Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Tart and tangy, sweet and satisfying. This pie is easy to make, and can easily move from everyday to holiday dinner dessert.

We love our cranberries in New England. Their pop of tartness and vibrant red color move from sweet to savory with ease. What would the Thanksgiving table be without cranberry sauce or relish? I’ve recipes for cranberry muffins and breads, vegetables roasted with cranberries, cranberries in sautés and rice and meat dishes, cranberry parfaits and puddings, show-off tarts, cookies, crisps, cheesecakes and other desserts, and any number of special beverages.

New England cranberries are versatile and lend flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.

Nantucket Pie

One traditional favorite is Nantucket Pie, or Nantucket Cranberry Pie. Now, in keeping with other New England desserts, a Nantucket Pie isn’t really what we think of as a pie, more a cake, or a pie/cake hybrid. But we also call a yellow cake layered with pastry cream and topped with chocolate a Boston Cream Pie, so our definitions might be a little different than yours.

For this dessert, the ingredients are simple, a layer of cranberries and sugar, and a batter of flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and often almond extract. Sometimes it is made as an upside-down cake, but since I wanted to keep this simple, I just serve it up as a pie.

Let’s make a few changes

My in-laws spent a few weeks every summer on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. They absolutely loved the area. Each year, Pat would return with a folder full of recipes she acquired there, either from chefs she cozied up to, or from newspapers or magazines on the island. This dessert was one of her favorites.

In her version, Pat used the almond extract, but I prefer this using vanilla extract. I think the almond extract makes it taste too much like cherry pie. I use all-purpose flour since I often don’t have cake flour in the house. I increased the walnuts a bit, and decreased the sugar just a tad as well. Pat’s recipe uses twice the amount of cranberries as most versions, but I like hers best!

I’ve also added a couple of touches of my own –– the chopped up crystalized ginger and the lemon zest. I can’t help it; I just can’t leave a recipe alone! My grandson and husband love the changes, and that’s fine by me!

Vary as you like

You can make your own changes too. Add some chopped up apple or pear, perhaps swap out the nuts for another. And, You can make this with a gluten-free baking flour as well. There are those in the family who need to eat this with whipped cream or ice cream, but I think it’s best straight up.

No rolling of dough, no crusts to play around with. One bowl, one baking dish, one wooden spoon. Lots of smiles!

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Nantucket Cranberry Pie a New England tradition.
  • 4 cups cranberries (I bag)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • ½ cup crystalized ginger, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. brown or coarse sugar

            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep-dish pie plate or round cake tin.

            Chop the cranberries in half and place in the buttered baking dish. If you like, toast your walnuts in a dry pan over medium high heat until fragrant and add them to the cranberries along with the ginger, zest, and sugar.

            In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with the sugar with a wooden spoon until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined. Add the flour and salt, mixing only until combined. This will be a thick batter.

            Dollop the batter over the berries, and gently spread it out. You might need to moisten your fingers a little to do this. Sprinkle with the sugar.

            Bake for 30 minutes, turn the cake around, and continue baking until brown and firm on top, about 15 to 25 minutes more, or until set and browned.

Let cool. You can serve this with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if you want to dress it up.

Simple, but delicious!

Pat’s Nantucket Pie

Nantucket Pie Grease cake pan and add 1 bag of halved cranberries, ½ cup walnuts, and ½ cup sugar. Make topping, beat together 1 1/2 sticks of soft butter, 1 cup of sugar, then add two eggs, and ½ tsp. almond extract. Spoon in 1 cup cake flour and mix to combine, then dot on top of berries and spread out. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until brown.

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  1. Haha…I always need to make my changes to a recipe too 🤪
    I love these recipes where no rolling of dough or no crusts to make is needed 😉 Easy but super delicious 😋

    1. We just can’t leave those recipes alone! Even as I’m reading a recipe, my mind starts filling in the blanks. This one is so easy to put together, and so delicious!

  2. Angela says:

    These looks and sounds so good! It reminds me of a recipe I made each Thanksgiving for many years, as a pie alternative. It was also called “Cranberry Pie” (as I recall–reaching back now) and was very simple to put together. The recipe included walnuts. One of my “historic keepers” from the old La Leche League cookbook, like “No Excuse Bread” and the pancakes recipe. I’m going to try yours as I always love your interesting touches.

    1. Thank you so much Angela! This recipe has been around for ages, and the versions are all pretty similar. Most use less cranberries than Pat’s recipe, but I like the abundance of fruit.

  3. Samreen Asad says:

    Looks delicious!!

    1. Thank you so much, it is a real treat.

      1. Samreen Asad says:

        Of course, it appears to be so😊 will try surely!!

      2. Wonderful! I think you’ll enjoy it!

      3. Samreen Asad says:


  4. Let's Cook says:

    This looks so tasty

    1. Thank you so much! It’s a long-time family favorite.

  5. Love it already!

    1. Why thank you so much!

  6. Looks and sounds delicious!

    1. Thank you so much, I’ll save you a slice!

  7. Looks and sounds incredible!!!

    1. Thank you so much! It is as pretty as it is delicious!

  8. What an invite Dorothy! This one is pioneering and patriotic. You are calling a divided country home.☕️☕️💗💗🍽☕️☕️🌺🍂

    1. Yes, divided we are. That’s why yesterday, I decided I needed to make a pie…

  9. Ally Bean says:

    Around here this recipe would be called Cranberry Dessert. No mention of pie at all. Yours looks delicious and I like your additions.

    1. It is probably a more accurate term than either pie or cake! I think the additions add just a little something to it. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Marc David says:

      In Mass its Nantucket Chrismas Pie

      1. I love the Christmas Pie name!

  10. Carolyn Page says:

    Your late mother-in-law, Dorothy, sounds like she was a real hoot; down to earth and fun!
    Don’t know what we’d call this one. Probably ‘delicious’… 🙂

    1. Pat was a character, as you said a real hoot. She was always laughing and smiling and looking at the positive side of everything. She kept everyone moving and she loved entertaining, many times in any given week. She fed us all, and delighted in every morsel!

  11. Definitely my kind of pie/cake, and I’m all for adding lemon zest and ginger to just about anything. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Ronit! I agree that lemon and ginger make a lot of things even better. By the way, I saw your Chopped episode this week, it was lots of fun and I’m sure the time you were cooking went by like seconds!

      1. Thanks for letting me know. It’s been so long since I participated, and I had no idea they still run the the episode!
        It was indeed an intensive and challenging experience. In a hindsight, I obviously would have done many things differently, but I’m glad I at least made to the final round. 🙂

      2. I can’t imagine how stressful it is to come up with something incredible in those moments. You did great!

      3. Thank you, so nice to hear!
        It is indeed quite stressful, not only because of the weird ingredients, but also because we got to see the kitchen only a couple of minutes before having to start cooking.
        I’m glad I went, but once was definitely enough for me. 🙂

  12. Wow! This looks delicious! I’m all for “easy”! 🙂

    1. Thank you! Easy is great, especially when it is also delicious!

  13. chef mimi says:

    This is fabulous! I’ve never heard of this, in any variation. Almost like a crumble-ish cake-pie. Wonderful.

  14. A beautiful pie! Perfect for the holidays!

    1. It is a perfect holiday dessert, not just because of taste but also because of its ease in baking.

  15. Oh wow! It looks and sounds so delicious!!

    1. Thank you so much, it is really scrumptious!

  16. This recipe sounds amazing! The pie looks so delicious 😋

    1. Thank you! Really delicious and really easy!

  17. suzannesmom says:

    Looks like something to celebrate with.

    1. Absolutely! We’ll celebrate right after we exhale!

  18. sunisanthosh says:

    Sure, Some changes will make another great recipe. This is awesome pie. 💦💙

    1. Thank you so much, making (and eating) it helped pass the time this week!

      1. sunisanthosh says:

        Nice joke and it is real, your words make me laugh 😆

      2. Aw, thank you. That was my attempt. We need more laughter in this country right now!

      3. sunisanthosh says:

        Yes you are right 👍

  19. Hi Dorothy!
    Quick question, can you read my new poem in stanzas or is it in a weird layout?

    1. I went to your site and read it there as directed, and it was in perfect layout! Lovely site, by the way!

  20. tanssityttö says:

    Sounds delicious! 😋

    1. Thank you! It’s tasty and easy!

  21. Rekha Unni says:

    That looks delicious 😋😋

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by!
      Thanksgiving here will be tiny this year, so this is the pie I will probably make, unless my husband vetoes it in favor of his pumpkin!

  22. Yum! I sometimes have a hard time finding crystallized ginger…do you think this could be made with (obviously less) fresh ginger and extra sugar?

    1. It’s easy to make your own crystalized ginger, and it’s fun. Here’s how, I just happen to have a link to my recipe 😃:

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