Cranberry Lemon Bread is a sweet, tart, buttery quick bread with fresh cranberries and lots of lemon flavor. It’s so good it’ll brighten your day!
We love quick bread recipes for adding to our brunch spread or as an easy dessert. Banana Nut Bread, Blueberry Lemon Bread and this Cranberry Lemon Bread are all fantastic choices. If you’re wanting to try some new recipes for the new year, check out all of our Baked Goods Recipes.
You’ll love the tartness from this original Cranberry Bread, and this version adds fresh lemon juice and zest for a burst of flavor. They’re both tart flavors, but they just go together perfectly. This sweet bread makes a delicious breakfast or after dinner dessert. In fact, you’ll probably be reaching for a slice at all times of the day. It’s just that good!
About our Lemon Cranberry Bread Recipe
This delicious and easy Lemon Cranberry Bread comes together in just a few minutes and only takes an hour to bake. Since it’s a quick bread recipe, there’s no proofing or kneading any dough. Instead it is mixed together like a cake batter. The easy batter gets loaded with lemon flavor and fresh cranberries for a yummy loaf of bread that’s light enough for breakfast and sweet enough for dessert.
One of the best things about this bread is that it lasts for a long time so it’s perfect for gifting or making ahead of time and freezing. It can be frozen for about 6 months, just let it cool completely before wrapping up tightly and popping in the freezer. When you are ready to eat it, let it thaw overnight in the fridge and enjoy.
Lemon Cranberry Bread Ingredients
- Butter: This bread starts out with ⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, that is creamed with sugar. Softening the butter lets it whip up easier to get lots of air for soft, fluffy bread.
- Sugar: There is 1 cup of sugar so the bread is sweet but it is balanced out with the tartness from the berries and fresh lemon so it isn’t overly sweet.
- Lemon: With 4 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoon of lemon zest, there is loads of fresh, bold lemon flavor in this delicious loaf cake!
- Eggs: Bring 2 large eggs to room temperature so that they incorporate into the other ingredients easier. The eggs add moisture to the bread and help bind everything together for a good structure.
- Flour: You just need 1 ½ cups all purpose flour for this smaller loaf cake. All-purpose flour is just fine for this rich and moist cake, no need for a specialty flour.
- Baking Powder: To help make the cake fluffy and melt in your mouth tender, you need to add 1 teaspoon baking powder. The air from the butter mixture gives some lift, but the baking powder makes sure it stays light.
- Milk: For extra moisture, you add ¾ cups whole milk to the batter. The whole milk adds a delicious richness to the cake too.
- Cranberries: A small bag, about 12 ounces, of fresh cranberries adds the perfect amount of berries without overwhelming the cake. You can also use frozen berries, just thaw and pat them dry so they don’t add too much moisture.
Kitchen Tools & Equipment
- Loaf Pan: The batter fits nicely in a regular size loaf pan which will get you 8-10 good sized slices, depending how thick you cut them. You can also bake it in other sized pans, there are baking adjustments in the Alternative Cooking Techniques section.
- Parchment Paper: Lining your loaf pan with parchment is a great hack to get your bread out of the pan easily. Leave paper about an inch over the sides so you have something to grab onto to just lift the loaf right out of the pan.
How to Make Lemon Cranberry Bread
Time needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Prep Work
Preheat the oven. Grease a loaf pan with butter and lightly dust with flour. You can also line it with parchment paper, with the edges sticking up over the sides.
- Mix the Wet Ingredients
Cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, in a stand mixer, for about 2-3 minutes. With the mixer is on medium speed, add in the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and eggs until well mixed.
- Add the Dry Ingredients
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Turn the mixer on low speed, and begin adding the flour in increments, alternating with the milk until just combined.
- Fold in the Cranberries
Turn off the mixer and gently fold the cranberries into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan and carefully even out the top with a spatula.
- Bake the Bread
Bake the cake uncovered for 60 minutes in the center of the oven until a toothpick comes out clean with moist crumbs. Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before removing and finish cooling on the rack.
This Lemon Cranberry Bread is full of rich flavor and delicious sweetness but it’s actually pretty light in calories and fat. You can enjoy it guilt free for breakfast or a snack any time of day!
Baking Lemon Cranberry Bread Tips & Tricks
- How to prevent a dense cake
- Do not over-mix the batter. The longer you mix, the tougher your bread will be. Stop mixing once everything is combined.
- Make sure sift the flour and baking powder before adding them to the mixer. It will make the flour mixture much lighter and easier to mix into the wet ingredients, resulting in a lighter bread.
- How to zest and juice a lemon
- When picking your lemons at the store, look for ones that are firm and feel heavy for their size. You’ll want to zest the lemon before juicing. Use a fine grater for zesting the lemon which releases the most flavor. If you’re squeezing the lemon by hand, to get the most juice roll the lemon on the counter first and then microwave it for 30 seconds.
What to Pair With Lemon Cranberry Bread
Drinks: If you love hitting up the coffee shop for lemon loaf, a cup of Cold Brew or hot coffee is just what you should enjoy with your Lemon Cranberry Bread!
How to Store Lemon Cranberry Bread
Store: This bread will keep at room temperature, covered, for about a week. You can extend the freshness of the bread by storing it in an airtight container or storage bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Freeze: Make sure to wrap the bread in a sealed container or freezer-safe storage bag. The bread will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Ideas to Serve Lemon Cranberry Bread
Glaze: Make a lemony glaze by whisking powdered sugar and lemon juice until the sugar dissolves. Drizzle it over the top once the loaf has cooled.
Gifting: Bake the Lemon Cranberry Bread in mini bread pans to make them the perfect size for gifting. It’s an easy recipe to double or triple for holiday baking. Wrap the loaves in festive plastic wrap before packing in a holiday gift box to keep the bread fresh.
Alternative Ways to Bake Lemon Cranberry Bread
Lemon Cranberry Muffins
Bake the Cranberry Lemon Bread batter in muffin liners at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Remove the muffins from the muffin tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Mini Lemon Cranberry Bread Loaves
For smaller snack loaves, the perfect size for gifting, bake them in 2 half sized loaf pans. Bake the mini loaves for 30-35 minutes.
Lemon Cranberry Bundt Cake
If you want to make this full size cake, you can double the recipe and bake in a bundt pan. Bake the batter in a well greased bundt pan at 325 degrees for 65-75 minutes.
FAQ for Lemon Cranberry Bread
No need to wait until you can get your hands on fresh cranberries to make this recipe either, you can also use frozen cranberries, just be aware that the color will run through the bread significantly more. If you do use frozen berries, rinse and dry them to prevent excess running of the color. Also, be gentle when stirring them into the batter.
If stored properly, this Lemon Cranberry Bread should last about a week at room temperature. It can also be refrigerated for about 2 weeks or frozen for 6 months.
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon lemon zest , grated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cups whole milk
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries , or frozen
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour an 8×4 inch loaf pan.
- In a stand mixer cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes then add in the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and eggs until fully combined
- In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder before adding it into the stand mixer on low speed, alternating with the milk until just combined.
- Stir the cranberries in by hand until just combined and pour into the pan and bake for 60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.