Every year, we make cranberry salad from scratch for Thanksgiving. Everyone gathers in the kitchen the night before, and we divide up the tasks from my great grandma’s recipe so everyone participates.
One person chops the pecans, another measures the sugar, and someone else blitzes the cranberries in a food processor. Yet it never fails…
We always end up with extra cranberries.
This year, I proactively brainstormed what to make with the leftovers. I wanted something that was simple and easy to make ahead. Something that let the cranberries’ bright flavor truly shine — and that tasted even better the next day. Something we could enjoy for breakfasts or snacks while preparing our feast.
So that’s how this healthy cranberry bread came to be! It’s a simple quick bread that’s deliciously comforting, full of fresh seasonal flavors, and perfect for pairing with a steaming mug of coffee, tea, or even hot chocolate.
And for sneaking a little something mid-afternoon while waiting to carve the turkey too. 😉
QUICK OVERVIEW – HEALTHY CRANBERRY BREAD
Difficulty: Pretty easy, including for most beginner bakers.
Taste: Lots of bright, tangy cranberries nestled inside of a lightly sweetened batter — plus two secret ingredients that add a lovely coziness!
Texture: Really soft and moist, and a little on the dense side.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY CRANBERRY BREAD
Let’s talk about the ingredients you’ll need to make this healthy cranberry bread! I’m assuming you already have the staples in your fridge and pantry (milk, baking powder, baking soda, salt — those sorts of things!), so we’ll just touch upon the more interesting and important ingredients.
White whole wheat flour. Yes, this actually exists — and it’s not just a blend of whole wheat flour and white (aka all-purpose) flour! Here in the US, the majority of wheat grown is hard red wheat, and that’s what is used to make regular whole wheat flour. However, there’s another variety of wheat that’s also grown, called soft white wheat, and that’s what is used to make white whole wheat flour. It has the same health benefits as regular whole wheat flour (like extra fiber!), but it has a much lighter taste and texture. That lets the moist and tender texture of your healthy cranberry bread really shine!
Tip: It’s kind of like the difference between red and green grapes. Same health benefits — just a slightly different taste!
Egg whites. These add lots of protein, which helps create and maintain the structure of your quick bread as it rises in the oven, and that protein also helps prevent your loaf from collapsing while cooling. Use all of the egg whites called for to achieve the best texture!
Greek yogurt. One of my favorite ingredients in healthier baking! Here, it adds the same moisture to the batter as extra butter or oil — but for a fraction of the calories. (It gives your cranberry bread a protein boost too!)
Nutmeg + ginger. The two secret ingredients! When brainstorming this recipe, I remembered how adding nutmeg to the batter of these baked donuts gave them a really rich flavor and made them taste like the indulgent “full-fat” version. I tried adding some in my first round of recipe testing for this cranberry bread, and… It turned out even better than I had hoped!
However, I felt like the flavor was still missing a little something… And that’s when I remembered how Starbucks adds a bit of ginger to their cranberry bliss bars. I did that in my homemade cranberry bliss bars too, and it created a lovely coziness. So in my third round of recipe testing this cranberry bread, I added ginger to the batter. It did the same thing here — and it resulted in the best cozy, comforting flavor!
However, one key thing to note… The spice flavors are fairly strong right after baking, so I highly recommend waiting to slice your cranberry bread for a full 24 hours. Yes, I know. That’s a very long time to wait. And stare at your beautifully baked loaf in the refrigerator. As it chills. Tempting you. Every time you open the fridge.
But I promise the improved flavor will be worth the wait!
Almond extract. This is a semi-secret ingredient! Although many recipes use vanilla, I opted for almond extract because it makes this cranberry bread taste a little sweeter. (It’s also my favorite baking extract!)
Sweeteners. You’ll need two: liquid stevia and erythritol. Both of these are plant-based, no-calorie sweeteners that contain nothing overly refined or artificial (aka they’re clean eating friendly!). Stevia is also highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way. By using these two sweeteners, you’re adding no refined sugar to your cranberry bread, and they also help keep it low calorie!
Tip: Although most brands of erythritol can be 1-for-1 substitutes for each other, stevia is not. Many stevia brands and products have different sweetness levels, so it’s not always possible to substitute them for one another. For the best results, I recommend using the same one I do, which I purchase online here because that’s the best price I’ve found. (You’ll use it in all of these recipes of mine too!)
Why two sweeteners? When I just used liquid stevia (one of my trusty “go to” sweeteners!), I felt like I couldn’t get quite as sweet of a flavor as I wanted, even when I kept adding more. So that’s where the erythritol comes in! By adding a small amount, it boosted the sweetness to a more acceptable level. And that’s pretty important because of the…
Fresh cranberries. I love fresh cranberries! They have such a bright flavor, and I wish they were available all year round. (Thank goodness for frozen ones so I can satisfy my cranberry cravings in the middle of June!) To make this quick bread as simple as possible, I opted not to dice them and just folded the whole cranberries into the batter. As a result…
They were very tart right after baking. However, if you follow my advice above and chill your healthy cranberry bread for 24 hours before slicing into it, that greatly reduces the tartness into a much more mellow and pleasing flavor. More like a cheerful tang — one that pairs perfectly with the cozy spice background notes!
Something else that happens during those 24 hours of chilling? The cranberries soften and turn almost juicy! So for the best flavors and texture, chill your cranberry bread for 24 hours before slicing into it. Patience is key! 😉
No orange? I made this cranberry bread without oranges because some of my family members are allergic. I wanted them to be able to enjoy it too!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY CRANBERRY BREAD
Time to cover how to make the best cranberry bread! This recipe is pretty straightforward, so let’s just touch upon a few key things in the instructions.
Alternating additions. This is a fancy way of saying stir in some of the spiced flour mixture… Then stir in some milk… Switch back to the spiced flour mixture… And keep going until you run out of flour and milk!
Alternating additions help prevent overmixing, which would create a tough or gummy texture. By using a gentle hand with alternating additions, you’ll get the best moist and tender texture possible in your cranberry bread.
Tip: Do this by hand with a fork! Do not use a stand mixer or hand-held mixer. It’s much easier to overmix low fat and low sugar batters (like this one!) when using either of these, even if you’re using alternating additions. For the best results, use a fork (rather than a spoon or spatula!) because the tines of the fork allow for the ingredients to mix more efficiently, which means you stir less — and therefore helps prevent overmixing even more too.
Cover the pan with foil. Yes, before you put it in the oven! Many recipes suggest covering the top of a quick bread with foil towards the end of baking if the top starts to brown too much. However, I’ve found that (a) there’s a high likelihood of me burning myself while pressing the foil around that hot pan and (b) covering the top during the first half of baking creates a beautifully even domed top. Without the foil, you’ll often end up with a crack down the middle or off to one side.
Then just over halfway through baking, you’ll quickly remove the foil (and admire the domed top!) and slide the pan back in the oven to allow your healthy cranberry bread to finish baking.
Cool completely to room temperature. Do not cut into your cranberry bread while it’s warm! This is true for almost all quick breads. Until they’ve reached room temperature, the inside structure hasn’t fully set.
Chill for 24 hours. I already mentioned this a few times above… But it’s SO important that I’m saying it again. Do not slice into your cranberry bread until it has spent 24 hours in your refrigerator.
I know — that’s a very long time. But as it chills, a few things happen. The spices meld, mellow out, and result in a much cozier background flavor. The cranberries soften, turn almost juicy, and lose a lot of their sharp tartness. They don’t turn sweet — just bright and tangy instead of shockingly tart! — but it does make a big difference. I thought my loaves tasted even better on Day 3 than Day 2 too! So pretty, pretty please… Wait the full 24 hours!
FAQS ABOUT HEALTHY CRANBERRY BREAD
Is this cranberry bread gluten free?
You can easily make it gluten free! I’ve included my top recommendations in the Notes section of the recipe.
Can I use whole eggs, not just the whites?
Yes, you can! See the Notes section of the recipe for how to substitute whole eggs in place of the eggs whites.
Can I use dried cranberries to make this cranberry bread?
Yes again! I highly recommend hydrating them first. It only takes a minute (if you use the microwave!), and it makes a big difference in their texture. They turn plump and juicy, which makes for an even better cranberry bread texture overall!
What is the best way to store this cranberry bread? How long does it last?
Store your cranberry bread in the refrigerator. I like to wrap it tightly inside of plastic wrap (Stretch-Tite is my favorite because it clings and seals much more tightly than other brands!), but you can also store it inside of an airtight container. It should keep at least 5 days, if not longer, when stored like this.
Can you freeze this cranberry bread?
Yes! I like to slice it before freezing to make it easier to thaw individual portions.
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy cranberry bread!
Healthy Cranberry Bread
- 2 ½ cups (300g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tbsp (7g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 ½ tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp liquid stevia
- 3 tbsp (36g) confectioners' style erythritol
- ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup + 2 tbsp (210mL) nonfat milk, divided
- 1 ½ cups (150g) whole fresh cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat a 9x5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil and egg whites. Whisk in the almond extract and stevia. Whisk in the erythritol. Stir in the Greek yogurt, making sure no lumps remain. Stir in 6 tablespoons of milk. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For the best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Fold in the cranberries.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Cover the top with foil, crimping the edges around the pan’s rim to seal, and try to pushup the foil in the center to ensure it doesn’t touch the batter while baking. Bake covered at 350°F for 35 minutes. Acting very quickly, remove the pan from the oven, and carefully remove the foil. Immediately put the pan back in the oven, and continue baking the cranberry bread for an additional 25-35 minutes(for a total of 60-70 minutes) or until the top feels firm to the touch and looks golden or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once at room temperature, tightly seal the loaf inside of plastic wrap and refrigerate. For the best flavor, chill for at least 24 hours before slicing and serving. (See Notes!)
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Cranberry Orange Banana Bread
♡ Healthy Cranberry Oatmeal Breakfast Quick Bread
♡ Healthy Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins
♡ Healthy Cranberry Orange Scones
♡ Healthy Cranberry Pecan Banana Bread
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Cranberry Orange Muffins
♡ Healthy Cranberry Crumb Breakfast Cake
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy cranberry-flavored recipes!