Gluten Free Cranberry Cornbread

Gluten Free Cranberry Cornbread

This tart and sweet gluten free cranberry cornbread, made with our Jiffy-style mix as a base, is sure to become a new holiday favorite. 

Closeup image of just baked gluten free cranberry cornbread.

How to make this gluten free cranberry cornbread

This isn’t a one-bowl recipe, but it’s close. It’s a two-bowl recipe. ??It’s worth that extra bowl, though. 

Since cornbread is meant to be a bit denser than a classic quick bread, we don’t go through the whole process of beating the butter, sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy first. All purpose flour doesn’t (and shouldn’t) add any flavor to baked goods, but cornmeal adds texture and flavor.

The tart and sweet cranberries make the bread beautiful and flavorful, and the buttermilk softens the texture just a bit. Thick slices of this bread would make a lovely addition to any holiday plate.  

To make this bread, whisk the wet ingredients (buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs) together vigorously before combining them with the other ingredients. In a large bowl, place the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt), plus the granulated sugar, and whisk them to combine. Then, add the cranberries so they get coated in those dry ingredients. That helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the bread during baking.

The batter should be mixed just until it’s combined. The corn has its own sort of (perfectly safe) gluten, and if you work it too much, the cornbread will be tough. 

Images of batter for gluten free cranberry cornbread.

Grinding yellow cornmeal into more of a corn flour

My standard cornbread recipe is our old fashioned naturally gluten free cornbread, made only with coarsely ground yellow cornmeal. That classic recipe calls for no all purpose gluten free flour at all. It has tons of texture, and has rounded out many soups, stews, and chili meals in my house over the years. 

This recipe for gluten free cranberry cornbread is a completely different kind of recipe, based on our gluten free Jiffy-style cornbread. Since this recipe is baked in a loaf pan, and not as muffins, it’s important that the batter be light enough to rise without adding an excessive amount of baking powder or too many eggs. 

Much like I refuse to buy more than one form of gluten free oats, preferring to grind my own a little bit for quick-cooking oats or a lot for oat flour, I won’t buy more than one type of cornmeal. I buy only coarsely-ground yellow cornmeal from Bob’s Red Mill brand (make sure you buy the variety that’s gluten free!).

When I want something finer, I grind it myself in a blender or food processor. Cornmeal is coarsely ground corn, and corn flour is finely ground corn. So I take my coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, and give it a spin. 

Cornstarch is a powder made from only the starch in the endosperm of the corn grain. I’m a baker not a chemist ?so I buy cornstarch. ?

Overhead image of just baked gluten free cranberry cornbread

How tart do you like your cranberries?

This is a very simple recipe that doesn’t call for a stand mixer—or even a handheld mixer. A handheld whisk, a couple bowls, and a spoon are all you need.

We’ve covered why I’m asking you to grind your cornmeal a bit more. Now I’m going to ask you if you’d consider tossing your fresh cranberries in a couple of tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar before adding them to the cornbread batter.

Fresh cranberries are suuuuper tart. That’s why dried cranberries, unlike raisins, almost always have added sugar. In our classic recipe for gluten free cranberry bread, we don’t add extra sweetener to the cranberries, but we slice them in half—and that recipe has more sugar in the batter. 

If you try tossing your cranberries in granulated sugar, you’ll find that it simply doesn’t stick without first coating them in a sugar syrup. Rather than going through all that trouble here, I like to toss the fresh berries in just a bit of very finely-ground confectioners’ sugar. It sticks just enough to soften the tartness of the berries. But it is an entirely optional step.

Overhead image of partially sliced gluten free cranberry cornbread.

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy: There are two types of dairy in this recipe, and they should both be replaceable. You should be able to replace the buttermilk with half plain non-dairy yogurt and half non-dairy milk. You can also use that same combination with dairy-containing ingredients if you can have dairy but just don’t have buttermilk on hand.

You should be able to replace the melted butter with an equal amount, by weight, of my favorite vegan butter, Melt brand, or even with Earth Balance buttery sticks. If you do use Earth Balance, I’d recommend reducing the milk by 2 tablespoons and only adding them back if the batter seems too thick (based upon the look of the batter in the photos and video in this post). 

Eggs: There are two eggs in this recipe. They should be able to be replaced with one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) each. 

Corn products: There are two different types of corn products in this gluten free cornbread: cornmeal and cornstarch. If you can’t have corn at all, since this is a cornbread I’m afraid I don’t think this is an appropriate recipe for you.

I have heard of replacing cornmeal with ground millet, but I haven’t ever tried it and am very skeptical. If you do try that replacement, you can replace the cornstarch with arrowroot or potato starch.

Please see the discussion above about the yellow cornmeal in the recipe, which is ground again into a finer consistency. The bread still has texture, just not as much. 

Cranberries: You can (and I often do) use fresh cranberries that have been frozen in this recipe. Like frozen blueberries, frozen cranberries have a tendency to bleed into the rest of the batter. It’s a problem of appearances only, as it does not affect the taste at all.

If you’re using frozen cranberries, keep them frozen until moments before you are ready to add them to the dry ingredients in the recipe. Remove them from the freezer, measure them out, and toss them with the (optional) sugar right before adding them to the batter. That will help minimize bleeding. 


Images of gluten free cranberry cornbread dry ingredients, raw batter, and baked bread.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 loaf quick bread


1 cup (8 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

1 1/4 cups (175 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch

1 cup (132 g) gluten free yellow cornmeal, ground in a blender or food processor to a finer consistency

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar, plus about 2 tablespoons (about 24 g) more for sprinkling

1 cup (100 g) fresh whole cranberries, plus about 2 tablespoons (about 15 g) more for sprinkling

2 tablespoons (14 g) confectioners’ sugar (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and set it aside. In a medium-sized bowl, place the buttermilk, butter, and eggs, and whisk to combine well. Set the wet ingredients aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. In a small bowl, place the cranberries and optional confectioners’ sugar, and toss to coat the berries in the sugar. Add 1 cup of the cranberries to the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Add the buttermilk mixture to the large bowl, and mix until just combined. The mixture will be thick but soft and not at all stiff.

  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan and smooth into an even layer. Using a sharp knife or other sharp edge, score the loaf by slicing 1/4-inch deep horizontally, from one short end to the other. Scatter the remaining 2 tablespoons cranberries evenly on top of the loaf and press them down about halfway to ensure they adhere to the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar evenly on top of the loaf.

  • Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. Rotate the loaf in the oven and continue to bake for about 15 minutes or until the top of the loaf springs back when pressed gently in the center and a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean. Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.


Comments are closed.

  • Kathleen
    November 28, 2019 at 1:32 PM

    Success even at high altitude! First GF baked treat I’ve made that’s turned out. Delicious! I’m sharing on our Thanksgiving table today. Thank you GFOAS! My batter was thicker than what showed in your video, but end result was perfect! I’m encouraged to try other of your recipes. Maybe even make this one in smaller loaves for Christmas gifts to GF and non-GF friends alike. Thanksgiving blessings to all.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 29, 2019 at 9:03 AM

      I’m so glad, Kathleen! And it’s useful to others, I’m sure, to hear that it worked without adjustment at high altitude. That’s the one condition I can’t replicate, so I’m unable to offer any advice to anyone.

  • Angie
    November 25, 2019 at 12:13 AM

    Great recipe! My loaf turned out great! I was out of buttermilk so used 1/2 plain yogurt and 1/2 milk, I used corn flour (measured by weight), and flavored it with orange and vanilla. A definite keeper! Thanks so much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 25, 2019 at 8:14 AM

      Sounds great, Angie! I’m glad to know it worked with corn flour (which I suspected, but wasn’t 100% sure). And that’s my favorite buttermilk sub. I use it all the time myself!!

  • Corrine
    November 24, 2019 at 10:09 AM

    This was FANTASTIC!! it didn’t last more than a day everyone loved it! Thank you for sharing!!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 24, 2019 at 12:26 PM

      I’m thrilled, Corrine! Thanks for taking the time to let us all know. :)

  • Sharon Rozeluk
    November 23, 2019 at 9:26 AM

    Will this cornbread freeze well?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 23, 2019 at 10:50 AM

      Yes! It freezes really well, Sharon. Just slice, wrap tightly, and freeze. Defrost at room temperature or in the microwave briefly.

  • Karen M.
    November 22, 2019 at 1:44 PM

    Love, Love, Love this recipe. I wouldn’t really call it cornbread but it is delicious. I didn’t have corn meal (what???) but I had some corn flour in my freezer so I used that. My husband who isn’t gluten free ate it and didn’t know it was gf. He kept eating it, so I told him and he still kept eating. LOL. It came out perfect, just the right amount of sweet and tart and keeps for quite a while. This is a definite keeper!! Thanks Nicole, I have all your cookbooks and haven’t made a bad recipe yet. PS, don’t know about freezing because we ate it all, LOL.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 22, 2019 at 2:03 PM

      Sounds like a real home run, Karen! If you’re interested in a more traditional recipe for cornbread (you’d definitely have to pick up some cornmeal, though!), try our recipe for old fashioned gluten free cornbread. Thank you so much for the kind words and your support!!

  • Julie L
    November 19, 2019 at 8:06 PM

    The millet substitution works beautifully! Thank you so much!

  • Val
    November 19, 2019 at 7:54 AM

    I can’t wait to try this! I think a bit of orange zest to the batter would be really good.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 19, 2019 at 8:13 AM

      If you’d like an orange cranberry flavor, Val, try replacing 1/3 of the buttermilk with orange juice (no pulp), plus adding orange zest. For the best results, process the orange zest with the granulated sugar in a blender or food processor first, which releases the oils in the zest and will give a really nice orange flavor and aroma to the bread. Enjoy!

  • Robin
    November 19, 2019 at 6:47 AM

    I have a couple of questions. As for this bread, I cannot get fresh or frozen cranberries. Do dried work just as well?
    This next question is not related to this wonderful bread; however, I feel a little desperate. I have been using your mock better batter recipe for some time now, and I can’t seem to make anything without it. Why do I even try? The issue I am facing is that I live in a country where I cannot get pectin, and my supply is out. I have this sinking feeling I know what your answer is going to be, but is there anything that can substitute for pectin? I have gelatin, but I feel almost completely certain that I cannot use that, but I thought I would ask just the same since I DO have that. I’m desperate, but I not foolish enough to waste my precious ingredients for such an experiment.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 19, 2019 at 8:11 AM

      Hi, Robin,
      I’m afraid dried cranberries aren’t a good substitute for frozen, no. And there is no substitute for pectin, as you suspected. You can try using my Better Than Cup4Cup blend, which doesn’t rely upon pectin. That should suit your needs!

  • Laurie in PA
    November 18, 2019 at 2:19 PM

    If I already have gluten free corn flour, can I just use that instead of grinding gf corn meal?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 18, 2019 at 4:53 PM

      I thought someone might ask that question, Laurie! I’m not 100% sure how well that would work, since corn flour is actually a finer grind than you can get by grinding cornmeal yourself. So you can try, but I’m afraid I can’t promise results.

  • Ellem
    November 17, 2019 at 9:14 PM

    Nicole, Can you make make this recipe and freeze it before or after you cook it? How about your recipes for quick breads?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 18, 2019 at 7:49 AM

      Hi, Ellem, it actually freezes really well once baked. Just cool completely, slice, wrap the slices tightly in freezer-safe wrap, and freeze. Defrost at room temperature or in a microwave briefly. Same goes for most of my quick bread recipes!

  • Marge Keller
    November 17, 2019 at 3:56 PM

    Can’t wait to try this. Recipe is very similar to what I use for cornbread and I love cranberries. I just made your Apple pie cookies. Now I have try to keep from them all!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 17, 2019 at 4:32 PM

      I wish I had a batch of those cookies right now, Marge! I’m so glad you love them and I hope you love this cranberry cornbread too!

  • Martina
    November 17, 2019 at 1:47 PM

    This recipe make me think I may just have to do a ‘practice Thanksgiving’. It looks so delicious! Nicole, what baking adjustments should I make to successfully modify this recipes to make muffins?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 17, 2019 at 3:43 PM

      Instead of this recipe, Martina, I’d recommend using my Jiffy muffin mix recipe. I’m afraid I don’t know if this would work as muffins, since muffin recipes and quick bread loaf recipes aren’t interchangeable.

  • Kathi Severson
    November 17, 2019 at 10:08 AM

    Can the sugar be substituted with stevia or mink fruit?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 17, 2019 at 12:29 PM

      Hi, Kathi, please see my response to Marsha. I hope that helps!

  • Kathy Green
    November 17, 2019 at 9:48 AM

    Can you freeze this please? It would be good to have a couple on hand for Christmas.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 17, 2019 at 12:27 PM

      Yes, definitely, Kathy! I’d slice and then freeze. In fact, I’ve done just that a few times and it works great.

  • Marsha
    November 17, 2019 at 9:36 AM

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! I love how you share substitutions. Because we also prefer to watch our sugar intake, what substitution would work the best to still have the same appearance and texture?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 17, 2019 at 12:29 PM

      I’m afraid I haven’t tried this recipe with sugar substitutions, but using them will always affect texture and taste, I’m afraid. My favorite sugar substitute is Truvia baking blend, but it does tend to be drying so you might have to add some extra moisture. Hope that helps!

  • Julie L
    November 17, 2019 at 12:12 AM

    I desperately want to try this, though we can’t have corn. I’ve been successfully using Cream of Rice® in lieu of cornmeal in your Quick Rising Cornmeal Bread (my family’s favorite staple for sandwiches). I’m going to give the ground millet a go with this and see if it actually has more flavor. We love millet, so I’m excited to try. Thanks Nicole!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 17, 2019 at 8:43 AM

      I’d love to know if the ground millet works out, Julie. Please report back. Interesting about cream of rice. I’m anxious to hear your results!

  • Kris
    November 16, 2019 at 8:46 PM

    Do you think this would freeze well or will the fresh cranberry cause sogginess?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 17, 2019 at 8:41 AM

      No it freezes perfectly, Kris! I can speak from experience. ?

  • Claudette Bickerdike
    November 15, 2019 at 9:25 PM

    I can’t wait to try this recipe out sounds fabulous. Thank you for sharing.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 16, 2019 at 11:38 AM

      It’s my favorite cornbread to date, Claudette! I hope you love it like we do.

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