Cranberry Walnut Bread is a soft and chewy, slightly sweet, holiday yeast bread with dried cranberries and walnuts. Easy step-by-step instructions to knead by hand or stand mixer makes this recipe great for bread beginners!
Cranberry Nut Bread is the ultimate simple, special occasion holiday bread that's plump, tender, and easy to love. Dried cranberries, aka craisins, and a little sugar add a touch of sweetness, while chopped walnuts add savory crunch. Serve cranberry bread toasted with butter or brie cheese. Or use it for turkey sandwiches!
If you're new to making yeast bread, never fear. This cranberry nut bread recipe is written for bread beginners, just like my classic French bread. Use active dry yeast or instant yeast, knead by hand or use a stand mixer, and proof the dough in the Instant Pot or at room temperature.
Ingredient amounts are listed in the printable recipe card below.
- warm water - see recipe card for temperature
- active dry yeast OR rapid rise yeast packet
- unbleached all purpose flour
- sugar - any kind of dry sugar can be used
- sea salt
- olive oil - or preferred oil
- dried cranberries - do not use fresh cranberries for this recipe
- walnuts - or preferred nuts
How to make cranberry walnut bread
Here's a brief overview. Visit the printable recipe card below for detailed instructions.
- Combine water and yeast (activate yeast if needed).
- Add sugar, salt, olive oil, flour, dried cranberries, and walnuts.
- Mix and knead the dough with a stand mixer or by hand.
- 1st proofing (allow dough to double in size).
- Deflate and reshape to prep for 2nd proofing.
- 2nd proofing (optional but recommended for gluten development).
- Deflate and shape dough into final form (French baguette, oval, round, or loaf).
- Final proofing (allow the final form to expand before baking).
- Bake the French loaf.
- Cool and store.
Kneading yeasted dough
All of my yeast bread recipes offer the option to knead dough by hand or use a stand mixer. My French bread recipe post is where you'll find instructions for both methods.
This series of images gives you an idea of how to work the dough once it becomes more cohesive after the ingredients have been mixed.
Proofing: an essential step
You can proof yeast dough in the Instant Pot! It's pretty amazing how quickly you can rise dough, regardless of room temperature. Don't worry, you can always proof the dough using traditional methods if you don't have an Instant Pot.
Shaping the dough: loaf or free form
You can shape yeast dough however you like! After the second proofing, you'll shape the dough into a loaf pan and bake, or create a free form (like the rounds you see in this recipe) and bake on a parchment-covered baking sheet. You can also shape into baguettes and bake on a baguette pan or baking sheet. Always leave leave enough space around free forms to double in size before baking.
How to serve cranberry walnut bread
- sliced and toasted with your favorite soft cheese (cream cheese, brie, etc)
- use for roast turkey breast sandwiches during holiday season
- turn leftover bread into crostini for appetizers or croutons for salads
- make French toast
More cranberry recipes
- Cranberry Brie Crostini
- Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice
- Pear Cranberry Apple Crisp
- Pomegranate Cranberry Relish
Cranberry Walnut Bread
Yields about 2 lbs. dough (850 g)
- 1 ½ cups Warm Water (315 g), see instructions for temperature
- 1 packet Quick Rise Instant Yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, reserve 2 tsp for proofing
- 3 ⅓ cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour (530 g), not packed down
- 1 cup Dried Cranberries (Craisins), coarsely chopped
- ½ cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped
- measuring cup and spoons
- your hands (if not using a stand mixer to knead)
- see 'optional' equipment in recipe footnotes
- Combine *WARM WATER and YEAST in mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.* Active Dry Yeast needs 100°F - 110°F water temperature. Combine and allow 5 minute rest until yeast activates.* Quick Rise Instant Yeast needs 120°F - 130°F water temperature. Combine and proceed to step 2.
- Add SUGAR, SALT, OLIVE OIL, FLOUR, CRANBERRIES, and WALNUTS to the mixing bowl (reserve 1/3 cup flour to assist mixing).Stir ingredients together with a utensil (or stand mixer on low speed) until a shaggy dough forms.
- Mix and knead dough with your hands (or stand mixer on low speed) about 5 minutes until it becomes stretchy and pliable. During mixing, sprinkle tiny amounts of the reserved flour into the bowl to prevent sticking.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a tight, round form, tucking the sides under to form a seam on the bottom.
- Perform 1st proof/rise by placing dough in an oil-coated mixing bowl (or Instant Pot), seam side down. Cover with a towel or draped plastic wrap and allow to double in size (about 45 min).
- Deflate the dough (aka punch it down) to remove air bubbles. You can move on to the next step, or...Perform 2nd proof/rise by shaping the dough into a tight round and repeat step 5. (The 2nd proof/rise is optional, but recommended to further develop texture and flavor)
- Preheat oven to 375°F and let's shape these loaves...Transfer the dough onto lightly floured surface. Press to deflate air pockets and divide dough into 2 or 3 equal sections.Press each piece into a loose rectangle shape.Fold and press dough into itself until it becomes tight while forming it into the final shape (baguette, loaf, or round).Transfer to a prepared baking sheet or loaf pan. Brush surface with olive oil and cover to prevent air exposure.
- Perform final proof/rise by resting forms in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size.Score the dough by making 1/4” slits across each loaf with a razor or knife.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating as needed for even browning.The bread will be golden brown. It should register an internal temperature of 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Transfer loaves onto a cooling rack and rest 5 minutes.Remove loaves from pans and rest on the cooling rack until completely cooled (to retain moisture).Store cooled bread in a plastic bag or airtight container up to 2 days at room temperature or 5 days in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes from TKG
- digital scale - weigh ingredients and bread dough
- Instant Pot - for proofing dough
- dough whisk - combines dough ingredients before kneading
- bowl scraper - helps remove sticky dough from mixing bowl
- sandwich loaf pan or baguette pan - helps shape and add height to loaves
- bread knife - serrated edges will cut straight lines
Nutrition data provided as courtesy estimates using unbranded ingredients from a nutrition database. Please consult preferred resource for precise data.