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Cranberry Layer Cake Recipe

Cranberry Layer Cake Recipe

I adapted a Bundt cake recipe to create this layer cake. Cranberries, walnuts and homemade frosting make it taste so delicious that you'd never guess it starts with a convenient cake mix. —Sandy Burkett, Galena, Ohio
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling YIELD:12 servings


  • 1 package white cake mix (regular size)
  • 1-1/3 cups water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts


  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of two greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment paper; grease paper. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients; beat on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pans.
  • 2. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  • 3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar and orange peel until smooth. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with walnuts. Refrigerate leftovers.
    Freeze option: Wrap cooled cake layers in plastic wrap, then cover securely in foil; freeze. To use, thaw cakes before unwrapping. Assemble as directed. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 608 calories, 33g fat (12g saturated fat), 94mg cholesterol, 423mg sodium, 72g carbohydrate (52g sugars, 2g fiber), 8g protein.

Reviews for Cranberry Layer Cake

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jkosio01 User ID: 2489237 243780
Reviewed Feb. 14, 2016

"Outstanding! I made this as directed, then again as cupcakes for my daughter-in-laws baby shower. Everyone loved the cup cakes! Thanks so much for this recipe. It is a keeper."

sallyjojo User ID: 5675269 240739
Reviewed Dec. 31, 2015

"What a FABULOUS cake. Delicious!! Not too heavy after a big Christmas dinner. Thanks for sharing!!!"

glenda melvin User ID: 1385140 240027
Reviewed Dec. 23, 2015

"Wish I could give it more than 5 stars. This cake is so delicious with the hint of orange in the frosting and the cake and the cranberries are perfect in this cake. The walnuts add just the right taste to go with the other flavors. My husband asked me to make this to take to the family Christmas dinner!"

KittieCatt User ID: 6154720 238162
Reviewed Nov. 26, 2015

"This cake sounds pretty good, but 'what's-up' with having to bake it in 2 pans? Can you possibly bake it in one pan?"

VijiP User ID: 8501278 238056
Reviewed Nov. 25, 2015

"Great cake"

Talq User ID: 5289253 238011
Reviewed Nov. 24, 2015

"This cake is absolutely, bar none, one of the best I have ever eaten. My family loves it so much, they rarely ask for any other cake. It is easy to prepare, delicious and makes a beautiful presentation."

Elora47 User ID: 2923037 214536
Reviewed Dec. 10, 2014 Edited Dec. 14, 2015

"Great cake...I have made this cake twice. It is better without the nuts in the cake. I also increased the oil to 1/2 cup the first time I made it. The second time I used a stick of melted butter, which we like better."

Paulas40 User ID: 6107542 214462
Reviewed Dec. 10, 2014


annellis35 User ID: 8129226 39820
Reviewed Nov. 27, 2014

"I made this cake today for Thanksgiving. Yum!! ??"

Cklee1403 User ID: 7760621 54099
Reviewed Nov. 15, 2014

"This cake was delicious and pretty simple to make. I didn't change anything except made it in a 9x13 pan my layer cake never turn out like the pictures. definitely a keeper"

grandmaconnie User ID: 519775 86483
Reviewed Nov. 11, 2014

"I made this for my senior coffee club and everyone loved it! I made it in a 9x13 pan because it was easier to tote. The frosting was great. I used low fat cream cheese and did not add as much powdered sugar as it calls for. I am going to make it again for my bunco group."

MsPattyinLoveland User ID: 5671128 82561
Reviewed Nov. 11, 2014

"OMG I was SOOO excited to see this posted. I lost my original publication a couple of years ago and couldn't remember the whole instructions/ingredients. This wass a classic at our Christmas dinner and will be once again. I would make a 6" size and then mini cupcakes so that those worrying about the nutritional values could at least get a savoring moment. I don't know how it freezes as to the fact we never have anything left to freeze. I'm so glad this showed up again. I as well will get fresh crans and freeze them for when they are not available. Don't change ANY thing in the way this is prepared. It's perfect the way it is."

SimpleFoods User ID: 7160373 86482
Reviewed Nov. 11, 2014

"This sounds great, will make it in a 13 x 9 because I find them easier, less work, to make, to serve, etc. The frosting? I may have to make a separate batch of that to eat without the cake!! I'm giving this a 4-star just because I know that frosting - am addicted to it, in a word.

To sunni56 who asked about dried cranberries that she got by mistake for this cake: there are many, many recipes for baked goods that call for dried cranberries, so I don't see why you can't use them. Maybe put them in really hot water first - just until they start to plump up? Good luck!
And by the way, sunni56 - kudos to you for your honesty and admitting (with one star) that you had not yet tried the recipe but were brave enough to try it even though you'd have to make some adjustments."

mindysmama User ID: 6929696 53108
Reviewed Nov. 11, 2014

"What a great idea mrs.stuart I also live alone and I am going to use your cupcake idea. Did you frost them? I am going to make this on the weekend."

mrs.stuart User ID: 137043 132353
Reviewed Nov. 11, 2014

"made into cupcakes and froze them so I can just take one out when I have a snack attack. I live alone so it is perfect. Yummy. Thanks for the recipe."

MCOTTERILL User ID: 1491706 65640
Reviewed Nov. 11, 2014

"Has anyone tried making this in a bundt pan?"

dzz1qy User ID: 6636475 53105
Reviewed Oct. 26, 2014


Donnamae54871 User ID: 6321391 120278
Reviewed Sep. 28, 2014

"This cake is excellent and so easy to make. I chose to use a 9x13 pan for mine. I have made it for several church functions, and even doubled it a couple of times. I always get requests for the recipe. I always add an extra egg to me cake recipes. :)"

nekowaif User ID: 6996509 112571
Reviewed Jan. 29, 2014

"Delicious, especially the frosting! Definitely a keeper."

Loweta User ID: 7413576 205233
Reviewed Jan. 13, 2014

"This cake was fantastic. I have made it twice and everyone that had it loved it. Really easy to make also."

Deborah C User ID: 7069566 88920
Reviewed Jan. 3, 2014 Edited Dec. 6, 2014

"This is sooo good and for those wondering if it can be adapted for a bundt pan, I have only made this using a bundt pan and no changes were made except for baking time, I baked for 35 then checked every 5 mins till tester came out clean...Thanks for a keeper!"

DJ2Fan User ID: 6713910 132293
Reviewed Dec. 28, 2013

"One of my friends who I shared this cake with exclaimed, "This should be our traditional Christmas cake!" This cake is delicious, the presentation is beautiful, and the icing is divine! It was a hit at Christmas and I will surely make it again next year!"

tourmaline57 User ID: 7137470 54097
Reviewed Dec. 27, 2013

"Thank you Sandy Burkett!!!!This is the quintessential holiday cake.Perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas,All the opulence of fruitcake but minus the heaviness and density.Follow the recipe to the letter.Do not substitute a single thing.Perfection.So easy if you use your food processor to chop and a stand mixer or handmixer to beat.The frosting is the perfect amount to generously cover and fill the layers.Sandy you are so wonderful to share this.It will be a tradition in our home,and the homes of my two daughters.Note aside:Fresh cranberries freeze very well in their bags.The food processor chops them coarsely even when frozen,just pop them in.xxoo"

kirra64 User ID: 7365619 39788
Reviewed Dec. 26, 2013

"Wonderful, easy and a certain crowd pleaser! Loved the tanginess! This is a keeper and I've already frozen cranberries so I can make this multiple times even when cranberries aren't in season. Kept to the recipe as written, but might have added a little more orange peel :) Thanks for the recipe!"

lbroadh2o User ID: 7201056 39475
Reviewed Dec. 25, 2013

"Made this cake for Christmas. It was a hit. Even the folks who normally don't eat much cake raved about it. I followed the directions exactly. I will definitely make it again."

rock111 User ID: 2691736 39474
Reviewed Dec. 23, 2013

"Fabulous taste; beautiful presentation; easy to make...a real keeper!! All cakes seem to freeze beautifully, never have had a problem. I did not and would not change a thing...sure, has sugar and fat...but don't eat that stuff often, so just enjoy it when I do."

eelder3363 User ID: 4850484 205232
Reviewed Dec. 22, 2013

"Going to make this Tuesday. Thinking about making jumbo cupcakes instead of a layer cake, thoughts?"

RosannTSarka User ID: 6447612 205231
Reviewed Dec. 18, 2013

"Does anyone have any experience with freezing this? It would be great to be able to make this about a week ahead of Christmas and take it out for the big day. Thanks!"

Newmans5 User ID: 7544377 65638
Reviewed Dec. 17, 2013

"Seriously 'sunnie56' if you haven't made it why would you give it a 1 star. The least you could do is be neutral with a 3 until you do. Also, there is a reason for fresh or frozen cranberries, you need to at least reconstitute your dried but the original is better. This is a great cake, the combination of cranberries and sweetness of the frosting is fantastic. I don't always like nuts in a dessert but they go great in this one. If your not a big fan try reducing to 1/2 cup of nuts or put in only half the cake"

hadunfey75 User ID: 3853404 44871
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2013

"You shouldn't have to make to many adjustments for a a normal box cake mix fits its a 9x 13 perfectly, with room to spare. Maybe put in 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup each nuts and berries instead of a full cup of each to start."

Sueszoo User ID: 416469 120273
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2013

"I have not tried this recipe yet, but am giving it 5 star, based on the other comments and so the ratings aren't skewed. Can anyone give me the adjustments to make this in a 9x13" pan? I'd love to make this for Christmas!"

Marikita1 User ID: 7500146 54096
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2013

"It is so good ! Thanks for a great recipe! I am making this for our Christmas dinner!!!!"

suzannahnoelle User ID: 5787204 88919
Reviewed Dec. 14, 2013

"For those wondering about lowering the fat and cholesterol, as mommylulu pointed out, you can substitute applesauce for the oil. Also, I use only egg whites in my cakes and brownies. They always turn out wonderfully moist."

sunnie56 User ID: 2360539 60121
Reviewed Dec. 12, 2013

"Only one star, since I haven't made it yet, but sounds yummy. I also want to know if I can make this in a 9 x 13 pan or bundt pan? And how long would I bake it? I also bought dried cranberries by mistake. Can I just use them like they are or do I have to reconstitute them? Thanks."

lilmistakesimake User ID: 7503612 54095
Reviewed Dec. 5, 2013

"I made this cake today. ..was very skeptical how sour it would be with the fresh chopped cranberries having to use 1 cup per small cake box batter....well I must say once I icing the 2 round cakes with the lovely sweet cream cheese frosting it mellowed out all that tanginess and made a scrumptious cake. time though I will use 2 white boxed cake mixes to make my 2 layers more thick. This recipe is a great cake for the Holidays. ..I can't wait for my hubby to get home to have a slice. Or 2!"

tammylj User ID: 7158337 88916
Reviewed Dec. 3, 2013

"Love love love"

joyousdeeous User ID: 2079311 205230
Reviewed Dec. 3, 2013

"LOVELY HOLIDAY CAKE! I made it in a bundt pan & it turned out beautifully. You can still cut the bundt in half & frost between layers but I just frosted the bundt cake as a whole."

carolanne1210 User ID: 3617870 112570
Reviewed Dec. 3, 2013

"Delicious...I'm not a big fan of cake mixes, but my family and I loved this cake."

Pressurecook User ID: 6662024 205229
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013

"I will have to try for the next pot luck at church. Looks great."

plytmkutr User ID: 2703882 36698
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013

"Have not yet tried it but I have the same question as another person. I am not good with layer cakes. Would there be any changes to make it in a bundt pan or 9x13 dish?"

Deblyn1 User ID: 7016731 60120
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013 Edited Dec. 3, 2013

"Really good recipe. I'm going to try using less sugar in the cream cheese, because I have a similar recipe that calls for that much sugar in the cream cheese as stated above and it's very sweet, plus the cake mix is already very sweet. Has anyone tried less sugar? :)"

ginny3235 User ID: 3407760 36696
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013

"What a great recipe for overcoming the rut of apple, chocolate, angel and yellow cakes! I have a wonderful cranberry salad recipe that calls for ground or chopped cranberries and use my food processor and chop while frozen - much easier!"

mommylulu User ID: 3086623 82345
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013

"Sounds yummy but can I omit the walnuts? Many in my family don't like walnuts. Also, have you ever used applesauce to replace the oil?"

Suzanne60ok User ID: 5615943 36695
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013

"Can this cake be baked as a bundt cake? Any changes? How long to bake? It sounds wonderful. Can't wait to try it. seems I have to rate it before I can submit that's why only 3 stars"

cmmagnusen User ID: 4640880 118693
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013

"Any low cholesterol /low fat adaption suggestions ?


TeAta User ID: 1240797 132292
Reviewed Feb. 8, 2013

"I found this recipe on the cover of Taste of Home for Christmas 2011. I have made it several times and everytime it is marlevous and I get so many complements.

I will make it many more times."

heatherbeaver User ID: 739214 53050
Reviewed Dec. 21, 2012

"Simple and delicous! Very most cake. Great for the holidays or anytime. Will definitely make again."

jackiet3002 User ID: 1087366 118692
Reviewed Nov. 9, 2012

"Delicious cake--nice and moist. Pretty too with the red speckles throughout. Was not too sure about trying this since I always make my cakes from scratch. It made a believer out of me."

ladymikega User ID: 4367515 44846
Reviewed Jan. 23, 2012

"In as word -- AWESOME!!"

ldwarner User ID: 2491102 54094
Reviewed Jan. 27, 2011

"Baking has been my passion for the past 30 years. I'm constantly trying new recipes and adding only the most outstanding to my collection. When I read, it's usually about cooking and recipes. I'm known for my delicious desserts and love to share them with family and friends. This cake is an absolute winner! Don't skimp on the the orange zest, I used an entire large orange and the taste is so fresh. This cake is light and the flavor pops in your mouth. My 25 yr old son has never liked cake and has always requested pie or another dessert from his birthdays. Well, I made this for Christmas and after being coaxed by his new bride, he reluctantly tried it and was an instant fan. My husband and 2 other children loved it as well. I gave it out as Christmas gifts using my "cake in a jar" recipe and it's been a hit! Love, love, love this recipe!! Thank you for sharing."

juliesprincess User ID: 1363224 205228
Reviewed Mar. 7, 2010

"Very good!

Lots of compliments."

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