Cranberry Filling

Add a festive color to your layer cake this holiday season.

Cranberry Filling
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Active Time:
20 mins
Chill Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 20 mins
1 ½ cups

Ready to make Southern Living's 2020 White Cake? For this year's 25th anniversary cake, we pulled out all the stops, not only giving you a recipe for decadent Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting, but also giving you three different filling options: Lemon Curd Filling, Cranberry Filling, or Whipped Chocolate Ganache Filling. It's a choose-your-own-adventure layer cake for the holidays.

If your home is bursting with holiday spirit, our Cranberry Filling is for you. This smooth Cranberry Filling boasts a rich, ruby-red color that's appropriately festive for the season. Use fresh or frozen cranberries for this filling, which comes together rather quickly—the cranberries get stewed on the stovetop with sugar, lemon juice, water, and corn starch to make a thick and fruity jam that pairs beautifully with the coconut cake. Your guests will be wowed when you slice into your stunning layer cake.

Prepare the filling at least four hours before you plan to make the cake so it has time to chill completely. The Cranberry Filling can sit in the fridge for up to 3 days, so this is a step you can execute ahead of time.


  • 2 ½ cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) cranberries

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  1. Stir together cranberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, 2 tablespoon water, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium. Boil, stirring constantly, until berries have popped and softened and mixture has thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

  2. Pour cranberry mixture into a blender. Secure lid on blender; remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. (Or process mixture in saucepan using an immersion blender.)

  3. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until very thick and slightly reduced, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of mixture (to prevent a film from forming).

  4. Chill until mixture is firm, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

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