Cranberry-Orange Quick Bread

published Nov 3, 2021
Cranberry-Orange Quick Bread Recipe

The orange-scented quick bread is studded with tart cranberries and perfect with a mug of hot tea.

Makes1 (9-inch) loaf

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 8 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Drew Aichele

When it comes to cranberries, I’m all in when the tiny, tart fruits are baked into desserts. This easy quick bread, for example, is one of my favorite ways to bake with them. Orange plays so nicely with the cranberries, adding a bit of sweetness and fragrant flavor.

This cranberry-orange bread isn’t too sweet, and it can be baked up into a loaf or into muffins with equal success. It’s well-worth adding to your baking rotation.

Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Drew Aichele

Can I Use Frozen Cranberries?

Fresh or frozen cranberries work equally well in this quick bread, which means it’s possible to make this treat year-round. Whatever you choose to use, cut the berries in half if they’re bigger than a blueberry so that the bites with cranberry aren’t too tart. It’s easier to cut frozen berries while they’re still frozen, so do that first before you thaw them.

Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Drew Aichele

How to Make Cranberry-Orange Quick Bread

  1. Mix the dry ingredients. To get the most flavor out of the orange zest, rub it into the sugar to release the oils before mixing in the remaining dry ingredients. 
  2. Mix the wet ingredients. Whisk melted butter, orange juice, milk, egg, and vanilla extract together. It may look a bit curdled, but that’s OK.
  3. Fold everything together with the cranberries. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients and then fold in the cranberries.
  4. Bake as a loaf or as muffins. Bake in a 9×5-inch loaf pan or in a standard muffin tin (see muffin directions in Recipe Notes).
  5. Cool and glaze. Let the loaf or muffins cool completely, then glaze with an icing made with powdered sugar and orange juice if desired.

Can You Freeze Homemade Cranberry Bread? 

You can definitely freeze cranberry bread — just make sure it’s well-wrapped first. Thaw at room temperature and rewarm if you’d like before serving. Cranberry bread makes a wonderful holiday gift or as a sweet treat for gatherings and parties. I even made a loaf for my daughter’s bake sale and it was one of the first items to sell out!

Cranberry-Orange Quick Bread Recipe

The orange-scented quick bread is studded with tart cranberries and perfect with a mug of hot tea.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 8 minutes

Makes 1 (9-inch) loaf

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/2 cups

    fresh or frozen cranberries (5 to 6 ounces)

  • Cooking spray or butter, for coating the pan

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 to 2

    medium oranges

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 3/4 cup

    whole or 2% milk, plus more as needed

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup

    powdered sugar (optional)


  1. Cut 1 1/2 cups cranberries in half unless they are the size of a blueberry or smaller, then thaw if frozen (they’re easier to cut while still frozen).

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

  3. Place 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. (Alternatively, melt on the stovetop and transfer to a medium bowl.)

  4. Place 1 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium orange (1 1/2 packed teaspoons) into the bowl and rub it into the sugar until fragrant and moistened. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Whisk to combine and break up any lumps.

  5. Juice the zested orange. Add 1/4 cup of the juice (juice the second orange if needed) to the melted butter. Add 3/4 cup milk, 1 large egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and whisk until combined (the mixture may look curdled). Scrape into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Add the cranberries and fold until evenly distributed. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan, push it into the corners, and smooth the top.

  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges to loosen the bread, then flip out onto the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  7. If making the glaze, sift 3/4 cup powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved juice and whisk until smooth. The glaze should have a consistency like glue. If it’s too thick, whisk in more juice (or you can use milk) 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Drizzle over the bread and let sit until the glaze sets, about 15 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Making muffins: To make muffins, divide the batter between the wells of a greased or muffin paper-lined standard 12-well muffin tin. Bake at 375ºF until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.

Storage: The cooled bread can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature.