Crafting a Master Christmas Cranberry Cake Recipe

christmas cranberry cake recipe

Are you ready to dazzle your holiday guests with a dessert that’s as visually stunning as it is delicious? Look no further than this Christmas cranberry cake recipe, a festive masterpiece that combines the tartness of cranberries with the sweetness of a classic holiday cake. This recipe is not just a treat for your taste buds but a feast for your eyes, making it the perfect centerpiece for your Christmas table.

What is A Christmas Cranberry Cake?

close up image of a christmas cranberry cake

A Christmas cranberry cake is a delightful holiday dessert, cherished for its perfect blend of flavors and festive appearance. At its heart, this cake features cranberries, known for their vibrant red hue and tart taste, which embody the spirit of the holiday season.

The base of the cake is typically a soft, moist sponge, often flavored with vanilla, almond, or even a hint of citrus to complement the cranberries. The cranberries can be used fresh, dried, or in a sauce form, each bringing its own depth and character to the cake. They infuse the cake with a distinctive tartness, beautifully balancing the sweetness of the batter.

To enhance its festive appeal, the cake is often adorned with a frosting, such as a rich cream cheese frosting, or simply dusted with powdered sugar for a more understated elegance. Decorative touches like candied cranberries or a sprinkle of orange zest are also common, adding to its visual allure and festive flavor.

This cake isn’t just a treat for the taste buds; it’s a celebration of the holiday season, capturing the warmth and joy of Christmas in every slice. Its combination of flavors and colors make it a popular choice for holiday gatherings, embodying the essence of Christmas cheer.

For those eager to bring this festive delight to their own holiday table, our article offers a comprehensive guide. It includes a detailed recipe, creative variations, and tips for decoration, ensuring that your Christmas cranberry cake is as joyous to create as it is to savor.

Christmas Cranberry Cake Recipe

recipe for christmas cranberry cake

Ready for a holiday treat that’ll wow your guests? Meet our Ultimate Christmas Cranberry Cake. It’s moist, it’s festive, and oh-so-delicious. Picture this: a soft vanilla cake, packed with tangy cranberries, topped with your choice of creamy frosting or a sweet vanilla sauce. Perfect for your Christmas dinner, right? Let’s get baking! The recipe below has all you need to make this holiday season extra special.

christmas cranberry cake recipe

Ultimate Christmas Cranberry Cake

Ryan Yates
Experience the joy of the holidays with our Ultimate Christmas Cranberry Cake. This recipe combines a dense vanilla cake base, bursting with fresh cranberries, and is perfectly balanced with sweetness and a hint of tanginess. Topped with a creamy vanilla sauce or cream cheese frosting and optional candied cranberries, this cake is the epitome of festive indulgence.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Amercian
Servings 12 Servings


  • 13-by-9-inch baking pan
  • Mixing Bowls
  • whisk
  • Electric mixer (for frosting)
  • Saucepan (for vanilla sauce)
  • Measuring cups and spoons


For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⅔ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg + 2 egg whites lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

For Cream Cheese Frosting (Optional):

  • 1 package cream cheese softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk

For Vanilla Sauce (Optional):

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Decoration (Optional):

  • Candied cranberries
  • Powdered sugar


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In another bowl, mix milk, sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  • Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the cranberries.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool completely.

If using Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk until smooth.
  • Spread evenly over the cooled cake.

If using Vanilla Sauce:

  • Combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Drizzle over individual cake servings.
  • Decorate with candied cranberries or a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.


Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature for the best results.
The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to 5 days.
For a gluten-free version, substitute all-purpose flour with almond flour.
Nutritional Information:
Calories: 350 kcal
Carbohydrates: 50g
Protein: 4g
Fat: 15g
Saturated Fat: 9g
Cholesterol: 60mg
Sodium: 150mg
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 35g
Keyword Cake, Christmas, cranberry, Cream Cheese Frosting, holiday dessert, holiday desserts, vanilla, Vanilla Sauce

Selecting the Perfect Ingredients for Your Christmas Cranberry Cake Recipe

kitchen counter top displaying the ingredients for christmas cranberry cake

Creating the perfect Christmas cranberry cake starts with selecting high-quality ingredients. Each component plays a crucial role in ensuring your cake turns out just right – moist, flavorful, and irresistibly festive. Here’s a guide to picking the best ingredients for your Christmas cranberry cake.

Fresh Cranberries: The Star Ingredient

  • Quality: Look for bright, firm, and plump cranberries. They should be deep red in color, indicating ripeness and flavor.
  • Alternatives: If fresh cranberries aren’t available, frozen cranberries can be used. Thaw them before use and drain any excess liquid.

Flour: The Foundation

  • Type: All-purpose flour works best for a light and tender cake.
  • Gluten-Free Option: For those with dietary restrictions, almond flour or a gluten-free flour blend can be a great substitute.

Sweeteners: Balancing Tartness with Sweetness

  • Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is ideal for achieving the perfect sweetness.
  • Alternatives: If you prefer a less refined option, coconut sugar or even honey can be used. Keep in mind, this may alter the cake’s texture slightly.

Fats: For Moisture and Richness

  • Butter: Unsalted butter is recommended for its richness and to control the salt content in your cake.
  • Dairy-Free Option: For a dairy-free version, coconut oil or a plant-based butter substitute can be used.

Eggs: Binding and Leavening

  • Freshness: Use fresh, room-temperature eggs for the best results.
  • Vegan Option: For those avoiding eggs, flaxseed or chia seed mixtures can be used as a binding agent.

Leavening Agents: Ensuring a Perfect Rise

  • Baking Powder: This is essential for the cake to rise and become fluffy.
  • Check Freshness: Make sure your baking powder is not expired for optimal results.

Dairy: For Creaminess

  • Milk and Sour Cream: These ingredients add moisture and richness. Use room-temperature dairy for better incorporation into the batter.
  • Non-Dairy Alternatives: Almond milk or soy milk, along with a dairy-free sour cream alternative, can be used.

Flavor Enhancers: Vanilla and Spices

  • Vanilla Extract: A dash of pure vanilla extract can significantly enhance the flavor.
  • Spices: Optional spices like cinnamon or nutmeg can be added for a warm, festive touch.

By carefully selecting each ingredient, you ensure that your Christmas cranberry cake is not just a dessert, but a memorable part of your holiday celebration. With these tips, you’re well on your way to baking a cake that’s as delightful to eat as it is to present. Stay tuned for the next steps in our Christmas cranberry cake recipe guide, where we’ll dive into the baking process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Baking the Ultimate Christmas Cranberry Cake

frosting the christmas cranberry cake

Baking the perfect Christmas cranberry cake is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. This step-by-step guide is designed to help even novice bakers create a stunning and delicious holiday treat. Follow these instructions closely to ensure your Christmas cranberry cake recipe turns out just right.

Preparing Your Ingredients and Equipment

  • Gather Ingredients: Ensure all your ingredients are measured and ready. This includes flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, sour cream, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and, of course, cranberries.
  • Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to 350°F (175°C). This is crucial for an even bake.
  • Prepare the Baking Pan: Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan or line it with parchment paper for easy removal.

Mixing the Batter

  1. Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together your all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  3. Combine: Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring until just combined. Avoid overmixing to keep the cake light and fluffy.
  4. Add Cranberries: Gently fold in the fresh cranberries, ensuring they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Baking the Cake

  1. Pour the Batter: Transfer the batter into your prepared baking pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  2. Bake: Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  3. Cooling: Allow the cake to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting and Decoration (Optional)

  • Frosting Choices: You can choose a cream cheese frosting or a simple vanilla glaze. Whichever you choose, make sure your cake is completely cool before applying.
  • Decorating: Garnish with candied cranberries or a dusting of powdered sugar for a festive look.

Final Touches

  • Serving: Slice the cake into even pieces. It can be served as is or with a dollop of whipped cream or a side of vanilla ice cream.
  • Storing: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container. The cake stays fresh at room temperature for a couple of days or can be refrigerated for longer storage.

By following these steps, your Christmas cranberry cake will be a delightful addition to your holiday festivities. This recipe not only promises a delicious outcome but also brings the joy of baking into your home. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks to enhance your Christmas cranberry cake experience.

Creative Frosting and Decoration Ideas for a Festive Touch

adding frosting to the christmas cranberry cake

Enhancing your Christmas cranberry cake with creative frosting and decorations can transform it from a simple holiday dessert to a stunning centerpiece. Here are some ideas to give your Christmas cranberry cake recipe a festive and visually appealing finish.

Frosting Variations

  • Cream Cheese Frosting: A classic choice that pairs beautifully with the tart cranberries. Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a dash of vanilla for a smooth, rich topping.
  • Vanilla Buttercream: For a sweeter touch, try a fluffy vanilla buttercream. It’s light, creamy, and easy to spread or pipe.
  • Whipped Cream Frosting: If you prefer a lighter option, whipped cream frosting is a great choice. It’s airy and not too sweet, complementing the dense cake base.

Decorative Tips

  • Candied Cranberries: Garnish your cake with candied cranberries for a sparkling, festive look. They add a delightful crunch and a burst of tartness.
  • Festive Sprinkles: Add a sprinkle of holiday-themed edible decorations like stars, trees, or snowflakes.
  • Edible Gold Leaf: For a touch of elegance, apply small pieces of edible gold leaf on the frosting.

Themed Decorations

  • Christmas Ornaments: Decorate around the cake with small, edible Christmas ornaments or figurines.
  • Frosted Berries and Herbs: Arrange frosted berries and sprigs of rosemary or mint for a natural, wintery feel.
  • Dusting of Powdered Sugar: A simple dusting of powdered sugar can give the appearance of a light snowfall, perfect for a Christmas theme.

Color Palette

  • Red and Green: Stick to the classic Christmas colors with red cranberries and green garnishes.
  • White and Gold: For a more elegant cake, use white frosting and gold decorations.

Serving Suggestions

  • Cake Stand: Present your cake on a festive cake stand or a decorative serving platter.
  • Holiday Plates: Serve slices on holiday-themed plates for added charm.

By incorporating these creative frosting and decoration ideas, your Christmas cranberry cake will not only taste delicious but also look extraordinarily festive. These tips will help ensure your cake is the highlight of your holiday dessert table. Enjoy the process of decorating and share the joy of your beautiful and tasty Christmas cranberry cake with friends and family.

Creative Variations and Tips for Your Christmas Cranberry Cake Recipe

variations to the holiday cranberry cake

Adding a personal touch to your Christmas cranberry cake can make it even more special. Here are some creative variations and tips to enhance the flavor and presentation of your Christmas cranberry cake recipe. These simple tweaks can elevate your cake from delicious to extraordinary.

Spice It Up

  • Warm Spices: Add a teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg to the cake batter. This will infuse your cake with warm, spicy flavors that are reminiscent of the holiday season.
  • Balancing Flavors: Ensure the spices don’t overpower the cranberries. The goal is to complement the tartness of the cranberries with the warmth of the spices.

Orange Zest Twist

  • Citrusy Note: Incorporate the zest of one orange into your cake batter. The citrus zest adds a fresh, tangy flavor that pairs wonderfully with cranberries.
  • Even Distribution: Mix the zest thoroughly into the batter to ensure every bite has a hint of orange.

Nutty Crunch

  • Adding Texture: Sprinkle chopped pecans or walnuts on top of the frosting. This not only adds a delightful crunch but also a nutty flavor that complements the cake.
  • Toasting Nuts: For an enhanced flavor, consider lightly toasting the nuts before adding them to the cake.

Layered Delight

  • Layered Cake Option: For a more elaborate dessert, convert your Christmas cranberry cake into a layered cake. Simply double the recipe and bake in round cake pans.
  • Frosting Layers: Apply your chosen frosting between each layer. This not only adds to the taste but also makes for an impressive presentation.

By incorporating these variations and tips into your Christmas cranberry cake recipe, you can tailor the cake to your taste preferences and make your holiday celebrations even more memorable. Whether you prefer a hint of spice, a touch of citrus, a bit of crunch, or an extravagant layered cake, these ideas are sure to enhance your baking experience. Enjoy experimenting with these suggestions and share the joy of your uniquely flavored Christmas cranberry cake with loved ones.

Storing and Preserving Your Christmas Cranberry Cake

how to store holiday cranberry cake

After enjoying the delightful process of baking your Christmas cranberry cake, it’s important to know how to store and preserve it effectively. Whether you’re planning to serve it later or want to savor it over a few days, these storage tips will ensure your cake remains as delicious as when it was first baked. Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and flavor of your Christmas cranberry cake.

Short-Term Storage

  • Room Temperature: If you plan to consume the cake within a couple of days, store it in an airtight container at room temperature. This helps to retain its moisture and flavor.
  • Avoiding Moisture: Ensure the container is completely dry before placing the cake inside to prevent any sogginess.

Refrigeration for Longer Freshness

  • Cool Conditions: For keeping the cake fresh for up to a week, refrigerate it. Wrap the cake in cling film or store it in an airtight container before placing it in the fridge.
  • Frosting Consideration: If your cake has cream cheese frosting or a dairy-based topping, refrigeration is recommended.

Freezing for Long-Term Storage

  • Freezing Instructions: Wrap the cake tightly in cling film and then in foil. Label it with the date and freeze. Your Christmas cranberry cake can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Thawing: To thaw, leave the cake in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before serving.

Tips for Best Results

  • Slicing Before Freezing: If you prefer, slice the cake before freezing. This way, you can thaw only as many pieces as needed.
  • Avoiding Freezer Burn: Ensure the cake is wrapped tightly and securely to prevent freezer burn.
  • Frosting After Thawing: If possible, add frosting or decorations after thawing the cake for the best texture and appearance.

Conclusion: Celebrating with the Perfect Christmas Cranberry Cake

This Christmas cranberry cake recipe is more than just a dessert; it’s a celebration of festive flavors and joyous gatherings. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or trying your hand at baking for the first time, this recipe promises to bring warmth and sweetness to your holiday table. Remember, the key to a perfect cake lies in the love and care you put into making it. So, gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to create a Christmas masterpiece that will be remembered for years to come.

Final Tips:

  • Don’t Rush the Baking: Oven temperatures can vary, so keep an eye on your cake and test for doneness towards the end of the baking time.
  • Let It Cool: Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting to prevent the frosting from melting.
  • Personalize Your Cake: Feel free to tweak the recipe to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Additional Resources

For more holiday recipes and baking tips, visit our website or follow us on social media. We love seeing your baking creations, so don’t forget to tag us in your Christmas cranberry cake photos!


Can I Make This Cake Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can prepare the cake a day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator and add the frosting before serving.

How Do I Store Leftover Cake?

Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Can I Freeze This Cake?

Yes, the unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature before frosting and serving.

Is This Cake Suitable for People with Nut Allergies?

Yes, this recipe does not contain nuts. However, always check the ingredients of each product used to ensure they are nut-free.

Thank You for Reading

We hope you found this article helpful and informative. At Authentic Hospitality, we are committed to providing valuable resources and insights to help you succeed in the restaurant industry, or at home. If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We wish you all the best in your culinary adventures!

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This article was reviewed and published by Ryan Yates, Culinary Expert with over 15 years of experience in elevated cooking techniques. This process was tested in a working commercial kitchen that Ryan manages as a Professional Chef.

Note: This article was crafted with the primary intent of educating and assisting our readers. We ensure that our content is backed by research and expertise. For more culinary insights, stay tuned to the Authentic Hospitality blog.

We value your feedback! If you found value in this article or have any questions, please subscribe or leave a comment below. Our team, including Ryan Yates, will be more than happy to engage and assist.

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