Citrusy sweet and tart cranberry banana bread is quick and easy to make with bananas, fresh or frozen cranberries, and an easy orange glaze. It’s delicious for breakfast, snacking, or gifting to family and friends!
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Orange cranberry banana bread
Looking for a delicious and festive quick bread recipe to make this holiday season? With sweet bananas, tart cranberries, and bright orange zest, this cranberry banana bread is moist, fluffy, and full of delicious flavor.
The easy banana bread is perfect for Christmas morning, Thanksgiving dinner, or any other special occasion. But don’t wait till the holiday season to bake it – it’s so good you want to eat it all the time!
Plus, the recipe is easy to make and uses only simple ingredients available at any grocery store. If you’re like me, you probably stock up when cranberries are in season, and this easy quick bread is the perfect way to turn them into something extraordinary!
You’ll love the short and sweet ingredients list that comes with this orange cranberry banana bread. Please scroll down to the recipe card below the post for full ingredient quantities.
- Cranberries: Fresh or frozen cranberries are so juicy + flavorful and give the bread a delicious burst of tart cranberry flavor.
- Bananas: Use overripe bananas. You can tell very ripe bananas by the color of the peel. They should be browned or browning significantly and feel soft when you squeeze them between your fingertips. Mash the bananas with a fork until they have a chunky applesauce-like consistency. Some texture is okay.
- Orange juice + zest: To maximize the orange flavor, orange juice and zest go both in the bread and into the glaze. You want to zest the orange before juicing them. It’s super hard to zest the peel when you juice them first.
- Sugar: You need sugar to balance the tartness of the cranberries. Granulated sugar for the bread and powdered sugar for the orange glaze drizzled on top.
- Butter: Salted butter makes the best banana bread that stays moist and fluffy, but you could use vegetable oil if preferred.
- Eggs bind the batter and are important for flavor and texture. Let the eggs come to room temperature before baking.
- All-purpose flour: When measuring the flour, be careful not to pack the flour into the measuring cup, or you will overmeasure and end up with dense bread. A good practice is to use the spoon and level technique, where you spoon your flour into the measuring cup and then level it off on top with a knife.
- Baking powder is the leavening agent that makes the bread soft and tender.
How to make cranberry banana bread
Let’s go over the process to make this glorious banana cranberry bread. I’ll walk you step-by-step through the process, so your loaf comes out moist and perfect.
Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4. Grease a 9 in x 5 in / 23 cm x 12 cm loaf pan with butter or nonstick spray and line with a piece of parchment (baking) paper. Set Aside.
#2: Cream butter and sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter and granulated sugar until fluffy and light in color, about 3 to 4 minutes.
#3: Add liquid ingredients
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just combined before adding the next. Next, add the mashed bananas, orange juice, and orange zest. Mix until combined.
#4: Add dry ingredients
Add the all-purpose flour and baking powder and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix the batter, or you’ll end up with dense banana bread.
#5: Fold in cranberries
Toss the cranberries with 1 tablespoon flour. Add to the batter and gently fold in.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes. To check the doneness, insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of the loaf. If it comes clean, the bread is done. But if you still see liquid batter, the bread needs to bake longer.
Let the cranberry banana bread cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then transfer the loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely.
#8: Mix glaze
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest until smooth. Pour the glaze over the loaf and allow it to set for 30 minutes.
Let me pass along a few helpful tips and tricks I’ve picked up creating this cranberry banana bread recipe.
- Do you have to cook cranberries before baking? No, you don’t need to cook the cranberries before baking. However, if using fresh cranberries in this recipe, be sure to thoroughly clean and dry them.
- Toss cranberries: Toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of flour before adding them to the bread batter. This helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your loaf pan while baking.
- Frozen cranberries: You can use frozen cranberries in this recipe. There’s no need to thaw them before adding them to the batter.
- Room temperature ingredients: The butter and eggs won’t combine properly if they aren’t at room temperature. I recommend setting them out on the counter ahead of time.
- Don’t overmix: To avoid overmixing, mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then mix until just combined.
- Avoid over-browning: Keep an eye on your cranberry banana cake while it’s baking to ensure it isn’t browning too quickly. If it is, tent the baking tin with a sheet of foil over it.
- Double the recipe: I recommend doubling the recipe and making 2 loaves while you’re at it. The cranberry banana bread makes an excellent gift for a friend, neighbor, or teacher, all wrapped up in cellophane with a bow and perhaps a festive kitchen towel.
Substitutions & variations
- Swap the berries: Feel free to replace the cranberries with blueberries or raspberries to make scrumptious blueberry banana bread or raspberry banana bread.
- Different fruit: You can also switch out the cranberries for another type of fresh fruit, such as diced apples or pears.
- Nuts or chocolate chips: Stir 3/4 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips into the batter for extra flavor and texture. I love walnuts in this bread – pecans or pistachios are also great options.
- Extra strong orange flavor: For a bold orange flavor, use 1/4 cup frozen orange concentrate and 1/4 cup water or milk instead of orange juice.
- Lemon zest: Add lemon zest instead of orange zest for delicious lemon cranberry banana bread.
How do I ripen yellow bananas fast?
Browned, overripe bananas are best for this cranberry banana bread recipe. But if you have yellow bananas and want to ripen them quicker, try the following tricks:
- Quick Oven Method: Place the bananas on a lined baking sheet and bake at 250°F / 120°C / 1/2 gas mark for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the initial ripeness of the bananas.
- 24-Hour Counter Method: If you’re willing to wait a day, place a bunch of bananas in a paper bag and leave them at room temperature. Bananas emit ethylene, a compound that causes ripening. Adding an apple to the bag speeds up the process further.
Can I use frozen cranberries instead of fresh?
Sure! Frozen cranberries will work well in this cranberry banana bread recipe. There’s no need to thaw them before adding them to the batter.
Can I make banana cranberry bread with dried cranberries?
Yes, you can swap in sweetened dried cranberry, but you won’t get the same tart flavor from fresh cranberries. Use 1 cup dried cranberries instead of 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries.
Can this cranberry banana bread be made in mini loaf pans?
Yes! For mini loaf pans, bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes.
Can I turn this banana bread recipe into muffins?
Absolutely! Make cranberry banana muffins by spooning the batter into a lined muffin pan and reducing the baking time to 20 to 25 minutes.
How to store banana cranberry bread
Store your cranberry bread in an airtight container. It will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for 6 days.
Freeze orange cranberry banana bread
You can freeze the unglazed bread for up to 3 months, either as an entire loaf or as slices. Wrap it well with plastic wrap, the tin foil to protect it from freezer burn.
To defrost frozen bread, thaw the loaf overnight in the refrigerator. To reheat, warm individual slices in the microwave.
Reasons to love banana bread with cranberries
- Taste: The bread is full of sweet banana and orange juice, studded with tart cranberries in every bite. The festive flavor will make any cranberry lover’s heart sing.
- Texture: The texture is moist and soft with a tender crumb, and the sweet orange glaze makes a really scrumptious banana bread.
- Ease + Time: Banana cranberry bread is really simple to make. The bread needs to bake for about an hour, but the active prep time is only 15 minutes.
More banana bread recipes
Are you a fan of banana bread? Thought so! I’ve rounded up a few more tried and true recipes for you to try. They’re packed with tasty banana flavor and so easy to make!