Cranberry Christmas Cake

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Cranberry Christmas Cake is incredibly simple to make and delicious. It has a nice balance of sweetness with a slight hint of tanginess. It feeds 16 which means it’s perfect for a holiday party.

Fresh cranberries are plump, deep red, tart, and in season during the holidays. This cake is a wonderful way to enjoy the fruit while it’s fresh. By the way, if you love fruit you should give our Instant Pot Strawberry Jam or Baked Strawberry Donuts a try!

A delicious Christmas cake recipe with cranberry.

Cranberry Christmas Cake

One of the things I love about this cake is that it is garnished with powdered sugar rather than covered in frosting.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big, big fan of frosting. You might even say I’m addicted.

But sometimes during the holidays, it can all get to be a bit too much. You know what I mean?

Between the fudge and the pies and the cakes, even I can start to feel like I want something that’s not as overpoweringly sweet.

If you have people in your world who aren’t into all the sugary confections, this cake could make a great treat for them.

Cranberry Christmas Cake on a plate

The Eggs and Sugar Peaks

For this recipe, you’ll be mixing the eggs and sugar to make a soft peak. They’re the magic that’s responsible for making the cake rise beautifully.

If you’re a seasoned baker, you know all about “peaks.” I’m sure you could probably teach me a thing or two!

If you’re new to this, it’s super easy.

(A quick and easy tip to know whether an egg is fresh is to put it in a bowl of cold water. If the egg sinks to the bottom and then lays over on its side, it’s fresh.)

To make the soft peak for our Cranberry Christmas Cake, beat the eggs and sugar until you can lift the beaters out of the mixture and see a little peak on the end.

Don’t overbeat the ingredients. You don’t want a hard peak – which means the sugar and butter stand straight up and are quite thick.

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Softening the Butter

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes forget to take the butter out of the fridge before baking.

You definitely can’t make this Christmas Cranberry Cake recipe with hard, cold butter.

You can soften the butter in the microwave, but you need to be careful that you don’t completely melt it.

The thing I hate about that method is that I wind up with a butter splattered microwave and I always, always, always melt it rather than soften it.

Melted butter will ruin all the work you did making sure you got a nice, soft peak with your eggs and sugar.

Instead, cut your butter into chunks and put it on a plate or saucer. Turn the faucet on hot and fill a glass.

Let the water sit in the glass until it feels warm to the touch.

Turn the glass upside down and cover the butter. Let it sit until the butter softens. It only takes a couple of minutes.

Cool, right?

It’ll make all the difference when you’re making this Christmas Cranberry Cake, and keep things moist and sumptuous!

Sprig of mint on the cake

5 from 218 votes

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Cranberry Christmas Cake is incredibly simple to make and delicious. It has a nice balance of sweetness with a slight hint of tanginess. It feeds 16 which means it's perfect for a holiday party.

Servings: 16
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes





  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prep an 9 x13 pan with non-stick baking spray.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer until slightly thickened and light in color.
  • This mixture should form peaks when you lift the beaters out of the bowl.
  • Add the butter, almond and vanilla extract to the egg mixture and continue to mix.
  • Mix for two minutes.
  • Slowly add in the flour but just until combined.
  • Add the fresh cranberries.
  • Stir the cranberries to mix throughout.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting into slices.
  • Garnish with powder sugar.
  • Makes 16 servings.

Last Step:

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Serving: 16g | Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 31mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 310IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg



Cranberry Christmas Cake Recipe

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171 comments on “Cranberry Christmas Cake”

  1. I have this in the oven now for a work Christmas party tomorrow. Is the batter supposed to be super thick? It’s more like cookie dough for me…??? Hope I didn’t mess it up!

  2. Linda Nordstrom

    5 stars
    Awesome. So many people requesting the recipe after tasting it. Perfect Holiday dessert.

  3. I currently have a big bag of frozen cranberries, can I use them? And what adjustments would I have to make?

    1. Hi Jenn. You can use the frozen cranberries with no adjustments. You can either thaw them or add them to the batter frozen.

  4. 5 stars
    I have been doing this recipe for years on winter holidays and it’s one of my family’s deserts. Thank you, great recipe!

  5. I loved this recipe! Even though I baked it a little too long, it was still delicious. The top was not browning so I left it in for 50 minutes. Next time, I will use parchment paper as they were a little difficult to get out and if it isn’t brown to my liking, the powdered sugar will take care of that. Many compliments at our Thanksgiving dinner. Heard it was good for breakfast too with coffee. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I’ve made this cake the past 2 Christmases and we’ve loved it. How does this recipe work in a Bundt pan?

    1. I haven’t tried that with this recipe, however I wouldn’t recommend it due to the style and density of the cake.

    1. Thanks, Nikki! I’m going to give it a go. Our office has a Christmas party coming up that I’m going to make it for. And the white chocolate buttercream icing sounds like the perfect match for the frosting.

  7. I am making this cake for an event at church. Need to make 500 pieces. I am working with it now to get the best results. Hope mine looks as good as yours does!!

  8. 5 stars
    Delightful holiday taste. Baked in 5 mini loaf pans to freeze now and later will add to Christmas baked goods baskets I do for neighbors

    1. Ho Zorica. Yes, this recipe uses whole cranberries. You can always halve the berries if they are too large.

    2. Did you have to make any adjustments other than baking time when you made mini loafs?

  9. Jeri Lynn Greenwood

    Could you use orange extract instead of almond since we have family allergic to almonds?

    1. Hi Jeri Lynn. That sounds like a great substitution and yes I think it would work well.

  10. Laura Vigiletti

    This cake is a tradition at our home it’s that’s good! It’s expected every Christmas!
    I was wondering if I use 9 inch springform pan, would it turn out the same way?

    1. Hi Laura. I haven’t tried that but would think it would work fine. Please let us know if you try it.

  11. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this cake. I make several and after I cut it I freeze individual pieces so when I need a little something not too sweet I just defrost a piece in the microwave or in the fridge overnight. I don’t put the powdered sugar on it, it doesn’t need it.

  12. 5 stars
    My husband saw this recipe and asked if I’d make it for a family gathering. It was a huge success with everyone asking for the recipe. My husband said it gets better the longer they sit. He loved them.

  13. Betty Jean Chopick

    5 stars
    Made the Cranberry Cake strange recipe it was. I always make the classic family fruit cake, year after year. Won’t be making that again as this Cranberry Cake is my NEW Christmas Cake. So yum and pretty it’s going to be a hit! Can’t wait to share! Thanks for sharing with me!

  14. 5 stars
    It was delicious. I added white choc chips and some lemon flavoring too. I can’t wait to make again!

  15. 5 stars
    Just made this cake and it is absolutely delicious. My husband loves anything with cranberries and he said this may be the best cake I have ever made.

  16. 5 stars
    I’ve made this so often, my husband’s ABSOLUTE favorite! This is just sensational!!! Everyone who’s tried it LOVES it! Love it so much that I had to re-post it on Facebook for my friends!

  17. I made your recipe, but instead of using a 9×13 I used mini loaf pans, and the cake was excellent.

  18. 5 stars
    Everyone really liked this! Question though – in a 9×13 pan mine was only half as thick as the photo. Wondering if I did something wrong? I couldn’t really get peaks to form. Maybe I should beat the eggs before adding the sugar?

    1. If you look at the video, the pan doesn’t look like a 13×9 pan. I’d say it’s much smaller. It’s cut into 6 servings which is why the cake in the picture is thicker than yours. Maybe it’s 11×7?

    2. I also had the same issue and had to cook way longer??? so I am wondering the same thing?

  19. 5 stars
    I made this cake for Christmas last year and it’s now a favorite! Especially with some added dark chocolate chips! I’m wondering, can I make this cake in a bundt or springform pan? If so, for how long should it bake and at what temperature? Thank you!

  20. Another way to quickly ‘thaw’ butter is to grate it on a box grater. I’ve been using that method for years. I will make this cake for Thanksgiving.

    1. Then you have a messy grater to clean, plus losing some butter due to sticking.  Remember to take it out of the frig.☺️

  21. This looks amazing! It seems to be less sweet and heavy than many holiday desserts.  I will have a few Thanksgiving guests with gluten sensitivities- has anyone made this using Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 flour?  I will make it another time as written, but I want to be a good hostess and have an amazing dessert all guests can enjoy.

  22. 5 stars
    Years ago my stepmom made a cranberry cake that their housekeeper used to make at Christmas. I loved it. I wanted something a *little* healthier and easier to make. 
    There were so many sweets at Christmas this year that I waited a month to make this holiday cake. It was easy, though like others I could not get the “soft peaks” to form. I finally gave up after almost 10 minutes of mixing. I didn’t have almond extract so I doubled the vanilla. I used organic cranberries which only came in an 8oz bag. The batter was quite thick, almost like cookie dough rather than a cake batter. I checked the cake after 40 minutes and the toothpick came out clean. A big perk- the house smelled wonderful! 
    I made the tangy butter sauce from the original recipe I had and it was perfect. EVERYONE liked it a lot. My granddaughters (2 & 4) ate their entire piece (they usually eat frosting and leave the cake), one person who doesn’t like cranberries said it was good and that he’d like it again. I thought it was a bit too moist and that I should have baked it for another 5-7 minutes yet everyone said it was perfect and it would possibly have been too dry it I had baked it longer. 
    All in all, it was a big hit and I came home with only a single serving!

  23. Michelle R Southard-Thompson

    5 stars
    I just made this cake today… the aroma was absolutely heavenly while it was baking.  I love cranberries so, this is a huge go to cake for me now.  Thank you so much

  24. Claire Ritchie

    5 stars
    My first taste of cranberries, and I think I may be addicted!  Trouble is though, they’re hard to come by fresh in the UK – can I use frozen instead?? 

    1. I use frozen cranberries with no problem. Add them to the batter while they’re still frozen. Delicious!

  25. 5 stars
    This is absolutely delicious! Will make this again for sure!! Tart and sweet, but not too sweet!!

  26. 5 stars
    I love this cake! I make mini cakes to give as gifts. I don’t care for almond flavor, so I use vanilla instead. The first time I made it, I had not softened my butter, but had some butter flavored Crisco sticks in the pantry. The cake turned out perfect and I have used the Crisco sticks every time since. The cakes freeze well, too.

  27. 5 stars
    Wow! This is delicious…a definite hit with my family. I’ll be making this again. Thank you for sharing!

  28. 5 stars
    This was outstanding! I immediately wrote it down. I love cranberries and this was super easy. The flavor and balance was prefect, No tweaking needed!! Definately reccomend.

  29. Has anyone tried making this with almond flour and/or coconut sugar?  I have both at home that I need to use up but I don’t want to jeopardize the deliciousness of the original recipe.  It sounds amazing.  Thanks.

  30. I made this and the flavor is fantastic but after cooking the cake was mushy inside ( it wasn’t raw but mushy).  Any idea of what I did wrong?

  31. Angela on the farm

    5 stars
    Just made this, couldn’t wait for it to cool, I had to check it to make sure it was baked through, it’s delicious! I had to bake a few minutes longer as I used frozen cranberries, that were about 3/4’s thawed so when I mixed the cranberries in it kinda of chilled and seized the batter making it hard to smooth out in the pan. But over all a great recipe, love the tart of the cranberries and the simplicity of the recipe. Thank you. 

  32. 5 stars
    I love this cake! Works well with Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking blend. Just found some frozen cranberries and there is a Christmas movie marathon on Hallmark this weekend in the middle of march!

  33. Kathleen Scott

    5 stars
    My daughter shared this with us and it’s to die for.  She cut down the almond flavoring, added orange zest to the cake and also used an orange glaze with this, which she poured on a hot cake that she thoroughly poked with a fork:
    Orange Glaze
    1/4 cup butter 
    1/2 Cup milk
    2 Tablespoons orange juice concentrate 
    3/4 cup powdered sugar 
    Microwave. Stir. Pour on hot cake.
    Because I am old and have health issues, I would cut down the glaze, but it was yummy.

  34. When I substituted Splenda for the sugar, the cake didn’t rise.    Can you suggest another artificial sweetener (there are several diabetics in my family)?

  35. 5 stars
    So good. My sister-in-law made some for us recently, and I made it twice these holidays. Thanks so much. 

  36. Janet Grether

    I made last year everyone liked made several ! Light best part powdered sugar sprinkled on not so sweet.

  37. 5 stars
    This was really delicious! I loved the almond flavor and the texture was great. I added white chocolate chips to mine too (in the batter and sprinkled on top). One note – in your blog post you talk about mixing the butter and sugar together to form soft peaks, but in the recipe it says to mix the eggs and sugar together for the peaks. 


  38. 5 stars
    Outstanding cake!  Do you think fresh frozen (thawed) cherries would work in this recipe?  I have some in my freezer that need to be used.

  39. Kathleen E Humpal

    5 stars
    Terrific take along to a holiday gathering. So good, everyone loved it. Have to forward the recipe to a few people. Love having easy, good, crowd pleasing recipes. Thanks.

  40. This is probably my favorite cake on the planet.  Outstanding.   Be prepared – 12 oz of fresh cranberries is about 3 cups.   I thought that many sour cranberries would not be good but it’s perfect.  Trust me.  

  41. 5 stars
    I love this cake! It’s my  “go to” when I need to make a quick dessert. I now keep a bag of cranberries in the freezer, just in case. I put a little cinnamon in the batter and sprinkle Sugar in the Raw on top instead of powdered sugar. Simple flavor but delicious. My favorite winter treat! 

    1. 5 stars
      Absolutely.  I made mine on Tuesday for Thanksgiving.  It’s an awesome cake!  I’m going to stock up on fresh cranberries and freeze them.

  42. Michael Bacon

    5 stars
    This recipe is AWESOME!!!! I made it this evening before my wife got home from work. She immediately commented on how good the house smelled when she walked in and couldn’t wait for the cake to cool completely before digging into it.
    One change I made came as a result of not reading the weight of the bag of cranberries. When I got home from the grocery store, I immediately started making the cake batter and saw that the bag of cranberries I had bought only contained 8 oz. and not the 12 oz. required by the recipe. I made up the difference with fresh blueberries, and boy did that turn out to be a great solution! WOW! I’ll definitely make this recipe again the exact same way. My wife and I have already gone through about 1/3 of the cake. Thanks for this fantastic recipe.

  43. 5 stars
     This cake got rave reviews at Bible Study las week so I’m making it for pot luck this Sunday. My only question is how to get my sugar and eggs to peak? mine just slum down no matter how long I mix them. My eggs are at room temp and are fresh as the market can get them. Am I doing something wrong. The cake taste fine, I’m just wondering.

    1. Honey Bunny 20

      Mine never peaked either. Just beat them until they are very pale yellow in color and semi peaks.

  44. Mary Ann Smith

    I made this for a “Sugar UP” get together. OMG, this cake is awesome. I absolutely love the texture, and the mix of tart and sweet is just perfect! Thank you so much for this recipe. It will be showing up at many of our get togethers from now on! I do have a question however. Have you tried making this with frozen cranberries, and the results? I am think that might be fine as long as the berries are thawed first. (want to take advantage of all the cranberry sales right now)

  45. 5 stars
    I’ll be making this on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Have my fresh cranberries bought and at the ready.  I’m so excited to make my first bake with cranberries.  Neither hubby or I thought we liked cranberries but we’ve discovered what we’ve been missing all along.  Love them now and this cake will decorate our holiday table.  Thanks for sharing the recipe.  Happy Thanksgiving!

  46. Sharon Harlan

    Can’t wait to make this….don’t like a lot of icing and powers sugar will be just enough.

  47. 5 stars
    Great recipe, smells delicious. The almond Extract in the ingredients isn’t mentioned in the method, so don’t forget to add it when you add the vanilla extract. 

  48. This recipe looks great…. The cake is in the oven.
    I have a question about beating the eggs and sugar. I could not get the eggs and sugar to a stiff peek. Was it suppose to be just the whites? I may have over beaten because of this.

  49. I am in my 70’s. My mother died when I was in high school. She had a recipe for a cake that she made for Christmas that had a can of jellied cranberry sauce. She cut the cranberry sauce into small junks and folded them into the cake batter. When the cake was done the junks might have melted down a little bit but you still saw them in the cake. I cannot find that recipe. Do you have any recipes like that. I have asked everyone I know and no one has a clue. Thanks

    1. 5 stars
      Rita, your post made me do a quick search. Found this recipe and hoping it is what you’re looking for. I know the sentimental value of finding something that brings good memories of the past. Happy Holidays

    2. maureen siragusa

      i have beenmaking a cake for the past 40 + years, called cranberry swirl coffee ckae, ingredients are, oleo sugar eggs, B. soda ,flour sour cream, almond or vanilla extract , can of whole berry cranberry sauce. it is very good
      has a glaze on top

  50. Donna Gunter

    Want to make this our family Christmas cake instead of fruit cake. Can you make this in a Bundt Pan and if so
    what temp., and how long.!

  51. Crystal Giffin

    my husband has an ultra sensitive and some things are just to sour for him….could I use blueberries or Cran-raisians? Thank you.

  52. Michele Mariana

    this sounds lovely. Question. Do you just throw the Almond out or add it when you add the Vanilla.
    Thanks. Excited to try for the Holidays! Merry Christmas!!!

    1. Charlotte Rinderknecht

      I did and also used Monk sweetener. I also added orange zest. Everyone loved it.

    2. Could you please share with us which GF flour you used? I’d like to try to make this gluten free as well.

    3. 5 stars
      I used Robin Hood all purpose gluten free. Going to also try it with Red Mill 1:1 gluten free too. First attempt came out well

  53. Hi! Thanks for the recipe! Sounds delicious! If I can’t get fresh cranberries, which would be the better substitute? Canned, frozen or dried?

    1. Dianne Sorensen

      Frozen berries are fine, I’ve used them. Dried are sweetened and would not produce the same cake. Canned are too saucy for this recipe.

    2. My first choice is frozen. Just let them defrost on the counter overnight. 
      Second would be dried. I use dried a lot in fruited muffins. Put them in a bowl and cover with boiling watt for a few minutes to soften. Drain, pat dry and use. 
      (As for canned, it won’t work. It’s already in a sauce, the cake may survive the bake, but it won’t be anything like this recipe. )

    1. I am going to try to make this at my 6000 feet altitude. Because it has no leavening, I don’t believe any adjustments need to be made. I will keep watch on it. It may need a few extra minutes in the oven, same temperature.

  54. Kathleen Chance

    I would add a step. If you want even distribution of the cranberry’s (or nuts, dried fruit etc) take about 1/3 cup of the flour in the recipe and mix into the berry’s. This way when the berry’s are added to the mixture, they will stay suspended through out the mixture during baking. Will be making this recipe, thanks.

    1. 5 stars
      I’ve just made it with Robin Hood All
      purpose gluten free and it’s come out fine. Cooling in the pan, will let you know what it tastes like! Doesn’t rise much but it’s a heavy mixture with lots of heavy fruit so more like cake fingers if that makes sense?

    2. 5 stars
      Thank you for posting this!  I will be hosting Thanksgiving and a few guests are gluten sensitive and wondered if GF flour works well. I usually use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. I love cranberry/orange! Great idea for t juthe frosted glaze.

    2. Yum! Blueberries with lemon zest…apples with cinnamon…can’t wair to explore the possibilities!

    1. I made it and put it in Santa’s sleigh. He called me when he got home to say it rode just fine. 😉

    2. This seems more like a quick bread which is denser and doesn’t really need to rise much, so the eggs are sufficient to provide leavening.

  55. Holly Miranov

    5 stars
    This is a wonderful cake. I have made this same cake for several years. The only difference in my recipe is I add orange zest in the cake mix and top it with a orange glaze of powdered sugar, water and orange zest.

  56. 5 stars
    Which is it, self-rising flour or all purpose..?.. I used Dried cranberries softened in very hot water!

  57. 5 stars
    Can this be baked in a bundt pan, and if so, for how many minutes to bake?  Thank you and happy new year!

    1. Did you ever make it in a bunt??? And how long did you cook it for ??? I’m trying it now… fingers crossed  

  58. 5 stars
    Wonderful!  This was a great tasting cake and guests raved about it (most who said they don’t normally like cake)! Not sure we can wait until cranberries are in season again to make, but it will become a Christmas favorite. 

    1. You can buy cranberries in season and just throw the bag in the freezer for later use! Good until next season rolls around! So it can be a 4th of July treat!

  59. 5 stars
    This was the  best recipe!  Made it for a luncheon and everyone wanted the recipe! Amazing! Easy to make and very straight forward! Ingredients you have on hand!

    Merry Christmas!