Cranberry Orange Cake is made with a fresh cranberries, oranges, and a delicious cream cheese frosting. Sugared cranberries top this beautiful and easy to make cake that’s perfect for the holidays!

Cranberry orange cake layered with sugared cranberries on top and an orange cream cheese frosting.

This cranberry layer cake recipe is the perfect combination of slightly tart and sweet. Here, fresh cranberries and oranges are the star and play the perfect role in this holiday classic that’s great any time of year. Don’t miss this 5-star rating cake! 

For another delicious cranberry cake recipe, be sure to try this Cranberry Ricotta Cake. And, if you need to use up those leftover cranberries, bake them into some Cranberry Orange Muffins! If you love bundt cakes, don’t miss this fun Tiramisu Bundt Cake recipe!

You’ll Love Cranberry Orange Cake

Cranberry Orange Cake is a great dessert to have on hand for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or really anytime you have access to fresh cranberries. It’s one cake that’s guaranteed to get rave reviews.

Cranberry Orange Cake with a slice on a white plate.

You’re going to love the fresh flavors and moistness of this cake. The tart cranberries and creamy frosting make it the perfect treat for the holiday season. 

This Orange Cranberry Cake gets frosted with a simple cream cheese frosting that’s flavored with orange zest and fresh orange juice. 

Top this cake off with beautiful sugared cranberries. This is an optional step, but adds a gorgeous decoration to the cake. Plus, they are fun to eat! 

Try this Cranberry Orange Spice Cake for your next get together. Read below for my best tips and tricks for this delicious recipe. 


  • Cranberries: you will need fresh cranberries for this recipe. If you are using cranberries that have been defrosted, be sure to dry them off before tossing in flour.
  • Butter: use two sticks of room temperature unsalted butter for this recipe. You will need a stick of butter for the base of the cake and a stick for the frosting.
  • Sugar: use regular granulated sugar for the base of this cake recipe. 
  • Flour: weigh out all purpose flour for the most accurate measurement amount. 
  • Eggs: you will need two large eggs. 
  • Vanilla: a little bit of vanilla extract adds great flavor to this cake. 
  • Orange: use fresh oranges to flavor both the cake and frosting (zest and juice). You can use leftover orange slices to garnish the cake. 
  • Milk: I recommend using 2% or whole milk for the cake. 
  • Baking Powder: make sure you are using baking powder and not baking soda here. 
  • Cinnamon and Nutmeg: these spices will give the cake extra flavor and pair perfectly with the tartness of the cranberries.
  • Cream Cheese: use full fat cream cheese for the frosting. 
  • Powdered Sugar: icing sugar is needed for the frosting. Sift the sugar ahead of time if needed. 

How to Make Cranberry Orange Cake

This cake comes together in minutes and stays moist for days! To start, you will need two 9-inch cake pans (8-inch work too, just bake a bit longer). Coat the cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper.

Step 1: mix dry ingredients

Start by whisking together the dry ingredients. Here, I use a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg to give the cake a warming flavor. These spices really bring out the flavors of the cake and gives it extra depth. 

Step 2: mix wet ingredients

Next, use an electric mixer or stand up mixer with paddle attachment to mix together the softened butter and sugar. Then, add the eggs, vanilla, milk, orange juice, and zest. Mix to combine then stir in the dry ingredients. 

Step 3: add cranberries

Toss the cranberries with a teaspoon of flour. Then, add the cranberries to the batter and use a rubber spatula to fold all together.

Step 4: bake

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans. Use a scale to ensure that the batter is divided evenly between the two pans.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. (Bake slightly longer if using 8-inch cake pans.) Cool completely before frosting. 

Cranberry Orange Cake on a plate with a slice removed and in the background.

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

This simple and delicious orange cream cheese frosting is the perfect way to top off your Cranberry Orange Spice Cake. You can even make the frosting a day in advance. Just refrigerate until ready to use. 

You’re going to love how easy and delicious this frosting is. It’s a simple orange-scented frosting, meaning that the orange flavor plays a small role. This is a traditional cream cheese frosting, with only two tablespoons or orange juice and some zest added for flavor. 

The key to making this smooth frosting is to start with room temperature butter and cream cheese. Beat these together using the bowl of a stand mixer or hand held mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. 

Then, add in the powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest and mix on low speed until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

I use a similar recipe frosting recipe for my Limoncello Ricotta Cake, just switching up the flavors. This recipe yields a perfect frosting consistency every time and is always a hit with guests. 

Frosting the Cranberry Orange Cake

My go-to technique for frosting cakes is creating a “naked” cake. What this means is that you scrape off some of the frosting on the sides of the cake to showcase the layers. I find that this simple method of frosting a cake gives a more relaxed and rustic vibe. 

Process shots showing how to frost the treat.

Step 1: Firstly, place the bottom layer of your cooled cake on a cake turntable or pedestal. Apply about a cup of icing to the top and spread around. 

Step 2: Then, add the second layer of cooled cake on top. 

Step 3: Scoop the remaining frosting on the top of the cake and use a spatula to spread around the top and sides of the cake. Lastly, use a bench scraper or offset spatula to scrape the sides of the cake while rotating the cake on the turntable. 

Step 4: Transfer any remaining frosting to the top of the cake. Then, use a butter knife to create a swirl effect.

This simple way of frosting a cake is one of my favorites! I use the same technique with my Apple Spice Cake, another delicious holiday dessert. 

Use two spatulas to carefully transfer the cake to your cake pedestal or serving plate. 

Sugared Cranberry Topping

The final and optional step for this recipe is to make a sugared cranberry topping. This is a simple way to decorate your Cranberry Orange Cake using whole cranberries. 

overhead photo of the topping for this recipe.

First, prepare a simple syrup. Simply bring equal amounts of sugar and water to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and shut off the heat. Add in the cranberries and stir to coat with the simple syrup. 

Next, remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon to a cooling rack or plate for about 5 to 10 minutes. Working in small batches, toss the cranberries in a mixture of sugar and orange zest. 

Use the sugared cranberries to decorate the top of the Cranberry Orange Cake. You can spread them evenly overtop, or gather them the center of the cake. 

Recipe Tips

  • Before adding the cranberries to the batter, it’s a good idea to toss them in about a teaspoon of flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of the pans.
  • This recipe calls for orange zest and/or juice in every step. In total, you will need two large oranges to make this recipe. I like to start by zesting both oranges and then juicing them. That way, they are ready to go when I need them. For the oranges, I always use a microplane to remove the zest, then move on to a hand juicer to get the juice out.
  • You can make the cake layers up to a month in advance and freeze them in an airtight container. First, wrap the cake rounds in parchment, then again in plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container, like a ziplock bag, and keep in a place in the freezer will they will be undisturbed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen cranberries?

Frozen cranberries work for Cranberry Orange Cakes, just be sure to toss the cranberries in a bit of flour before adding to the batter. This will keep them from settling in the bottom of the cake.

Can I use dried cranberries?

I do not recommend using dried cranberries in this cake. It is best made with fresh cranberries so you can really get the sweet and tart bite. You can find fresh cranberries in grocery store during the winter months, and they are often available frozen year round. 

Cranberry orange cake on a plate with a slice taken from it.

Holiday Cake Recipes

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or review in the comments section further down the page.

Stay in touch with me though social media @ InstagramPinterest, and Facebook. Don’t forget to tag me when you try one of my recipes!

Cranberry Orange Cake

Cranberry Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cranberry Orange Cake is sure to become your new family favorite. Use fresh cranberries and oranges to make this easy cake truly special!
5 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 392kcal
Cost: 10-12


  • two 9-inch cake pans


  • 2 cups all purpose flour (260 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk (whole or 2%)
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (from one large orange)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (from one large orange)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole cranberries (tossed in a teaspoon of flour)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

Sugared Cranberries

  • ½ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup whole cranberries
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line bottom of pans with parchment; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.
  • In a large bowl or stand up mixer, mix together the butter and sugar for two minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, milk, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Pour in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again.
  • Toss the cranberries with one teaspoon of flour then fold into the cake batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans, using a kitchen scale if possible. Bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cool. Prepare the frosting and sugared cranberries while the cakes cool.
  • To make the frosting, in a large bowl cream together the butter and cream cheese using a handheld mixer on medium speed for two minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest, and continue mixing on low speed until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and mix again.
  • To make the sugared cranberry topping, in a small saucepan combine ¼ cup of sugar and water. Bring to a low simmer just until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and stir in the cranberries. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cranberries to a wire rack. In a small bowl combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar and orange zest. Working in small batches, toss the cranberries in the sugar. Shake off excess sugar and set aside.
  • To frost, place one layer of the cooled cake on pedestal or cake plate and spread on about a cup of frosting. Place on the top layer of the cake and spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Decorate with sugared cranberries.


  • Before adding the cranberries to the batter, it’s a good idea to toss them in about a teaspoon of flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of the pans.
  • This recipe calls for orange zest and/or juice in every step. In total, you will need two large oranges to make this recipe. I like to start by zesting both oranges and then juicing them. That way, they are ready to go when I need them.
  • You can make the cake layers up to a month in advance and freeze them in an airtight container. First, wrap the cake rounds in parchment, then again in plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container, like a ziplock bag, and keep in a place in the freezer will they will be undisturbed.


Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 53g | Vitamin A: 437IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Great recipe. I love any recipe with fresh cranberries i made cranberry biscotti and lemon drop cookies. I also made recotta lemon cookies! It t was a big hit. Ok usually bake a lot for Christmas and thanksgiving for our first responders and doctors and community.

    thank you for delish respires.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  2. 5 stars
    I gave it 5 stars as it was a hit as everyone loved it at Thanksgiving. However, I was afraid that it was a fail as it didn’t rise, producing a rather dense cake. In fact I baked it a second time thinking I had erred with the recipe. Second time. . . Same result! I think my mistake was using my kitchenaid stand mixer instead of hand held beaters. The amount of butter and sugar in the stand mixer never whipped up fluffy. I think a smaller mixing bowl with hand held beaters would have produced the desired result of fluffy cake batter. BUT cream cheese frosting cures all!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks delicious, Angela. The cranberries and spices with a creamed cheese icing would be lovely. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    1. Yes! You’ll just have increase the bake time since it’s thicker. You could also get away with only making half of the frosting. Let me know how you love it?

      1. planning to make it today for Thanksgiving. I’ll keep an eye on the bake time and keep the toothpicks handy.

      2. This did not turn out as I expected. The cake was so heavy and dense, it was like a bread. The taste was great … but I felt like it needed some oil in addition to the butter? I also noticed that my baking powder had expired about 10 months ago … maybe that was the culprit?

      3. Hi Laura. Sorry to hear that you had issues with this cake. I just made it again over the weekend following the instructions exactly and it turned out super moist and fluffy. So, yes, I suspect that the expired baking powder must be the culprit since you said that the cake was heavy and flat. I hope you will give this recipe another try using non-expired baking powder. Also, just FYI testing baking powder before you bake is super easy. Just stir about half a teaspoon of baking powder into a cup of hot water. It will immediately start to fizz and release carbon dioxide gas if it’s still fresh enough to use.

  4. 5 stars
    This is such a great recipe for using up frozen cranberries. I always have a bag left in my freezer, so I shall definitely be making use of them now! I love your step by step process photos too, very helpful, thank you.

  5. I love all the fresh ingredients in this Cranberry Orange Spice Cake! And, cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to all those yummy fall flavors!