This vegan cranberry orange bread recipe is oil-free, sweet, and easy to make for a festive treat. It’s full of tart cranberries, orange juice, and gets a little crunch from the pumpkin seeds. Then it's topped with a sweet orange glaze for a decadent dessert for the holiday season.
The quick bread is the perfect balance between sweet and tart with warm spices. It's made with whole wheat flour, applesauce, and freezes well. For more vegan recipes with cranberries, try vegan cranberry sauce, vegan pumpkin oatmeal with dried cranberries, or orange cranberry oatmeal bars.
- Flavored with fresh orange juice and tart fresh cranberries.
- The vegan cranberry bread recipe is egg-free, dairy-free, oil-free, and made with whole wheat flour.
- A perfect holiday treat or give it as a holiday gift!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
The delicious recipe uses simple ingredients, but please see the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and exact measurements.
Sugar - I use organic cane sugar.
Unsweetened applesauce - This is used to keep the vegan cranberry loaf cake oil-free. Use unsweetened applesauce.
Orange juice and zest - Fresh orange juice is best to use for the orange flavor. Use a ¼ cup for the loaf recipe plus 2 tablespoons if you plan on making the glaze. Zest the orange before slicing it to squeeze the juice. When zesting your orange, a micro-plane works well; be sure to only remove the bright orange skin, not the white pith underneath.
Non-dairy milk - Any dairy-free milk will work. Try it with oat, soy, cashew, or almond milk. Higher protein milk like soy milk will start to make a vegan buttermilk (with an orange flavor) when mixed with the orange juice. This will not impact the recipe.
Vanilla extract - Adds more flavor to the cranberry orange loaf.
Whole wheat flour - Spoon the flour out of the bag and into the measuring cup, then level off with the back of a knife. Flour can settle and compact while in storage, scooping it out ensures the cup of flour is not too tightly packed. Too much flour in the recipe can result in dry cranberry bread.
One cup of whole-wheat flour can be substituted with one cup of all-purpose flour for lighter bread (in texture) without adjusting for the liquid in the recipe. I haven’t tested substituting both cups of flour with all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour.
Ground cinnamon - Added for more flavor.
Fresh cranberries - Use fresh cranberries, cut small ones in half, and quarter large ones. I haven't tested with frozen or dried cranberries.
Raw shelled pumpkin seeds - Raw pumpkin seeds can be substituted for chopped pecans or walnuts.
Powdered sugar - If you plan on making the sweet orange glaze you'll need powdered sugar to mix with orange juice.
How to make vegan cranberry orange bread
Start the vegan orange cranberry bread by preheating the oven to 350 F (180 C), prep a 9 x 5-inch glass loaf dish with parchment paper, or use a non-stick cooking spray to grease the dish. Leave some of the parchment paper hanging over the edge of the dish for ease of removing the bread to cool when it's done cooking.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, sugar, orange zest, fresh orange juice, dairy-free milk, and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix them together. I like to stop when everything is almost combined and fold in the fresh cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
Pour the mixture into a prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Place the baking dish on the center rack in the oven and bake for about 45-55 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the sweet bread cool for about 10 minutes in the loaf pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
When the loaf is completely cooled, whisk together ½ cup of powdered sugar and 1 ½ tablespoons of orange juice until smooth to make a sweet orange glaze. Then drizzle the icing over the top of the loaf.
- If your baking soda and/or baking powder clumps, sift it so it evenly distributes in the dry ingredients.
- Oven temperatures can be inaccurate. An inexpensive oven thermometer can help you know your oven's actual temperature. These are very helpful in preventing baking mishaps due to unreliable oven temperatures.
- If transporting the bread, plastic wrap may stick to the icing. I haven’t tried this but if you do need to use plastic wrap, I've read you can use toothpicks to tent the plastic wrap so it doesn't touch the bread. Then take out the toothpicks before serving.
- Measuring ½ cup of powdered sugar by volume can yield different results for some people because of how packed the fluffy powder is. I would recommend looking for the right consistency when making your icing. Add more powdered sugar if it's too runny, and add more milk if it's too dry (a little goes a long way).
- You want the icing to be thick to set up on your bread, if it's too thin it will just melt into the bread. It needs to be spoonable, but not run off your spoon like soup, but not too thick. Similar to Elmer’s glue consistency. Probably not the best analogy for food, but I hope it helps with the visual!
Room temperature -Store loosely covered at room temperature for 1 day.
Refrigerate - For longer storage refrigerate the vegan cranberry bread covered for about 5 days.
Freeze -The bread can also be frozen unglazed or glazed for up to 3 months.
I like to slice leftovers and freeze the individual slices. To do this line a baking tray that will fit in your freezer with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Place the slices on the tray (not touching each other) and freeze overnight. Then transfer the frozen slices to a freezer bag or container. Now they're frozen individually! Alternatively, store in a freezer-safe container with slices separated by parchment paper.
When ready to consume, thaw the desired amount in the refrigerator.
- Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
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- Pumpkin peanut butter muffins
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- Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites
- Orange Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
- Vegan Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
I hope you enjoy the recipe for vegan cranberry orange bread!
Originally published on December 20, 2019.Print
This vegan cranberry orange bread recipe is oil-free, sweet, and easy to make for a festive treat. It’s full of tart cranberries, orange juice, and gets a little crunch from the pumpkin seeds.
- ¾ cup (150 g) cane sugar
- ½ cup (123 g) unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice
- Zest of one orange
- ¾ cup (180 ml) dairy-free milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (266 g) whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (95 g) fresh cranberries (small ones halved and large ones quartered)
- ⅓ cup (50 g) raw shelled pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup (60 g) powdered sugar
- 1 ½-2 tablespoons orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C), grease, or line a 5x9 inch (14x23 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, unsweetened applesauce, orange zest, fresh orange juice, dairy-free milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
- In a large bowl whisk together the whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix, stopping halfway through (to help prevent over-mixing), and fold in the cranberries and ⅓ cup shelled pumpkin seeds.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and promptly place the loaf pan in the oven.
- Bake for about 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean and the top springs back (mine takes about 50 minutes).
- Let the bread cool completely, then whisk together ½ cup of powdered sugar and 1 ½ tablespoons of orange juice. Drizzle over the bread.
- Store covered at room temperature for 1 day, refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Spoon the flour out of the bag and into the measuring cup, then level off with the back of a knife. Flour can settle and compact while in storage, scooping it out ensures the cup of flour is not too tightly packed. Too much flour in the recipe can result in dry cranberry bread.
The icing should be the consistency of Elmer's glue (not the best analogy for food but hopefully helpful). Depending on how packed the powdered sugar is, measuring it by volume and not weight can vary from one person to another. So look for consistency, not too runny and not too thick. You should be able to spoon it on the bread but not able to pour it easily. If it's too thin add more powdered sugar, too thick add just a smidge of milk or juice.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: holiday cranberry bread, oil-free holiday vegan cranberry bread, vegan holiday bread