Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Cranberry Orange Cake

Cranberry Orange Cake
Celebrate fall flavors with this easy, company-worthy delight

Autumn arrives this week in our part of the world. So we’re looking forward to seasonal treats.

Cranberries and oranges are two of our fall faves. Here, we combine them in an easy, tasty sheet cake – great for desserts or snacks.

Perfect for company, too. Let them eat cake. 

Cranberry Orange Cake
Recipe: Cranberry Orange Cake

Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the dessert maven in our household, and this is her creation. She didn’t have a source for this recipe. She just put it together by guesswork (based on decades of baking).

Prep time for this recipe is about 20 minutes. Baking time adds another 30 minutes. Plus another 10 minutes (or less) to glaze. And we suggest letting the cake cool for about an hour before cutting it into serving pieces.

Yield? Well, that depends on how large you cut the pieces. But we’d say anywhere from 12 to 20 servings.

Leftovers keep for a couple of days if stored in an airtight container. Or you can freeze them for up to two months.


For the cake:

  • 1 tablespoon butter for greasing the baking dish
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (see Notes)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) additional butter, softened (we recommend unsalted butter)
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or mix with brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • zest and juice of one to two oranges
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (walnuts work well)

 For the glaze:

  • ~2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ~4 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 or more cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9”x13” baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer). Add the vanilla extract, mixing until well combined. Add the eggs and beat well to combine. 
  4. Add the cranberries, orange zest and juice, and chopped nuts. Mix well to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat until well mixed.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading it to the edges with a spatula or knife. Smooth the top.
  6. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or until the edges look firm. Don’t overbake. 
  7. Let the cake cool for a few minutes, then mix the glaze: Add the melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract to a bowl. Stir in the powdered sugar, adding just enough to reach the consistency you prefer. Mix well, then spoon the glaze evenly over the cake.
  8. Let the cake cool completely, then cut into serving-sized pieces. Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Cake

  • We usually cut a 9”x13” cake into 12 or 15 pieces. But if you want smaller pieces, you can easily get up to 20 servings. (The pieces in the pictures are closer to 20 servings than 12.)
  • We butter the baking dish even though we’re using parchment paper. It makes the parchment paper easier to remove.
  • Fresh or frozen cranberries work equally well in this recipe. When fresh cranberries are available, we generally buy a few extra bags, then freeze them so we have fresh cranberries when they’re not in season.
  • In North America, cranberries usually are available from late September through January.
  • We use a microplane grater to zest the orange. But you could also use a zester.
  • Pure vanilla extract is much better than imitation. We tend to favor small-batch extracts – pricy, but worth it.
  • We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.

Cranberry Orange Cake
Piece of Cake

“Yum!” I said. “Great use of seasonal flavors – love the cranberry and orange combo.”
“The only major TikTok fall favorite we’re missing is pumpkin spice,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.

“Orange you going to mix that in next?” I said. “We’d hit the autumn recipe ingredient trifecta.”

“Nah,” said Mrs K R. “Gotta give the pumpkins a break. They’re probably sick of being pummeled with nutmeg and cloves.”

“Yup, pumpkins work so hard this time of year,” I said. “And all they earn is cinnamon wage.”

“Careful with those puns,” said Mrs K R. “You’ve heard of smashing pumpkins?”

“Afraid we’ll get bogged down in cranberry puns next?” I said.

“Remember, I’m not all sugar and spice,” said Mrs K R. “Do you really want to find out how good I am at imposing consequences?”

Um, no. I’m sure she’d take the cake.

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bread&salt said...

What a great combination. We make lemon cake alot during the year but this looks perfect, it goes really well with our tea breaks. Thanks for the recipe. Greetings.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi B&S, isn't this nice? Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Mae Travels said...

That looks great! I had a cranberry-orange cake recipe some years ago, but it was made with cornmeal, which changed the texture in an interesting way. Looks like a nice alternate to the ubiquitous cranberry bread, which I like but see too often.

best… mae at

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Mae, cornmeal sounds interesting! We'll have to play with that. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Pam said...

I wish I had a slice to go with my coffee right now.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Pam, I wish we had some of this left! All gone, though. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Angie's Recipes said...

I adore the combo of cranberry and orange. This is a perfect cake for Fall or any season with that tempting glaze, John.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Angie, that glaze is so easy and so good! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Anne in the kitchen said...

Autumn technically arrives here this week also, but it is about 95 right now, so not really! I am going to bookmark this for when the weather cools and it is truly fall baking season here. Late October possibly?

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Anne, it's gotten really hot here, too. But our high is supposed to be in the 60s in a couple of days -- perfect for this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Raymund said...

Wow what a nice combo, that glaze made it even more tempting.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Raymund, we love cranberry and orange! So good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

savorthebest said...

Cranberry and orange is a great combination. Lovely cake and it would be perfect with my coffee.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Pat and Dahn, this is rather good for breakfast. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes said...

I can't believe she just threw this together! It looks amazing!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ashley, she really did! Thanks for the comment.

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

I'm excited about the change of season and all the delicious flavors. Cranberries and orange sound like a wonderful combination and the sugar icing glaze is always a favorite. This looks super yummy.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Judee, it IS yummy! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Oh, how I love the combination of cranberries and oranges! Mrs. KR outdid herself with this frosted cake! Delicious!!!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Liz, this is really a delish cake! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Jeff the Chef said...

What a beautiful cake! And just in time for cranberries!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Jeff, isn't this nice? We love its seasonal flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Food Gal said...

Cranberries and orange are the perfect tango partners, each amplifying each other's tangy fruitiness. This is the perfect cake for all those upcoming holidays.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Carolyn, those two really are a good dance combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Balvinder said...

Such a delightful cake. Love the texture....yum cranberries. Perfect combo with orange.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Balvinder, cranberries and oranges are made for each other. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

So many "dad jokes," so little time... But the cake looks lovely and festive! And who could resist that glaze!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Inger, yeah, those are pretty terrible, aren't they? Love 'em though. :-) And this cake too, of course! Thanks for the comment.

Sherry's Pickings said...

this looks wonderful KR. I don't think I am getting emails about your posts anymore so i just have to jump in whenever i remember to. I love cranberries and really have going to a cranberry bog on my bucket list :=) The things we food bloggers pine for ...

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Sherry, yeah, the email thingy stopped working, alas. :-( And yeah, it'd be fun to visit a cranberry bog! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Ben | Havocinthekitchen said...

Cranberries and orange feel just like the beginning of the holiday season to me lol. Beautiful cake and wonderful flavours!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ben, these are great holiday flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

These are two of my fall and holiday favorite flavors too. I know that I'll love this cake!
Thank you for sharing, John!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Roz, this is really good -- SO worth making. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Laura Dembowski said...

Wow this looks great and has some of my favorite flavors. Extra glaze for me please :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Laura, we can't get enough of that glaze either! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Beyond Kimchee said...

love the combination of cranberry and orange! It's one of my favroite thing to bake around holiday season. Yours looks great. Thanks for sharing!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Holly, isn't this nice? Delish combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.