November 30th, 2014

Cranberry Christmas Cake

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I’m not sure why, but I always feel like a cake is too “everyday” to serve as a Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert. But this Cranberry Christmas Cake has changed my opinion in a big way!

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Not only is this cake beautiful enough to serve at a holiday dinner, it tastes like something fit for a special occasion. 

The best part is, it starts with a white cake mix, so it’s pretty easy to put together.

And I don’t think anyone will notice the cake mix shortcut, thanks to the addition of pecans, fresh cranberries and orange zest. The homemade cream cheese frosting is literally the icing on the cake.

If you don’t have three round cake pans, two will work just fine–you’ll just have to bake your cake a little bit longer, and you’ll probably have some extra frosting–but extra frosting is never a bad thing!

I’ve already made this cake twice and my family is still looking forward to having it again this holiday season.

Be sure to save this Cranberry Christmas Cake recipe to your favorite Pinterest board for later.


Cranberry Christmas Cake

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Preparation 25 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 45 mins
Serves 8     adjust servings

This beautiful holiday cake features fresh cranberries, chopped pecans, and a delicious cream cheese frosting.


    For the cake

    • 1 box white cake mix
    • 1 cup milk
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/3 cup canola oil
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest
    • 1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

    For the frosting

    • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup butter, room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • Pinch of salt
    • 4 to 4 1/2 cups confectioner' s sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans.
    2. In a large bowl combine the cake mix, milk, eggs, oil, sour cream and orange zest. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.
    3. Carefully fold in cranberries and pecans.
    4. Dived batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning onto wire racks to cool completely.
    5. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Stir in the orange zest.
    6. Gradually add the confectioner 's sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency. Stir in the pecans.
    7. Frost between the cake layers as well as the top and sides. Garnish with fresh cranberries or additional chopped nuts, if desired.

    Recipe Notes

    Equipment you'll need to make this recipe:

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    2 reviews

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    If you love this recipe, you might also like:

    Cranberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake


    White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Bars

    Cranberry White Chocolate Macadamia Bars

    Cranberry Orange Crumb Cake

    Cranberry Orange Crumb Cake

    Who Dished It Up First: Adapted from Taste of Home.



    1. That looks great – so festive!

    2. Wow, does this cake ever look lovely.

    3. This cake is definitely delicious and perfect for Christmas.. definitely can see it making an appearance on my table. Thanks for the recipe!

    4. This cake looks delicious and so festive for Christmas! Thanks Danelle!

    5. Oh, wow Danelle!! That cake is beautiful!! I’m definitely not a good cake maker, hence cakes don’t grace my table all that often. This one is truly good enough for any special gathering!

    6. This looks like a perfect Christmas dessert! I love the flavors, and it is so beautiful! 🙂

    7. This looks soo beautiful, but you lost me at “white cake mix”!

    8. Would it work as cupcakes, I need a dessert for a potluck and this looks very festive.

    9. Becky Ellis says:

      I made this for a church party. It was delicious!

    10. If I’m baking this a day ahead of when I’ll be serving it, do you recommend storing it in the fridge overnight? Should I just put the layers together and do the outer frosting the day-of?

    11. Made this cake today! Easy, quick, and festive. Used On my way! leftover cranberry relish. Perfect!
      Can’t wait to serve it this week, (to Lisa- no worries about the cake mix! Yummy cranberries and orange zest make this taste so fresh and delicious!). A new addition to the holiday treat list.

    12. What a gorgeous creation.

    13. Christmas is my favorite holiday and this looks like the perfect cake to celebrate it with!

    14. This cake is so festive and beautiful!

    15. So simple yet so pretty!

    16. Gorgeous colors here! I love the addition of cranberries in the center, they really make the cake pop!


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