Citrusy sweet and tart Cranberry Orange Bread is quick and easy to make with fresh or frozen cranberries and an easy orange glaze. It's a delicious for breakfast, snacking, or gifting to friends or neighbors!
The flavor combination of cranberries and oranges is one of the best! Some of our other favorite cranberry and orange recipes are this Cranberry Orange Monkey Bread and my classic Cranberry Sauce made with a little fresh orange juice and orange zest!
One of my favorite restaurant/bakeries in Utah is called Kneaders and they make the most incredible cranberry orange quick bread every year during the holidays. Also, a turkey bacon avocado sandwich that is only the best ever.
Whenever we visit around this time of year, I always pick up a loaf because it's so, so good. It's super moist, and just bursting with fresh cranberry flavor that is complimented beautifully with the orange!
I have been trying to come close to a version just as good as theirs for years now and I think I've finally got it with this one. Mine differs slightly in that I include a glaze on top and it browns a bit more than the Kneaders' loaves, but it's every bit as delicious and moist and wonderful. I plan on making this all season long!
I think I might start adding a few twists here and there now that I have my go-to version of my favorite cranberry orange bread down though. I am imagining this with chopped pecans or maybe some coconut flakes in the batter. Or possibly replacing the glaze with a streusel sprinkled on top before baking. There are so many possibilities!
I HIGHLY recommend doubling the recipe and making two loaves while you are at it. One for you and one for a friend. This also makes a great neighbor or teacher gift all wrapped up in cellophane with a bow and maybe a festive, pretty kitchen towel.
Pro Tip: Toss your fresh or frozen cranberries with a tablespoon of flour before adding so they stay evenly dispersed throughout the batter while baking.
Why is it called quick bread?
This type of bread is referred to as "quick" bread because there is no yeast in it and so it doesn't require proofing or "rising" on the counter. Instead, baking powder is used to lift the bread and help it rise for the soft texture. It's also sometimes called a "loaf" instead and in a lot of ways is closer to cake than bread. The texture should be moist and the crumb slightly dense with a rich, wonderful taste that is studded with bursts of tart cranberries in this case.
- Sugar: You will definitely need sugar to balance out the tartness of the cranberries. Granulated sugar goes into the bread and powdered sugar is used for making the sweet citrus glaze on top.
- Buttermilk: I love the richness and tang of using buttermilk in my baking. But if you don't have any on hand, you can make a great and easy substitute by combining a little lemon juice or vinegar with milk and letting it sit for five minutes. You could also use sour cream or plain yogurt instead.
- Orange zest & juice: To maximize the orange flavor in this recipe, the zest and juice goes into both the bread and the optional glaze drizzled on top. Be sure to zest the oranges BEFORE cutting and juicing them. It's super hard to zest them when you squeeze them first.
- Oil: I think vegetable oil makes the best quick bread that stays nice and moist, but you could substitute melted butter instead if you prefer.
- Eggs: Eggs are a common baking ingredient that are an important element in the texture and flavor of this quick bread.
- Vanilla extract: I love to use my homemade vanilla extract when I'm baking!
- All-purpose flour: When measuring the flour, take care not to pack it into your measuring cup or you will over measure. A good practice is to use the spoon and sweep method where you spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then level it off on top with a knife.
- Baking powder: For leaving the bread and making it light!
- Salt: This ingredient brings out all of the other flavors so it doesn't taste bland.
- Cranberries: Fresh or frozen cranberries give the biggest burst of cranberry flavor! They are so juicy and fabulous in this bread. I'm sure you could use dried cranberries, but the flavor definitely wouldn't be the same. Also, there is no need to thaw the frozen cranberries first, if using.
How to make cranberry orange bread
- Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and lining a 9x5-inch loaf pan with a parchment paper sling or spraying it with baking spray.
- Stir the sugar, milk, orange juice, orange zest, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing with a spoon until mostly combined but with some streaks of flour remaining.
- Toss the cranberries with a tablespoon of flour before gently folding them into the batter.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
- Cool for at least 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. You don't want to glaze until the bread has cooled or the glaze will soak right in.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract together. I like my glaze slightly on the thicker side so I recommend starting with a smaller amount of juice and adding a little at a time to get it the consistency you like. Drizzle or pour over the cooled bread, then let set before slicing and serving.
Storage & freezing instructions
Store the finished bread in an airtight container at room temperature. It is best when eaten within 2-3 days.
The unglazed bread will freeze really well for up to 3 months, either as an entire loaf or as individual slices. Be sure to wrap it well with plastic wrap, then foil to protect it from the freezer. You can freeze the bread with the glaze, but it won't hold up quite as well when thawing.
Can this bread be made in mini loaf pans?
For mini loaf pans, bake for around 35-45 minutes. Freeze up to 3 months.
Can this recipe be used for cranberry orange muffins?
Absolutely! I recommend baking them for about 20-22 minutes to start.
More Easy Quick Breads
- Passion Fruit Lemon Loaf Cake
- Coconut Lime Glazed Banana Bread
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Best Easy Banana Bread
- Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Cranberry Orange Bread
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- ½ cup oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups frozen cranberries roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1-2 teaspoons orange zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper sling or spray with baking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, milk, orange juice, orange zest, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing just until combined but some streaks of flour still remain.
- Toss cranberries with remaining flour. Add to the batter and gently fold in. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Maybe 70 to 75 minutes if using a smaller pan like an 8.5x4.5-inch.
- Cool for at least 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract together. Pour or spread over the cooled bread. Slice and serve. Store in an airtight container. Best within 2-3 days.
- For mini loaf pans, bake for around 35-45 minutes. Freeze up to 3 months.