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Two slices of cranberry orange bread on a square white plate

Cranberry Bread with Pecans

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Cranberry Bread with Pecans is perfect for the holidays. So tasty flavored with orange zest plus crunchy pecans and tart fresh cranberries.

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

Cranberry Orange Bread: The Perfect Seasonal Loaf

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.

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.

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 1 1/2 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.

How to Make Cranberry Bread

There are a few key pointers that will help you bake up a perfect loaf of this cranberry 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 helps for an easy release, too. 
  • Chop your cranberries so they’re each in about 3 pieces. No need to worry if some are bigger or smaller. 
  • PRO-Tip: Roast your nuts to release their essential oils. I just put them into a shallow pan and heat carefully, shaking frequently so they don’t burn. Make sure you stay close by to prevent overcooking.
  • PRO-Tip: To up the orange flavor, rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until well combined. This releases the oils in the peel. Mix in the orange-infused sugar as directed
  • Do not over mix your batter. Once the wet ingredients are added to the dry ingredients, mix just until incorporated. If you over-mix, the loaf will have tunnels.
  • To prevent over mixing, do not use a mixer, but instead mix by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  • Bake just until a toothpick inserted into a number of spots in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. A few moist crumbs on your toothpick are OK, but you don’t want any sign of batter.
  • Always cool the bread in the pan for about 15-20 minutes before releasing it onto a cooling rack. Any longer and the loaf may be hard to remove. Any shorter and the loaf may break apart.
2 slices of cranberry bread on a white plate with an orange slice to garnish

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 into 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 3/4 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 up to 3 months.

More Quick Bread Recipes You’ll Love:

This recipe was first shared in December 2013. Photos and text were updated in 2020.

Two slices of cranberry orange bread on a square white plate

Cranberry Pecan Bread

The perfect cranberry quick bread recipe!

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

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (I just cut each into about 3 pieces)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Spray 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. Add liquids and stir with a rubber spatula until just moistened. Mix in cranberries and nuts, being careful not to over mix.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º. Bake for about 45 minutes longer or till toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.

Notes

16 slices can be made from one loaf.

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1 slice

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

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