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. 

About my yummy cranberry cornbread recipe

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.  

GF cranberry cornbread ingredients

  • Buttermilk – When used in baking, buttermilk helps tenderize the crumb and add richness to the bread/cake.
  • Butter – Butter adds lots of rich flavor to the bread, and helps the bread to retain moisture.
  • Eggs – Eggs help bind the bread together, and help it rise.
  • GF flour – I use my usual all purpose gluten free flour blend here, Better Batter gluten free flour classic blend. If you would like to use Cup4Cup, use more of that blend in place of the cornstarch in this recipe.
  • Cornstarch – Adding some cornstarch here helps lighten the blend for a slightly more tender, fluffier end result.
  • Cornmeal – Cornmeal adds some texture, but here we’re blending it to a slightly finer consistency so it mixes even better with the all purpose gf flour blend.
  • Baking powder – This is the chemical leavener that is responsible for most of the rise of this quick bread.
  • Salt – Salt brings out the other flavors in this cornbread, and balances the sweetness.
  • Sugar – Sugar adds sweetness, but is also responsible for a lot of the tenderness of the crumb of this bread.
  • Cranberries – Be sure to select only firm cranberries, and discard any that seem to have been damaged or are soft in spots. Cranberries have a truly delicious, tart flavor, but they’re too tart to eat alone without some added sweetness.
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Just a touch of this light-as-air sugar mixed in with your cranberries offsets their tartness without overshadowing their flavor.

How to make this gluten free cranberry cornbread

To make this bread, whisk the wet ingredients (buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs) together vigorously before combining them with the other ingredients. There’s no need to beat the eggs separately, before combining them with the other wet ingredients.

Then, in a large bowl, place the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt), plus the granulated sugar, and whisk them to combine. Add the cranberries, so they get coated in those dry ingredients. That helps minimize the chance that the berries will sink 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.

Tips for making the best 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.

Gluten free cranberry cornbread: substitutions

Gluten free dairy free cranberry cornbread

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). 

Gluten free egg free cranberry cornbread

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. 

Gluten free, corn free cornbread?

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. 

Choosing cranberries for this gf cornbread recipe

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. 

FAQs

Is cornbread gluten free?

Cornbread is sometimes naturally gluten free, if it’s made with only cornmeal, like the original variety of our old fashioned cornbread. This cranberry cornbread is made with a combination of all purpose flour and cornmeal, so it’s only gluten free since that all purpose blend is gluten free.

Are cranberries gluten free?

Yes! Fresh or frozen cranberries without any additives are berries, which are all naturally gluten free. Be careful with dried cranberries, which are sweetened and sometimes have other additives.

Is this a flourless cornbread recipe?

This is not a flourless cornbread, since it’s made with multiple types of gf flours.

Do you have to cook fresh cranberries before baking?

No, you should use your cranberries fresh (or frozen), since they bake to tender perfection along with the rest of the cornbread batter in the oven.

Can I use dried cranberries in this easy gluten free cornbread recipe?

You can mix in a few dried cranberries to add some additional texture, but you can’t replace the fresh cranberries with dried cranberries. The bread is balanced properly to include the moisture that the whole cranberries release during baking.

Can I make this cranberry cornbread recipe in a cast iron pan?

You can try baking this cornbread in a 10-inch cast iron skillet, domed and slashed like our gluten free Irish soda bread. I haven’t tried it, but I think it would work well!

Can I use this recipe to make cranberry cornbread muffins?

You might be able to use this recipe to make cranberry cornbread muffins, like our gf corn muffins. Try following the baking instructions there!

How do you serve gf cranberry cornbread?

You can serve this sweet cornbread loaf for nearly any meal, like breakfast, brunch, or dinner. I like it best for brunch, since it’s on the sweeter side. Try adding a pat of softened butter to your slice, or even some cranberry or strawberry jam on top. Maybe a drizzle of honey!

My gluten free cornbread falls apart — why?

Did you let it cool completely before slicing into the cornbread loaf? It’s somewhat fragile before it cools completely.

What are some other gluten free cranberry recipes?

If you’re hungry for some more cranberry recipes, or you just stock your freezer with bags of cranberries the moment they hit the stores and want to get to work on using them, here are some more suggestions for baking with cranberries:

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Gluten Free Cranberry Cornbread

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Try this gluten free cranberry cornbread recipe for a tangy change of pace. Adding cranberries to this gf cornbread recipe makes for a bright, festive update.
Course Quick bread
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free cranberry cornbread
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 1 standard loaf cornbread
Author Nicole Hunn

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; please click thru for appropriate blends)
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup gluten free yellow cornmeal ground in a blender or food processor to a finer consistency
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar plus about 2 tablespoons (about 24 g) more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup fresh whole cranberries plus about 2 tablespoons (about 15 g) more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Instructions

  • 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 more, 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.

Video

Notes

Originally published on the blog in 2019. In 2022, text resources added; recipe and images unchanged.
Images of gluten free cranberry cornbread dry ingredients, raw batter, and baked bread.

The post Gluten Free Cranberry Cornbread appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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