This is a variation of our whole wheat quick bread base recipe. Is there anything better than a loaf of soft and warm zucchini bread? We don’t think so! This healthy cranberry zucchini bread is a perfect breakfast for crisp fall and winter mornings. Packed with fresh zucchini, dried cranberries, whole wheat flour, and a touch of cinnamon, this zucchini bread with dried fruit is a holiday treat your friends and family are sure to love!
Three Must Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Zucchini Bread
Don’t peel the zucchini! Not only does it make the bread more nutritious, but it also cuts down the number of steps – less work for you!
Use a fine grater to shred the zucchini for younger kids or picky eaters. Don’t drain or squeeze the zucchini dry; it helps keep the bread moist.
Measure the flour properly to prevent dense bread. Fluff, spoon, and level; don’t scoop and pack!
Whisking the dry ingredients together mimics sifting and evenly distributes the ingredients, so don’t substitute another utensil.
Add the dried cranberries after whisking the dry ingredients to ensure even distribution.
Don’t overmix the batter! Watch our muffin method culinary technique video to learn how to mix the batter just enough so that you end up with light and fluffy bread.
When measuring brown sugar, pack it in the cup. If you are trying to reduce your sugar consumption or prefer less sweet bread, reduce the sugar to ⅓ cup; the recipe will still come out great!
If your oven runs hot, check the bread for doneness after 45 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean, it’s done!
- White Whole Wheat Flour: substitute whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour for a similar taste, color, and texture. Don’t substitute all regular whole wheat flour, as the muffins will come out dense and grainy. To make this cranberry zucchini bread gluten-free, use a gluten-free flour mix. We have had good success with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour.
- Cinnamon: substitute pumpkin spice or apple pie spice.
- Cranberries: substitute any other dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, chopped dates, or chopped figs.
- Buttermilk: substitute plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, kefir, or sour cream. You can also make your own buttermilk by mixing ½ cup milk or soy milk with ½ Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice.
- Brown Sugar: you can substitute cane sugar, but note that the taste will be slightly different.
- Canola Oil: substitute avocado oil. Do not substitute olive oil, as this has a strong flavor. Do not substitute vegetable oil, as this is not a heart-healthy oil.
- Eggs: to make this cranberry zucchini bread vegan, substitute the eggs with flax eggs. To make one flax egg, mix 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 Tablespoons of water and let it rest for 10 minutes. Eggs help leaven the bread, so a vegan version might not be quite as fluffy.
- Vanilla Extract: substitute almond extract for a cranberry almond bread variation.
Add toasted chopped walnuts for cranberry walnut zucchini bread. Toasted pumpkins seeds or pecan pieces would also add good added nutrition, texture, and flavor.
Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange zest to make lemon cranberry zucchini bread or cranberry orange zucchini bread.
Add ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips to the batter for a fun twist on chocolate zucchini bread.
Want to make mini zucchini cranberry loaves? Prepare mini bread loaf pans with parchment paper or non-stick spray and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
This batter works for muffins too! To make cranberry zucchini muffins, prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners or non-stick spray. Use a portion scoop to divide out the batter. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Need some whole wheat quick bread recipe inspiration?
Check out our base recipe, then have fun exploring other flavors, ingredients, and textures!
You just need a few pieces of equipment for this simple zucchini bread.
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Nested mixing bowls
- Tovolo scoop spatula
- Dark bread loaf pan
- Parchment paper (optional)
Is Cranberry Zucchini Bread Healthy?
Many pre-made breads or store bought mixes contain way too much added sugar. Some even contain up to or even more than your daily allowance of sugar – yikes! The key ingredients that make this cranberry zucchini bread recipe healthier than store bought varieties are whole wheat flour, fresh zucchini, and less sugar than leading brands.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is a good source of fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, trace minerals, and phytochemicals. Replacing refined grains (i.e. white flour) with whole grains (i.e. whole wheat flour) may reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. (1)
Zucchini provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Consuming a variety of natural colors from fruits and vegetables is ideal. Incorporating vegetables into a breakfast or dessert recipe is an easy way to help you meet your daily vegetable needs! (2)
Less Added Sugar
High sugar consumption is not good for health, and in general, most Americans eat way too much. Men should aim to consume less than 9 teaspoons (~36 grams) of sugar per day, and women should aim to consume less than 6 teaspoons (~24 grams) of sugar per day. (3) Each slice of cranberry zucchini bread in this recipe has 2 teaspoons (8 grams) of added sugar. That’s way better than eating store bought varieties that are essentially zucchini cranberry cake (but don’t worry, this recipe doesn’t miss out on delicious flavor)!
Serving Suggestions for Zucchini Bread with Dried Cranberries
We doubt you’ll be able to resist slicing a warm piece of this zucchini bread when it’s fresh out of the oven! Enjoy on its own for a satisfying snack, as a tasty treat after lunch, or topped with almond butter for a balanced breakfast.
Because this is a moist bread, it will spoil more quickly at room temperature. Store the bread in a bag or container at room temperature for a couple of days or in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make sure the bread is entirely cool before storing.
Want to make a batch of dried cranberry zucchini bread for later? This bread is great for the freezer! Once cooked, cool completely, wrap, then store in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. You can also freeze individual slices for a quick single-serve option. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Want more whole grain recipes?
Try out these favorites, and as always, adjust to YOUR taste!
Cranberry Zucchini Bread
- 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour8
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 medium zucchini, shredded (~1 ½ cups)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 9×5 bread loaf pan with nonstick spray or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, gently whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dried cranberries to flour mixture. Toss until evenly coated.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together zucchini, brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Using a spatula, fold ingredients until just moistened. Do not overmix.
- Pour batter into the prepared bread loaf pan. Bake 50-55 minutes or until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Enjoy!