When I spotted the first stack of fresh cranberries in my supermarket the other day I lunged at them.  Even though cranberry production still exceeds demand in this country, you never know when people are going to wake up and figure out that fresh cranberries have so much more to offer than just being boiled up into a sauce.  I like to hedge my bets and stock up the minute I see them.  Remember the great pumpkin shortages of  ’06, ’08, ’09, and ’11?  I don’t take any chances with my fall staples.


I use them like any other berry, there’s no need to cook them first or add a lot of sugar.  They burst open in the oven and form a ruby red layer in these bars that has a wonderful lemony tartness.


These are perfect for pot-lucks, bake sales, book groups, office parties, all that stuff.  They pack and travel well, and can be eaten with fingers or forks.  I think these are the easiest of all the crumble bars that I’ve made (and I’ve made a lot) because the cranberries just get scattered in between the layers of shortbread dough.  There’s only one bowl to worry about, no nuts to chop, no spices to measure.  This is definitely one of those recipes that could become habit forming, in a good way.


Fresh Cranberry Bars

Yield: 9 or 12 bars, depending on how you slice them


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups cake flour (you can use regular flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and patted dry


  1. Set the oven to 350F
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the salt and vanilla.
  3. Mix in the flour, just until combined.
  4. Line an 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper or foil with overhanging edges, this will make it easy to lift the bars out of the pan for cutting. Alternatively you can just lightly spray the pan with non-stick spray.
  5. Using your fingers, pat 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the pan. The dough will be soft and sticky, do your best to cover the entire surface of the bottom, but you don't need to compact the dough, just lightly pat it down.
  6. Spread the cranberries out across the dough, and then, using your fingers again, crumble the remaining dough on top. Try to get the dough in smallish crumbles, but don't worry about covering all the cranberries, they will show through.
  7. Bake for about 45-50 minutes until just beginning to get golden around the edges.
  8. Cool on a rack.


I really like the extra tenderness that cake flour gives to these bars, but you can also use regular flour.



The cranberries get even more brilliant red when they bake, so these bars are especially pretty.

A few other scrumptious fresh cranberry recipes —

Hot Pepper Cranberry Jam, TVFGI

Cranberry Christmas Cake, Barefeet in the Kitchen

Cranberry Curd Bars, TheKitchn

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40 Responses to Minimal Monday: Fresh Cranberry Bars

  1. Rebecca McCloud says:

    Oh my, these are the absolute best!! I love using fresh cranberries and this was just too easy. I’m not a great baker/cook so generally follow recipes to the letter. Will be making these often.

    • Sue says:

      I’m always so happy to hear about recipe successes, Rebecca, thanks! I love fresh cranberries, too, I stocked my freezer this year!

  2. Saleena Shamin says:

    Did the bars come out wet from the oven? Mine did and its a bit concerning. But I’m letting it dry now. Hopefully it will harden.

  3. Pamela says:

    If I was going to use some cranberries I had frozen…would I defrost first or put in frozen? Thanks :)

  4. Julie says:

    So good! I added pine nuts and powdered sugar to my topping. I also tossed cranberries with sugar. Although I love the tartness, I wanted to cater to a wider audience. So good! Will be reposting my experience soon!

  5. […] is one tough critic when it comes to food, so this is a great honor. Recipe adapted from The View From Great Island – I just took out the regular butter, and scratched out ingredients that would have made […]

  6. Brittany says:

    These were so easy to make and turned out so delicious! I sprinkled sugar on top for a little bit of sweetness. Other than that, they were great! Taking them to Thanksgiving dinner today! Thanks!

  7. Melissa says:

    So this may be a year late, but wow! I have to admit, I threw in about 1/4 cup of good quality almond paste to the dough. It made these absolutely unbelievable! I also King Arthur Glazing Sugar (sugar and maltodextrin) with milk and almond extract (I like my almond). You could use powdered sugar as well.These are on the top of the holiday baking list for sure.

    • Sue says:

      Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever mixed cranberry and almond, and I LOVE almond. I’ll have to try this, thanks Melissa!

  8. Erin says:

    Oh my GOD these are incredible!!!! Made them yesterday and brought them to work, they were gone in minutes. I even got the comment that they were “life-changing” they were so good!! Making more tonight!

  9. Katherine says:

    OMG! Just made this! They are soooo good! Was looking for a easy cranberry recipe but yours is the easiest and the tastiest ! Not a expert of baking and normally my husband doesn’t like my cookies( well he says he likes then but he nicer really eat them!) but they turn out so good! Not to mention I did add a little bit more cranberry in it because I like it a little bit tart.

  10. Heidi says:

    I have made these bars!! They are so buttery and the cranberries give them a tart, sweet bite!! I could hardly stop eating them!!

  11. Vicki says:

    Do these freeze/keep
    well. I thought of doing in a Xmas cookie exchange

  12. Lorraine says:

    I found you’re recipe via Facebook and adapted the recipe as I only had blueberries and rhubarb and it’s superb with any fruit!

    • Sue says:

      It really is, I have several more recipes like this one, Lorraine, and I’m slowly working my way through all the fruits I can think of :)

  13. Paula B. says:

    First time visit here and I think these bars are going to have to get made very soon. I love all things “cranberry” so it’s great to have a new dessert to make. I’ve been on the Cape for several weekends recently and have seen (very) fresh cranberries being sold from the backs of people’s cars, I wonder what everybody’s making? Heading now to look through all your lovely recipes.

    • Sue says:

      I envy you being on the Cape at this time of year! I made a cranberry butter last week that I’ll be sharing on the blog soon, that’s a good way to use up an overabundance of berries.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Oh my goodness these looks heavenly. I have to make these and those flourless chocolate chip cookies RIGHT NOW.



  15. Dina says:

    I saw some fresh cranberries at the farmers’ market and I was thinking, what could I do with those? these bars look great!

  16. grace says:

    i love seeing fresh cranberries finally on store shelves. this is a pretty and tasty use for them!

  17. I love the true red color in these. And how simple they are. I think I may fall in love!

  18. shannon says:

    i LOVE that this is a minimal monday post: cranberry bars with few ingredients? sold. i can’t wait to make these. i haven’t seen cranberries yet in the markets, but i haven’t really set about looking for them either. that changes today, thanks to these. gorgeous, Sue.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hooray, cranberries! We still have some in our freezer from last fall, and now I think I know just what to do with them. :)

  20. These are so pretty. Love the vibrant red color. I guess a trip to the store is needed asap!

  21. Karen Harris says:

    Is it that time already?! These look delicious and so simple to make. These will definitely make an appearance in my kitchen soon.

  22. Julie says:

    I have been getting email notifications for your blog posts for only a short time but so look forward to them. This is another wonderful recipe I am going to try. Thanks so much for sharing!

  23. I love cranberry bars, these are so pretty!

  24. Oh YES the perfect Christmas nibble! How beautiful do they look and no sugar – this is a bonus!

  25. Mary says:

    These look awesome, Sue! Thanks for the link to my cake as well. I just took some cranberries out of the freezer this afternoon to play with a gluten free version.:)

  26. I almost never (ever?) see anyone bake with fresh cranberries and not doctor them up in a sugary sauce first or feel the need to first cook them down. I love this idea, Sue, of just adding them and treating them like any other berry!

  27. Dom says:

    dare I say these are almost christmassy!… they look so special and I bet they’re just the right (or wrong) side of tart!.. I love ’em!

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