Fresh Cranberry Bars are buttery shortbread crumble bars bursting with fresh tart cranberries and the combination is pure heaven. If you haven’t baked with zingy cranberries yet, now is the time to start!
fresh cranberry bars are a delicious celebration of cranberry season!
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.
don’t be afraid of fresh cranberries!
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.
cranberry shortbread bars are a versatile holiday treat
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.
the flavor of cranberries blooms in the oven
They get soft and jammy, and become even more brilliant red when they bake, so these bars are especially pretty. I use vanilla in these cranberry bars, but you can also use almond extract, and then the cranberries take on a cherry flavor.
you can never have too many cranberry recipes
Baked Brie with Maple Roasted Cranberries
Maple Cranberry Butter in 15 minutes!
Fresh Cranberry White Chocolate Scones
Fresh Cranberry Bars
- 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, or you can use regular flour
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and patted dry
- Set the oven to 350F
- Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the salt and vanilla.
- Mix in the flour, just until combined.
- Line an 8×8 or 9×9 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake for about 45-50 minutes until just beginning to get golden around the edges.
- Cool on a rack.
Questions and Reviews
I made your cranberry bars but I think your ingredient measurements need to be checked. When I mixed the 6 cups of flour into the butter/sugar mix, it was NOT soft and sticky as recipe says. It was sooo dry and could not be patted into the baking pan. Also, there was enough dough to fill a 9″x13″ pan rather than the 8″x8″ pan you called for. You called for 3 cups butter and said 2 sticks. 2 sticks = 1 cup butter. Please help me out and let me know what I did wrong. Thank you.
Lorraine the recipe calls for 2 cups of flour! I hope you try again, you’ll have great luck, I promise!
This recipe is fantastic! The cranberry bars are beautiful and colorful! Very Christmassy! And delicious. They are one of my most favorite items to bake! So lovely on a tray. Everyone loves them!
This is an older recipe that doesn’t get enough attention, thanks for your review CR!
Made this recipe adding only some sliced almonds and a bit of almond extract. They turned out fabulous! Thanks so much.