Fresh cranberry bars are a delicious combination of a sweet and tart cranberry filling nestled between an easy shortbread cookie crust and cinnamon crumble topping. The flavors are the perfect combination of crisp sweetness and a dessert that everyone will love!
This time of year I am all about cranberries! I have been testing all kinds of cranberry recipes for you and this was hands down one of my favorites!
I love the shortbread crust with the crumble topping. It's a sweet dessert but not overpowering due to the nice tart zip of the cranberries.
These fresh cranberry bars would be a perfect treat to have with a cup of tea, Pink Hot Chocolate or Dalgona coffee and great to bring out as a dessert for any holiday gatherings you have coming up.
This recipe was inspired by another dessert with a crumble topping, Apple Crumble Pie. If you're craving more ways to cook with cranberries, you might also like to try Fresh Orange Cranberry Sauce or Cranberry Brie Bites.
To make fresh cranberry bars with a shortbread cookie crust, you will need some basic ingredients you can likely find on a quick trip to the grocery store.
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- baking powder
- fresh or frozen cranberries
For the exact quantities of each ingredient, please check the recipe card a bit further down on the page.
How to Make Fresh Cranberry Bars
To get started, gather all the ingredients together and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Start by whisking together the dry ingredients. Then cut the butter in with a pastry blender. Add the egg and work into the mixture until fully combined.
Press about 3 cups into the bottom of the prepared pan firmly. Set the remaining part of the mixture aside to use as the base of the crumble topping.
Next, let's make the filling.
In a large bowl, combine the cranberries, sugar, and cornstarch.
Pour the mixture over the crust. It's going to seem like you have a lot of sugar, and you do...but go ahead and scrape every last bit of it onto the cranberries.
Spread the sugar and cranberry mixture out evenly over the crust on the bottom.
Take the remaining crust mixture and sprinkle it evenly on top of the cranberries. Sometimes I add just a pinch of extra cinnamon to the topping- it is up to you.
Bake the bars in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes. The crust really needs that full-time. However, if you feel the top is getting too brown you can cover it with aluminum foil.
When the bars are done cooking, remove and let them cool before cutting into squares to serve.
How to Serve Cranberry Bars
Serve up fresh cranberry while still warm from the oven, room temperature, or chilled.
Make them even better by serving them up with a scoop of ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
Add them to your fall or winter dessert table and serve them up with...
You can leave these out at room temperature the first day, but after that, I recommend covering them and putting them in the fridge.
If you want to soften or warm them up before serving you can pull them out and let them warm up on their own on the countertop, or heat them in 15-second intervals in the microwave.
Expert Tips and FAQS
If you plan to store these in the refrigerator, cut the entire tray into squares first as the crust gets a little tough to cut through when it's chilled.
For a delicious flaky shortbread crust make sure to use cold butter to make the crust.
Cook cranberry bars for the full 50 minutes as it takes that amount of time for the crust to cook. If the top starts to color too much, lay a piece of aluminum over the top and keep cooking.
Yes, if you don't want a full 9x13 pan of cranberry bars, you can cut the recipe in half. Use an 8 x 8 to assemble and cook this recipe cut in half. The recipe is very simplistic and forgiving and won't make a difference!
Many people think you have to soak or pre-cook the cranberries before you bake with them! Good news- you don't! If you are making these bars, cranberry cookies or cranberry muffins you can just throw them right in the batter and they cook down really nicely.
No, I would not recommend this substitution. The flavor and texture are quite different and they will not come out with a juicy, flavorful filling like you would with fresh or frozen cranberries.
More Cranberry Recipes
Did you try this recipe? Please leave a star rating in the recipe card right below! You can also write a review in the comment section further down the page I always appreciate your feedback. And don’t forget to tag me @freshcoasteats in your photos on social media, I'd love to see your results!
Fresh Cranberry Bars
Crust and Topping
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup butter cold
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 16 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon corn starch
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking pan with butter or cooking spray, and line with parchment if desired for easy removal.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
- Cut the butter in small chunks and add to flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your hands, work the mixture until crumbs are formed.
- Add the egg and work into the mixture until fully combined.
- Press about 3 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan firmly. Set aside the remaining crumb mixture for the topping.
- In a large bowl, combine the cranberries, sugar and cornstarch. Mix well.
- Pour the cranberries over the crust, ensuring that leftover sugar from the bowl is also poured on top.
- Using a spoon, sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top of the cranberries.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.
- Cool to room temperature. You can serve at room temperature or put it in the refrigerator until slightly chilled.
Have you tried this recipe yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
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I love these cranberry bars!
Cut the recipe in half & baked it for 35 minutes...YUM! It’s so good.😋 Will definitely be making this again.
Enjoyed these and easy to make. I added a half cup of chopped pecans. Also, the bag of fresh cranberries i had was only 12 ounces so I added a half cup of dried cranberries. Maybe not as moist as a result but still tasty. I also added a little cinnamon to the top before baking, as suggested. Will make these again.
Those additions sound delicious Lynda! Thanks for sharing!
I don't bake often but these turned out great!!!! They made me look like a talented baker!
I am so glad Betsy! Thanks for giving them a try! Share a pic next time and tag me on socials!
Should I thaw frozen cranberries before baking
Great question Kathy! No, you do not need to thaw the cranberries before you cook them. They have such a high level of natural pectin that any extra liquid from thawing will thicken up nicely on its own.
Great recipe! Thank you! Very unusual crispy taste! But had to reduce sugar amount as it seemed too much. I used only 3/4 cup for the dough and just 1/2 cup for filling. Perfect balance of sweetness and cranberries to me.
So glad you loved it! That is one of my fave things about this recipe is you can really play around with that sugar amount. I tend to use less when I am planning to serve them for brunch. ALWAYS a hit!
Just finished making these. Super simple, I used my food processor for the crust and came out perfect. These are tart but will be ever so delicious with homemade vanilla ice cream. Will definitely make again. Thank you for the recipe
Roseanne Pietrunti says
Can I double this recipe to make on a cookie sheet sized pan..it's deep enough for a bar cookie....
I love this recipe. I am always looking for a way to use fresh cranberries. I also had a 12 oz bag of cranberries so I soaked some dried cherries in hot water and put them in with the cranberries.. I would highly recommend!
Yes! I have done this in the past and it works just fine. Be sure to really press the crust in, so it doesn't crumble!
Wondering if anyone has tried to using sugar substitute like swerve and subbing regular flour for almond flour?
I have made this with granular monk fruit sweetener and it was good, however, next time I do think I would add a little more as the cranberries are tart. My sister has made this with a 1/1 gluten free flour replacement. It worked great for her - I believe it was an almond flour blend but I am not sure about straight almond flour. Thanks for these questions! I will update my post to answer these.
Made it yesterday! Love them! They are hard to cut when chilled.
Do you use unsalted butter in this recipe?
Yes, unsalted butter is best!
Can you freeze these after baking them
Can you freeze these bars?
These turned out great, guests really liked them and they were simple to make.
Will definitely make again.