Cranberry Bread with Pecans is perfect for the holidays. Flavored with orange zest plus crunchy pecans and tart fresh cranberries makes a scrumptious loaf!

This Cranberry Orange Bread will dazzle all your senses! It makes a delicious holiday gift, but you’ll want to make an extra to keep at home!!

Slices of cranberry pecan quick bread on a white tray.

Why You Must Make

  • It’s an easy, yummy way to get in the holiday spirit.
  • The tart cranberries are balanced deliciously by a sweet quick bread batter.
  • The crunchy pecans and orange zest contribute to the enticing flavors and textures in every bite.
  • This makes a perfect hostess gift for any event from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day!

So I baked up a loaf of this cranberry bread recipe as I already knew that the hubby would never even take a bite and that his family would. I used the cranberry loaf recipe on the back of the bag of Ocean Spray fresh cranberries and it was tasty. But I knew it could be improved upon by using butter instead of oil, buttermilk plus toasted pecans for the ultimate loaf.

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Egg, Flour, Sugar, Salt, Baking Soda, Butter (melted)
  • Orange Juice – Fresh squeezed is great, but not necessary. You will need an orange for the zest.
  • Grated Orange Zest – Grate the orange before you squeeze if you want to use the juice in the bread.
  • Buttermilk – If you’re in a pinch you can make “buttermilk” by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a 1 cup liquid measuring cup and fill it to the one cup mark with milk. Stir and let it rest (it will curdle slightly), then use as directed.
  • Baking Powder – You will use in addition to baking soda. Baking powder will often expire before you use it all, so replace if it’s been in your pantry for a while. You can test it’s potency by putting a spoonful in a cup of very hot water. If it’s fresh, it will bubble vigorously. If it doesn’t, replace before making this recipe.
  • Fresh or Frozen Cranberries – Coarsely chopped (I just cut each into about 3 pieces)
  • Toasted Pecans -Toasting will bring out the essential oils making the nuts more flavorful. Heat gently in a skillet or on a sheet pan in a 350° oven for about 5 minutes.
Loaf of cranberry bread on a white tray with two slices in front of the loaf.

A Seasonal Quick Bread Recipe

This cranberry pecan loaf is perfect for any morning holiday gathering or on Christmas morning. I served this when I hosted some neighbor friends for a cookie exchange.

When I made that loaf, I planned to up the cranberries to 1½ cups, but got distracted and only added a cup. It was still lovely! And a very festive loaf filled with ruby-colored cranberries. Mr. Skinny Chick still won’t touch this classic cranberry pecan bread, but I have plenty of friends who will.

Recipe Tips

There are a few key pointers that will help you bake up a perfect loaf of this cranberry pecan bread. The pan must be prepared properly, the batter must be mixed with care and the loaf must be released at the ideal time. All simple tips that will help you have the best results!

  • Grease the pan with a flour-oil spray like Baker’s Joy to prevent sticking. Spray right before filling. You can also grease the pan with butter or shortening, then dust the pan with flour.
  • As an extra precaution,  put a rectangle of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, then spray that, too. This also helps for an easy release. 
  • Don’t overmix the batter. This will cause tunnels in your loaf. Do not use a mixer, but instead, use a rubber spatula to stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in a few spots comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before releasing. This gives the crust time to firm up, but not so long that it starts to stick.
2 slices of cranberry bread on a white plate with an orange slice to garnish.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Chop Fresh Cranberries for Bread?

The simplest way to chop fresh cranberries is to use a food processor, but I prefer larger pieces. I like to put my chopping board on a rimmed baking sheet. The rim helps catch most of the fly-away cranberries. Another method is to put some cranberries on a dinner plate, then top with a second plate. Use a long knife to slice between the plates.

Can You Use Dried Cranberries or Craisins?

Yes, though they will be sweeter. You’ll only need ¾ cup of dried cranberries for each cup of fresh. It’s also a good idea to soak them in some warm water or even orange juice to reconstitute or plump them up. This will prevent them from absorbing too much liquid from the batter.

Can You Use Frozen Cranberries?

Sure! I usually buy an extra bag of cranberries around the holidays and this is a great use for them. Don’t thaw them before adding them to the batter. If you prefer not to have them whole, think about chopping before freezing or do a quick chop while frozen. Toss with a tablespoon of flour if they start to develop some condensation before mixing them in.

Can You Freeze Cranberry Bread? How  Should You Store Cranberry Bread?

Cranberry bread and most quick bread stays fresh on the countertop for up to 3 days. It should be wrapped well in plastic wrap. After that, add a layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months.

You May Also Like:

Stay in touch through social media @ InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to tag me when you try one of my recipes! And if you love the results, please give it a 5-star rating in the recipe card.

Two slices of cranberry orange bread on a square white plate

Cranberry Pecan Bread Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yield 1 loaf

The perfect cranberry quick bread recipe!


  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (I just cut each into about 3 pieces)
  • ½ cup toasted pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray (I used Baker's Joy).
  2. In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, orange zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Add liquids and stir with a rubber spatula until just moistened.
  5. Mix in cranberries and nuts, being careful not to over-mix.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes longer or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool loaf in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.


16 slices can be made from one loaf.

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated.

Helpful Tools (As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases).

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 138Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 208mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g


Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

I remember the first time I made a cranberry nut bread. It was Thanksgiving, Tom was almost 2 and Katie was a newborn. And I was hosting Thanksgiving.

It was easier for our family to come to us than for us to pack up the mounds of baby gear and travel. I was fearless in the kitchen and I knew my MIL and Bill’s aunt would work their magic and help me out with the perfect mashed potatoes and gravy. This cranberry bread was a perfect seasonal addition to our holiday menu!