Cranberry sauce is a holiday classic, cherished for the tangy flavor and vibrant color it brings to the festive dinner spread. Traditionally served alongside roast turkey or other poultry, cranberry sauce is a delightful accompaniment for both sweet and savory dishes. With this classic favorite in mind, it’s time to introduce an innovative dessert that combines the fruity tartness of cranberries with the sweet decadence of cake: Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake.

Cranberry upside down cake

This lovely dessert begins with a luscious cranberry sauce base, prepared with fresh cranberries, sugar, and a hint of orange zest. The sauce is spread evenly at the bottom of a cake pan, creating a colorful foundation for the upside-down cake. The cake batter, featuring a perfect blend of butter, sugar, and other pantry staples, is poured atop the cranberry sauce, and then baked until golden brown.

Upon removing the cake from the oven, it is carefully inverted, revealing the striking, delicious layer of cranberry sauce now glistening at the top. Each bite of the Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake is a symphony of flavors – the sweet, tender crumb of the cake contrasting beautifully with the fruity tang of the cranberries. This dessert is not only visually appealing, but it is also a nod to the familiar taste of traditional holiday fare while still offering an exciting, new culinary experience. In short, you’re going to love it.

Ingredients for cranberry upside down cake


Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake: A Flavorful Twist on a Classic Dessert


Necessary Ingredients


The heart of this dessert lies in the cranberries. You will need:

  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce – They bring the tartness and vibrant red color to the cake.
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar – This helps balance the natural tartness of cranberries.
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans– Adds a subtle crunch.
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon orange zest – Gives your cranberry topping a bright, citrusy twist.

Mix the cranberries, sugars, and orange zest (if using) in a bowl and set aside.

Cake Batter

The cake batter is the base that holds the cranberry sauce. The essential ingredients are:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour – Provides structure to the cake.
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder – Acts as a leavening agent for a light and fluffy texture.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – Enhances the overall flavor of the batter.
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened – Adds to the rich flavor and moistness of the cake.
  • 1 cup sugar – Sweetens the batter.
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature – Improves the cake structure and texture.
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp orange zest 
  • 1/2 tbsp orange juice 
  • assorted spices

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in parts, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined.


Although the cranberry sauce is the star topping, you may also wish to add:

  • Powdered sugar (optional) – Once the cake has cooled, you can dust a light layer of powdered sugar on top for a touch of extra sweetness and a professional finish.
  • Whipped cream (optional) – Offer a dollop of whipped cream alongside each slice of the Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake to balance the tartness and add creaminess to each bite.

When all the ingredients are prepared, layer the cranberry sauce at the bottom of a greased cake pan, followed by the cake batter. Bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 40-50 minutes , or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool before flipping and serving with optional toppings.

Flipping the Cake: Techniques and Timing

Timing is essential when creating the perfect Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake. In this section, we will discuss the appropriate techniques to employ when flipping the cake, along with the optimal moment during the baking process.

The first step in the cake flipping process is to allow the cake to cool briefly. Remove the cake from the oven and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes to ensure it is no longer too hot to handle. However, it is crucial not to wait too long to prevent the caramelized cranberry sauce from hardening, which could cause the cake to stick to the pan.

Use a butterknife or a thin, flexible spatula to carefully loosen the cake edges from the sides of the pan without damaging the cake structure. This step will help the cake release more efficiently when it is flipped over.

Before inverting the cake, prepare a serving plate. It should be:

  1. Flat with a slight edge for collecting any syrup overflow
  2. Larger than the cake pan to accommodate the expanding syrup

Next comes the actual flipping. Follow these steps to ensure a successful flip:

  1. Place the serving plate over the cake pan, holding it tightly against the pan.
  2. Hold onto both the plate and pan.
  3. Swiftly and confidently turn the entire assembly upside down.
  4. Gently tap the bottom and sides of the pan to loosen the cake further.
  5. Carefully lift the pan, revealing the beautifully arranged cranberries on top of the cake.


Cranberry upside down cake Serving Suggestions

Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake is a versatile dessert that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here are a few serving suggestions to consider:

Classic Approach: For a tried and tested approach, serve your Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. The coolness of the ice cream or whipped cream will perfectly complement the warm cake and tangy cranberry sauce.

Festive Twist: If you’re serving this delicious cake during the holiday season, consider adding a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top to imitate the look of fresh fallen snow. You can also garnish the cake with a few fresh cranberries and sprigs of rosemary for a touch of festiveness.

Here are a few drink pairing options:

Type Drink Note
Hot Mulled Wine The warm spices will complement the cake’s flavors.
Cold Sparkling Cranberry Juice The bubbles and tartness will balance the cake’s sweetness.

Tea or Coffee Pairings: Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake pairs well with a variety of teas and coffees. For teas, consider a black tea with hints of citrus or a chai tea for a spicy contrast. For coffee lovers, a medium roast with chocolate notes or a cinnamon-flavored coffee would be excellent choices.

Finally, when serving, you can further enhance the presentation by placing the cake on a decorative cake stand or a platter. This will elevate the presentation and make your Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake the star of any gathering or event.

Storage and Leftovers

Storing your Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake properly ensures that it maintains its flavor, texture, and freshness for several days. Follow these simple tips to make the most out of your delicious creation.

Initial Cooling: After baking, allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes before removing it from the pan. This will prevent damages to the cake structure while handling.

For Short-Term Storage:

  1. Room Temperature: Place the cake in an airtight container or cover it with a cake dome. Store it at room temperature for up to 3 days. Keep away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
  2. Refrigerator: Wrap the cake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Be sure to keep it in a low-humidity environment to retain its texture.
Storage Option Duration
Room Temperature up to 3 days
Refrigerator up to 5 days

For Long-Term Storage:

  • Freezer: Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then in an airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. Label and date it, then store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To enjoy, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours.

When it comes to leftovers, this cake is even more delightful the next day as the flavors meld and develop. This cranberry sauce upside down cake is perfect for enjoying breakfasts, snacks, or desserts!

Variations and Substitutes

Cranberry sauce upside down cake offers several opportunities to customize according to your taste preferences, dietary restrictions, or the ingredients you have on hand.

Fruit variations: If cranberries are not your favorite or not available, you can try other fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, or even sliced apples.

Flour substitutes: For those who follow a gluten-free diet, try using a gluten-free flour blend in place of all-purpose flour. Similarly, if you are looking for a healthier option, you can replace half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.

Sweeteners: To make the cake healthier, consider using natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. Make sure to adjust the quantity as their sweetness levels can differ from regular granulated sugar.

Here are some common ingredient substitutions presented in a table:

Original Ingredient Substitute
All-purpose flour Gluten-free flour
Granulated sugar Coconut sugar
Vegetable oil Applesauce
Buttermilk Milk + vinegar/lemon

Various toppings: To add another layer of taste and texture to your upside-down cake, consider a variety of toppings. Some popular options include whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or a simple dusting of powdered sugar.

Cranberry upside down cake

Cranberry Sauce Upside Down Cake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6



  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce


  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/2 cup milk


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cake pan with nonstick baking spray or rub the with butter or crisco.
  • Make the topping. Stir together the softened butter, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. Spread the mixture in the bottom of the pan.
  • Layer the cranberry sauce over the top of the sugar-butter-pecan mixture and set the pan aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.7. Beat in the orange juice and orange zest.
  • Add the dry ingredients and milk, alternating the two ingredients and beating after each addition, until all the ingredients have been added.
  • Carefully spread the cake batter over the top of the cranberry sauce in the baking pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for around 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and carefully invert the pan onto a serving dish and allow the cake to cool completely before serving.
Keyword dessert

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make a Cranberry Upside Down Cake using a box mix?

Yes, it is possible to make a Cranberry Upside Down Cake using a box mix. Simply prepare the box cake mix as per the instructions and layer the cranberry sauce at the bottom of the cake pan. Pour the batter over the cranberry sauce and bake as directed. Adjust the baking time, if needed, to ensure the cake is cooked through.

How do you reduce the tartness in a Cranberry Sauce for a cake?

To reduce the tartness in a cranberry sauce for a cake, you can add sugar or a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup to taste. Alternatively, you could incorporate sweeter fruits such as apples or pears into the cranberry sauce to balance out the tartness.

What’s the best way to serve a Cranberry Upside Down Cake?

The best way to serve a Cranberry Upside Down Cake is slightly warm, allowing the flavors to meld together. You can pair the cake with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you prefer a lighter option, simply dust the cake with powdered sugar before serving.

How can you enhance a store-bought Cranberry Sauce for a cake recipe?

Enhancing a store-bought cranberry sauce for a cake recipe is simple. You can add fresh or frozen cranberries to the sauce for added texture and flavor. You can also mix in spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or orange zest for a unique twist. Additional sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar can be added to taste if you prefer a sweeter sauce.

Is it possible to make a Cranberry Upside Down Cake in a cast iron skillet, and if so, how?

Yes, it is possible to make a Cranberry Upside Down Cake in a cast iron skillet. First, preheat your oven and grease the skillet well. Spread the cranberry sauce evenly on the bottom of the skillet and pour the prepared cake batter over the sauce. Bake in the preheated oven, keeping a close eye on the cooking progress, as cast iron retains heat differently than traditional baking pans. Allow the cake to cool slightly before carefully inverting it onto a serving plate.

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