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.

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 864 votes
Tart fresh cranberries and sweet buttery cake are perfectly combined in this popular Christmas dessert!
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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. Susan Miller says

    I made this the first time around Christmas 2021. OMG….it is so delicious and easy. I’m glad there were comments about stocking up on cranberries. I was lucky to find one store in my area that still had cranberries at that time of the year. I just made the cake again with the frozen berries (Easter 2022). The first time I baked it 43 minutes. The next time for 41 minutes. There was a comment about leaving the frozen cranberries out while preparing the cake….I think this was good advice, as once the cranberries are added, the batter becomes stiff. I spread it with a spoon and also my hands to get it evenly in the pan.5 stars

  2. Deborah L Lalle says

    Way too sweet. 13×9 is too large of a pan, came out too thin to be called a cake, it’s more like a bar or cookie cake.1 star

    • Mary Younkin says

      I have no idea what went wrong for you, Deborah. As you can see from the thousands of 5 star reviews, it does work perfectly most of the time. I’m guessing you might have accidentally missed an ingredient or measured it incorrectly. Sorry it wasn’t a hit. With fresh cranberry tartness, the sweetness of the cake should’ve been nicely balanced. Did you use fresh cranberries?

  3. R Lent says

    This is a great recipe. I freeze my cranberries in 12 ounce bags so they are ready to go. I just substituted chopped rhubarb for the cranberries by weight and the tartness of the rhubarb was a perfect match. Thanks for a great recipe5 stars

  4. Timothy Shawn Keuhlen says

    Made this several times. So many people think I can cook simply because you Nailed it with this recipe! Lol
    Question: have you tried raspberries in place of cranberries? I have a special request placed but what they love is the entirety of the cake, not just the fruit choice.
    TIA for the input.5 stars

  5. Jennifer Espinoza says

    We love this coffee cake, especially the crispy top! I have made it for church, the neighbors & for the family. I buy extra cranberries at the end of the season & freeze them! I just put this in the oven to take to my sister’s for the weekend. I used blueberries & have before. Sooooo yummy!5 stars

  6. Sahar says

    I made this cake for first time , it’s unbelievable delicious you can’t even imagine how soft and tasty it is .5 stars

  7. Debbie says

    This was so good! My grandson who is just days awau from being 1 wouldn’t eat the birthday cake his mom had me make,but wouldn’t stop eating this delicious cake!5 stars

    • Pam Bombien says

      I’ve been baking this for years. My original recipe calls for almond extract, but I’m not fond of the cherry flavor. I use pure orange extract….game changer.


  8. Jennifer says

    This is an amazing recipe. Been making it for a few years now. So easy to make. Especially good reheated with a scoop of ice cream.5 stars

  9. Jo says

    I tried this recipe out because I want to use it for my book club Christmas brunch. Very tasty!
    I love the texture and this and so easy. Be sure to follow the directions exactly. I added orange zest to it and loved the results.5 stars

  10. Dusty says

    I have been making this for several years. I found it in 1997 Taste of Home cook book! Love it year round.
    I bake it in 4 small loaf pans and share with friends they all love it.
    Best recipe EVER!
    Thanks for sharing it so others will love it also.5 stars

  11. Kayla Whitsitt says

    First I wanted to say this cake is amazing! But I have a question. Right now I have fresh CHERRIES That need to be used.. would fresh dark cherries work in this? Should I lessen the sugar?

    • Mary Younkin says

      Kayla – Cherries sound delicious in this. I would recommend tasting your cherries and then making a small adjustment to suit your tastes. Maybe reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup is where I would start.

  12. Linda says

    I don’t have fresh cranberries at this time. I’m thinking of using cranberries soaked in OJ ago plump. Would this work? One of our favorite cakes, Thank You!5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Unfortunately, it won’t have that fresh, tangy awesomeness of the original. I’ve been told that it’s delicious with dried cranberries as well, it simply isn’t the exact cake that way. I’ve made it with blueberries as well and we enjoyed that too.

  13. NE Holiday Hostess says

    This has become a holiday staple. EVERYONE loves it. I add orange extract and cinnamon.

    It makes an excellent gift because it stays moist for days. No dry cake here!

    Stock up in cranberries when they are season, ‘cause you’re going to want this cake year round.5 stars

  14. Elisheva says

    I love (my version) of this recipe! Thank you so much for posting this recipe. To me, the recipe as written is WAY too sweet, so I literally cut out 1/2 of the sugar from the recipe. For about 3 years, I’ve been baking this cake using 1/2 of the sugar, and all of my guests love it this way. I have played around with this a bit (the sugar amount) – sometimes I have used 1 1/4 cups of sugar. It’s fantastic both ways (using either 1 cup of sugar OR 1 1/4 cups of sugar).

    Regarding the height of the cake after baking – I find that it’s imperative to not skip the step in the directions which states one must beat the eggs and sugar for 5-7 minutes. I do 7 minutes, to try to get the maximum height in the cake.5 stars

  15. Deni Boardman says

    Like everyone else says, this is delicious, it’s is a good simple cake. The sweet balances out the tart. I suppose you could reduce the sugar, but I haven’t tried that yet.

    My original recipe adds 1 t. of almond extract as well as the 1 t. of vanilla. I just made one today for a gathering and substituted 1 c. almond flour for half the flour, thinking it might have a more almondy taste. It didn’t seem to change it at all. Maybe sliced almonds next time. The original recipe also says to dust with powdered sugar.

    I also freeze cranberries when I can get them so I can make it anytime I like.5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      I’m glad you like the cake, Deni. It’s definitely great with almond extract. For a little more flavor, you can always increase that. I don’t recommend swapping in almond flour though. It’s also delicious with sliced almonds scattered on top too!

    • Mary Younkin says

      Erin – If I were doing this I would keep the baking temperature the same and you will have to keep a close eye on the baking time depending on your pan size. I would first check it around 15-20 minutes and adjust as needed.

  16. Sandra says

    I made this cake, again, last night. As I’m cutting it, I’m thinking this will not be enough. It goes so fast that I have made another pan the next morning while the ingredients are still out. I make an assembly line in my kitchen before supper. Measure out the sugar and put in mixer bowl add eggs to that, set on stand.
    Measure out the flour and set aside in 2 cup measuring cup. Measure out cranerries, nuts set aside. Get the oven going. Once I start mixing, its free sailing along. While the 7 minute mixing is going on, I’m serving supper. Then the luscious smell starts to fill the air. MMMMMmmmm. PS, I agree between 41 and 43 mins is perfect!!!5 stars