Nantucket cranberry pie is not really a pie. It’s more like an upside down cranberry cake, and it’s one of the fastest desserts you can make. With no crust to roll, you can assemble it in five minutes! This recipe is a great last-minute addition to your Thanksgiving buffet or Christmas dessert table.
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Why You’ll Love Nantucket Pie
This cranberry crustless pie is super easy to make. There is no to roll out and nothing to whip. Just spread a layer of cranberries, walnuts and sugar in a pie dish, then top with a basic batter and bake.
It reminds me of a French clafoutis. Although a traditional clafoutis is made with unpitted cherries, the method is the same. Butter a pie plate, add fruit, top with thick batter, and bake.
Since it’s not an overly sweet dessert, the cranberry cake is the perfect counterpart to pecan or pumpkin pies. It also works as a breakfast or brunch dish!
Cranberry Nantucket pie can be made two weeks in advance and frozen, making holiday prep that much easier.
If you’re looking for something different than a cranberry walnut pie, there are lots of variations for this recipe! It would work well with apricots and almonds, pears and pistachios, peaches and pecans – the combinations are endless! But if you use a sweeter fruit like peaches or pears, you may want to reduce the sugar by half so it’s not too sweet.
Why is it Called Nantucket Cranberry Pie?
This Nantucket cranberry pie recipe was passed down to me from my mother-in-law more than 20 years ago. I have no idea where she got it from since she was born in Minnesota, and as far as I know, she never lived in Nantucket.
What is the history of Nantucket cranberry pie? Well, cranberries are grown in Nantucket. For the past 150 years, commercial cranberry growing has been an important part of Nantucket’s agricultural heritage. But that’s about the only connection I can find.
There isn’t a clear origin for this dessert, though it is known as a classic New England recipe that has been passed on from generation to generation.
A version was also published in Gourmet magazine by Laurie Colwin in 1993. In her recipe, Laurie says this is “a cake that takes about four seconds to put together and gives an ambrosial result.”
Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used for this Nantucket cranberry pie recipe. Cranberries are high in vitamin C and fiber and you’ll easily find them pre-packaged in your local grocery store.
For fresh berries, make sure they are firm and plump with a deep red color. Avoid soft or shriveled berries. Fresh cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for several months or in the freezer for up to a year. Simply wash fresh cranberries in cool water before using.
Do you have to cook cranberries before baking them?
No, you should not cook cranberries before baking them, and you don’t need to thaw frozen berries either.
Are frozen cranberries as good as fresh?
Yes, frozen cranberries are just as good as fresh in this recipe.
How to Make Cranberry Nantucket Pie
All you need is a few simple ingredients, and there is no mixer to pull out and dirty.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
Preheat your oven to 325* F and butter a 10” pie plate or tin. Add fresh or frozen cranberries and cover with chopped walnuts and ½ cup of the sugar.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, 1 cup sugar, melted butter and vanilla extract. Next, fold in the flour until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cranberries and walnuts. The batter is fairly thick and will need to be spread gently to cover the fruit.
Then bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.
Check out more cranberry recipes you will love:
Nantucket Cranberry Pie
- Preheat oven to 325* F. Grease a 10" pie dish and spread cranberries over the bottom of the dish.
- Sprinkle chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup sugar over cranberries.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs, 1 cup sugar, melted butter and vanilla extract. Fold in flour until well blended.
- Pour mixture over cranberries. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.
- Cool, then serve warm. Can be made ahead and frozen for up to two weeks.
Hi Cynthia! This is soooo simple. I’ve never had a Cranberry pie before and I feel like I’m missing out. I bet these would also make great tartlets. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us during our Thanksgiving Menu Planning Event.
Hi Cynthia. I made this pie today it was super tasty. The kids loved it. I subbed whole wheat flour and it was great. I’ll have to make another for Thanksgiving as this one won’t last long enough to put up in the freezer.
It says 1 1/2 cups of sugar divided, then 1 cup of sugar for the topping…does that mean only 1/2 cup of sugar is used for the sprinkling on the cranberries? Or is the 1 cup of sugar in the topping in addition to the 1 1/2 cups added to the cranberries! 🙂
Yes! Sorry, the 1/2 cup of sugar goes on the cranberries. The 1 cup goes in the batter. Amened!
Christina | Christina's Cucina says
How have I missed this recipe? Wow! It looks awesome and sooo easy! This is another one that’s got to go on my “to try” list. Agree that it’s perfect for Thanksgiving, too!
Cathy Arkle says
Just made this and it is so delicious!
Isn’t it great? I love it!
Update: made this pie last year and just took another out of the oven. It’s a delicious pie, even when made gluten free! Yes, I subbed a gf baking mix with some oat flour, added 1/2 tsp baking powder and love the result. I wouldn’t mind it with the regular flour, but my hostess is on a gf diet, so I did it for her. Great recipe, Cynthia!
That’s a great sub for a gf version!
Can this be made without the walnuts? Would there have to be a substitution to make it nut free our just skip them? Thanks!
Sure! I don’t see why not?
Denise A says
I found your recipe for Nantucket Cranberry Pie and I must say it is ridiculously easy and amazingly delicious! It was a hit at our Christmas Dinner! Thanks so much! I made a bourbon barrel aged maple syrup whipped cream to go with it! Killer!
Thank you so much Denise! It’s a holiday keeper!
Sheila Klimas says
made the pie with leftover cranberries for early December…and am making again to use up cranberries…the pie was a hit with all ages…simple, easy and really tasty…Snowing like crazy…so this will be a good dessert today..
Lucky you that you still have cranberries! I always promise myself I’ll freeze a bag or two for later and then forget!
Maylien Swenerton says
I love this, and so easy! I’ve even halved the recipe to make in a 7″ pan, perfect for two or three. I often leave out the nuts though for nut-challenged friends.
Great tip! Sometimes we just need a little bit of dessert! i wonder if it’s too sweet without the nuts?
Love, love this recipe. Could I cut the sugar in the cake batter to 3/4 c instead of 1 cup.
I totally think you could! I am not a fan of super sweet desserts, so I’m always trying to reduce sugar! You could also sub swerve for a completely sugar free dessert too!
Maura Dawson says
This looks great and I’m getting ready to make it. Quick question: if I do freeze it, should i reheat after? Or just set it out? How long before serving will i need to take it out of the fridge and how do I reward it?
Sorry, just seeing this after the holidays! I would just set it out and serve it room temperature. Or you can heat it up slightly.
Maura Dawson says
Whoops! I meant reheat and not reward.
JULIE A GUERRA says
My co worker calls this her cranberry crack. Everyone I have made this for falls in love with it !
haha! So easy and delicious!
Susanne Freytag says
I know exactly where your mother-in-law got this recipe! This is a slight variation of Laurie Colwin’s Nantucket Cranberry Pie. She got it from a friend of hers who got it from her mother and it was published in her 1993 book “More Home Cooking”. Laurie chopped the cranberries, which I think makes a big difference. If you haven’t read her books, you must! She was an amazingly entertaining food writer and there are some true gems in there. One has to add a pinch of salt to everything though since when she was writing this book, she had been told to cut back on salt.
Yes! She’s not around anymore or I could ask her. I’ve been married since 1988, so it’s possible. I’ll try chopping them next time. I’ll check out her book. I do like to credit the origin of the recipe if I can! Thank you!
Susanne Freytag says
Sadly, Laurie isn’t around anymore either. I think you’ll love her books. She was a fun writer.
Terry deCampo says
Cynthia thank you so much. My wife was making all the main food for Thanksgiving and I took over the dessert. I cheat, I use your recipe, not only was very easy and fast to make but it has become one of our favorite “pies”.
We did not have walnut so I use pistachios and almonds and it worked very well.
Of course we will have it again for Christmas.
Love the idea of the walnuts and pistachios! How did it taste? Yes, it is an easy recipe to adapt!
Sooo simple & yummy. I’ve made it with frozen blackberry, fresh blueberries & cranberries. All three were equally delicious.
ooh! i need to try that!
I am very much looking forward to trying this………andi will be adapting it to use rhubarb………..yum !!
nice! I wonder how rhubarb cranberry would be?
Chef Mimi says
Wow!! I absolutely love this recipe! I’d love it for Christmas. Thanks!
I did blackberry peach and it was delish!
Ooh! I need to try this!
Amazing! My husbands new favorite pie and he’s not even a dessert guy!
I’m so happy he liked it!
I’m wondering if I could substitute Swerve for the sugar and either Almond or Coconut flour for the regular flour to make it more diabetic friendly.
it’s certainly worth a try!
This is the recipe I use every year. Turns out great and everyone loves it! Thanks so much, I love your recipes!
Denise Slater says
I am in awe how easy and quick this came together and it’s so festive love it Thank you for posting
thanks so much Denise! I’d love it if you could also give it a star rating! Thank you! I hope your holiday was lovely.
Melissa Bauer says
This was fabulous! I used slivered almonds because that’s what I had and it was perfect! I made one for the neighbors Christmas dinner party and she said everyone loved it! My father in law loved it as well!
Thanks so much Melissa! I appreciate it!