Cranberry Breakfast Cake

cranberry breakfast cake with fork

My Cranberry Breakfast Cake is an easy one bowl snack that can be made with fresh cranberries or frozen, but don’t let the simplicity fool you, the sweet/tart cranberries pack a flavorful punch! It’s what you’re bringing to every occasion on your social calendar this season.

cranberry breakfast bread, stacked

I highly recommend making this cranberry breakfast cake with the first cranberries you spot at the supermarket.

Hey guys! Popping in today to share a fun snack cake with you, it’s the sort of thing you’re definitely going to want to whip up on repeat this season ~ on crisp fall weekend mornings and for all your holiday brunches. Every time I bake with cranberries I fall in love all over again, they have the brightest flavor of any berry. Did you know that when you bake them they lose all that sharp astringency you get with raw cranberries? They do a complete 180 in the oven and it’s magical.

Raw cranberries baked up in this coffee cake have a lovely raspberry-like flavor ~ don’t be afraid of them!

cranberry breakfast cake with sparkling sugar

This easy one bowl cranberry cake is based on my super popular Rhubarb Breakfast Cake which so many of you have made and loved.

I’ve always drooled over my friend Mary’s Cranberry Christmas Cake, and it inspired me to create my own. We share a passion for fresh cranberries, and I get just as excited for the start of the season as I do with high summer tomatoes or corn. Any day now you’re going to see fresh cranberries in your supermarket, and I beg you not to wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy them. Grab as many bags as you can fit in your cart, and just like that, you’ve got your holiday baking responsibilities sorted. It’s a good feeling 🙂

Want to know a secret? I use almond and vanilla extracts in the batter, it’s a combination I can’t get enough of.

I love that you get a little bit of both flavors, and the combo has its own unique effect. The next time you bake, give it a try.

slicing a cranberry breakfast cake

How to freeze cranberries

Cranberries freeze easier than almost any other fruit ~ they will last the year in your freezer and come out looking just like the day they went in! 

  • The easiest way, and the way I do it, is to stack the bags of fresh cranberries, just as they come from the store, in the back of my freezer where they’ll stay nice and cold and perfect for up to a year.
  • If you feel the need to wash your berries, do it before you freeze them. Make sure they are completely dry before filling zip lock freezer bags or storage containers.

The minute fresh cranberries make it to market I stash a bunch of bags in the back of my freezer, I have a whole section dedicated to it, and I especially love being able to bake with them through the long winter months after the holidays.

The holidays may come and go, but my cranberry cravings stick around all winter long.

frozen cranberries

How to use frozen cranberries

Since fresh cranberries aren’t available just yet in my store, I used last year’s berries for today’s cake, straight from the freezer.

  • For most recipes all you need to do is remove the frozen berries and use them from frozen, no need to thaw. They make a perfect substitute in any recipe that features berries, for instance.

making cranberry breakfast cake batter

I topped this cranberry breakfast cake with a shower of sparkling sugar ~ this stuff glitters like diamonds!

It’s unlike any other sugar. I sprinkle some on before and after baking for extra glitz and the little bit of added sweet crunch is fabulous on this cake.

sparkling sugar

What is sparkling sugar?

  • sparkling sugar, aka extra coarse or decorating sugar, is a coarse grained white sugar, specially made to decorate baked treats because it doesn’t disappear or melt during baking. Use it when you want some serious glitter on your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.
  • I think sparkling sugar is the perfect garnish for cookies because it gives a great decorative look without being uncomfortably coarse to eat.

Other ways to use sparkling sugar

Aside from sprinkling it onto the tops of cakes like this cranberry cake, there are lots of other ways to make use of this sparkly magic…

  • Roll the edges of slice and bake cookies before baking.
  • Top sugar cookies before baking.
  • Sprinkle on scones before baking.
  • Add to frosted or glazed surfaces while they’re still wet.

cranberry breakfast cake in a baking pan

Let me know if you make this cake, I’m dying to hear what you think!

  • tag me on Instagram @theviewfromgreatisland

  • let me know on facebook

  • comment below, I read every one, and answer questions asap 🙂

a piece of cranberry breakfast cake

More cranberry recipes to love ~

cranberry breakfast cake with fork
4.63 from 197 votes

Cranberry Breakfast Cake

Cranberry Breakfast Cake ~ because the holiday season only comes once a year, and I aim to make the most of it.  This easy one bowl snack can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries, but don't let the simplicity fool you, this cranberry dessert packs a flavorful punch!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 9x9 square baking pan
  • parchment paper (optional)


  • 1/2 cup half and half, or a combination of milk and cream (116 grams)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick, or 113 grams)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (214 grams)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (256 grams)
  • 2 cups whole cranberries, you can use frozen, but don't thaw.
  • 2 Tbsp sparkling sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly spray a 9x9 inch baking pan. I like to line mine with a 2 sheets of parchment paper with long ends, so I can lift it out later for easy slicing.
  • Mix the half and half with lemon juice and set aside.
  • Cream the soft butter and sugar together for about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of your bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. This step helps lighten and aerate the cake.
  • Beat in the egg and extracts, followed by the baking powder and salt, and keep scraping that bowl.
  • Lower your mixer speed and blend in 1/2 the flour, just until it's almost all blended, then add the half and half, and finally the rest of the flour. Just blend until the flour is incorporated, and then stop.
  • Gently fold in the cranberries, making sure to get them evenly distributed but not crushed. If you like you can reserve a handful of cranberries to pop onto the top of the cake before baking.
  • Spread the batter (it will be quite thick) evenly into your pan. Add your extra cranberries to the surface of the cake, pushing them in gently.
  • Sprinkle the sparkling sugar over the surface of the cake and then bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until risen, golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter on it. Try not to over bake the cake, and check on the early side, especially if your oven runs hot.
  • Let cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan, then, if you used parchment, you can remove the cake to cool completely, or slice while still slightly warm.
  • Store the leftover cake in the pan on the counter covered with foil.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

cranberry breakfast cake pin


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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Claudia Swarthout
    November 8, 2021 at 6:22 pm

    5 stars
    Heavenly Cake, Sue! So moist, and with a great crumb. Just the right balance of sweet and tart. The flavors really pop!. Can’t wait to share it with my sisters and friends. Hope I don’t eat it all at once!

  • Reply
    Terry Sulllivan
    November 7, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    5 stars
    We have cranberry bogs close by and I appreciate fresh cranberry recipes. This cake is fabulous! Thank you Sue for your excellent recipes!!!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      November 8, 2021 at 8:17 am

      Thanks so much Terry, I’d love to live near a cranberry bog 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2021 at 11:16 am

    5 stars
    I love fresh cranberries and was thrilled to find this recipe. Could it be baked in a loaf pan?

  • Reply
    October 25, 2021 at 8:41 am

    5 stars
    Love, love, love your snack cakes!! The first one I tried was rhubarb and I was excited to see cranberry! Even my better half, who isn’t a huge cranberry or tart flavors fan loves them. I made both gluten free by using a GF flour and adding some Xanthan gum. Marvelous!! Thanks Sue!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      October 25, 2021 at 8:42 am

      Thanks Kristen, you can count on me to keep them coming 😉

  • Reply
    Bob Brooks
    October 24, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Hi, I’ve read your post and will be making the cake soon. There are two issues that, hopefully, aren’t a problem. I live in The Netherlands and don’t think I will find Sparkling Sugar. If not, I’ll use regular. I have an 8″ x 8″ Pyrex dish. Will that be ok? Thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      October 24, 2021 at 9:16 am

      Yes, you can use regular sugar, and an 8×8 dish is ok, the cake will be a little taller and will take a bit more time to get the center cooked.

      • Reply
        Bob Brooks
        October 24, 2021 at 10:38 am

        Thank you. I will let you know how it turns out. I’m optimistic.

    • Reply
      October 25, 2021 at 8:42 am

      In case you can find it, I use Turbinado sugar in place of sparkling and it works great. My 8″ x 8″ Pyrex worked just fine.

  • Reply
    Kathleen Richfield
    October 24, 2021 at 8:28 am

    Can whole milk buttermilk be used in place of the half and half and lemon juice?

  • Reply
    October 23, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    5 stars
    Yay!!! This is nearly identical to my mother’s cranberry cake, my favorite at Christmas time. probably went to the same cooking school as you did.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    This was delicious! I worried I’d done something wrong as it was so thick and hard to spread in the pan but it turned out beautifully! I think I’d try adding some orange zest and orange extract in place of the almond next time as I love those flavors together. Thanks,Sue!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    Can you use oatmilk in this recipe? I’d also like to use a different natural sweetener. Would erythrotol, monk fruit, stevia or sucralose (sugar alcohol) work?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      October 24, 2021 at 9:32 am

      You can use oat milk. If you want to use a sugar substitute I recommend one that is granulated and can be substituted in a 1 to 1 ratio.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2021 at 11:48 am

    5 stars
    Sue, a question: I have never understood why it’s necessary to use unsalted butter in baking, especially because another ingredient is…SALT! Does it really make a difference? I never have it in the house so I never use it.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      October 23, 2021 at 11:58 am

      The reason is because you can control the exact amount of salt if you use unsalted butter and then add it separately. You’re free to use salted butter and omit any added salt, for sure, but for recipe development, the standard is to use unsalted.

      • Reply
        October 23, 2021 at 12:00 pm

        5 stars
        Thank you!

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