Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread

This savory pumpkin cranberry cornbread is a perfect accompaniment to your holiday table, with delicious flavors of fall. As a savory cornbread, It is just slightly sweet with bursts of tart cranberries throughout.

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Pumpkin cranberry cornbread in an oval cast iron pan with a blue and white striped towel.

Pumpkin Cornbread

Now, I’ve never been a big fan of pumpkin, but I do love cornbread. So, why put them together? Well, I have to admit that along with its nutritious benefits, pumpkin does add a lot of moisture to cornbread which can often be dry and crumbly so it’s actually a perfect combo. Pumpkin also makes the cornbread quite a beautiful shade of orange. Throw some cranberries in there for a pop of red and you have a very pretty cornbread to put on your holiday table.

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Ingredients on a countertop - pecans, cranberries, flours, eggs, sugar, spices, milk and a can of pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spices

It always seems to happen – wherever there is pumpkin, there are pumpkin spices and this pumpkin cornbread is no exception. I’m jumping on the bandwagon because the combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves really does go very well with pumpkin, so it seems a shame to leave them out. This recipe uses a mix of all-purpose flour and cornmeal, a little butter and some brown sugar. The brown sugar does give it just a hint of sweet flavor, but also helps to keep the cornbread moist since it is hygroscopic (loves and holds onto water). But don’t be fooled – this is not a sweet cornbread.

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Looking down on four bowls - one with cranberries, one with pecans, one with flour and dry ingredients and a fourth with a wet orange batter.

Mixing Method for Pumpkin Cornbread

This recipe uses a standard practice for quick breads – mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then mix the two together, but mix them as little as possible. You want to combine the ingredients only until you see no more traces of flour and that’s it. Over-mixing will lead to a tougher cornbread, and we don’t want that.

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Looking down into a bowl with orange batter, fresh cranberries and pecans.

Folding in Ingredients

After the batter is together, fold in your ingredients. I like to add whole fresh (or frozen) cranberries which soften while baking but still provide a nice tart burst, but you could add dried cranberries if you prefer. As for the nuts, they are totally optional. Pecans are a nice compliment with the cranberries and pumpkin, but pistachios, walnuts or hazelnuts would be nice too.

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Pumpkin cranberry cornbread batter in an oval cast iron pan before baking.

Baking Pan Options

You can bake this cornbread in any number of pans. You could use a cast iron pan as in the photo above. A 10-inch cast iron skillet would work well. You can also use a 9-inch square aluminum baking pan or muffin pans. This recipe will make 16 muffins, so use two pans or bake two batches. The timing will change, obviously if you’re baking muffins, but the baking time is included in the recipe. Whichever pan you use, grease it with butter ahead of time for flavor and an easier release.

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A hand cutting pumpkin cornbread into squares.

Holiday Cornbread

Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread is a nice snack anytime in the fall, but this would be especially nice on a Thanksgiving table with roast turkey and all the fixings. It’s super moist and the cranberries give it a nice burst of flavor that would blend so nicely with everything else on the table. 

 

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A piece of pumpkin cornbread on a white plate with a basket of cornbread in the background.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 35 m
  • Total Time: 50 m
  • Servings:
    12
    to 16 (makes 16 muffins)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground sginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans optional

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.

  2. Grease your baking vessel well with butter or oil. You could make 16 muffins or a 9-inch square cake pan or a 10-inch round cast iron pan.
  3. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves together in a bowl.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together until blended. Add the milk, butter and vanilla extract and then whisk in the pumpkin purée.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients all at once. Mix by hand just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet. Do not overmix the batter. Gently fold in the cranberries and pecans.
  6. Transfer the batter to your baking vessel. (If you are using a muffin pan, fill the cups ¾ of the way full.)
  7. Transfer the baking vessel to the oven and lower the temperature to 350˚F. Bake for 35 minutes for a square or round cake pan. If making muffins, bake at 425°F for 8 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 350°F and bake 12 to 15 minutes. (Do not open the oven door when turning down the temperature) The cornbread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

  8. Let the corn bread cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes and then transfer it to a cooling rack to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.
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