Orange and Cranberry Cornbread Recipe

Honey the balances out the tart fresh cranberries and bright orange zest in this Northern-style cornbread.

Cross-section view of orange cranberry cornbread.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why It Works

  • Preheating the pan and coating it with butter creates a dark crust with a light nutty flavor.
  • Adding honey enhances the sweetness, which balances out the tart cranberries.
  • Using sour cream along with buttermilk increases the mild tanginess and overall flavor of the bread.
  • Adding a little oil to the batter results in a more cake-like moistness.

If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving twist on Northern-style cornbread, this one was inspired by my cranberry sauce experience. I picked up a bag of fresh cranberries and roughly chopped a cup of them to mix into my batter.

Knife-chopped fresh cranberries on a wooden cutting board.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Since fresh cranberries are so tart, I upped the sweetness level to balance things out. I started by swapping the white sugar for light brown sugar, to impart a little molasses flavor, and then added 1/3 cup of honey on top that. Finally, since cranberry and orange have been such a great pair in my cranberry sauces, I added in the zest from one orange to cash in on that fruitful marriage.

This ended up being one of my favorites of all of the cornbread recipes I made (if you’d like to make a few more variations, try maple walnut, jalapeño, roasted red pepper, or cheddar bacon scallion). The honey adds a really nice sweetness, while the brown sugar gives that light molasses touch I was looking for. Both are enough to keep the cranberries from coming across as bitter or astringent. Instead, they're transformed into pleasing pockets of mild tartness that contrast brightly with the otherwise sweet bread.

November 2014

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 40 mins
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

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  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly, plus 1 additional tablespoon for pan

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cranberries

  • 1 tablespoon zest from 1 orange


  1. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C). In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, honey, eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and canola oil. Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Stir in cranberries and orange zest.

    Whisking orange cranberry cornbread batter.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  2. Using pot holders, carefully remove hot pan from oven. Place 1 tablespoon butter in skillet and swirl to completely melt and coat inside of pan. Pour in cornbread batter and place in oven. Bake until skewer inserted into middle of cornbread comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out to wire rack and let cool an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Reheat any leftover cornbread before serving again.

    Orange Cranberry Cornbread in a cast-iron skillet with a slice removed to reveal cross-section

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Special Equipment

10-inch cast iron skillet

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
283 Calories
12g Fat
40g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 283
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 60mg 20%
Sodium 373mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 105mg 8%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 131mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)