Lemon and cranberry cake recipe

(587 ratings)

This lemon and cranberry cake is flecked with lemon zest and drizzled with a lemon syrup to make it wonderfully moist and moreish.

lemon and cranberry cake
(Image credit: Future)
  • Nut-free
  • Vegetarian
  • healthy
Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories236 Kcal12%
Fat10.9 g16%
Sugars21.7 g24%
Saturated Fat6.5 g33%
Protein2.6 g5%
Carbohydrates31.5 g12%

Our lemon and cranberry cake is easy to slice into portions for lunch boxes, picnics, parties, or bake sales. 

If you like the flavours of lemon drizzle cake but want to try something a little different these cubes of cranberry cake are ideal. The cranberries add a lovely chew and bring some additional sourness to compliment the sweet glaze and sponge. 


  • 175g (6oz) butter, softened
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour
  • 3 medium eggs
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 170g dried cranberries
  • 4-6tbsp granulated sugar




  1. Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan, Gas 5). Grease and line a rectangular or square cake tin. We used a 26 x 16.5cm tin. Ensure there is a little overhang of paper on both sides to make it easier to lift the cake out once cooked.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, lemon zest and milk in a bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in cranberries.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes or until the cake has risen, is golden on top and springs back when lightly touched.
  4. While the cake is still hot, sprinkle over the granulated sugar and drizzle with lemon juice. Leave to cool completely, then cut it into 15 cubes.

Top tips for making lemon and cranberry cake

Cranberries are often associated with Christmas but you can make this cake all year around. If you want an alternative you could swap for dried cherries or even just sultanas. The cake will last for a few days without deteriorating in quality if stored in an airtight container. For more tips relating to this cranberry cake recipe, please read below. 

How do you soften cranberries for baking?

If you want the cranberries to break down a little when they are baked in the cake you could soften them before stirring into the cake batter. Simply pour over a little hot water and leave to soak while you beat together the butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Drain before stirring through. You could also soften the cranberries in some alcohol or tea for extra flavour. 

What flavours go well with cranberry?

In this cake recipe you could swap the lemon for orange if you prefer. You could also add a quarter teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary to give the cake a subtle herby flavour. It sounds like an unusual combination but trust us, herbs are for sweet recipes too! 

Decoration ideas for lemon and cranberry cake

If you want something a little fancier than just the granulated sugar topping in this recipe, try making a simple icing instead. You could use a dash of cranberry juice instead of water and mix with icing sugar until smooth. It will give a subtle pink colour and a more sour flavour. You could decorate the top with flaked almonds or thin slices of candied lemon. Food writer Jessica Ransom says: ‘A fresh grating of lemon zest is a simple and effective way to decorate your cake and it helps give a clue as to the flavour of the cake.’ 

For this recipe you’ll need a large mixing bowl to combine all the cake batter ingredients. We like this classic design from Mason Cash. It makes a lovely gift for the baker in your life too.

Mason Cash Mixing Bowl 29cm - View at M&S

Mason Cash Mixing Bowl 29cm - <a href="https://www.awin1.com/awclick.php?awinmid=1402&awinaffid=103504&clickref=hawk-custom-tracking&p=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.marksandspencer.com%2Fmason-cash-29cm-mixing-bowl%2Fp%2Fhbp60483045%3FprevPage%3Dsrp#intid=plpnav_pid_pg1pip3g4r1c1" data-link-merchant="awin1.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">View at M&S

The timeless design of this mixing bowl is one of the reasons Food Editor Jessica Dady likes it most. It is a great size for big cake batters or bread doughs and is dishwasher safer for easy cleaning. The pattern on the outside is also functional as it helps you grip the bowl as you mix ingredients together. 

If you’re looking for something with more summery flavours, try out lemon ice cream cake. If it’s peach season our lemon and peach cake is another must-bake. For something that’s suitable at any time of year, our lemon cake with olive oil is a winner. It’s easy to bake and actually improves in flavours after a few days without losing any of the moist texture. 

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.