Cranberry and Walnut Upside-Down Cake

Fall is the perfect time for fresh cranberries. This cranberry upside-down cake is the perfect fall recipe. The fresh bright flavor of the cranberries goes well with the cinnamon and cardamom.

The first time I made this was for a work potluck. I wanted to make something in the spirit of fall and stumbled upon a similar recipe. This has now become an annual treat I make for my co-workers and friends. The best part is that it really doesn’t take a whole bunch of effort and the results speak for themselves. If you have a gathering or just want it for yourself and your morning coffee this cake will not disappoint. 

In this recipe

This is a pretty straight forward recipe with many household ingredients and the rest are quite easy to get ahold of. 

Cranberries: you can use fresh or frozen cranberries for this recipe. However do not use dried cranberries as they will not create the nice glaze on top. 

Walnuts: will add a little crunch to the topping. These can be easily switched for pecans if you would like. 

Cardamom: a warming spice that will add a nice flavor to the cake. You can easily swap this with cinnamon or a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Ingredients for cranberry walnut upside down cake on a wooden cutting board
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Making the glaze

The glaze will be placed on the bottom of the pan to make it easy to turn upside down. You will want to melt the butter and brown sugar together until the butter is melted. Don’t worry that there are still granules of sugar left. They will dissolve once the cranberries start to release the water inside of them. If you want to kick up the flavor you can add an ounce of rum, whiskey, or bourbon to the brown sugar mixture. 

Dry ingredients for the upside down cake in a metal bowl
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Melted butter and brown sugar in a pan
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Cake batter in a stand mixer
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Cranberries and glaze in the bottom of the cake pan
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Cake batter in a cake pan ready to bake
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Baked caked on a white cake plate
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Bake the cranberry walnut upside down cake

One of the things that I like to do with a cake like this is to only grease the sides. The bottom will have a lot of butter in it which will help keep the cake from sticking. The easiest way to do this is to use the butter wrapper and rub the part that touched the butter on the inside of the pan. Then dust the sides with flour. This will create a nice barrier without impacting the sauce on the bottom of the pan. 

A slice of cranberry walnut upside down cake on a white plate
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The cranberry compote

I tend to put the cranberries in whole and raw. If you are using frozen cranberries then they will start to deflate and release their juices as they thaw. If you are using fresh cranberries you can add them to the brown sugar mixture until they start to burst. Then you can pour that into the bottom of the pan. Once the cake is baked you will want to flip the cake onto the cooling rack 10 minutes after it has cooled to easily release the cake from the pan. 

A serving of cake on a white plate and a cup of coffee
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Looking for other cranberry recipes?

Cranberry walnut upside down cake on a white cake plate
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Cranberry and Walnut Upside Down Cake

Fresh cranberries and walnuts on a spiced cake that is perfect for the holidays.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 slices
Calories 359 kcal


  • 9"x 3" round cake pan
  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment
  • Saucepan
  • Silicone spatula


  • 3 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups flour
  • cups brown sugar
  • cups butter unsalted, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup walnuts chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F, 165°C, or gas mark 3.
  • In a bowl combine the flour, spices, salt, and baking powder together and whisk to combine.
  • In the saucepan heat 6 tablespoons of butter and 6 tablespoons of sugar together. Pour it into the bottom of the cake pan and add the cranberries on top.
  • In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium high speed beat the remaining butter until it is light.
  • Add the sugars and continue to beat until the butter becomes more pale. Add the eggs one at a time waiting a minute between each egg.
  • Add the vanilla and reduce the speed to low.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add all of the milk and mix until just combined. Finish with the rest of the flour mixture. Do not overmix.
  • Pour the batter over the cranberries and spread with the spatula.
  • Bake for an hour and a half or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the cake starts getting darker then cover it with foil to prevent it from getting too dark too fast.
  • Remove from the oven and run a knife gently around the sides. Place the cake pan on a cooling rack and invert while the cake is still warm. Take any cranberries that stuck to the pan and put them back on the cake.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 359kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 4gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 137mgPotassium: 110mgFiber: 1gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 540IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 83mgIron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer*
Keyword Brown Sugar, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Holidays, Walnut
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Cranberry walnut upside down cake pinterest pin
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2 thoughts on “Cranberry and Walnut Upside-Down Cake”

  1. 5 stars
    Wow! This is such a perfect combination for an upside-down cake! Definitely an instant favorite for its Cranberry & walnut flavor! It’s the perfect treat for this Holiday season! Loved it!

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