Cranberry Orange Pecan Bread Recipe

This cranberry orange pecan bread, with its tart cranberries, sprightly citrus, and sweet pecans, doesn’t even need a schmear of butter. It makes a jolly easy homemade gift at the holidays.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Bread Recipe

This cranberry orange pecan bread has a subtle sweetness and slight tartness that makes it a welcome respite from whatever you’re doing any time of day. It also makes a terrific last-minute gift, which is why the recipe makes not one but two loaves—one to gift, one to keep. We’re particularly fond of a slice of this cranberry orange quick bread with a cup of strong coffee or tea. This recipe has been updated. Originally published November 10, 2009.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Bake With Cranberries

We quite like the jarring tartness that accompanies biting into a whole berry in this cranberry orange quick bread (which also makes terrific cranberry orange muffins and mini loaves, by the way—check out the instructions in the variation below). The trick is that whole cranberries tend to float to the surface of baked goods rather than staying pleasingly dispersed throughout the loaf or muffin. There’s a simple technique that will remedy this. Simply pulse the cranberries in your food processor until coarsely chopped but not yet mushy and then toss them into your quick bread batter. We advise against attempting to chop fresh cranberries with a knife on a cutting board, as they’re maddeningly roly-poly.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Bread Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 2 loaves


  • 3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces) buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)
  • Zest and juice from 1 large orange (about 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated zest plus 1/4 cup juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) mild vegetable or olive oil, plus more for the pans
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw if using frozen cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) pecans, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly oil and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
  • 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  • 3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, orange zest and juice, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • 4. Using a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and somewhat sandy. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the eggs. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low again and add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 1 minute. Add half the buttermilk mixture and mix briefly to incorporate. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk mixture and the remaining dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • 5. Coarsely chop the cranberries in your food processor. (See How To Bake With Cranberries above.) Gently fold the cranberries and pecans into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans so that each is slightly more than half full.
  • 6. Bake the cranberry orange pecan bread, rotating the pans every 20 minutes or so, until the loaves are golden brown with cracked tops and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. You want to start checking the bread at 45 minutes, although it could take as long as 75 minutes. Let cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes and then turn the loaves onto a wire rack to cool completely.

How To Make Cranberry Orange Pecan Muffins or Mini Loaves

  • If you prefer to make muffins or mini loaves of cranberry orange pecan bread to gift, simply divvy the batter among 12- to 18-cup muffin tins or 6 mini-loaf pans and start checking for doneness after 15 minutes for muffins, 25 minutes for mini loaves.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Karla Cyr

Dec 22, 2015

Polish up your best silver tray. This cranberry orange pecan bread deserves royal treatment. It’s the right kind of quick bread to serve along with your holiday spread. Morning, noon, or night, this bread is for any hour of the day when you just want to spoil yourself or your guests. Citrus scents and tart cranberries make this loaf a joy to eat. You can make it in short order, and it’ll keep moist for days, or you can freeze it for later. Just be sure to pick up extra bags of fresh cranberries in the fall and freeze them. One loaf won’t be enough because your silver tray won’t stay full for long.

  1. Susan says:

    Opted to try this recipe instead of my old tattered Boston Globe recipe, which I love. It was done BEFORE 60 minutes…in fact it was a little burned at the edges. I have an oven thermometer, too. I haven’t tasted it yet and hope not to be disappointed. Just fair warning…start checking for doneness at 45 minutes. Bon Appétit.

  2. Linda says:

    As my neighbor Travis so aptly put it, “this bread is delish, even after the fourth slice!” Very yummy indeed. Totally agree with Susan, above, to start checking at the 45 minute mark. Even with the edges a little darker, the flavor blend will leave you wanting for more! This recipe is a KEEPER!

    • Julie Dreyfoos says:

      Linda we are so glad that you and Travis enjoyed the bread, even after the fourth slice! Thanks for the tip on watching the timing.

  3. June G. says:

    Do you think I could replace the buttermilk with eggnog?

    • Stu B. says:

      NO NO NO, you cannot replace buttermilk with eggnog. You need the acid in the buttermilk to interact with the baking soda to form bubbles and make the cake, cakey. The acid and the soda are the leavening agents.
      I make a caramel rum sauce to pour over each slice of this and it contrasts well with the tartness of the berries.

    • I am going to try it with Southern Butter Pecan coffee creamer. Been using it a lot lately in place of milk. Makes fab pancakes.

      • Beth Price says:

        Hi Marilyn, I’m not sure that you are going to get the correct rise in the cake by using a coffee creamer.

  4. Sanja says:

    This is a killer recipe but my cranberries all floated to the top of the bread during baking. Any suggestion on how to keep them from doing this so they are more spread out in the loaf? The best way to eat this is to toast a slice and put a hint of butter. WOW!!!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Sanja, the easiest way to keep berries dispersed in a cake or bread is to coat them in a bit of flour before incorporating them. Sorry that you had an issue with floating cranberries but so happy that you enjoyed the bread!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Sanja, one more thought on the floating cranberries. We were all curious to hear of your situation because we’d never had this happen to us when we baked the bread. One of our recipes testers who was particularly intrigued by your comment did a little investigative reporting. Here’s what she had to say… “At Thanksgiving time when I used fresh cranberries for the very first time, I noticed they all floated to the top until boiled and ‘popped.’ You piqued my curiosity with this reader question, so I actually called Ocean Spray and they said there is an air pocket in each cranberry. Once the cranberry is ‘popped,” the air disappears. A good way around the floaters, which may or may not happen all the time—I guess it may be based on the crop—is to actually cut the cranberries in half. If the reader wants to use whole cranberries they may want to try popping each one to let the air escape by either piercing with a fork or knife or boiling them until they pop. Hope this helps.” We’re actually retesting the bread with chopped cranberries to see how this technique works, will let you know how it goes soon as it comes out of the oven!

      • Sanja says:

        Thanks Beth and Renee! The airpocket in the berries makes sense, especially since the cranberries I had were very large—BIG airpockets! I just made another batch last night as mini loaves for holiday gifts and coarsely chopped half the cranberries and also added about 1/4 cup dried cranberries. The loaves look delicious and don’t have too many cranberries on top so I think that worked. I got 6 mini loaves from the recipe! I wish I could cut into one to see, but need to give them all away. :( Will be making more this weekend with this method and will certainly save a loaf for just me…so delicious!! Am happy to share a pic of my miniloaves :)

        Cranberry Orange Pecan Bread Recipe

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Hurrah! That’s splendid to hear, Sanja, thank you for sharing that with us! And the mini loaves are a brilliant holiday gift. I’m going to add a note to the recipe suggesting that and giving you all due credit. Love it. And I really appreciate you letting us know it seemed to work well. Wishing you all the magic of the season! Oh, and I would love to see your photo! Can you email it to me at

      • Stu B. says:

        Renee; try making a Meyer’s Rum caramel sauce and pour that over a slice of this cake. It is a knockout.

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Thanks, Stu. Gilding the lily, I see!

          • Stu B. says:

            Renee; When I married my wife, 50 years ago, she brought with her a recipe for Cranberry Cake with Rum Sauce, which I was instructed NEVER to share with anyone outside the family. It was an exclusive heirloom recipe. The cake in this leitesculinaria segment is not the same, but close enough to warrant the sauce. Our cake is a more classic soft light cake with berries. We serve it in large squares, opened thru the middle of the piece and the sauce poured over each half. It is served with the thanksgiving meal on the dinner plate. I could tell a little white lie and say that you are like family to me since we have been in touch for such a very long time, and, we have…….I am dying to give the recipe out because it is so good, and, only three people know it today. Only one of those has a descendent who likes to cook or bake. So, in the next generation there will only be one person with the recipe. Then, probably, no one. I want to spread it around. It’s just a simple cake recipe with cranberries in the batter and a caramel rum sauce. I am having “schpilkus” here. Ask someone who is Jewish in your office to translate.

  5. Sue Robinson says:

    This sounds yummy. I am wondering if I could use regular unsalted butter instead of oil. Looking forward to your feedback :-)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Sue, lovely to hear you’re as enticed by this recipe as we are! As for swapping butter for the oil, I hesitate to encourage that simply because baking is such a precise science. We tested the recipe with oil and it worked marvelously. But I’m quite concerned that if you use butter the ratio of wet to dry will be thrown off and the texture, if not the taste, will be compromised. I’d stick with oil.

  6. Anonymous (oh sure, like you can't figure it out) says:

    Cranberry Cake and Rum Sauce
    4 cups flour
    2 cups sugar
    5 teaspoons baking powder
    6 tablespoons shortening melted
    1 1/3 cups whole milk
    4 cups cranberries raw or frozen bag
    2 large eggs

    1/2 cup melted butter
    1 cup brown sugar light or dark
    2 tablespoons flour
    dash salt
    1 cup hot water
    3 tablespoons Meyer’s or Appleton Estate rum

    Instructions: The Cake: Sift the dry ingredients add the shortening, egg, milk, beat 2 minutes. Stir in the cranberries. Pour into greased 9″ X 13″ pan. Bake in 350 degree oven 45 minutes.

    Sauce: Cook in a sauce pan all the ingredients and add more rum if too thick.

    To Serve: Cut cake into 9 sections, serve, pour sauce over individual pieces.

  7. Don Gaile says:

    I decided to make the double loaf in a 13-x-4 pan, and it took exactly 85 minutes to bake. I also found that while I used frozen cranberries they somewhat floated to the top. I would still pulse them in the food processor anyway.

    Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread Recipe

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Don, that’s gorgeous! And thanks so much for the note on your frozen cranberries floating to the top. I just tweaked the instructions to chop the cranberries, whether fresh or frozen, to avoid them floating to the top.

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