Cranberry Orange Upside-Down Cake

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This simple cranberry orange upside-down cake is a must make. Made with fresh cranberries that are cooked down into a syrupy sweet jam for the topping and a soft buttery orange cake, this is one fabulous dessert.

Inverted Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake on a serving plate.

Cranberry Orange Upside-Down Cake

Upside-down cakes are the easiest cake you can make. They don’t require frosting and you can enjoy them while they are warm and the topping is gooey. One of my favorite versions of this cake is my spiced apple upside-down cake. Try it if you get a chance.

It’s the time of year where we put cranberries in all the things like cranberry orange sweet rolls, cranberry white chocolate oatmeal cookies, and cranberry gingersnap cookie butter. So why not put them in cake as well?

The cake begins with butter, brown sugar, and fresh cranberries. Butter is melted in down with brown sugar in a shallow pan then poured over fresh cranberries. As the cake bakes the cranberries will cook down with sugar syrup to form a thick layer of jam.

On top of the cranberries goes a luscious orange cake batter. The cake is flavored with orange zest and fresh orange juice. The orange juice acts much like buttermilk in making the cake super moist.

2 slices of Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake on plates.

I’m certain you have made some version of an upside-down cake before. The first one I ever made was a classic pineapple upside-down cake. It used to be my favorite. The only cake I would eat for my birthday.

But now that I have a food blog, I enjoy experimenting with different versions. This cranberry orange upside-down cake is up there with the front-runner.

The topping reminds me of candied cranberries. It’s sweet but not overly sweet and there’s a slight tartness from the cranberries.

Brown Sugar Syrup Poured Over Fresh Cranberries

I went a little light on the sugar. But I like the tartness of fresh cranberries. Feel free to add more sugar if you want it sweeter.

The cake is splendid. It’s light, airy, sweet, with intense orange flavor. You can use fresh or packaged orange juice, but don’t leave out the zest. It’s a necessity.

The eggs are separated and mixed in at different stages. The yolks go in when you normally add the eggs to the cake batter. Then the whites are whipped up into stiff peaks and folded into the batter at the very end.

Unbaked Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake in Pan

This is a little tip I picked up from Cook’s Country. The whipped egg whites produce a tender yet sturdy cake.

When it comes to inverting the cake, don’t wait for it to cool completely before doing so. But don’t do it right out of the oven either.

It will be hot and you risk burning yourself with the fruit layer. Wait about 10 minutes. That seems to be the perfect amount of time for the topping to set but still release easily from the pan.

A slice of Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake on a plate with a fork taking a bite out.

This simple cranberry orange upside-down cake is packed full of flavor. Made with fresh cranberries that are cooked down into a syrupy sweet jam for the topping and a soft buttery orange cake, this is one fabulous dessert.
5 from 4 votes

Cranberry Orange Upside-Down Cake

This simple cranberry orange upside-down cake is a must make. Made with fresh cranberries that are cooked down into a syrupy sweet jam for the topping and a soft buttery orange cake, this is one fabulous dessert. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cranberry orange upside down cake recipe
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields 10 servings
Calories 316 kcal
Author Jen Sobjack


For the topping

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For the cake

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs separated
  • 1/2 cup orange juice


  1. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly spray the paper with cooking spray. 

Make the topping

  1. Arrange the cranberries evenly in the bottom of the pan; set aside.

  2. In a large nonstick pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Pour evenly over the cranberries; set aside.

Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well mixed and fluffy. 

  3. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined. 

  4. Reduce the speed to low, add half the flour mixture followed by the orange juice. Add the remaining flour mixture, mix until just incorporated.

  5. Add egg whites to a separate medium bowl. Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. 
  6. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture. 

  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. 

  8. Run a knife around the cake to loosen it from the pan and invert it onto a serving plate. Gently peel off the parchment paper if it sticks to the top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

  9.  The cake will keep for up to 2 days covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Cook's Country.

Nutrition Facts
Cranberry Orange Upside-Down Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 316
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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