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Traditional fruitcake meets banana bread in this vegan fruit cake recipe. It’s rich, moist, sweet, super quick and easy to make, and perfect for the holidays!

completed Vegan Fruit Cake [Fruit Loaf] on a white surface
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Sweet and Simple Vegan Fruit Loaf Cake Recipe

Traditional Christmas fruitcake is a rich, dense cake made with candied and/or dried fruit, sometimes nuts, and warming spices, then optionally soaked in spirits (to extend its shelf life) and sometimes even topped with apricot jam and marzipan. Sound familiar? If so, you’re also probably aware that it’s also highly divisive in a ‘love it or hate it’ kinda way.

For this recipe, though, we’ve stepped away from tradition to make a fruit cake loaf jam-packed with fruit but a little lighter, fluffier, and more crowd-pleasing than ever. This quick fruit loaf is like vegan banana bread meets tea loaf meets fruitcake and is moist and tender with a chewy burst of fruity flavor in every bite.

It’s also SO simple to make – just weigh, mash, mix (by hand or with a mixer), and bake to perfection. It’s as great to enjoy as a vegan Christmas cake as it is year-round, with lashings of vegan butter and a warm cup of tea or coffee.

Looking for more vegan crowd-pleasing holiday treats? Check out our recipes for vegan chocolate peppermint pie, vegan gingerbread cake, chocolate fruit bars, vegan chocolate crinkle cookies, or amazing vegan holiday cookies.  

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for Vegan Fruit Cake [Fruit Loaf] on a white surface
  • All-purpose flour: Or a 50/50 blend of regular and whole wheat. A gluten-free all-purpose blend like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Mill should also work, though the fruit cake loaf will probably be a little drier/denser.  
  • Mashed banana: Use ripe bananas with plenty of black spots on the peel but not too many dark spots on the flesh (which can be bitter). This is a great egg replacement in this recipe for vegan fruit cake and adds lots of flavor.
  • Unsweetened applesauce: This serves several purposes. It acts as a binding ingredient and oil replacement in this vegan fruit cake. Plus, it adds subtle flavor.
  • Sugar: We used regular sugar (organic to ensure it’s vegan), but feel free to use a less refined option like raw cane sugar or coconut sugar if preferred. Using 50/50 regular and brown sugar will also work and add warm molasses flavor.
  • Vegan butter: Use a good room-temperature vegan butter, like Miyoko’s or Earth Balance. Coconut oil (in its solid form) may also work, but we haven’t tried it.
  • Dried fruit: We used a combination of cranberries, raisins (regular or golden), and apricots, but you can use what you have. E.g., sultanas, dried cherries, dates, figs, currants, candied peel, pineapple, apple, etc.
  • Leavening agents: This vegan fruit cake recipe relies on baking powder and baking soda to provide the required lift and texture.
  • Spices: Add wonderful warmth with the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Salt: To balance and enhance the flavors in this vegan Christmas cake.

What Could I Add To a Fruit Loaf?

  • Ground ginger: To boost the warm spices in the vegan tea loaf.
  • Nuts: Add some crunchy texture with chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
  • Tea: You can soak the fruit in rich black tea.
  • Zest: Use orange zest, lemon zest, or a combination of the two for a subtle yet delicious, bright flavor in this recipe for fruit loaf.
  • Glace cherries: Finely chopped.
  • Vegan icing: A simple one made with powdered sugar + plant-based milk or orange juice.
  • Fruity glaze: Heat marmalade or apricot jam with a splash of water until runny and brush over the loaf while it’s still warm from baking.

How to Make Vegan Fruit Cake

  • First, preheat the oven to 350F/175C and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Also, mash the bananas in a small bowl.
  • Then, in a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer (or stand mixer), cream the vegan butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
vegan butter and sugar in a bowl
  • Then add the applesauce and mashed bananas and mix for a further minute.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, leavening agents, spices, salt, and dried fruit, and whisk well.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix into a batter.

Be careful not to over-mix it, though, or it can overwork the gluten in the flour and lead to a dense, tough loaf.

  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs).
process shot of mixing batter in bowl
  • Finally, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire cooling rack to fully cool. Enjoy!
process shot post baking vegan fruit cake

Enjoy a slice of this fruit cake loaf warm (or even toasted) with lashings of vegan butter, plant-based cream, apricot jam, a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream, and/or a warm mug of tea or coffee.

FAQs

Can I make a vegan, gluten-free fruit loaf?

You may be able to use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Mill may work using a 1:1 ratio. However, it’s likely to be denser and drier. Let us know in the comments if you try it.

Can I make mini fruit loaves?

Yes – to make mini fruit loaves, divide the mixture into several smaller loaf pans and reduce the baking time accordingly based on their size. Use a toothpick/skewer to test for doneness (first check at about 18 minutes).

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Measure flour correctly: Fluff it up in its bag, spoon it into the measuring cup, and level it with a knife rather than scooping it from the flour bag. This helps to avoid a dense and/or dry banana fruit cake.
  • Chop larger dried fruits: If the pieces are too big, they’ll all sink to the bottom of the cake when baking.  
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: The fruit loaf may be dense/dry if you overwork the gluten in the flour. Mix it until only just mixed – a few small lumps are fine.
  • Use fresh leavening agents: If you’re unsure, test them. Combine ¼ tsp baking soda + 2 tsp vinegar and, in a separate bowl, ½ tsp baking powder + 3-4 tbsp water. Both should start to bubble immediately.
completed Vegan Fruit Cake [Fruit Loaf] on a white surface

Storage Instructions

Leave the vegan fruit cake to cool and then store it in an airtight container or this cake container like I used in the photo at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. It’ll taste even better on day two.

You can also freeze the banana fruit cake whole or sliced and wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months.

Leave it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, on the counter for several hours, or defrost individual slices in a toaster or microwave as needed.

completed Vegan Fruit Cake [Fruit Loaf] on a white surface

More Vegan Cake Recipes

You might also like to browse this list of 35 must-try vegan cake recipes.

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Vegan Fruit Cake [Fruit Loaf]

5 from 32 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Cool: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 10 slices
Traditional fruitcake meets banana bread in this vegan fruit cake recipe. It’s rich, moist, sweet, super quick and easy to make, and perfect for the holidays!

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup of vegan butter
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar, at room temperature
  • 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 mashed ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of golden raisins
  • 1 cup of dried apricots

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (170 degrees C), and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk the vegan butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the applesauce and bananas. Mix for 1 minute.
  • In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry fruit and mix well.
  • Add the flour and fruit mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a fork into the center of the loaf, if it comes out clean, it’s finished. If it comes out with wet batter, continue to bake in 5 minute increments.
  • Once fully baked, remove from the oven and place the loaf pan on a cooling rack. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and allow it to continue to cool on the cooling rack.

Notes

  • Measure flour correctly: Fluff it up in its bag, spoon it into the measuring cup, and level it with a knife rather than scooping it from the flour bag. This helps to avoid a dense and/or dry banana fruit cake.
  • Chop larger dried fruits: If the pieces are too big, they’ll all sink to the bottom of the cake when baking.  
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: The fruit loaf may be dense/dry if you overwork the gluten in the flour. Mix it until only just mixed – a few small lumps are fine.
  • Use fresh leavening agents: If you’re unsure, test them. Combine ¼ tsp baking soda + 2 tsp vinegar and, in a separate bowl, ½ tsp baking powder + 3-4 tbsp water. Both should start to bubble immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 3gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 2gSodium: 287mgPotassium: 325mgFiber: 3gSugar: 35gVitamin A: 329IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Method: Oven
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I tested this vegan fruit cake for the holidays and loved it! Can’t wait to make this loaf again for a work party next week!