Walnut Cranberry Bread Recipe

This Walnut Cranberry Bread is a classic quick bread that’s so easy to make.  Bursting with tart cranberries and crunchy walnuts, this festive bread is great for the holidays or just about any time of the year! 

Cranberry nut bread on a wooden board.

I have always adored the combination of cranberries and nuts and this cranberry quick bread recipe is no exception. 

It makes an excellent teatime treat or lunchbox snack or you could even wrap up a loaf to give to friends and family over the holidays; they will love you for it!

The ease of quick bread is that it doesn’t require any kneading or rising time, so the whole thing can be ready in about an hour.  You’ll use sour milk in this recipe which is like buttermilk and will help to give your bread the rise it needs.

The crumb in this loaf is tender and moist and if walnuts aren’t your thing, you can easily swap them out for another kind of nut.  

Cranberry nut bread with 2 slices cut.

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Brown sugar – the recipe calls for packed brown sugar, which means pressing it firmly into the measuring cup.  
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Eggs – large eggs at room temperature
  • Sour milk – this is milk that is slightly acidic, similar to buttermilk.  The sour milk will work with baking soda and baking powder to help your bread rise.  You can make sour milk by adding a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk. *Making sour milk is not the same as milk that has soured on its own.  If milk has turned sour on its own, you should discard it. 
  • Butter
  • Vanilla
  • Dried Cranberries – to help the dried cranberries plump up a bit, put them in a bowl and cover them with boiling water and soak for 5 minutes.  Drain the water before using the cranberries in this recipe.
  • Walnuts
Ingredients for the cranberry bread on a white board.

Instructions for Making the Recipe

Begin by heating the oven to 350F (180C) and grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.  You can use butter or a non-stick cooking spray to grease the pan. 

For even easier removal, you can line the bottom of your pan with non-stick parchment paper making sure to leave an overhang of paper along 2 sides of the pan.  Once the bread is ready to transfer to a wire rack, you can lift it out of the pan using the paper handles.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  

Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the beaten eggs, sour milk, melted butter, cranberries, and walnuts.

The wet ingredients in a glass bowl.

Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until everything is just combined.  

The batter mixed for cranberry bread.

Now you’re ready to bake your loaf.  Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake.

The batter in the prepared pan before baking.

Once the bread has cooled, remove it to a serving plate and decorate as desired.  You can enjoy this cranberry quick bread as soon as it cools, and I find it tastes even better the second day after the flavors have had a chance to mingle.

The baked cranberry nut bread.

Recipe FAQ

What is quick bread? 

Quick breads do not require yeast or a lengthy kneading and rising process.  Instead, they get their rise from baking soda and or baking powder.   Quick breads include loaves such as Double Chocolate Bread and Cherry Bread, cornbread, muffins, and soda bread

What can I use as a substitute for sour milk?

While not exactly the same, you can use buttermilk in place of sour milk.  Other alternatives could be plain yogurt or sour cream. If you use yogurt or sour cream, you will want to thin it out a bit by adding milk (3/4 cup yogurt + ¼ cup milk for every 1 cup of sour milk)

A slice of cranberry bread cut in half.

Tips for Recipe Success

  • Toast the walnuts for a more intense nutty flavor and added crunch.  You can toast them on a cookie sheet in the oven set at 350F (180C) for 5 – 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.  Once they start to turn a darker color and give off a nutty aroma, you’ll know they are ready.
  • You can switch out the walnuts for another type of nut if you prefer.  Pecans or almonds would make great alternatives.
  • To add to the festive flair, you can add a teaspoon of orange zest to the batter.  Lemon zest would also work well in this recipe.
  • Be careful not to overmix the batter, you’ll only need about 15 – 16 stirs and the batter will still be lumpy.  That’s ok!  Over stirring the batter will result in tough bread.
  • Check the bread for doneness early, as every oven is different.
  • You’ll know the bread is done when you insert a toothpick into the centre, and it comes out clean without any wet batter sticking to it.

Storage

Cranberry bread will keep up to 4 days at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.

You can also freeze the bread for up to 4 months.  Make sure you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and put it into a freezer bag.  You can freeze the loaf whole or cut it into slices before freezing.

2 slices of walnut cranberry bread stacked.

How to serve walnut cranberry bread

There are a few ways in which you can enjoy this cranberry quick bread.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Dust with icing sugar before serving
  • Top the bread with a quick glaze made of icing sugar and milk or cream.
  • Serve it for breakfast with butter and jam
  • Slice it into smaller portions as part of teatime dessert tray
  • Toast slices in a dry pan on the stovetop and topped with vanilla ice cream

I hope you give this recipe a try!  You won’t be disappointed.  Enjoy!

A slice of cranberry bread up close.
Cranberry nut bread with 2 slices cut.

Walnut Cranberry Bread Recipe

Rosemary Molloy
This Walnut Cranberry Bread is a classic quick bread that’s so easy to make.  Bursting with tart cranberries and crunchy walnuts.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf
Calories 3954 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt*
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature/lightly beaten)
  • cups sour milk
  • ½ cup butter (melted & cooled)
  • teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup dried cranberries**
  • ¾ cup walnuts coarsely chopped

*If using unsalted butter then add ¼ teaspoon of salt.

    **Cover the dried cranberries with boiling water, soak for approximately 5 minutes, drain well.

      Instructions
       

      • Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Grease and flour 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan or line the pan with parchment paper.
      • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the beaten eggs, sour milk, melted butter, vanilla, cranberries and walnuts. Stir just to combine, 15-16 stirs only. The batter will be lumpy. Do not over stir or you will have a tough bread.
      • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 50-60 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
      • Let cool in pan then remove to a clean plate. Dust with powdered / icing sugar before serving if desired. Enjoy!

      Notes

      To make sour milk measure the 1 1/2 cups of milk in a bowl, remove 1 tablespoon and replace with either white vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before using.
      Instead of walnuts you can use chopped almonds, hazelnuts or pecans.
      Cranberry bread will keep up to 4 days at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.
      The bread can also be frozen for up to 4 months.  Make sure you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and put it into a freezer bag.  You can freeze the loaf whole or cut it into slices before freezing.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 3954kcalCarbohydrates: 531gProtein: 77gFat: 175gSaturated Fat: 35gPolyunsaturated Fat: 70gMonounsaturated Fat: 60gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 409mgSodium: 2437mgPotassium: 1710mgFiber: 19gSugar: 222gVitamin A: 5210IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 1025mgIron: 24mg
      Keyword cranberry bread, cranberry quick bread, quick bread, walnut cranberry bread
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

      6 Comments

      1. I made the Cranberry Walnut Loaf today. I soaked the cranberries in brandy. I also soured the milk using lemon juice in plain organic soy milk. I also used shortening to grease the pan and coated it with sugar and flour. It is delicious! It’s moist, has just the right amount of sweetness, and the crust baked “crusty”, but, very tasty! I have a bag of fresh cranberries, I’m wondering if I can use those opposed to dehydrated. Would I need to change the liquid amount? Thanks for this recipe!

        1. Hi Mary, thanks so much, yes you can use fresh cranberries use 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons and a bit more sugar 1-2 tablespoons more, since dried cranberries are sweeter. Hope that helps.

      2. I’ve noticed in several of your emails that the pan you bake in looks longer than what you say to use in the recipe. Are my eyes deceiving me or what?
        I love your recipes and am always look forward to receiving them.
        Thank you.
        Linda

      3. Can this be made with fresh cranberries? Since you’re rehydrating the dried cranberries, I wondered if they’d be comparable. I have a couple bags of fresh cranberries so was excited to see the recipe.

        1. Hi Breanna, sure that would work, you should probably use a bit more than 1/2 cup of fresh add a couple of tablespoons and a tablespoon or two extra of sugar. Let me know how it goes. Have a great weekend.

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