Christmas Banana Bread

Do you think of banana bread as "Christmas-y"? Me either! But then again, maybe it should be. Here's how to jazz up your favorite banana bread for the holidays with one simple change: fresh cranberries!

Fresh & Seasonal, a Marriage of Tradition and New Ideas.
Christmas Banana Bread ♥, everyone's favorite banana bread all dressed up for Christmas! Recipe, insider tips, nutrition, Weight Watchers points included.

Banana Bread, All Dressed Up for Christmas

Now I adore my long-time favorite recipe for banana bread. Some time forever ago, I started adding maraschino cherries to the batter. (And poppy seeds. And wheat germ. But those are other stories.)

The cherries are dense, sweet and wet and so totally unexpected in banana bread. Yeah, I'm a sucker for surprises like that. Are you too?!

But for the holidays, fresh cranberries are an easy, totally seasonal substitute.

So your choice. Pick maraschino cherries, pick fresh cranberries. Either one transforms everyone's favorite banana bread for the season, jazzes it up with the beautiful red color that symbolizes all things holiday.

My Recipe or Yours

Christmas Banana Bread ♥, everyone's favorite banana bread all dressed up for Christmas! Recipe, insider tips, nutrition, Weight Watchers points included.

My recipe for Christmas Banana Bread is below. But if you already have a favorite banana bread recipe, use your own recipe and add fresh cranberries.

After all, isn't that what's so fun about the holidays, blending old tradition with new ideas? Who knows, Christmas Banana Bread might just become a new tradition!

Crazy for Cranberries? Me Too!

Cranberry Recipes & Ideas ♥, Savory to Sweet. Recipes, tips, nutrition & Weight Watchers points included.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes 1 standard loaf
  • 1/2 cup (114g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (65g) brown sugar (plus an optional extra 1/3 cup for sweeter banana bread)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (80g) buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon vinegar)
  • 3 very ripe bananas or "black bananas", mashed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (28g) wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (95g) whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (35g) poppy seeds
  • 1-1/2 cups (150g) fresh cranberries, halved horizontally
  • A few extra halved cranberries, for garnish

Set oven to 350F/175C. Butter a standard-size bread loaf pan, about 8x4.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Mix in the eggs, then the buttermilk and bananas, combine well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the spices, baking soda, wheat germ, flours and poppy seeds very well, really mixing them together. With a spatula, turn these dry ingredients into the wet mixture. When they're about halfway mixed, add the cranberries and continue to combine by hand, just until mixed.

Turn the batter into the loaf pan. Gently press a few cranberry halves (cut-side up) into the batter.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 30 minutes before removing from the baking pan, completely before slicing. Keeps for several days but should be wrapped well and refrigerated if it's out for more than a day.

ALANNA's TIPS I cut the cranberries in half, they go further. The inspiring recipe calls for maraschino cherries which are extra sweet, so for that banana bread, I use only 1/3 cup brown sugar in the batter itself. Since fresh cranberries are not only unsweetened but quite sour, you might want to double the sugar to 2/3 cup for Christmas Banana Bread. If you don't, the banana bread will definitely be less sweet than many are used to. But I don't add more sugar and really like that my Christmas Banana Bread is barely sweet. That makes it good as a holiday morning bread, an easy choice on a cookie plate, alongside a cup of tea, even a "less-sweet ending" for a holiday brunch, say.
WHY DO QUICK-BREAD RECIPES LIKE THIS SAY TO COMBINE "JUST UNTIL MIXED" AND TO "AVOID OVER-MIXING"? When you over-mix a quick-bread batter, past the point where the dry ingredients are just mixed in but no more, small holes will form during baking. It's not a total disaster but not as pretty as it could be. It's why I make sure you know to really mix the dry ingredients well, also why I suggest turning the dry ingredients and the cranberries in with a spatula, not the mixer.
NUTRITION INFORMATION, Per slice, assuming 16 slices: 166 Calories; 7g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 20g Carb; 2g Fiber; 139mg Sodium; 55mg Cholesterol; 8g Sugars; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3 & WW PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 7 & Freestyle 5 & myWW green 6 & blue 5 & purple 5
Adapted from Cheery Cherry Banana Bread, my first and favorite recipe for banana bread.

More Ideas for a Christmas Cookie Plate

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies Graham Cracker Toffee
No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies Frosty Christmas Trees
~ Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend ~
~ more Christmas recipes ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Catherine12/02/2014

    This is such a good idea. I used to have a recipe for a regular loaf cake made with walnuts and maraschino cherries. It was good, but I lost the recipe.

  2. Catherine ~ Thanks! I love maraschino cherries in banana bread but when I did a loaf with cranberries for Thanksgiving last week, frankly I was surprised how quickly it disappeared, even with lots of other sweets on offer. The fact is, people love banana bread! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Anonymous12/02/2014

    Great idea!

  4. You know, my Mom always made banana bread for Christmas buffets, which was always our Christmas dinner. We had a huge sit down meal for Thanksgiving, but for Christmas, my Mom wanted to take it easy so she made cook-ahead stuff and then put together a great buffet for dinner. She made 3 or 4 kinds of quick breads, and banana was always one of them. I think I will try your version this year - it sounds like a great flavor combo to me!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna