Cranberry Zucchini Bread

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:

Measure Flour
Mix Using The Muffin
Method
Measure Brown Sugar

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!

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Whole Wheat Flour: use white whole flour or whole wheat pastry flour for a lighter taste, color, and texture. 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.
  • All Purpose Flour: substitute white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour.
  • Cinnamon: substitute pumpkin or apple pie spice.
  • Cranberries: substitute any other dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, chopped dates, or chopped figs.
  • Buttermilk: substitute plain yogurt (not Greek), kefir, or sour cream. You can also make your own buttermilk by mixing ½ cup milk with ½ Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • 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.
  • 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. 

Recipe Variations

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 orange zest to make cranberry orange zucchini bread. You could also add lemon zest for a delicious lemon cranberry zucchini bread variation.

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 loaves 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. 

Equipment Recommendations for Recipe Success

Is Cranberry Zucchini Bread Healthy?

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

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!

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.

Storage Tips

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 healthy quick bread recipes?

Try out these favorites, and as always, adjust to YOUR taste!

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Whole Grain Pancakes Base Recipe

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

Cranberry Zucchini Bread
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

Packed with fresh zucchini, dried cranberries, whole wheat flour, and a touch of cinnamon, this green and red cranberry zucchini bread is a holiday treat your friends and family are sure to love!

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Yield: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 9×5 bread loaf pan with nonstick spray or parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, gently whisk whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add dried cranberries to flour mixture. Toss until evenly coated.

  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together zucchini, brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

  4. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Using a spatula, fold ingredients until just moistened. Do not overmix.

  5. 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!

Recipe Notes

The skin of the zucchini contains lots of good nutrients, so it is not necessary to peel. 

 

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.

 

Substitute plain yogurt, kefir, or sour cream for buttermilk. You can also make your own buttermilk by combining ½ cup milk with ½ Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice.

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