This festive cranberry bread is so easy to make! It’s got a hint of bourbon and is just sweet enough, punctuated by tangy cranberries.

Easy Cranberry Bread

When it comes to festive recipes, cranberry bread is near the top (right there with Christmas pudding and mulled cider). But here’s a confession: I’ve never been a cranberry bread person. Until this bread! Something about the astringent orange and sweet moistness rubbed me the wrong way. But this cranberry bread: it’s got the right crunchy sugar outside and fluffy interior. It’s not too sweet, punctuated with tart cranberries. The best part? A hint of vanilla and bourbon seals the deal. (No orange here, folks.) There’s a bit of a healthy spin, but it’s every bit a holiday treat!

Cranberry bread

The secrets to this cranberry bread

What makes this the best cranberry bread? I’ve been scarred by cranberry breads of Christmas past that are too oily, too sweet, or too bitter orange-y. This one makes it all right again, in a culmination of holiday sweet bread perfection. Here’s what makes this cranberry bread uniquely delicious:

  • Oat flour. To infuse nutrients, this bread uses ground oats or oat flour along with the all purpose flour. You can make your own oat flour by blending the same amount of rolled oats in a blender or food processor. This makes the bread heartier and gains the nutrition benefits of oats.
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. This cranberry bread is without orange: instead, spices carry the way.
  • Bourbon (optional)! Adding a splash of bourbon gives this cranberry bread a nuance to the flavor that’s irresistible.
  • Crunchy sugar topping. This bread has a nice crispy exterior, both from the recipe itself and from adding a sprinkle of glittery turbinado sugar.
Cranberry bread recipe

How to store cranberry bread

What’s the best way to store a quick bread like cranberry bread? Here are a few different ways:

  • Room temperature (2 to 3 days): If you think you’ll eat the bread quickly, store it at room temperature and cover it with aluminum foil. The benefit of this method is that it keeps the crunchy texture on top and is easy to eat.
  • Frozen (up to 3 months): To extend the life further, pop your sliced bread into the freezer wrapped in foil and in a sealed container or plastic bag. It can last at least 3 months, or maybe more. Consider doing this with half of the loaf, and keeping the other half out at room temperature.

Add a sparkle: use turbinado sugar!

It’s optional, but this cranberry bread is complete with a sprinkle of sparkly turbinado sugar on top. What is it? Turbinado sugar is raw sugar with large, light brown crystals. It’s less processed than refined white sugar, because it’s boiled only once to remove the molasses (refined sugar is boiled multiple times). It has a more complex, caramel-y flavor than refined sugar. Because its crystals are large, they add a nice texture to the top of muffinscakes and breads.

What is a substitute for turbinado sugar? For this cranberry bread, you can use a light sprinkle of light brown sugar or refined sugar in its place. While it doesn’t have the signature large crystals, it has a similar flavor.

Cranberry champagne cocktail

Can you make it vegan or gluten free?

Good questions! We have not tested variations here, but here’s what we recommend:

  • Vegan: For vegan, plant-based and dairy-free, we’ve made quick breads vegan (like our vegan zucchini bread) with this formula and it works well. Try using flax eggs for the eggs, any non-dairy milk for the milk, and coconut oil or neutral oil for the butter.
  • Gluten free: It’s already halfway there with the oat flour! Try substituting 1-for-1 gluten-free flour for the all purpose flour.
Cranberry bread

Ways to use up whole cranberries!

The reason Alex and I made this cranberry bread was…we were looking for ways to use up whole cranberries ! We bought cranberries as a garnish for making festive Poinsettia’s: a cranberry champagne cocktail. With almost an entire bag left, we weren’t sure what to do with the rest! Here are a few cranberry recipes to use up whole cranberries:

  1. Cranberry bread. Go to the recipe below!
  2. Muffins. Go to Cranberry Orange Muffins.
  3. Cocktails. Use them as a garnish for our Cranberry Champagne Cocktail, or any of our other cranberry cocktails: the Cosmo, Madras, and Cape Codder.
  4. Salsa. Make our Cranberry Salsa as a holiday appetizer.
  5. Sauce for baked brie. This Baked Brie with Roasted Cranberry Sauce is so satisfying! Perfect for Christmas dinner or winter entertaining.
  6. Jam. This sweet tart Cranberry Jam is fantastic on biscuits.
  7. Crisp. Make a Cranberry Crisp as a wintery dessert.

This cranberry bread recipe is…


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Easy Cranberry Bread

Easy Cranberry Bread

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 to 14 slices 1x


This festive cranberry bread is so easy to make! It’s got a hint of bourbon and is just sweet enough, punctuated by tangy cranberries.


  • 1 cup oat flour OR 1 cup blended rolled oats (see Step 2)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (optional), for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter a 9″ loaf pan.
  2. If using rolled oats, place them in a blender (high-speed is helpful) or food processor and blend for a minute or so until a fine flour-like texture forms.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, oat flour (or ground oats), brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Then whisk in the melted butter, milk bourbon, and vanilla.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in the cranberries.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake about 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack, still in the pan, and let cool for 30 minutes. Then remove from the pan and cool completely before slicing. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, or frozen for at least 3 months.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Winter

Keywords: Cranberry Bread, Healthy Cranberry Bread, Easy Cranberry Bread

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Great take on an old favorite — thanks! I love the oat flour.
    I noticed one little omission: in Step 3 you left out the one cup of all purpose flour. (Most people would notice this, however!)
    I also noticed that the amount of batter for one loaf fits much better into an 8.5 X 4.5″ loaf pan.

    1. Updated: thank you! Re the amount of batter: it can work in either an 8-inch or 9-inch pan, so 8.5″ would work well too! We did ours in a 9-inch loaf pan, so the bake time is optimized for that. Let us know if you try it!