze” up a bit and become even thicker and it will be somewhat more difficult to stir in the cranberries. I find it easiest to let the frozen berries thaw on the counter for a little while as I’m beginning to prepare the cake.

This is a very thick batter that will resemble cookie dough when it has finished mixing. You will need to press it into the pan to spread it out.

Cranberry Cake "batter" should be super thick!

There is no baking soda or baking powder needed in this recipe. The extended beating time for the eggs provides the necessary leavening for the cake.

You need to beat the eggs until the batter forms a “ribbon” off of the beaters. Do not shorten or skip the beating process.

Cranberry Cake process - beating the eggs and sugar

If you read through the comments, you’ll see countless variations that I’ve made and other readers have made for this recipe. Blueberries swap nicely for the cranberries. Adding nuts to the recipe works too.

The addition of orange zest, orange extract, or almond extract works nicely as well. The gluten-free substitution is listed in the recipe notes.

The dough for this cake should be very thick. You'll need to press it into the baking pans.

The cake can be made in a variety of different cake pans. It can also be made into cupcakes and mini loaves. Watch the baking time and adjust as needed.

For holiday gifting, I bake this cake in these 9-inch disposable cake pans. The pans come with a domed lid and make for a really nice gift at a terrifically inexpensive price. I use those same pans for pretty much all of my food gifts.

A doubled Cranberry Cake recipe will fill (4) 9-inch round pans for gifting.

A doubled recipe of this cake will just barely fit in my stand mixer (see photo above) and will fill (4) of these cake pans perfectly.

I line the disposable pans with parchment squares and it makes it very easy for the recipient to lift the cake out, slice, and serve. The baking time for (4) 9-inch pans in my oven at the same time is 60-65 minutes.

Cranberry Christmas Cake - with just six ingredients!

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether you can bake this in a bundt pan. I do not personally recommend that. Yes, many people in the comments have said that it works, and I’ve tested it in a bundt twice myself, however, it isn’t the same cake that way.

(Once it fell apart on me and another time it worked fine.) If you do decide you must use a bundt pan, grease the pan HEAVILY with butter and then flour the pan generously.

The biggest downside to baking this cake in a bundt pan is that you will miss out on the best part, that lovely crust that forms on the top of the cake.

There is no glaze on this cake. The crust forms as the cake bakes and winds up looking as pictured in the photos.

Cranberry Christmas Cake - process shot before baking

I store this cake at room temperature, either uncovered or very loosely covered.

This is a moist cake and the crust will soften a great deal if it is stored airtight. It will still be tasty, but it won’t be the same the next day if it’s kept airtight.

If you freeze this cake, thaw it uncovered at room temperature if possible.

Cranberry Cake is a holiday favorite!

Cranberry Recipes

For more ways to use fresh cranberries, check out these Cranberry Brownies. I think they’re my favorite brownies ever!

Love this cake already, but wish it were even easier to stash in the freezer? Cranberry Christmas Cookies are just what you’re looking for and you’re going to love them every bit as much as this cake.

Cranberry Pepper Jam is a year-round favorite. I make as much as possible each time I can get my hands on cranberries. On a fancy cheeseboard or just on a cracker, this jam rocks.

“The sweet heat that you can not stop eating” is the best way to describe this creamy cranberry jalapeno dip. Double it for a crowd so you don’t run out!

Slightly chewy with a sweetly tart combination, cranberry oatmeal bars are full of cranberries and apples topped with brown sugar and oatmeal crumbs or try the same combination as a cranberry apple crisp.

Nantucket Christmas Cranberry Pie and this Cranberry Apple Tart are both great new ways to make the most of the available cranberries during the holiday season.

Cranberry Pistachio Snack Mix by Foodie with Family and these Cranberry Rolls with Orange Icing by The Noshery are holiday favorites too.

Cranberry Ginger Sugar Cookies by 365 Days of Baking and Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread by Love from the Oven are also on my list to try soon.

I recommend stocking up on plenty of cranberries so that you can enjoy these recipes all year long.

Cranberry Christmas Cake on plate

Cranberry Christmas Cake Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step.
  3. The sugar and egg mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl.
  4. Add the butter and vanilla; mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined.
  5. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.
  6. Spread in a buttered 9×13 pan. (This pan is my favorite!)
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 43 minutes.) Let cool completely before cutting into small slices.
  8. I cut mine into fairly small pieces, about 1″ x 2″ so that they could be easily eaten at a party.
Cranberry Cake for the holidays

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Cranberry Christmas Cake

4.87 from 958 votes
Tart fresh cranberries and sweet buttery cake are perfectly combined in this popular Christmas dessert!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 16 servings


  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour * see note below for gluten-free alternative
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step. This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl.
  • Add the butter and vanilla; mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.
  • Spread in a buttered 9×13 pan. (This pan is my favorite!) Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 43 minutes.)
  • Let cool completely before cutting into small slices. I cut mine into fairly small pieces, about 1"x2", so that they could be easily eaten at a party. Enjoy!


* Gluten-Free Substitution: 1 ¼ cup brown rice flour + ½ cup potato starch + ¼ cup tapioca starch + 1 teaspoon xanthan gum may be substituted for the amount of all-purpose flour listed in the ingredients above.
BEFORE YOU BAKE THIS CAKE – please read through the frequently asked questions. If you have a question, please read through the questions that have already been answered here. The odds are good that your question has been answered many times already.


Calories: 252kcal · Carbohydrates: 39g · Protein: 2g · Fat: 9g · Saturated Fat: 5g · Cholesterol: 53mg · Sodium: 88mg · Potassium: 48mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 25g · Vitamin A: 325IU · Vitamin C: 2.8mg · Calcium: 11mg · Iron: 0.9mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally posted 12/2/11 – recipe notes and photos updated 11/9/20}

Cranberry Christmas Cake is like no other cake you've ever tasted! Stash those cranberries in the freezer, because you're going to want to make this one all year long. Get the recipe at

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Courtney Paige says

    I just moved to the Netherlands this year and hosted my husband’s Dutch family for the holidays. I wanted to impress and this cake did the job. Everyone was fighting over who got to take home the leftovers. This will be my go to for giftgiving and hosting every year. Thank you so much for the super simple and delicious recipe!5 stars

  2. Carol Lawson says

    I just made the cranberry cake. It is delicious. I like to put in but pan which I did and I don’t recommend it the next one I will put in the loaf pan but it is moist and a really good taste to it. Thank you.

  3. Debra says

    I’ve made this cake three times so far. It is now my dessert go to for parties or get togethers.It has turned out amazing. Everyone loves it! I made it at Christmas and again for New Years.Then i brought it to a funeral luncheon. Today I’m making it again for the 3rd time just because…..Yum!!!5 stars

  4. Laura says

    This is so delicious! I’ve made it twice, the 2nd time being just now (it’s 2/25). I bought cranberries in Nov & froze them knowing I’d want to make this in the future. Can’t wait to have it with a cup of coffee. The house smells so good!5 stars

  5. Tracy Simons says

    I have been making this cake for over 25 years. I have made it at least 10 times in the last six months .. just because .. it is that good. I have one coming out of the oven right now. Thanks for keeping this recipe alive. It’s one to pass down generation to generation . Excuse me I have a cake to get out of the oven. ❤️5 stars

  6. Virginia Ellen Perkins says

    Thank you for the gluten free alternative. But I was wondering if one of the 1-to1 flours might be OK? I often use Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1. there are many others, such as Pamela’s and King Arthur.

    Also a good replacement for butter if dairy free is needed is a plant butter called MELT, creamy, rich flavor very pleasing to the pallet. It is very good in baking and cooking. I have used it successfully for years.

  7. Sheri in St Paul says

    I made this in muffin tins with frozen blueberries and chopped pecans. All but 3 stuck, leaving a bit on the bottom of the tin when the muffins were removed so I’m very glad I wasn’t serving them to guests. Next time I will use cupcake liners to avoid this problem! They are tasty … and quite filling. They are also very ‘heavy’ – not light and cakelike as I was expecting. Will be keeping the recipe to try when cranberries are available. BTW I did beat the eggs and sugar until ribbons ran off the beater as instructed. Perhaps my especially large blueberries made it too moist?4 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Figuring out why they stick can be tricky. This recipe has a lot of sugar that caramelizes on the edges. That could be part of the challenge. I do agree that liners are a good idea. They sure save on cleanup.

    • Susan from Ottawa Canada says

      I agree with Mary… I do the same but I use double liners for each cupcake/muffin cup … they bake nicely and the double liners ensure that the paper comes off easily and you have a whole cupcake/muffin with no loss …

    • Star says

      This is a CRANBERRY C A K E… not a blueberry and pecan MUFFIN. Maybe try actually following the recipe next time.

  8. Monica Berg says

    Best cake to make with cranberries for the holidays, or for anytime of the year! I have made numerous times, most recently with gluten free flour (1:1), with pretty good results. I was wondering how this recipe would work with fresh rhubarb. Any suggestions?5 stars

  9. T says

    This cake freezes very well. I make between Thanksgiving and Christmas sprinkling sugar over the top before baking to add shine. Cut into slices and put into a covered 9×13 freezer Tupperware container. Sometimes I cheat and pull a piece out and microwave until warm.5 stars

  10. Nancy P says

    I love this cake and make it several times a year. Wanted to make it for Easter but can’t find cranberries. Substitutions ?

  11. karen greenwald says

    I love this cake and have made it many times. One question why is it so moist on the bottom of the cake and is there a way to making it a little drier?5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the cranberry cake, Karen. It really is a dense, extremely moist cake. There isn’t much that can be done to reduce that without compromising the results. However, I’ve found that when baking it in smaller pans for gifting, it is a tiny bit less moist. (Honestly, it isn’t a huge difference, but you might be happy with the results if you try dividing the batter into smaller mini loaf pans.)

  12. Tracy says

    Have been making this for years and everyone loves it – at work they call it crack cake. During the summer I use both cranberries and blueberries for a red white and blue dessert5 stars

  13. Kimberly Coleman says

    I am now the lemon bar/ cranberry cake girl. I’m always asked to bring this cake. I have 23 people in my class. I could make two I guess, I’m wondering if anyone has doubled the recipe and used a bigger disposal pan? How long would I bake it? Just trying to save time as always. Mary, this is also my go to gift. Thank you for sharing 💕5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Awe, I love this, Kimberly. I recommend baking in two pans versus in a giant pan. Baking is a science and recipes don’t always cooperate when changed in that manner.

  14. Robin says

    Not only is it delicious, but kidney friendly,! Have been searching for recipes without baking powder and salt for my husband – this one is a keeper!5 stars

  15. Soggy Cake says

    This recipe is wrong, instead of 3 eggs, you are supposed to use 3 egg whites. I made it to the exact directions and the cake was yellow, not white, and all the cranberries floated to the top during cooking.1 star

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hey there, Ms. Soggy Cake, I’m not sure what you’re talking about with regards to the egg whites. I’ve made this cake exactly as written for many many years, as have thousands of other people. It isn’t a “white” cake and isn’t supposed to be. You need the entire egg to provide the leavening and the results as described in this recipe. I’ve never seen the cranberries rise in this cake either. Did you substitute anything else? Or change the recipe otherwise? It’s a very straightforward six ingredient recipe.

  16. Inge Refer says

    Dear Mary

    I would love to try this recipe but I get confused by the messurements in US terms.

    As I understand there is a difference in cups when you talk about flour and when you talk about butter?! Do you have the recipe in grams? I have tried to read through the comments but have not found the answer