This easy Cranberry Upside Down Cake is the perfect blend of sweet and tart and features a soft and fluffy cake with pudding added. If you love a flavorful, moist cake for the holiday season, this one is for you! Guests won’t be able to resist this cranberry cake that uses fresh cranberries and orange zest. Forget the frosting and serve this upside down cake for Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I love recipes using fresh cranberries like cranberry nut bread, cranberry relish and cranberry cider. Cranberries are very versatile which is why I make cranberry appetizers, baked goods, and drinks. Have you made cranberry chutney? Delicious! Fresh cranberries really elevate just about any recipe in my opinion. Who can resist a delicious Cranberry Christmas Cake?
Cranberry Cake Ingredients
To make this cranberry cake, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- fresh cranberries: This recipe uses fresh cranberries rather than canned or dried for an amazing flavor and texture.
- JELL-O red gelatin (cranberry, raspberry or strawberry): Use your favorite red gelatin variety or use what you have on hand.
- orange zest: One navel orange will net you all you need. Orange and cranberries are a wonderful flavor combination.
- yellow cake mix (without pudding added to mix): Since we are adding pudding to the mix, you don’t need a mix that already has one incorporated. You can substitute a white cake mix if preferred.
- JELL-O Cheesecake Flavor Instant Pudding (or Vanilla/French Vanilla): I used cheesecake pudding because I had it on hand, but vanilla pudding works just as well. Just make sure to use instant pudding.
- orange juice: Added to incorporate some orange flavor into the cake.
- fresh mint and cranberries for garnish (optional): If you are serving this as a cranberry Christmas cake, the fresh mint and cranberries add to the holiday feel.
- vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (optional): Not a requirement but who doesn’t enjoy ice cream or whipped cream with their cake? Plus the added sweetness tastes amazing with the tartness of the cranberries.
How to Make a Cranberry Upside Down Cake
If you are wondering just how to to make a cranberry upside down cake, it is really quite easy. This recipe is a little different than many others as it uses uncooked fresh cranberries and flavored JELLO. You can skip the step of cooking down your cranberries and still get a soft and delicious cranberry topping.
While most recipes call for a springform pan, this one is easier with a standard size dish. This cranberry cake made in a 9×13 pan is quick and easy. You’ll want to be sure you use parchment paper with butter for easy cleanup.
Rather than preparing a cake mix the traditional way and pouring it on top, this recipe changes it up with some great additions. I wanted to have some of the orange flavor come through in the cake so I replaced half the water with orange juice. I also used a yellow cake mix without pudding already added. I used a Duncan Hines mix and added a package of cheesecake pudding to the mix. You can also use vanilla or french vanilla but I had cheesecake on hand and it worked great!
Once it has a chance to fully cool after baking, you’ll want to flip it over on a large platter or cutting board. I happen to have a white washed cutting board (food safe) that is the perfect size for this cake.
If you love easy cakes, check out this dump cake I made last month featuring fresh apples.
How to Garnish Your Cranberry Cake
For garnish, you can do what I did and simply add in some fresh mint and cranberries. The pair together resembles holly and looks extra festive for the holidays.
Another fun option would be to make sugared cranberries and use those instead of just fresh cranberries. Fresh orange slices quartered or orange zest or curls would also be pretty additions.
However you choose to garnish your cranberry upside down cake, whipped cream or ice cream is almost must to finish it off. This cranberry cake looks a little less appealing than other types of cake with frosting so the whipped cream is a nice touch visually. It also tastes great and breaks up some of the tartness in the topping.
Cranberry Upside Down Cake
This easy Cranberry Upside Down Cake is the perfect blend of sweet and tart and features a soft and fluffy cake with pudding added. Guests won't be able to resist this cranberry cake that uses fresh cranberries and orange zest. Forget frosting and serve for Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert with whipped cream or ice cream!
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 pkg (3 oz) JELL-O red gelatin (cranberry, raspberry or strawberry)
- 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 pkg (15.25 oz) 2-layer size yellow cake mix (without pudding added to mix)
- 1 pkg (3.4 oz) JELL-O Cheesecake Flavor Instant Pudding (or Vanilla/French Vanilla)
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cups water
- 2/3 cups orange juice
- 2 tablespoons oil
- fresh mint garnish
- fresh cranberries garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with parchment parchment paper, making sure the ends extend over the side. Spread softened butter over parchment paper.
In medium bowl, mix cranberries, sugar, gelatin and orange zest. Pour into bottom of pan and press into a single layer.
In large bowl beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, eggs, water, orange juice and oil with mixer, just until fully mixed. Pour batter over cranberries and gently spread to an even layer.
Bake 42 to 46 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool completely. Carefully invert cake on to platter, removing the pan and parchment paper.
Serve at room temperature or cold with whipped cream and fresh mint and fresh cranberries for garnish, if desired.
How Long Does this Upside Down Cake Last?
Many cakes which have a lot of fruit break down quickly over a short period of time. However, that is not the case with this one. I had this cake for four days and it still tasted great up until the very end. In fact, all of the baked cake pictures in this post were actually taken the next day because I missed my window of natural light once I let the cake cool completely. The actual cake part will soften a bit but that is the extent of it. You can refrigerate it if you like but it isn’t required.
Hope you love this recipe as much as we did! Happy holidays!
I altered this recipe for the purpose of this post.