Cranberry Vanilla Morning Buns

updated Nov 28, 2020
Cranberry Vanilla Morning Buns

These yeasted morning buns are filled with a sweet-tart cranberry compote and drenched in a simple, vanilla-rich glaze.

Serves4 to 8

Prep45 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Cranberry vanilla morning buns on cooling rack with one bun torn off to the side.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

I’m hardly alone in my deep love of yeasted treats for breakfast. I mean, who doesn’t dream of starting the day with a slice of chocolate babka, or a glazed donut straight from the fryer? But what really floats my breakfast boat is when my yeasted morning goodie involves a little bit of fruit — as is the case with these morning buns filled with sweetened and vanilla-infused cranberries.

Now, I get that not everyone associates cranberries with the first meal of the day. Instead, cranberries are those hard, tart berries that get cooked down and turned into sauce on Thanksgiving. But what if that same sauce-y treatment that one gives cranberries when pairing them with something savory was applied when making something sweet? Enter: vanilla cranberry compote, your new breakfast best friend.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Cranberries, water, sugar, and a little salt are quickly cooked down on the stovetop until jammy, then spread onto the most plush and tender of yeasted doughs that’s been rolled out thin and slathered with butter. After its first rise, the easy-peasy dough is so soft you’ll doubt it can even contain the juicy berries, but rest assured: it can and it does. The resulting buns, bursting with cranberries and warm from the oven, are that of which your yeasted bun fantasies are made. The sugar in the compote mellows the tartness of the berries just slightly, allowing their signature cranberry flavor, along with the burst of added vanilla, to truly sing.

This recipe makes only eight buns (the perfect amount for my family of four), but if you’d like more, simply double it. They can also be assembled the night before and baked off the following day. Thus, whether you are a morning person or just a morning bun person, these cuties have your name written all over them.

Cranberry Vanilla Morning Buns

These yeasted morning buns are filled with a sweet-tart cranberry compote and drenched in a simple, vanilla-rich glaze.

Prep time 45 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 8

Nutritional Info


For the dough:

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon

    instant yeast

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the cranberry filling:

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 cups

    fresh or frozen cranberries

  • 6 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 6 tablespoons


  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

For the egg wash:

  • 1

    large egg

  • Pinch kosher salt

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup

    powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    buttermilk, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt


Make the dough:

  1. Place 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 for the dough, 2 for the filling), 1/2 cup buttermilk, and 1 large egg on the counter. Let sit at least 1 hour to come to room temperature.

  2. Place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until combined. Add the buttermilk, egg, and 2 tablespoons of the softened butter. Beat on low speed until a sticky dough forms, about 30 seconds.

  3. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead on medium-high speed until the dough is smooth and sticks to the bottom of the bowl and only a little to the sides, 3 to 5 minutes. If the dough is still quite sticky after 3 minutes, add an additional tablespoon or two of bread flour.

  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, grease the bowl with 1 tablespoon of the softened butter and return the dough to it, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until almost doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, make the filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Place 1 1/2 cups cranberries, 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons water, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, the cranberries begin to burst, and the mixture bubbles, 6 to 8 minutes. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes more.

  2. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature.

Make the buns:

  1. Coat an 8-inch round baking pan with 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Line the bottom with a parchment paper round. Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface. Roll out the dough into a 10-by-14-inch rectangle with a long side closer to you.

  2. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons softened butter onto the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Spread the cranberry filling over the butter. Starting with the long side nearest to you, roll the dough away from you to create a long cylinder. Pinch the dough together along the seam. The dough will be very wet and soft — don’t worry.

  3. Arrange the cylinder seam-side down. Cut crosswise into 8 pieces. Place cut-side up in the prepared pan. You may need to re-pinch the seam closed on each bun as you transfer them.

  4. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Let the buns rise until they are about 1 1/2 times their original size, 30 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.

  5. Whisk 1 large egg and a pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl. Uncover and brush the buns with the egg wash. Bake until nicely browned and the tip of a sharp knife stuck between two buns comes out clean, or a digital thermometer registers 200°F, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze.

  6. Place 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

  7. Let the buns rest in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert them onto the rack, and then transfer them right-side up onto a serving plate. Drizzle with the glaze and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient Notes: 3/4 cup leftover cranberry sauce or store-bought jam or compote can be used in place of the cranberry compote.

Make ahead: If you would like to make the buns the night before, assemble, brush with the egg wash, refrigerate them overnight. In the morning, let them sit at room temperature about 1 hour before baking.

Storage: The buns are best the day they are made, but can be lightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can also be frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum, for up to 1 month. Reheat wrapped in foil in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes.