Vanilla Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Well, ladies and gents (are there any guys who read my blog? Besides maybe you, Chris), the holidays are officially upon us. In the space of a week, I’ve gone from the girl who was outraged at the onslaught of pre-Thanksgiving Christmas (get that Holly station off my XM radio!) to the girl who’s got Mariah Carey on repeat thanks to Pandora (you can’t get better than “All I Want for Christmas Is You”).

With the rapidly approaching holidays comes another installment of the Holiday Blog Hop! (You can view my last post here.) This Vanilla Cranberry Baked Oatmeal is a twist on a breakfast that’s irrevocably tied to memories of some of my closest friends–in fact, some of them are a bit jealous that there’s only little old me to eat this batch!


One of the things I’m trying to focus on most this holiday season is being present. I’m the kind of person who gets to the place / event / thing she’s been waiting for and is immediately thinking about the next thing and the next thing and the next thing–yet completely forgets to appreciate and enjoy where she is right then. And frankly, life’s too short to miss out on the stuff that’s happening to you thisverysecond.

I was first served this baked oatmeal on a weekend retreat I took during my sophomore year of undergrad. Those three days were completely eye-opening for me, and have continued to shape me to this day (I actually wound up leading the same retreat later in my college years). Regardless of any religious persuasions you may (or may not) have, I think we all can relate to that–a moment where it feels like blinders are lifted off or the world shifts into clearer focus. Don’t you wish you could bottle up that clarity?

Anyway, my friends and I tracked down this recipe (which wasn’t, as it turned out, the retreat house’s “secret recipe”–it came from!) and ever since have relished the chance to whip up a casserole dish full. This oatmeal has made an appearance at many a holiday reunion, and could almost always be found in the fridge of my apartment during a particularly onerous exam period senior year (two of my roommates were bio majors, after all).

You may be used to eating oatmeal for breakfast, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself sneaking spoonfuls from the dish at any snacky time of day. The use of vanilla bean seeds gives the flavor a richness that you just can’t get with extract alone (not to mention an absolutely heavenly scent!), and the dried cranberries are bright, tangy, and a great textural contrast to the oats. Enjoy! And make sure to savor the meal, whatever time of day it is.

Vanilla Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Adapted from


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Seeds of one vanilla bean, scraped
  • Dash of vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and grease an 8×8 glass baking dish.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together butter and sugar. (If you are using the microwave shortcut to get your butter to room temperature, do not forget to pull your butter out of the microwave and resort to scraping near-melted butter off your microwave tray. Not that I did that.)

3. Add eggs and beat until combined.

4. Stir in salt, baking powder, and oatmeal.

5. Add milk and continue stirring to incorporate ingredients.

6. Add dried cranberries, dash of vanilla, and seeds scraped from your vanilla bean pod. (If you’ve never scraped the seeds from a vanilla bean before, there’s an awesome tutorial for how to do so here. Careful with that sharp knife!) Stir until these additions are fully blended into the rest of the oatmeal mixture.

7. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake uncovered at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. The top of the oatmeal will no longer look moist when pulled from the oven.

Oatmeal can be covered with saran wrap and stored in the fridge for up to four days. To reheat in the morning, scoop into a microwave-safe bowl, add a few tablespoons of milk, and warm for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. It’s also delicious eaten cold!

Did you think I’d be able to resist taking a bite as soon as this baby popped out of the oven? Hah, don’t you know me at all?

Don’t forget to check out the other awesome blog posts in the Hop:


24 thoughts on “Vanilla Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

  1. MMM this looks so good Tara. It’s been since I was a swimmer in high school that I had baked oatmeal. Now that it is freezing this looks perfect for breakfasts and snacks 🙂 Thank you so much for being apart of the holiday recipe club!

    • I warmed up after my freezing cold walk to the subway this morning by eating a delicious bowl (er…Tupperware) of this stuff–and it worked wonders! Definitely a must as the temperatures drop. Plus it keeps you so nice and full!

  2. I love baked oatmeal! And I am totally with you, I am super pumped about it being time to embrace Christmas, even though I was very against it pre-Thanksgiving. The only problem is I am freaking out about there being so little time left to prepare! This oatmeal should calm me down a little 🙂

    • Hahaha, it’s definitely calming…I’m with you on the no time thing! I have lots of shopping to do and apparently very little spare time to do it in. How do you think my family would feel about getting cookies for Christmas? I’m thinking I’ll have quite a lot of them on hand in the next few days…

    • Erin, I’m not a huge oatmeal person either–I don’t like when it’s too watery. But baking this up gives it a nice heartiness that’s more substantial! And the flavors of the vanilla and cranberry (or even, dare I suggest, chocolate!!) definitely help. 🙂

    • I’m sure that’s not true! Haha. I feel like you could throw pretty much anything in baked oatmeal and it’d be spectacular. I’d love to add some cocoa powder and try to make a chocolate-y version…

  3. What a fantastically delicious and comforting breakfast. Up until the precise moment I confess, I never thought about baking oatmeal. I can promise, after today I will not only think about it, I will endeavor to do exactly this.

    Oh the possibilities

  4. That song is far and above my Christmas favorite as well! I’m also loving this oatmeal. Perfect for those crazy days when breakfast just doesn’t seem like an option!

    • I think this would be a great option for sure! As far as extract goes, it definitely depends on the type you’re using. If it’s a higher-quality one, you might need a little bit more, about 2 tsp. But if it’s a more generic brand, I’d be careful not to use too much, maybe 1 or 1 1/2 tsp–I find that sometimes when I have to use imitation extract or store-brand vanilla (hey, I’m on a budget), the vanilla flavor is very present and can be overpowering if you’re not judicious with it.

      I hope you enjoy!!

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