Christmas Fruitcake Recipes

You will Love Grandma's old fashioned Christmas Fruitcake recipes. For me, it's impossible to imagine a Christmas without homemade fruitcake. Every fall, Mom made her Christmas cakes using one of the recipes below.

She wrapped them in several layers of brown paper and safely stored them on the top shelf in the pantry well beyond my reach — at least she thought they were. Kitchen-stools were invented for a purpose!

Grandma's Christmas Fruitcake Recipes

Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)

Slice of Homemade Christmas Fruitcake on a PlateSlice of Christmas Fruitcake with Almond Icing
(Source: ©Cathy Yeulet/123RF)

Just consider some of the all-natural ingredients these recipes call for: fresh eggs, butter, brown sugar, currents, raisins, walnuts, almonds, mixed peel and spices. No store-bought, doorstop fruitcakes here!

These old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipes produce cakes that can't help being absolutely delicious. And just look at these tempting serving ideas.

Decorate a Christmas Fruitcake to Make it Extra SpecialFestively Decorated Fruitcake
(Source: ©iStock/Chris_Elwell)
Christmas Fruitcake Iced for the HolidaysChristmas Fuitcake
(Source: ©Cathy Yeulet/123RF)

Tips for Making Fruitcakes

Here are some helpful tips on how to make the old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipes turn out just like Grandma's:

  • Using damp fruit can result in heavy (doorstop) fruitcakes. Raisins and currants should be left in the colander for a while to dry after washing.
  • Fruit should also be dredged with flour before mixing with other ingredients.
  • Remember that dried fruits added to batter makes it stiffer, as they absorb the moisture from the batter. So, if the recipe calls for fresh fruits and you use dry fruits you might have to add a wee bit of water (or brandy) to the batter to make it less stiff, maybe a tablespoonful.
  • Cake pans should not be filled more than two-thirds full.
  • Fruitcakes should bake from two to four hours in a slow (250°F) oven unless the old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipe specifies otherwise.

Follow these baking tips and you can't go wrong.

Grandma McIlmoyle's Christmas Fruitcake

Traditional English Fruitcake with Knife and Fork on a TableTraditional English Fruitcake for Christmas
(Source: ©nataliamylova/


2 lb raisins, 2 lb currents, 1/2 lb mixed peel, 1/2 lb almonds, 1-1/4 lb brown sugar (2-1/2 cups), 2 cups butter, 1 lb flour (4 cups), 10 eggs, 2 nutmegs, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 wineglass brandy (I used fruit juice instead, being out of brandy).

Directions for mixing:

Cream the butter and sugar, then pour in dry ingredients. Break up the eggs and mix all together well.

Bake 3-1/4 hours (or until done) in a very slow oven not more than 275°F.

Some cooks prefer to steam until none sticks to a straw, then brown in the oven (best way as it burns very quick).

How to Steam Fruitcake

I had a reader inquire about how to steam Grandma's fruitcake, since her old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipe (above) gives that option.

I suspect the cake was steamed similar to how one would steam a Christmas pudding, but I've never tried steaming a cake, preferring the baking method.

The best compromise would be to cover the cake with parchment paper and aluminum foil, then place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven below the cake during baking.

Be sure to remove the pan of water during the last hour of baking, to prevent the cake from becoming too moist.

Special Christmas Fruitcake Recipe


Ratafia is an old fashioned term used for a wine or liqueur made from an infusion of fruit and various herbs, and sometimes flavored with almonds.

1 pound dates, 1/2 pound nuts, 1 cup wine, 1 pound butter, 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon rose water, 1/4 cup molasses, 3 pounds raisins, 1 pound peel (mixed), 1/2 cup black currant juice, 3/4 pound brown sugar, 7 eggs, 1 grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon lemon, 1/2 teaspoon Ratafia, 1/2 teaspoon soda.

Prepare fruit, pour wine and black currant juice over same and leave stand overnight.

Cream butter, then add eggs and beat well; then add molasses and soda beaten until light, then add flour, sprinkle fruit with flour and add.

Bake (275°F) in tins lined with heavy brown paper buttered. Do not open oven for about three hours.

Dried Apple Fruitcake

Dried apples, 1 cup; molasses, 1 cup; 1 egg; sugar, 1/2 cup; milk 1/2 cup; flour 2-1/2 cups; baking powder, 1 teaspoonful.

Directions: Soak the dried apples overnight, then steam until soft; then simmer them slowly in the molasses, until well cooked; when cool, add the other ingredients and bake (300°F) till done. —Dr. Alvin Wood Chase, M.D., 1881.

Inexpensive Christmas Fruitcake

This old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipe is an inexpensive Christmas cake to make, yet it turns out delicious and suitably rich tasting.

Two cups brown sugar, 1 package seeded raisins (quantity to your preference), 1 tablespoonful of shortening, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon ground spices, 1 teaspoon salt. Boil all in a saucepan 5 or 6 minutes.

When cool add 1 teaspoon soda dissolved in a little hot water, 1 pound chopped figs or dates, 3 full cups flour.

Beat well and bake in a slow oven (250°F) about 1-1/2 hours. It will keep moist, in a cool place, without icing.

Aunt Daisy's Christmas Fruitcake Ingredients

2 cups seedless raisins, 2 cups currents, 1/2 pound dates, 2 oz (1/2 cup) lemon peel, 1/2 pound (1 cup) cut mixed fruits, 1/2 cup whole red cherries, 3/4 cup walnut pieces, 1 cup halved almonds.

Prizewinning Christmas Fruitcake

4 cups sugar
3 cups melted butter
4 cups molasses
2 cups sweet milk
10 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons each of cinnamon, cloves, allspice
Nutmeg to taste
8 cups flour
3 pounds raisins
2 pounds currants
1 pound mixed peel
1 pound chopped nuts, or 3/4 pound chopped nuts and 1/4 pound almonds

Mix as for fruit cake and bake in slow (250°F) oven.

Christmas Fruitcake with Brandy

This old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipe calls for brandy, as it enhances the flavor and helps to preserve the cake for a longer shelf life. An inexpensive brandy is quite suitable for cakes.

3/4 pound butter, 1 pound brown sugar, 2 pounds currants, 2 pounds raisins, 1 pound dates, 10 eggs (8 will do), 1/4 pound almonds, 1/4 pound walnuts, 1/2 cup molasses or rose water, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon mace, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, vanilla to suit, 3/4 teaspoon soda, 5 cups flour, 3/4 or 1 cup brandy.

Brandy may be mixed with other ingredients or poured over cake when baked. Bake in a very slow oven (250°F) for 3 to 4 hours. It is the best that I have ever made. And everybody who has ever eaten the cake thinks it splendid.

Christmas Fruitcake with Sour Cream

1/3 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs or 4 yolks, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1-3/4 cups flour, 1 cup seeded raisins, 1 cup chopped dates, 1/3 cup almonds (blanched and chopped), 1/4 cup citron (sliced thin), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Mix and bake (250°F) as in a Christmas cake recipe, or if you prefer the more commonly used method, cream the butter and sugar.

Mix a little of the flour with the fruit and add the rest alternately with the beaten eggs, and the cream in which the soda has been dissolved. Add the floured fruit last, stirring in about a third of it at a time.


If you wish to make a darker fruitcake from this Christmas fruitcake recipe, add 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

If you especially like the flavor of molasses, add 1 tablespoon molasses, and about 2 tablespoons more flour.

Rich Tasting Christmas Fruitcake

This old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipe calls for the fruit and nuts to be cut in large pieces making the cake moist and decidedly chewy for those who love fruitcake.

1 pound butter
8 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon mace
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 pounds seeded raisins
1 pound seedless raisins
2 pounds currants
1/2 pound mixed peel
1/4 pound almonds
1/4 pound walnuts

We use rather an unusual method in putting this Christmas cake together. Cut the fruit and nuts in rather large pieces — this makes a fruit laden cake look and taste richer.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then stir in the fruit and peel without flouring it, and let this mixture stand while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

We believe that when the fruit is allowed to stand in the butter in this way its flavor permeates the cake more thoroughly than when it is floured and added last.

Sift the salt and spices with the flour. Beat the eggs. Beat the soda into the sour cream and stir this into the beaten eggs. Add the nuts to the fruit and butter and stir in alternately the sifted flour and spices and the egg and cream mixture.

Line baking pans with greased paper and bake in a slow oven (250°F) till done.

Favorite Christmas Cake Icing Recipes

Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)

These delicious homemade icings can be used with any of the Christmas fruitcake recipes.

Ornamental Frosting

Ingredients: 3 egg whites, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 pound icing sugar. Put the unbeaten egg whites in a large bowl, sift in icing sugar, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Add lemon juice. Beat until stiff or until it will hold its shape when cut though with a knife. More sugar may be required.

This icing is applied over a foundation such as almond paste. A pastry tube or a paper funnel may be used to apply fancy decorative trimming.

Pineapple Icing for Christmas Cakes

Two and one-half cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, 2 egg whites, 1-1/2 teaspoons pineapple.

Cook together the granulated sugar and the corn syrup in 1/2 cup water till it forms a soft ball; then pour over the egg whites beaten stiff and beat till the mixture is almost cold, creamy, and will hold shape when spread. While beating, add pineapple.

Can be used with or without almond paste. Any left over can be kept in a close-covered jar for further use.

Decorate with candied pineapple, red, green, and natural. Cut rings in wedge shapes and arrange in the form of a poinsettia, yellow for centers and green for leaves.

How to Make Almond Icing from Scratch

One pound ground almonds, 4 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon rose water, 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring, 1 pound icing sugar.


Add yolks to almonds, then flavorings and sugar gradually, working till mixture is very smooth and stiff as dough; cut to shape of cake.

Moisten cake with water and press paste to it. Either leave for twenty-four hours before icing or bake in oven till top is delicately browned. —I. R. McK.

Inexpensive Almond Icing Using Sweet Potato

Try this old fashioned icing tip. First, bake a sweet potato. When done, scoop out the inside and with a fork mix icing sugar into it to make a firm paste, gradually adding a few drops of almond extract for flavoring.

This makes an excellent and inexpensive almond paste foundation for a decorative icing on Christmas fruitcakes. One sweet potato will take from 1 to 2 cups of icing sugar, depending on its size.

About the Christmas Fruitcake Recipes

Mom loved to make traditional English fruitcake for Christmas, and we loved it when she did. I can still recall our farm kitchen being filled with the sweet, spicy aroma of her cakes baking in the oven of the old wood stove.

She was so proud of her homemade Christmas cake. It was fruit-filled, moist, and absolutely delicious! I especially loved its thick layers of marzipan and icing.

Throughout the holidays, whenever visitors came, they could never leave without first sampling a piece or two of Mom's Christmas cake.

Now, you can make these same holiday cakes chock full of old time goodness and the rich flavors of fruit.

Use the same Christmas fruitcake recipes and get ready to experience those wonderful Holiday Time aromas in your kitchen. Give your children fond memories to cherish.

How to Keep Fruitcake Moist

Want to keep your fruitcake moist? My wife Vicki chooses one of the old fashioned Christmas Fruitcake recipes and bakes her cakes ahead of time (both dark and light fruitcakes) in pans lined with modern parchment paper.

After they have baked and cooled, she removes them from the pan and leaving the parchment paper on, she wraps the cakes entirely in aluminum foil and freezes them.

At Christmas time, she takes them from the freezer to thaw a half day before they're needed. They are always fresh and moist when served. Absolutely delicious!

Old Fashioned Christmas Fruitcake

Bell Family Christmas Fruitcake In 19031903 Christmas Fruitcake Decorated With the Bell Family Crest
(Source: ©Don Bell)

Christmas fruitcakes have always had a traditional part in the Bell family's Holiday celebrations for many generations.

Bell Family Christmas Eve Supper In 1903William Ralph Bell Family Christmas Eve Supper in 1903
(Source: ©Don Bell)

The above photo shows my Great Grandfather Dr. William Ralph Bell and his family enjoying their 1903 Christmas Eve Supper in Ottawa, Ontario.

Around the dining room table from left to right: Archie, Polly, Miss Cox (family friend), Jane, Laurie, Daysie, Dad (Dr. William Ralph Bell), Nan, Mamma (Mrs. W. R. Bell), and Bob Lett.

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