Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Holiday » Make-a-Cake Series: Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Butter Sauce

Make-a-Cake Series: Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Butter Sauce

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Thanksgiving is coming.
Do you feel it?
I have the perfect holiday dessert for your guests.
It’s also perfect to bring with you and impress your mother-in-law! ha ha

Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Butter Sauce

Looks really good right? 

My grandmother made this every Thanksgiving while growing up.
She also made hundreds of servings for the Masonic Lodge Christmas Party.
And then again, just for me, when we sat together decorating her Christmas tree.
Such a sweet lady.

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I love using cranberries.
I love the bright red color they bring. They add the perfect tartness to this cake.
Then you warm up the vanilla butter sauce and drizzle it over………Mmmmm, it balances the tart with a rich, warm sweet taste.

It’s delicious and looks so festive.

I’m sure many of you have had this or make it yourself. But if you haven’t…….do not miss out!
You’ll love it.

This recipe came from my Grandma and you know how recipes go that get passed down…….you never know where they came from.  (Who knows……you may have the same one.)


2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup cream or half-and-half
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Candied Cranberries:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
remaining cranberries 1-2 cups


Preheat your oven to 350.
Mix together all cake ingredients but the cranberries.
Start with the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients.
After your cake batter is combined (don’t over mix) fold in your cranberries.


Divide into greased loaf pans.
You can use 1 large and two small like me or two large loaf pans or a large 9×13 glass pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

The smaller pans will bake faster.
After baking, let cool for 5 minuntes in the pan. Invert the cakes from the loaf pan onto a cooling rack.
If you used a 9×13, just let it cool in the pan. 

This cake is served room temperature. The sauce will bring the warm element.

Make your sauce.
Combine all ingredients in saucepan over medium low and cook 10 minutes or until sugar is melted, stirring frequently. 

After the sauce cools a bit, I put it in a squeeze bottle for drizzling.
You can find them with candy making supplies. (I bought mine at Micheal’s.)

(Hint: You can make the cake and sauce the day before you serve it.
After the cakes cool wrap them up in plastic wrap for the next day. Make your sauce and then keep it in the fridge in Tupperware or squeeze bottle. Then reheat in microwave before serving.)

Candied Cranberries

Before I serve the dessert, I candied up some cranberries for garnish. I just used the left over cranberries from baking the cake and used the same cooking method as I did from THIS post.

Add the sugar and water to a pan and simmer the cranberries for 10 minutes.
Mine didn’t keep their round shape but still made a great garnish.


Plating your Cake


Slice the small loaves and plate them with 3 of the slices together.
Then heat up your sauce and drizzle all 3 slices with plenty of the sauce……..and place a few candied cranberries on/around the cakes for garnish.
Or you can serve it family style, on a big platter, by slicing up your large loaf. 

Then everyone can take a slice.  Or maybe 2…..I know they will want more!

(Ok, this picture was taken with my small loaf slices, but you get the idea right?)
The holidays are on their way. 

I hope this recipe will add some goodness to your table.

Oh no!  I am overly excited about the food already! Ha ha!

Happy Decorating!


Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Manon says:

    Hi, these cake look amazing!

    Can we use frozen cranberries?

  2. Emily says:

    Looking forward to a re-wind and making this baby again this year. Just bought some cranberries, loving the season already!

  3. Osamede Lisa Nnadi says:

    It looks delicious. Too bad it didn’t work for me. I’m sure its my oven though, it never bakes right such that I have to buy already baked cakes from a cake shop then do the decoration myself. Of course its so expensive, I really don’t know what to do with my oven.

  4. Joy says:

    Very easy! I had some leftover cranberries that were looking for a purpose, sop I made this tonight. My kids don’t normally like berries in things, and they both enjoyed it. Thank you.

  5. Julya says:

    Made this over the holidays and it was so good, the sauce was delicious. My mom was eating it by the spoonful, lol:)

  6. Donya says:

    Wanted to let you know I made this recipe and it was a HUGE hit. Thanks so much for sharing. This is a definite keeper!

  7. Sara says:

    WOW, this was FANTASTIC! I used a 9×13 because I don't have two of the same size bread pans, but this would be delicious in ANY shape! Thanks for the recipe, I'm making it again for Thanksgiving with my in-laws. The combo of tart and sweet is absolutely perfect!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I made this and it is so good! My kids didn't like the look of it but they really enjoy eating it. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  9. Olivia says:

    I made this last night for a baby shower today. It looks fabulous! I did mine in a bundt pan and the cranberries are gorgeous on top. I flipped it out but it's not as pretty flipped so I turned it back over. I also made sugared cranberries here: and they keep their shape. Plus, you can keep the cranberry simple syrup for drinks! ;) Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  10. Aleisha says:

    That looks so YUMMY!

  11. Beth Ann says:

    I can't wait to try this out! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Suzie says:

    My mouth is watering!!

    I posted this on my blog, let me know if you mind!

  13. lorchick @ ON{thelaundry}LINE says:

    Okay, no joke here, I read the title and I got a shiver up my spine and started to salivate.
    Apparently I'm gonna have to make this one.

  14. kelly says:

    thanx for sharing :0)

  15. Haven'sMama says:

    My grandma makes this every Christmas! It is SOO SO good, I am totally craving it now!!!!!!! Yummy. :)

  16. Christy's Closet says:

    Thanks so much! It looks so good I want to make a few batches. One for now, some for later. Looks great!

  17. Leanne says:

    yummy! thanks for sharing it!

  18. Monica Lifferth says:

    Wow, that looks fab. I too love cooking with cranberries. They are beautiful. Just so you are aware. I featured you on mine and my sister's blog today. I linked all pictures back to you. Thanks for sharing your talents. I love your blog.

  19. bedelia says:

    I don't even like cranberries but my pregnant self just decided that looks like the most crucial thing in the world for me to make right NOW. I just gotta get some cranberries.

  20. StrawberryBlond says:

    This looks divine. Do you think the batter would fit in a tube or bundt pan? Thank you so much for sharing!

  21. Brittany says:

    Christy's Closet- I have never tried it but I would think it would freeze fine. The sauce can keep in your fridge for a few weeks.
    Good Luck!

  22. sarah says:!YUM.

  23. Kimberly says:

    That looks delicious! Definitely adding to my "recipes to try" file.

  24. Arlene (CO Kid) says:

    On the way to buy cranberries now! Thanks!

  25. Chelsea says:

    GORGEOUS. Wow. These look amazing!

  26. Christy's Closet says:

    I am surely going to make this! Do you think it will freeze well?

  27. Emily says:

    this sounds delicious, will be on my menu for Thanksgiving for sure.

  28. LeSha says:

    "I am excited to try this version. We grew up with cranberry muffins with butter sauce." I think I like this little cake idea instead. Can hardly wait to try it.

  29. alacoco says:

    I am SO making this at Thanksgiving! You had me at "it will impress your mother-in-law"! :)

  30. Kelly says:

    That looks insanely good! I'm making it for sure! Thanks for sharing!

  31. Patty says:

    So pretty and making me hungry! I'm saving this to make this holiday! Thanks for sharing!

  32. SmallWorld at Home says:

    Oh my goodness! That looks amazing! I'll be trying that one for sure this year.

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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