Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread

Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread Recipe

I grew up baking a version of this holiday classic of cranberry-orange pecan bread using canned orange juice concentrate. When it came time to develop a recipe for Grand Central Bakery, we updated the family favorite by replacing the concentrate with freshly squeezed orange juice and plenty of zest. The result is a a pecan bread with more subtle orange flavor that allows the tartness of the cranberries to shine through.–Piper Davis

LC Bitter Sweet Note

Tart cranberries. Bitter orange zest. And sweet, sweet pecans. We’re not much for math, but this is one equation we’d like to plunge into headfirst.

Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread Recipe

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


  • 3 1/2 cups (1 pound, 1 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 one large orange (about 1 1/2 tablespoons 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) vegetable oil or canola oil, plus more for the pan
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw if 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. Measure the flour, salt, and baking soda into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • 3. Whisk together the buttermilk, orange zest and juice, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • 4. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined. The mixture will seem somewhat sandy. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in 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 of 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. (If you’re tempted to skip this step, read the LC Note above.) Gently fold the cranberries and pecans into the batter by hand. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Each pan should be slightly more than half full.
  • 6. Bake the cranberry-orange pecan bread for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating the pans every 20 minutes or so. When done, the loaves will be golden brown with cracked tops and a skewer inserted in the center will come out clean.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Karla Cyr

Nov 10, 2009

Polish up your best silver tray. This Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread deserves royal treatment. It’s the right kind of 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 of orange 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?

    • Beth Price says:

      We didn’t test the bread with eggnog but I would certainly give it a try. Please let us know how it turns out.

  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

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