Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake — An elegant yet EASY Bundt cake recipe that only looks like you spent hours on it! This moist and tender cake is flavored with fragrant orange zest, studded with fresh cranberries, and topped with a sweet orange glaze and sugared cranberries! Learn how to make this no-mixer, festive, beautiful dessert that’s PERFECT for any holiday gathering!
Table of Contents
- Easiest Cranberry Orange Cake with Orange Glaze
- Cranberry Orange Cake Ingredients
- How to Make Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake
- How To Make Sugared Cranberries
- Tips for the Best Cranberry Orange Cake
- Cranberry Orange Bundt CakeRecipe FAQs
- Storage Instructions
- Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake Recipe
- More Easy Christmas Cakes:
Easiest Cranberry Orange Cake with Orange Glaze
My cranberry orange bread recipe has been a long-time reader favorite, and this Bundt cake is inspired by that recipe.
This is a no-fuss cranberry orange cake! There’s no mixer necessary, and takes just 10 minutes to whisk together the batter, and dirties just one bowl. No need to combine dry ingredients in another bowl and fold in. Nope!
This is a lovely and bright citrus cranberry cake that’s much easier to prepare than pie and is a nice departure from pumpkin-this or peppermint-that, which are so typical around the holidays.
By using a Bundt pan, I think the cake automatically looks extra beautiful. Whoever thinks that only layer cakes can be showstoppers need to check out this cranberry orange Bundt cake and all its glory!
Although this cake can be made without a Bundt pan if you don’t have one. I’ve given some pan conversions and options in the FAQ section near the end of this post.
For a touch of extra elegance and to really get into the Christmas spirit of things, decorated the cranberry orange bundt cake with homemade sugared cranberries, although it’s optional – but is a good way to use up the opened bag of cranberries you’ll have from the cake.
When I’m baking for just my family or close friends, I tend to make just the cake and sweet orange glaze, which I highly recommend! But if you’re pressed for time or don’t have the energy, you can omit the sugared cranberries.
Make this cake for Thanksgiving, Christmas parties and holiday entertaining, or for Christmas dinner or Christmas morning brunch. You may as well take advantage of fresh cranberries while they’re in season!
Cranberry Orange Cake Ingredients
This elegant cranberry Christmas cake is made with just a handful of basic ingredients, including:
- Whole milk
- Lemon juice
- Oil – I prefer oil than butter because it keeps the cake moister, without the need for sour cream
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar
- Orange zest and juice
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Fresh cranberries
- Confectioners’ sugar
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake
This orange cranberry bundt cake couldn’t be simpler to prepare! The cake itself is a one bowl event – no stand mixer nor electric mixer needed! The glaze you can whisk together in 30 seconds, and the sugared cranberries are optional.
Below is an overview of how the cake is made, but full instructions on making the cake and cranberry garnish can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Step 1: Whisk together the milk and lemon juice, then set aside to rest for about 10 minutes. This acts as a buttermilk substitute, but the milk needs time to curdle before being added to the batter.
Tip: If you have actual buttermilk on hand, use 1/2 cup of it, and omit the lemon juice.
Step 2: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sugars, orange juice and zest, and vanilla. Then, add the milk mixture.
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Step 4: Gently fold in the fresh cranberries.
Step 5: Turn the batter into a 10-cup Bundt pan that’s been well greased with cooking spray and then floure. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few crumbs but no batter.
Step 6: Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes in the pan before inverting on a wire rack.
Step 7: Once the cake is completely cool, drizzle it with sweet orange glaze which is made by whisking together confectioners’ sugar and orange juice until smooth.
Step 8: Optionally, garnish the cake with sugared cranberries. Review the recipe card below for how to make them. Slice and serve!
How To Make Sugared Cranberries
There are only 3 ingredients in sugared cranberreis: granulated sugar, water, and fresh cranberries.
Follow these basic steps for fabulous and festive sugared cranberries!
Almost no prep time and the total time is just over an hour, but it’s inactive time since you’re just waiting for the berries to dry out a bit.
- In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar, bring to a boil, and then allow it to simmer for about 2 minutes.
- Have fresh cranberries in a bowl and drizzle the mixture over them, tossing to coat.
- Turn them out onto a lined baking sheet, and let them dry for 1 hour.
- Sprinkle them with additional sugar, toss to combine, and garnish the cake with them.
The cranberry Christmas cake is perfect with just the sweet orange glaze, but if you want to go the extra mile you can optionally garnish it with one or more of the following:
- Sugared cranberries
- Fresh cranberries (noting that they’ll strictly be garnish and not for eating because they are bitter)
- Orange slices
- Sprigs of fresh rosemary
- A dollop of whipped cream or a few teaspoons of whipped topping on individual plates
- Make orange cream cheese frosting by making a half batch of this cream cheese frosting, then adding 1 tsp orange extract and/or 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
- Buttercream frosting
Tips for the Best Cranberry Orange Cake
Let the milk and lemon juice mixture sit. 5 to 10 minutes should be enough time for the milk to curdle and you’re essentially making DIY buttermilk. If you have buttermilk on hand, use 1/2 cup of it and no need to add lemon juice to it.
Dry the cranberries thoroughly. If you rinse your cranberries, drain them and pat them dry so no excess moisture winds up in the cake batter.
Use the correct sized pan! You need a 10-cup bundt pan for this recipe. You could technically use a 12-cup bundt pan, but the cake will appear shorter and flatter in a larger pan and my recommendation is use a 10-cup. There are more ornate and beautiful Bundt pans for sale this time of year too if one of those suits you.
Liberally grease and flour the pan. Get into every last crevice because bundt pans (especially ones with elaborate designs) are batter magnets and you don’t want the cake to stick to the pan! I am a huge believer in Pam with Flour for cakes like this. I don’t even need to separately flour the pan but I really spray my pan like crazy!
Let the cake cool slightly before inverting. If you flip the cake too soon, it will stick to the pan.
Wait to add the glaze until the cake is cool. If you don’t, the glaze will melt and run off and puddle at the base of the bundt cake. It would still be edible, but not nearly as pretty.
Cranberry Orange Bundt CakeRecipe FAQs
You’ll need a 10-cup bundt pan for making this cranberry orange cake.
If you use a smaller bundt pan, the batter will overflow in the oven and make a mess. You might be able to use a larger, 12-cup bundt pan but there won’t be as much batter to properly fill the pan and your cake will appear a bit ‘short and squat’ when inverted.
Yes, the volume of batter should also work in a:
9-inch tube pan
9×5-inch loaf pan which is what I make my Cranberry Orange Loaf in
9×9-inch square pan
11×7-inch baking dish
9-inch springform pan which is most common size, but make sure the sides are at least 3 inches high.
Note that if you use a different pan you will likely also have to adjust the bake time. Watch your cake and not the clock to tell when it’s done!
For example, baked as written in a Bundt, it’ll bake for 50-55 minutes vs. in a 9×5 loaf pan, it’ll need closer to 70 minutes. My guess is that in a flatter pan like a 9×9 square pan, it’ll be done in about 35-40 minutes, but I have never baked it that way so it’s a guesstimate.
Yes, you may add frozen cranberries to the cake batter — no need to thaw first. However, the bake time might need to be increased by a couple of minutes since frozen cranberries will make the batter colder before it goes into the oven.
Possibly, but you’ll be missing lots of moisture by using dried cranberries instead of fresh. If using dried cranberries, you’d likely need to soak them in orange juice or water for 15 to 20 minutes. This would give them time to plump up and gain a little moisture before being folded into the batter.
No, you can skip the sugared cranberry garnish if desired.
Yes, but you need the juice as well so you might as well just buy a fresh orange and use the whole thing! Orange zest adds lots of orange flavor, minus the liquid and acidity of orange juice. Without it, the orange flavor might be lost in the cake.
Also, always zest, then juice the fruit (not the other way around).
While you probably could, I haven’t tested the recipe for it. If you try it, use small cake rounds, 6 inch rounds would be my selection, line them with parchment paper, and then until done.
Sure, you can replace the milk-lemon juice mixture with an equal amount of buttermilk. I almost always use a buttermilk substitute when baking and included it in the recipe because I don’t tend to have the real thing on hand, but feel free to use what you have.
To release a bundt cake from its pan without it sticking, you need to let the cake cool for 15 minutes on your countertop, then place a wire rack on top of the bundt pan. Holding the rack to pan, flip the cake over quickly but gently. Give the bottom of the pan a few gentle taps and the cake should release from the pan without issue if you floured and sprayed it well!
This glazed orange cranberry cake can be stored on your counter in an airtight container for up to 5 days, noting that the cakes are best fresh, and any baked good dries out as time passes.
I do not recommend refrigerating this cake. It would only serve to dry it out unnecessarily!
If you find yourself with too much cake to consume within the first few days and can’t donate it to a neighbor, friend, teacher, coworker – then you can freeze it airtight for up to 3 months, noting that fresh is always best.
If you do freeze it, unglazed is preferred to a glazed cake.
Pin This Recipe
Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake
- ½ cup milk, or use 1/2 cup real buttermilk and omit the lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, from about 1 large orange
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, from about 1 large orange
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 cups fresh cranberries, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- about 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
- To a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup, add the milk, lemon juice, and stir to combine; set aside for about 10 minutes. This will cause the milk to curdle a bit so that it resembles and acts like buttermilk. If you're using real buttermilk, you don't need to do this and will just add the buttermilk direction in step 4. And you can omit the lemon juice.
- To a large bowl, add the egg, oil, sugars, orange zest (zest the orange before juicing it), orange juice, vanilla extract, and whisk to combine.
- Add the milk and lemon juice mixture (or real buttermilk) and whisk to combine.
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and stir to combine; don’t overmix.
- Add the cranberries and stir to combine.
- Turn batter out into the prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula and distributing it evenly around the pan.
- Evenly sprinkle a few cranberries over the top.
- Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, or until done. Tips – Cake is done when the top is set, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center (if you can find a patch without hitting cranberries) comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Baking times will vary based on oven and climate variances, how moist the cranberries are, the exact size of your baking pan, etc. Bake until your bread is done in your oven. If the exposed surface of the cake is browning quicker than you'd like, you can tent pan with a sheet of foil at the 30-minute mark by loosely draping a sheet of foil over the top and sides of pan. This prevents top and sides of bread from becoming overly browned before the center cooks through. This isn't generally an issue with Bundt cakes, and is more of a problem in loaf cakes, but worth mentioning just in case.
- Allow bread to cool in pan for about 20 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
- Glaze – To a large bowl, add the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, and whisk to combine until smooth. You may have to play with the sugar and juice ratios slightly to achieve desired glaze consistency. For this cake, I like the glaze to be on the thicker side so it adheres to the cake better and doesn't just slide down.
- Evenly drizzle glaze over cake, noting you may not use quite all of it, although I do.
- Allow the glaze to set for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with Sugared Cranberries, optionally if desired.
- Sugared Cranberries – Place the cranberries in a large bowl; set aside.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- To a small saucepan, add 1/4 water, 1/4 cup sugar, bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat to low or medium-low, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 2 minutes.
- Evenly drizzle the hot sugar water over the cranberries, stir, and let rest for 1 minute.
- Remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Tip – Don't just dump all the contents of your saucepan (cranberries + sugar water) onto the baking sheet because it's too much liquid volume and it will take a very long time to dry out. Instead, use a slotted spoon as indicated, transferring them to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Scatter them evenly around the baking sheet.
- Allow cranberries to dry out for 1 hour, uncovered, at room temp.
- To a large bowl, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, add the cranberries with your slotted spoon to the bowl, and stir and toss very well to combine. You can also do this by placing the additional 1/2 cup sugar on a separate large baking sheet and rolling the cranberries though the sugar. Tip – You can add additional sugar, if necessary and as desired, to create very well-coated sugared cranberries.
- As desired, decorate the cake with the sugared cranberries, placing them on top and around the cake as you like.
- Storage – Cake will keep airtight at room temp for up to 5 days, or unglazed you can keep it airtight in the freezer for up to 3 months, noting cake is always best the fresher it is. Extra glaze will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Extra sugared cranberries will keep airtight in the fridge for about 1 week.
©averiecooks.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
More Easy Christmas Cakes:
Christmas Red Velvet Poke Cake — The EASIEST and most impressive red velvet Christmas cake! You’ll have your friends and family thinking you’re a rock star pastry chef! Moist red velvet cake is infused with white chocolate pudding, then topped with whipped topping, sprinkles, and white chocolate curls! Ready in ONE HOUR and uses shortcut ingredients to make your job as easy and hassle-free as possible!
Red Velvet Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you like red velvet, you’re going to LOVE this EASY red velvet cake recipe!! Super soft, moist, topped with luscious cream cheese frosting and chocolate chips! Perfect for holidays and special events!
Christmas Cake Roll — Celebrate the holiday season with this scrumptious vanilla cake that’s filled to the brim with a tangy-sweet cream cheese filling and topped with melted white chocolate! Plenty of red and green sprinkles add the PERFECT festive flair to this stunning holiday dessert recipe that’s perfect for all your holiday entertaining needs and parties! Easy enough for novice bakers!
The Best Chocolate Peppermint Cake — Easy, one-bowl, no mixer cake! Decadently chocolaty, perfectly pepperminty! Your new favorite cake!!
Rum Cake — A double dose of rum in this EASY cake that’s supremely moist, buttery, and literally juicy from all the rum!! The perfect make-ahead holiday entertaining cake that everyone will LOVE!!
Easy Pound Cake with Powdered Sugar Glaze — Finally a homemade pound cake that isn’t dry!! This EASY, buttery, velvety pound cake will be the star of your next party or celebration!
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake — An EASY, no mixer cake that’s perfect for the holidays!! Chocolate and ginger are amazing together! The GINGER spiced whipped cream is the literal icing on this cake!!
Christmas Tree Cupcakes – Vanilla cupcakes are turned into festive Christmas trees with the help of inverted ice cream cones that are decorated with green whipped cream! An no-mixer, one-bowl cupcake recipe that’s so EASY! Perfect on your holiday dessert table or served at your next Christmas party. Detailed instructions provided to help make these Christmas tree cupcakes suitable for even novice bakers.