Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

This delicious Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce is Fall comfort food at it’s best. Enjoy warm for a great fresh cranberry dessert!

It’s cranberry harvest season here in Central Ontario, so it seemed appropriate to enjoy a lovely fresh cranberry dessert with the first of the season’s crop. This Cranberry Cake is filled with cranberries, so it’s lovely bites of tart are perfectly complemented by the creamy warm vanilla sauce. It’s Fall comfort food at it’s best!

Flooded Cranberry Field

That said, did you know that cranberries freeze so beautifully! Cranberries require no preparation for the freezer at all. Freezing cranberries is as easy as just placing the bag you buy them in right in to the freezer. You’ll always have a ready supply of cranberries to use year round.

Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

Cook’s Notes for Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

Normally I suggest that the sauce could be optional, but in this case, I feel like this one is a package deal. The cake itself is so full of cranberries, that it lends to the tart side. The sweet and creamy sauce is what balances it out.

This one is best enjoyed with the sauce warm and the cake lightly warm. You can make both ahead and re-heat, as needed though.

More Fresh Cranberry Dessert Recipes from Seasons and Suppers

Cranberry Vanilla Muffins
Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Cranberry Swirl Bread

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Cranberry Cake with Vanilla Sauce

Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: christmas dessert recipe, cranberry dessert recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 9 servings
Energy: 470 kcal
Author: Jennifer

Delicious cranberry filled cake, served with a warm vanilla sauce. Best enjoyed served with a warm sauce and a lightly warm, freshly baked cake.




  • 3 Tbsp butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries thawed

Vanilla Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside.
  2. For the cake: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Fold in cranberries.
  3. Spoon batter in to prepared baking pan and smooth batter. Bake at 350° F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set on a cooling rack to cool slightly while you prepare the sauce.
  4. For the sauce: Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and immediately stir in 3/4 c. heavy whipping cream, vinegar and vanilla. Stir quickly until blended. Pour warm sauce over squares of slightly warm cake.
  5. Cake is best enjoyed with lightly warm cake topped with warm sauce. Left-overs can be re-warmed to enjoy later.

Cranberry Cake with Vanilla Sauce

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  • My daughter is allergic to corn, and white vinegar is derived from corn. Any idea what might work as a substitute?

  • Made this last weekend for dinner at a friends. I had 2 cups of cranberries still leftover from the holidays, so this was a great way to use them up. I decided since it should be served warm, that I would mix it up right before I left and take the unbaked cake over. I popped it in the oven while we were eating dinner. This was a perfect dessert for a party of 6 without having too much leftover, and without much fuss. I got compliments from everyone. I agree, the sauce is as much a part of the cake and should not be left out. Last night we had leftovers and I poured some of the sauce over the top and reheated in the microwave. The leftovers were delicious that way, so making ahead and reheating individual slices works well. I even think wrapping up individual slices in the freezer would be just as delicious.

    I used an 8×8 pan and cooked for a few minutes longer, but the recommended 9×9 pan would make a little less thick pieces and absorb the sauce better. This is an easy to make and unique cake that is pretty to serve. Even better, I was recently in Quebec and brought back some Maple Cream Liquor and Caramel Liquor with Maple Canadian Whiskey and served that along side the cake! Delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jennifer, I made this twice in one week! It has such awesome flavors…everyone raves about it and savors every bite! It’s great for breakfast without the sauce too! Thank you for the recipe, it will forever be in my file.

    • So glad you are enjoying this cake, Karen :) I am a huge fan of fresh cranberries in baking, so it’s a favourite of mine, too! Thanks!

  • I love it and I agree – a warm vanilla sauce is absolutely mandatory for this cake, or…any cake? Love the juxtaposition of the tart cranberries with the creamy sauce. Perfect for the holiday season!

  • Warm vanilla sauce sounds too appealing not to try and I can see why you advise not to skip it flavor balance wise. I had no idea that vinegar was an ingredient of it. Very cool! The picture of the cranberry lake is gorgeous. You are so lucky to live nearby such beauty (that can also be harvested:)!

    • Thanks so much, Milena! And yes, the cranberry harvest is a must visit every Fall. Especially since they make wine from them, too so they have a fun tour and tasting event :)

  • This looks spectacular Jennifer and I agree that delicious buttery sauce would not be optional! Such a perfect dessert for the season.
    I never knew cranberry bogs were so beautiful!

    • Hi Camille, I actually use vanilla bean paste myself, which offers the benefits of a vanilla bean, but more easily and economically :) That said, if you have vanilla beans on hand, they would definitely be nice here :)

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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