Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

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 26 votes
Servings: 16

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
50 mins
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.



  • 3 large eggs room temp
  • 2 C sugar
  • 3/4 C unsalted butter softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • Powdered sugar for garnish



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prep an 9 x13 pan with non-stick baking spray.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer until slightly thickened and light in color.
  4. This mixture should form peaks when you lift the beaters out of the bowl.
  5. Add the butter, almond and vanilla extract to the egg mixture and continue to mix.

  6. Mix for two minutes.
  7. Slowly add in the flour but just until combined.
  8. Add the fresh cranberries.
  9. Stir the cranberries to mix throughout.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
  11. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting into slices.
  12. Garnish with powder sugar.
  13. Makes 16 servings.
Nutrition Facts
Cranberry Christmas Cake
Amount Per Serving (16 g)
Calories 243 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 54mg18%
Sodium 13mg1%
Potassium 31mg1%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 310IU6%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Cranberry Christmas Cake Recipe

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  1. 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!

  2. 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. 

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

  4. Looks delicious! One question, though. All purpose or self-rising flour? 

  5. Plain or self rising flour??

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

  7. 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.

  8. Do you use all purpose or self-rising flour?

  9. Wonder if you could substitute blueberries…

  10. Looks awesome

  11. Could this be made Gluten free. 

    • 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?

  12. Can this be made with gluten free flour? Thank you

  13. Bet this would be great with some added orange zest.

  14. Thank you for this recipe cant wait to bake it

  15. What adjustment needs to be made for high altitude on the Christmas cranberry cake?

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

    • 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. )

  17. Has anyone tried this with gluten free 1 to 1 flour?

  18. Would you be able to make with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar??

  19. 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!!!

  20. sounds so good.

  21. Could you add pecans? 

  22. is there a keto version of this?

  23. How can you make this cake healthier?

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

  25. 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.!

  26. 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

    • 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

  27. How do you think this would work in mini loaf pans? Any tips if so?

  28. 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.

  29. Looks wonderful!

  30. 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. 

  31. Looks amazing, can’t wait to make this for Thanksgiving Dessert

  32. I Love Cranberries!! I’m going to make this for Christmas!!

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

  34. Have you frozen this cake?  I would like to make it ahead and freeze, if possible.
    It looks delicious!

  35. Everyone loved this cake. Definitely will make again.

  36. Thank you for sharing can’t wait to try it. 

  37. 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!

  38. 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)

  39. What about the almond flavor?

  40.  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.

  41. 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.

  42. Does this work making one day ahead?

  43. What does the 2 C mean in measurements?

  44. Can this cake be frozen?

  45. 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! 

  46. 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.  

  47. I made this a bundt pan and added white chocolate chips…. turned out great !

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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. 


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

  52. Delicious! Easy to make and so good. 

  53. Do you think this would be good in a Bundt pan?

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

  55. 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)?

  56. 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.

  57. Loved this recipe! Will definitely make it again. Tart with sweet – yum!

  58. 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!

  59. 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.