I think at some point most people embark on the “Who was the first person to eat that?” conversation. Common subjects include oysters, lobster, and mushrooms.

Cranberries are an interesting dark horse in that conversation because assuming you found wild cranberries they would actually look pretty appetizing, but I imagine that you would eat one and be forever against them – choosing starvation over cranberry in the future. The cranberry’s main characteristics are: 1) incredibly bitter 2) hollow 3) crunchy, yet mesh-like.

These are not great food characteristics.

But, if you bake these suckers they turn into an entirely completely thing. They are still bitter, but that bitterness can actually work to balance other flavors (like brown sugar). They lose their weird hollow texture though which is very important.

Enough about the qualities of cranberries. This Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake is a really dense and delicious coffee cake that’s perfect for the holidays. Assuming you have some cranberries sitting around, save a cup or so for this cake.

Cranberry Studded Coffee Cake

2.34 from 6 votes
Author: Nick Evans
Servings: 9 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake, this dense and rich coffee cake is studded with sugar-coated cranberries. The perfect holiday breakfast, brunch or snack!


  • 1 ¼ cups cranberries + ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cup sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Wash cranberries well, then drain and immediately toss with 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and work streusel ingredients together with your hands or a fork in a separate bowl.
  • In a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and orange zest until smooth. Then mix in vanilla extract and eggs one at a time.
  • Mix in Greek yogurt, then the flour ingredients. Finally add buttermilk and slowly mix until batter is smooth. Then fold in sugar-coated cranberries.
  • Pour half the batter into a lightly buttered 8×8 baking dish. Top with half of the streusel mixture.
  • Top with last half of the batter and the last of the streusel.
  • Bake the coffee cake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour until the center is just set. Remove coffee cake and let it cool for 20 minutes or so.
  • Slice coffee cake into 9 even pieces and serve while warm or at room temperature.


Serving: 1Piece | Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 414mg | Potassium: 169mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 770IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Breads, Breakfast & Brunch, Side Dishes

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Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake

The Studs

You could just toss the cranberries into the mix here, but I like to do a little something extra. I wash the cranberries well, then drain them, and immediately toss them with a little sugar. This way, when the cranberries get folded into the batter, they are sort of enclosed in little sugar pockets. It’s good stuff.

Coated in sugar - Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake
Coated in sugar.

Making the Batter

The cake batter is pretty similar to most cake batters. You start by just creaming together the sugar and butter into a large bowl. You can go ahead and add in the orange zest at this point also so it gets well incorporated into the  batter.

You can use either a hand mixer or stand mixer for this.

Creamed and oranged - Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake
Creamed and oranged.

Meanwhile, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

When the butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy, add in the vanilla extract and eggs and continue to mix.

Then mix in the Greek yogurt, followed by the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk.

Once your batter is done, go ahead and fold in the sugar-coated cranberries!

Fold those suckers in - Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake
Fold those suckers in.

You’ll also need to mix up the streusel for this Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake. I just mashed together the ingredients in a small bowl with my hands, but you could use a fork also.

Big pieces are good here.

Some Streusel biz - Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake
Some Streusel biz.

Baking the Cake

When you’re ready to bake the Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake, add half the batter to a buttered 8×8 baking dish. Spread it out on the bottom and then sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture.

Layer uno - Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake
Layer uno.

Then spread over the batter and the rest of the streusel.

You’ll end up with a big thick baking dish. It’ll smell good already!

Layer dos - Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake
Layer dos.

Bake this guy for about an hour at 350 degrees F.

Be sure the center is set before you pull it out. The coffee cake should be golden browned around the edges.

Takes about an hour - Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake
Takes about an hour.

Be sure to let this cake cool for at least 20 minutes or so before cutting into it.

I like to cut the cake into pretty large pieces so I cut it into 9 pieces. You could cut them smaller if you want, but I like a big hunk of coffee cake with my coffee.

So good, Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake from Macheesmo
So good.

This Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake  is a perfect mix of sweet and citrusy. When it comes out of the oven, your whole house will smell awesome.

Want a fun coffee to go with this coffee cake? Try my Churro Iced Coffee!

So, for the record. Do not eat cranberries raw unless you are very hungry and there are no oysters around.

Do coat them with sugar and bake them in this awesome coffee cake.