A cranberry coffee cake with orange zest and cardamom will fill your home with scents of the holidays and is perfect for brunch.

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: You can have this coffee cake in the oven in 15 minutes or less. The recipe is really versatile; you can use other fruits or spices.

How long it takes: less than hour total
Equipment you’ll need: 9 x 13 inch baking dish or pan, electric mixer, mixing bowl
Servings: 15

A piece of cranberry coffee cake on square white plate with fork, garnished with a half moon orange slice.
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Can you imagine anything much better than the warm scent of cranberries, oranges and cardamom wafting through your house? Forget the scented candles or potpourri! You can’t eat those. Indulge yourself with a slice of homemade coffee cake instead.

Both my mom and my grandma liked to make this coffee cake with blueberries. I’m guessing the recipe may have come from the trusty red Betty Crocker cookbook they both relied on. Every time I make this recipe, it brings me back to Sunday afternoons at my grandma’s house.

I love this basic coffee cake recipe because it’s perfectly sweet, perfectly moist, and so easy to make. I love to create new takes on it; this peach coffee cake is still one of my faves but I’m loving this cranberry version, too.

The first time I baked this cranberry cake, I sent out a group text inviting our neighbors to swing by for a piece of coffee cake. I knew I would probably end up eating the whole coffee cake myself if I didn’t share it. I’m so glad I did (share it, that is). An impromptu hour getting to know new friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon transpired quickly after sending out the text. Serendipity ….

Cake brings people together and that’s a good thing, right? There are way too many things going on in our world that cause dissension and strife. Why not spread a little love and good cheer by sharing a warm coffee cake, along with friendly conversation?

Front view of a piece of coffee cake, with remainder in clear glass baking dish in background.

About This Recipe

As I mentioned, this is a basic coffee cake recipe. You can use the same recipe to make a variety of coffee cakes by adding different fruits or spices.

It’s a one bowl recipe. You’ll need an electric hand mixer, too. It makes a large cake (9 x 13 inches) so there’s plenty to share.

I like to sprinkle the batter with a coarse sugar (turbinado) which retains just a bit of crunchy sweetness when the cake has baked. It’s sort of a cheater’s streusel. Feel free to make real streusel for a topping or merely sprinkle the baked cake with confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar).

Partial overhead of cake in clear glass baking dish, on white cloth background.

More About Cranberries

Although cranberries are plentiful and easy to find in stores around Thanksgiving and Christmas, you may not be able to find them other times of the year. If you love cranberries as much as I do, buying frozen cranberries is a great way to enjoy them all year round. I almost always have a bag in my freezer.

In fact, fresh cranberries are super easy to freeze yourself. When they’re plentiful, buy extra and put them into a freezer bag, label, and put into the freezer. They’ll keep for 10 to 12 months. Make sure you wash them before you use them or wash them before you freeze them. Either way is fine. 

You can use frozen cranberries right from the freezer. There’s no need to thaw them first.

I love the addition of tart cranberries to cranberry pecan pie. The combination of sweet and tart is irresistible!

Have you ever tried a clafoutis? It’s an easy-to-make custard-like dessert that isn’t overly rich. Claufoutis are traditionally made with cherries but I changed it up a bit with this cranberry clafoutis recipe.

Soon I’ll be making these holiday recipes using cranberries: baked brie with cranberries and bourbon pecans, cranberry salsa,  Brussels sprouts with cranberries and walnuts, and orange cranberry sauce with cardamom. Have you ever tried sugared/candied cranberries? So cool!

We always serve cranberry margaritas or cranberry gin and tonics around the holidays. You’ll want to save a few cranberries for those, too.


Does coffee cake actually have coffee in it? Why do they call it coffee cake?

Most coffee cake recipes do not have coffee as an ingredient. The name probably comes from the fact that this type of cake goes perfectly with a hot cup of coffee.
Coffee cakes are easy to make, use baking powder as a leavening, and aren’t frosted. They are versatile and you can usually find everything you need to make a coffee cake in your pantry and refrigerator.

Make It Your Own

  • Add a streusel topping. The streusel for whole wheat banana muffins with streusel works perfectly on this coffee cake. You may want to try this coffee cake recipe with streusel. It has a layer of streusel inside the cake and another layer on top. So good!
  • Substitute blueberries, raspberries, or cherries for the cranberries, if you want.
  • Don’t happen to have cardamom? Cinnamon is a good alternative.

Storage Tips

Once the coffee cake is completely cool, cover it with foil or plastic wrap. It will keep at room temperature for 3 days. If you want to store it longer than that, refrigerate it for up to a week.

Coffee cake can be frozen for two to three months. Wrap it well in foil or place in a freezer safe container.

More Cake Recipes


Cranberry Coffee Cake Recipe

4.56 from 18 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 15 servings
Cranberry coffee cake with orange zest and cardamom will fill your home with scents of the holidays and is perfect for brunch.
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  • cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ cups cranberries, frozen or fresh
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 ×13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to mix together softened butter, orange juice, milk and egg. On top of wet ingredients, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange zest, and cardamom. Beat on low for 20 to 30 seconds until combined and then increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  • Pour half of batter into prepared pan and spread to evenly cover bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup cranberries. Spread remaining batter over cranberries (see note) and then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cranberries.
  • If desired, top the batter with turbinado sugar (see note).
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
  • Let cool slightly before cutting and serving. May be served warm, room temperature, or cold.
  • Store covered for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.


  • If you don’t have turbinado sugar, you can omit it or use regular granulated sugar instead. The cake is great with a streusel topping, too. 
  • It may look like there isn’t enough batter but don’t worry – the baking powder will work its magic while this bakes and it will end up perfect!
  • Try this cake with blueberries, raspberries, or cherries instead of cranberries.
  • Cinnamon can be substituted for the cardamom, if you prefer.


Calories: 177kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 172mg, Potassium: 61mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 176IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 70mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.56 from 18 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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  1. Jacquie says:

    5 stars
    This came out delicious! I also made it in the middle of prepping several meals, so I just threw all the ingredients in the food processor and then poured into the greased pan. The cranberries aren’t whole so they can’t give the same bright pop, but it’s wonderful all the same!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it!

  2. jennifer secreto says:

    Do you think this would work with a streusel topping?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I think that would be delicious!

  3. PonyCarGirl says:

    I made this delicious coffee cake but quickly noticed that there was not enough batter to fill a 9×13 baking dish. So I baked it in an 8×8 dish which was the better size. The sticky batter was a bit difficult to spread. I substituted the frozen cranberries with my homemade cranberry sauce and it worked wonderfully. I omitted the sprinkled sugar but drizzled the cake after baking with a thin icing made from powdered sugar and orange juice. It only required 25 minutes to bake in the smaller dish. Fantastic flavours and hubby-approved. I will definitely make this coffee cake again.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      The batter puffs up a lot when it bakes – I agree, as batter, it never seems like there is going to be enough, but surprisingly there always is! I’m glad to hear that it worked well in a 8×8 dish too, though. I’m glad you liked it!

  4. Kadi says:

    I ended up using an 8×8 pan because the recipe seemed to be small

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Was it okay or did it overflow? This one puffs up a lot as it bakes.

  5. Ann says:

    Can you use fresh cranberries instead of frozen? 

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Yes, absolutely!

  6. Tracey says:

    I made it the bundt pan and it turned out perfectly. I sprayed my pan and then dusted the turbino sugar in the pan. Mixed the cranberries in the batter to keep them evenly distributed and baked it for 45 minutes. Wonderful recipe and the outside has that nice crunch from the sugar and inside is very light and airy. Thanks for the great recipe.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Awesome! Thanks for reporting back! So happy you liked it.

  7. Tracey says:

    Do you think this could be cooked in a bundt pan? I love coffee cakes in that shape. LOL Is the batter fairly thick like most coffee cakes as I think if it was then I could just adjust the time in the oven and still have it turn out.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      The batter is thick but the cake itself is really light and airy – I’m afraid it might not transfer well out of a bundt since it’s fairly fragile. If you do end up trying it, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  8. Sabrina says:

    this looks absolutely wonderful, love all of these flavors and cardamom too! thank you for sharing this!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thank you!