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
    December 24, 2021 at 10:27 am

    5 stars
    Good morning Sue!
    We just tried this cranberry bread and by far it is the BEST!!! I used frozen cranberries so now I can make it anytime cranberries aren’t in season!! Even my grown son, who doesn’t like sweets, decided to try it and said how good it is! He should listen to his Mom more often ?! I warmed it in the microwave for no other reason than I like breakfast cakes, etc. warm. I wouldn’t change a thing! THIS IS A KEEPER!! If everyone on this site tries it will agree with me.
    Thank you for making our Christmas even more special with this recipe!! If I could give this more than 5 stars I would!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family ?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 24, 2021 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks so much Susan, Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Can I use frozen cranberries for this recipe?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 22, 2021 at 11:38 am

      Yes, definitely! Just fold them into the batter while frozen, no need to thaw them.

  • Reply
    Jackie Heintzelman
    December 19, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Excited to try this recipe this Christmas. Do you have any suggestions for reheating? I’d like to make this the night before and then eat for breakfast Christmas morning!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 19, 2021 at 8:54 pm

      You really don’t need to reheat it, I would just serve at room temperature, Jackie. If you want it warm, I would cover with foil and gently heat in a low oven for about 10 minutes. Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    Billie Szumiak
    December 19, 2021 at 9:14 am

    5 stars
    LOVE this cake!! Made it for TGiving and making two for Christmas breakfast, one for friends and one for us. Everyone loves it!! Our grandkids love to make it, especially adding the coarse sugar on the top-we get a nice thick layer!! haha

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 19, 2021 at 9:49 am

      Try the new orange cranberry cake, too, Billie, I love it!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    If I was to double the recipe and put it in a 9×13, would I need to adjust the bake time at all? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 17, 2021 at 7:13 am

      It might take a little longer to get the center cooked. Keep an eye on it.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Hi Sue! This sounds amazing! Can I make it ahead of time and freeze it? Want to get as much done before Christmas this year as I can. ? Should I freeze just the batter or bake it and then freeze? Thank you!!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 14, 2021 at 10:04 am

      You can bake it ahead and freeze, Barb.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2021 at 11:24 pm

    5 stars
    I made this on Thanksgiving morning. I was a nice treat to snack on while preparing the big dinner. I love the combination of the tart cranberries and the sweetness of the cake.

    • Reply
      December 14, 2021 at 11:09 am

      Thank you for your quick response. Happy Holidays!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    4 stars
    This is delicious! I tried your rhubarb breakfast cake, and possibly for that reason (first love!!) like it even better, but this one will stay in the repertoire for sure. It’s great having various seasonal options. I also love hearing from my other half, “This is SO good!” when I serve him one of your recipes that doesn’t fit his notions of what he likes, and it happens every time. Squee!!! Thanks for keeping the lovely recipes coming. You’re adding a little magic to our days! Oh… I should mention I used a prepared gluten-free flour and added 1 tsp. Xanthan gum. And I used frozen cranberries. I baked them in mini loaf pans to give some to neighbors, and that worked well, although it was a bit harder to spread than in a larger pan. I wet my fingers and did it that way. Terrific!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    5 stars
    I made this cake this morning and it is DELICIOUS! I used buttermilk instead of the cream and lemon juice. And I used vanilla paste instead of extract and upped it to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Moist and delicate. Just yummy!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    5 stars
    Love this breakfast cake! Perfect combo of creamy sweet & tartness. The mix of vanilla & almond extracts was new to me – love it & will use in other recipes. Couldn’t find sparkling sugar so I used sanding sugar, gave a nice pearlized sheen. For person who asked about using a loaf pan – I did & it fit perfectly.
    Thanks Sue

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