Cranberry Cider Quick Bread

Packed full of cranberries and covered in an apple cider glaze, this cranberry cider quick bread is anything but your typical dry and bland cranberry bread.

partially sliced loaf of cranberry cider quick bread with glaze on a white rectangular serving dish

A few years ago when I first started making my own ice cream, my husband suggested that I should feature an “ice cream of the month” on my food blog.  As much as I loved the idea and as much as I love ice cream, I love the idea of not dying an early death due to an obesity-related health problem.

While I could certainly try a small taste and pass it on, ice cream is a little challenging for this – walking it to work would result in ice cream soup.  I only have two freezer containers for homemade ice cream, so if I filled it up and passed it off to a neighbor, I’d have to be the annoying person repeatedly asking them to return my plastic container.

close up photo of slices of cranberry cider quick bread

So I decided to take the “of the month” idea this year, but try something a little more shareable.  But where to start?  There are so many options!

Cookies?  Brownies?  Layer cakes?  Fruit pies?  Savory options too – yeast breads?  Casseroles? I even considered Meatballs of the Month, since I have an eggplant meatball and swordfish meatball recipe ready to share.

But in the end, I decided 2016 will be the year of Quick Bread of the Month, mostly because I’ve wanted to share this cranberry cider quick bread since October.

overhead view of slices of cranberry cider quick bread with red cranberries visible in each slice

Yes, October.  A three month delay in recipe posting is what happens when you work full time, go to the gym everyday after work (see above re: avoiding untimely death), and have a baby at home.  Three months of telling people that I’ll share this recipe soon.

Three months of feeling guilty for not sharing it in time for Thanksgiving… and then Christmas… and then hey, now everyone’s all health conscious and swearing off sugar and carbs and baked goods thanks to New Years and now, now I’ll finally get around to posting this.  Funny how that works out.  (Sorry.)

stacked slices of cranberry cider quick bread on a white plate with a gray background

Ahem.  Back to the cranberry bread.  Back in September or October, I received a brown paper lunch bag full of fresh cranberries from our CSA.  I’ve never used fresh cranberries before and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them – all that came to mind was cranberry sauce and cranberry juice.

I popped the bag into the bottom drawer of our refrigerator and promptly forgot about them, until I was standing in line at a coffee shop with a friend and noticed a slice of cranberry bread.  Ah-ha!  I can make cranberry bread!  I told him about my plan, and he immediately made a face, claiming that cranberry bread and muffins were always too dry and bland.

Dry and bland?  I can fix that!

overhead view of slices of cranberry cider quick bread on a serving plate and one slices on a round plate surrounded by cranberries

How to Bake with Fresh Cranberries

First up, let’s talk a little about baking with cranberries. Yes, you can bake with fresh (or frozen) cranberries, not just dried!  So many baking recipes (looking at you, scones) call for dried cranberries, and while I have no hate for craisins, why use dried when you have access to plump, fresh cranberries?

You can substitute cranberries for just about any other berry in recipes for muffins, cakes, or cupcakes.  Blueberry muffins become perfectly fall-appropriate when you substitute cranberries for the blueberries, instead!  If your cranberries are particularly large, halve or quarter before mixing into the batter.

There’s no need to cook your cranberries ahead of time.  While fresh, raw cranberries are on the crunchy side, baking in the batter will soften them up to the perfect texture.

one slices of cranberry cider quick bred on a decorative white plate surrounded by fresh cranberries

How to Make Cranberry Cider Quick Bread

Back to this cranberry cider quick bread.  Cranberry breads are dry and bland, you say?  This one is anything but!

To keep the bread extra moist, we’ll use oil instead of butter, which has more moisture.  In this case, we want the cranberry and apple cider flavors to be most prominent, so we don’t need a strong buttery taste anyway.  Adding in brown sugar instead of granulated sugar and buttermilk both also ensure that the bread stays nice and moist.

It’s definitely not bland either – the addition of apple cider, both in the bread and as a sugar glaze on top – adds a great flavor and just slightly offsets the tartness of the cranberries.

It’s also packed full of cranberries, unlike so many commercial cranberry baked goods which are barely dotted with red specks.  This bread has cranberry in every bite.

While we’re a little past peak cranberry season here, our market still carries fresh cranberries or you can always find frozen year round – brighten up these dreary January days with the sweet-tart punch of some delicious cranberry cider bread!

More Cranberry Recipes:

All Quick Bread Recipes

Cranberry Cider Quick Bread: not your typical dry and bland cranberry bread with a sweet apple cider glaze. #bunsenburnerbakery #quickbread #cranberry #applecider #cranberrybread

Cranberry Cider Quick Bread

Yield: 12 slices
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Packed full of cranberries and covered in an apple cider glaze, this bread is anything but your typical dry and bland cranberry bread.


For the Bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups halved cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cranberries, and walnuts in a large bowl until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until no lumps remain. Slowly whisk in buttermilk and apple cider, followed by the oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring constantly, and gently whisk until all ingredients are combined and no lumps of dry flour remain.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Loosely tent the pan with foil after the first 30 minutes of baking; this will prevent the top of the bread from over-browning while the center bakes. After removing from the oven, allow the bread to cool completely in the pan.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and apple cider. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bread and allow the glaze to harden before slicing.


Make Ahead: This bread can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer for several months. After cooling completely, wrap the bread in two layers of aluminum foil and store inside a freezer ziplock bag. Thaw bread overnight in the refrigerator and then bring to room temperature for an hour before slicing.

Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 286Total Fat: 9gCarbohydrates: 46gSugar: 27gProtein: 4g

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Cranberry Cider Quick Bread: not your typical dry and bland cranberry bread with a sweet apple cider glaze. #bunsenburnerbakery #quickbread #cranberry #applecider #cranberrybread