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Orange Cranberry Christmas Cake

Sugared cranberries atop a thick white glaze that's dripping down the sides of the cranberry Christmas cake.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Holiday Recipe3 hours
Celebrate Christmas with this delicious spiced cake made with cranberries and topped with an orange glaze and sparkling sugared cranberries.

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After what feels like months of cookies, a different kind of dessert on your Christmas table is a much appreciated change of pace. A few years ago, I was on the search for the perfect Christmas cake to bring to a holiday get-together, and I landed on this moist and decadent Orange Cranberry Christmas Cake.

This bundt cake has the wonderful tart and tangy flavor of cranberries combined with the bright zestiness of orange. Slather it with an incredibly simple orange glaze and some sugared cranberries to make it look perfectly festive! Let’s get baking.

Pulling a slice from the cranberry Christmas cake showing the fruit studded inside.

What you’ll need to make your orange cranberry Christmas cake

This cranberry Christmas cake uses a mix of fresh seasonal ingredients and baking staples to create a melt-in-your-mouth Christmas dessert.

  • Oranges: You’re going to use both the juice and the zest from these oranges, so don’t throw away that peel! It’ll take two to three oranges to make the cake and the glaze.
  • Fresh cranberries: To give your cranberry cake that juicy tart flavor. Have on hand 3 cups if you plan on also making the sugared cranberries to top your Christmas cake.
  • Eggs and butter
  • Baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, and flour: We recommend unbleached all-purpose flour.
  • More butter and flour: Used to grease the pan and prevent your Bundt cake from sticking
  • Orange liqueur: This is an optional ingredient, but I highly recommend adding it for the extra orange burst it’ll add to your cake.
  • Vanilla and confectioner’s sugar: Confectioner’s sugar is sometimes referred to as powdered sugar or icing sugar. You’ll need these for the orange glaze.

Close up of the orange glaze dripping down the side of the cake.

How do you make cranberry Christmas cake?

  1. Grease your Bundt pan, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Flour your pan after it’s been well greased to be sure the cake won’t stick.
  2. Whisk the orange zest, juice, and liqueur with your eggs.
  3. Toss your cranberries with a tablespoon of flour.
  4. Mix your remaining dry ingredients, and beat in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time.
  5. Combine the butter mixture with the orange juice. Beat for several minutes until the mixture is nice and fluffy.
  6. Fold in the floured cranberries.
  7. Pour your batter into your greased and floured Bundt pan.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 50-55 minutes. Cool completely before garnishing.

Orange Cranberry Christmas Cake on a white cake stand with sugared cranberries and an orange glaze on top.

What is orange zest?

Orange zest is made using a zester or the fine side of your box grater to grate the orange part of your orange peel. There are potent oils located in orange peel that really boost the orange flavor of this cake—way more than just orange juice alone. Make sure your orange is well-washed before grating, and stop when you reach the white part of the peel—the orange part is delicious, but the white part is bitter.

Wholefully Protip

Since you’ll need both the zest and the juice of your orange, make sure you zest it before you juice it. Zesting a peel that’s already off the orange is no fun at all!

Can I use dried cranberries?

The cranberries in this recipe should be fresh—we’re looking for the juiciness of the cranberry, not just the flavor. Dried cranberries just won’t do the trick.

Sugared cranberries spill out from the center of the Christmas bundt cake where two slices have been removed.

Can I use frozen cranberries?

Yes! Frozen cranberries work perfectly in this cranberry Christmas cake. You don’t even have to thaw them; you can add them straight from your freezer.

What’s the best way to get the juice from the orange?

Allow your oranges to sit on the counter for a few hours to bring them up to room temperature if they were refrigerated. Warm oranges release their juice more easily than cold ones. Then, take your orange and firmly roll it around on the counter a few times. This will release the juice while it’s still contained in the orange.

Wholefully Protip

Don’t forget to zest the orange before juicing it! It is much easier to remove the zest before the fruit has been cut open.

When your orange is ready, take a sharp knife and slice the fruit in half. Squeeze it into a glass or a measuring cup. If you can, place a strainer over the top of your glass to catch any orange seeds that might make their way in. If you don’t have a strainer, you can use a spoon to scoop the seeds out of the juice.

Wholefully Protip

Certain varieties such as Valencia and navel oranges were bred to be juiced. This makes them the perfect oranges for your cranberry Christmas cake!

Close up of the finished cake on a cake stand with orange glaze and sugared cranberries on top.

Why did my Bundt cake fall apart when I tried to remove it from the pan?

It’s important to let your cranberry Christmas cake rest for 20 minutes before you flip it over and remove the cake from the pan. If your cake hasn’t cooled, parts of it may break off, so don’t skip this step!

Your cranberry cake may also fall apart if you don’t grease the pan properly. Bundt pans have a beautiful design that allows you to make stunning cakes, but those little ripples can catch on your cake. Be sure to grease and flour every little cranny before pouring in the cake batter, so your cake slides out clean.

Help! My orange glaze is too thick/too thin

If you’re trying to get the perfect pouring consistency, you can add more orange juice to thin out your glaze or more powdered sugar to thicken it. Add a little bit at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Pouring the orange glaze over the top of the bundt cake.

Can cranberry Christmas cake be made ahead of time?

Bundt cakes are famous for how long they’ll last. You can definitely make this cranberry Christmas cake ahead of time! Bake the cake according to the recipe, but hold off on adding the glaze and sugared cranberries until you plan on serving your cake.

Can I freeze this Christmas cake?

Sure can! This cake freezes well (unglazed) for up to a month. Just make sure to let it cool completely and then wrap it very well in multiple layers of plastic wrap before freezing.
Sugared cranberries cascade down from the open center of a Christmas bundt cake.

I love the flavors, but I need something gluten-free. What could I make instead?

If you’re looking for a gluten-free dessert that captures the festive spirit of Christmas with fresh seasonal cranberries and oranges, I recommend my cranberry curd tart. This simple, stunning red tart is gluten-free and completely delicious!

 
Sugared cranberries atop a thick white glaze that's dripping down the sides of the cranberry Christmas cake.

Orange Cranberry Christmas Bundt Cake

Yield: 16 slices
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours

Celebrate Christmas with this delicious spiced cake made with cranberries and topped with an orange glaze and sparkling sugared cranberries.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • Butter and flour, for greasing the pan
  • Zest and juice from 2 large oranges (about 3 tablespoons zest, and 3/4 cup juice)
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, optional but recommended
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

For Orange Glaze (optional)

  • 1 1/4 cups (150g) sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (30-45ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Sugared Cranberries (optional)

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

Instructions

To Make the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Set aside.
  2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the orange juice and zest, orange liqueur, and eggs. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, toss together the fresh cranberries with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer with a large mixing bowl, stir the remaining flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix on low to combine.
  5. Add in the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time, while the mixer runs on low speed, until all the butter is incorporated.
  6. Slowly stream in the orange mixture. Then increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gently fold in the floured cranberries.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, and smooth the top down with a silicone spatula. 
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely, about an hour.
  9. Once the cake is completely cool, transfer to your preferred serving platter or cake stand. If desired, pour on orange glaze and garnish with sugared cranberries.

To Make Orange Glaze

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl or preferably a large glass measuring cup—this makes for easy pouring.
  2. Pour the glaze on the top of the completely cooled cake, allowing it to run down the sides of the cake.

To Make Sugared Cranberries

  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of sugar and water over medium heat. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved completely, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Stir in the cranberries until all are well-coated. Then using a slotted spoon, transfer the sticky cranberries to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pour the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar in a shallow dish, and roll the sticky cranberries in the sugar until all are well coated. 
  4. Fill middle of the cake and around the cake with the cranberries.

Notes

  • For an extra bit of festiveness, sift powdered sugar over top of the finished and garnished cake to look like snow.
  • Rosemary might not be in the recipe, but sprigs of it look beautiful around the sides of this cake for Christmas.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 497Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 286mgCarbohydrates: 86gFiber: 2gSugar: 62gProtein: 5g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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Meet Cassie
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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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