Cranberry Bread with Orange Glaze


Cranberry bread with orange glaze is the quintessential holiday treat. The tangy cranberries and sweet orange glaze are perfectly balanced, creating a festive flavor combo that just screams the holidays. This moist and tender quick bread loaded with juicy cranberries is sure to become your new favorite holiday recipe.

Cranberry bread has an almost cakey texture studded with vibrant red cranberries in every bite. The pop of tangy cranberries is balanced by the sweet, citrusy orange glaze drizzled over the loaf. It comes together quickly and easily with basic ingredients you likely have in your pantry and fridge.

Benefits of Cranberry Orange Bread:

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  • Festive holiday flavors that blend sweet and tart
  • Easy, quick bread that comes together in just over an hour
  • Loaded with juicy, antioxidant-rich cranberries
  • Moist and tender crumb with nice rise
  • Sweet citrus glaze adds pretty finish
  • Makes the perfect homemade holiday gift!

This recipe produces a single tall, impressive loaf that looks stunning on a holiday table or given as a gift for teachers, neighbors, or family. The bread keeps well at room temperature so can be baked 1-2 days ahead.

Let’s dive into the simple ingredients you’ll need and step-by-step method for creating this cranberry bread masterpiece. The orange glaze takes it over the top, so don’t skip that last essential step!

Ingredients Needed

Cranberry bread only requires a few basic ingredients you likely have on hand. Be sure everything is at room temperature for best results.

For the Bread:

  • All-purpose flour – provides structure and rise
  • Baking powder – leavening agent to help bread rise
  • Salt – enhances overall flavor
  • Milk – adds moisture and tenderness
  • Orange zest and juice – provides bright, citrusy flavor
  • Butter – imparts rich flavor and moisture
  • Sugar – balances out tartness of cranberries
  • Eggs – help create tender, cakey texture
  • Fresh cranberries – provides tart flavor and pops of color
  • Flour for tossing cranberries – prevents them sinking while baking

For the Glaze:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Orange juice
  • Orange zest

Be sure your ingredients are fresh for the best flavor. The glaze only requires 3 simple ingredients but really takes this cranberry bread over the top, so don’t skip it!

Now that you understand the staple ingredients required, let’s walk through the easy step-by-step method for creating this festive bread.

Step-by-Step Cranberry Bread Recipe

Baking this cranberry quick bread is simple. Just mix up a few wet and dry ingredients then fold in fresh cranberries. Here’s an overview of the easy process:

  • Prep the bread pan
  • Whisk dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt)
  • Mix wet ingredients (milk, orange juice/zest)
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Add eggs and mix well
  • Alternate adding dry and wet mixtures
  • Toss cranberries in bit of flour
  • Fold in cranberries carefully
  • Bake 45-50 minutes
  • Cool completely before glazing

Let’s break that down into more detail:

1. Prep the bread pan – Grease a 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with butter or nonstick spray. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out any excess. This helps prevent sticking.

2. Whisk dry ingredients – In medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.

3. Mix wet ingredients – In measuring cup/small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk, zest from one large orange (reserve 1 tsp for glaze), and 1/4 cup fresh orange juice.

4. Cream butter and sugar – Using electric mixer, beat 6 Tbsp softened butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy.

5. Add eggs and mix – Crack 2 large eggs into butter mixture. Beat on medium until fully incorporated.

6. Alternate dry and wet mixtures – Add half the flour mixture and half the milk mixture, mixing just until blended. Repeat with remaining halves.

7. Toss cranberries in flour – In small bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries with 1/2 Tbsp flour until coated.

8. Fold in cranberries – Use rubber spatula to gently fold coated cranberries into batter.

9. Bake – Pour batter into prepped bread pan. Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes until golden brown with clean toothpick test.

10. Cool completely before glazing – Let loaf cool in pan 10-15 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before drizzling glaze over top.

Make the Perfect Orange Glaze

While the cranberry bread is great on its own, the orange glaze really takes it to the next level. The sweet, citrusy glaze perfectly balances the tartness of the cranberries. It adds a pop of brightness and pretty finish.

Making the glaze only takes about 5 minutes. You’ll need:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Steps to Make Glaze:

  1. In small bowl, mix together powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest.
  2. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Add more juice to thin or powdered sugar to thicken to drizzling consistency.
  3. Drizzle glaze over cooled cranberry loaf, allowing it to run down the sides.

The glaze hardens within an hour of drizzling onto the bread. Be sure your loaf has cooled completely before glazing so the icing sets properly.

Pro Tip: For best flavor, zest your orange before juicing to get the most oils from the zest. Orange oil is concentrated in the external zest.

Now that your masterpiece is complete, let’s go over some serving suggestions and storage guidelines.

Serving Suggestions

Cranberry bread makes a fine quick bread on its own, but here are some ideas to take it to the next level:

  • Slice bread and enjoy as-is or toasted
  • Drizzle slices with honey or maple syrup
  • Schmear slices with cream cheese, butter, or orange marmalade
  • Enjoy alongside cup of coffee or tea for breakfast or snack
  • Pair with fruit, yogurt, or hot cereal
  • Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice for a quick dessert

This bread is delicious on its own but feels a bit like a special dessert with whipped cream or ice cream. It’s also excellent toasted and served with tea or coffee.

Storage Tips

Cranberry bread stays fresh at room temp a surprisingly long time thanks to the moisture from the oranges. Here are some storage tips:

  • Room Temperature – Keep cranberry bread loosely covered on counter for 2-3 days
  • Refrigerate – For longer shelf life, store covered in fridge up to 1 week
  • Freeze – You can freeze baked loaves up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before serving.

You can also freeze any extra fresh cranberries to save for more holiday baking.

Now let’s go over some common questions:


Can I use frozen cranberries?

Yes, you can use frozen cranberries in the same 1 1/2 cup quantity. Make sure they are not thawed and fold them in frozen. You may need to bake 5 minutes longer to account for the temperature change.

What about dried cranberries?

Dried cranberries can be substitution by using 2/3 cup dried cranberries and reducing the sugar to 2/3 cup. You can plump up the dried cranberries by soaking in hot water 10 mins first. Drain well and pat dry before folding into batter.

Can I add nuts?

Chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans make a nice addition. Fold in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted nuts when you add the cranberries. The nuts toast up nicely to complement the cranberries.

Can I make muffins instead of a loaf?

Yes! This recipe converts nicely to muffins. Prepare batter as directed. Fill 12 greased or lined muffin cups evenly, about 3/4 full. Bake at 375°F for 22-25 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center muffin comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack. Drizzle glaze over cooled muffins.

What kind of orange should I use?

Navel oranges work beautifully in this recipe. Look for large, fresh oranges that feel heavy for their size. Zest first before juicing – it contains the flavorful oils. Any variety of orange works but navels have the best flavor balance.

I hope this gives you all the details needed to bake up the perfect loaf of cranberry bread with orange glaze! This makes a stunning edible holiday gift or nice addition to any holiday spread. Enjoy this iconic holiday recipe.

Let me know if you need any part of the blog post expanded further! I aimed to be very thorough will all aspects of making and enjoying this beloved holiday bread.

Cranberry Bread with Orange Glaze Recipe

Ingredients for Cranberry Bread:

  • All-purpose flour: 1 1/2 cups
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1/4 tsp
  • Room temperature milk: 1/4 cup
  • Zest of 1 large orange (divided)
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice: 1/4 cup
  • Softened unsalted butter: 6 Tbsp
  • Granulated sugar: 3/4 cup
  • Room temperature large eggs: 2
  • Fresh cranberries (rinsed and dried): 1 1/2 cups
  • All-purpose flour: 1/2 Tbsp (for tossing cranberries)

Ingredients for Orange Glaze:

  • Powdered sugar: 1 cup
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice: 1 1/2 Tbsp (or adjust for desired consistency)
  • Reserved orange zest: 1 tsp


  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Butter and flour a 6-cup (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches) bread loaf pan, shaking out any excess flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Combine milk, orange zest (save 1 tsp for glaze), and orange juice in a measuring cup. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on medium/high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and mix until well incorporated.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing on medium/low speed until just blended. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  6. Toss the cranberries with 1/2 Tbsp flour, then gently fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350˚F (175˚C), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then use a knife or cake release tool to loosen the edges and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Glaze:

  1. In a separate bowl, mix the powdered sugar, orange juice, and reserved zest until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding more juice or sugar as needed.

Enjoy this delightful bread as a treat for yourself or as a thoughtful, homemade gift!


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