A little tangy, a little crunchy, and totally delicious, cranberry walnut bread is a holiday baking staple! This festive quick bread recipe makes an impressive hostess gift or an easy make-ahead Christmas morning breakfast. Try it with sweet orange marmalade!
My mom has made cranberry walnut bread for breakfast on Christmas morning for as long as I can remember, and to me this sweetly tangy bread tastes like the holidays. The loaf is packed with tart fresh cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and a hint of bright, citrusy flavor thanks to fresh orange juice and zest.
Not only is this easy quick bread a simple and delicious breakfast that can be made ahead and served while you're busy opening presents on Christmas morning, it also makes a wonderful hostess gift for holiday parties and family gatherings. Trust me... you're going to want to bookmark this recipe for the holidays!
Fresh Cranberries - Fresh, tart cranberries are the star of the show! Slice them in half before adding them to the batter. Frozen or dried cranberries can be substituted if you're not able to get your hands on fresh cranberries (see recipe notes for how to substitute).
Walnuts - Chopped walnuts add a bit of flavor and crunch to this quick bread recipe. This recipe uses English walnuts, which may be called California walnuts or mission walnuts and are the most common variety here in the U.S., rather than black walnuts, which have a more earthy flavor.
Orange Zest - A bit of orange zest adds a bright citrus flavor to this bread. Use a microplane or the small holes on a box grater to finely grate the orange outer layer of the fruit's peel. Avoid the white under layer of the peel, which is bitter.
Orange Juice - Orange juice adds extra citrus flavor and a bit of acidity to the bread's batter. Since I'd already zested the orange, I went ahead and juiced it, too, but store-bought orange juice is perfectly fine if you prefer.
Vinegar - Vinegar adds an extra bit of acidity and tang to the batter while also activating the baking soda to make the bread rise.
Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a standard loaf pan (8.5"x4.5") with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg until well blended.
- To the bowl with the egg add the water, orange juice, melted butter, vinegar, and orange rind and whisk to combine.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until blended.
- Add the cranberries and walnuts and stir just until mixed. (Optional: save a few chopped walnuts and sprinkle them on top of the loaf before baking.)
- Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
- Let the baked loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For an extra beautiful loaf, reserve some of the chopped cranberries and walnut and sprinkle them over the batter before baking. I like to use this same tip with cookie mix-ins for baking pretty cookies, and it works wonderfully with quick breads, too!
Serve the bread with sweet orange marmalade to really let the citrus flavors in the bread shine and to balance the tart cranberries with a bit of added sweetness.
Yes, you can substitute frozen or dried cranberries for fresh cranberries in this recipe (and in most baked goods that call for fresh cranberries), though I do recommend fresh if you can get them.
If using frozen cranberries, keep the measurement the same (1 cup for 1 loaf) and do not thaw the berries before adding them to the batter. You won't be able to chop them, but keeping them whole is fine (though you will have fewer and larger cranberries in your loaf than if you had use fresh, halved cranberries as the recipe calls for).
If using dried cranberries, opt for unsweetened and reduce the measurement to ¾ cup for 1 loaf, as dried cranberries are smaller by volume. Though it's not necessary, you may choose to soak the dried cranberries in water for about 15 minutes to hydrate the dried berries before adding them to the batter so that they will be plump and moist once baked.
Cranberry walnut bread will keep for up to 5 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
This bread can be frozen for up to 3 months; for best results, wrap the completely cooled loaf tightly in plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil and place the wrapped loaf into a plastic bag or other airtight container before freezing.
More Quick Bread Recipes to Love
Love this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review on the recipe below! And don't forget to subscribe to Always Eat Dessert for even more simple recipes, baking tips, and inspiration.Print