Fresh Cranberry Bars




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Fresh Cranberry Bars ~ these buttery shortbread crumble bars are bursting with fresh tart cranberries and the combination is pure heaven!

A stack of Fresh Cranberry Bars with a fork.

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.

Two bags 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.

A stack of Fresh Cranberry Bars with a fork and fresh cranberries.

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 before baking.

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

Fresh Cranberry Bars and fresh cranberries on a wooden surface.

A few other scrumptious fresh cranberry recipes —

Baked Brie with Maple Roasted Cranberries

Fresh Cranberry White Chocolate Scones

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Cranberry Apple Butter

A cranberry shortbread bar on a wooden surface.

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3.39 from 179 votes

Fresh Cranberry Bars

Fresh Cranberry Bars ~ these buttery shortbread crumble bars are bursting with fresh tart cranberries and the combination is pure heaven!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Yield 12 bars

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

 

Fresh Cranberry Bars pin.

 

 

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92 Comments

    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    Dee
    January 8, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    These are good. The first time I made them the dough wasn’t sweet enough. They were still good but the second time I made them I used a full cup of sugar and added 2T of brown sugar to the topping. I also added small chocolate chips. It was amazing with chocolate.

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 9, 2019 at 9:04 am

      Oooh, the chocolate sounds good!

  • Reply
    Angela Shanaway
    December 29, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    These are so good!! I have 3 boys and they love them!!

  • Reply
    Jean
    December 24, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Love this recipe! Not too sweet!
    I use only 1/2 cup sugar. Substitute 1 cup of flour with almond flour and heaped the flours when measuring. I also added some almond abstract and toasted sliced almond. Doubled the cranberry. Tasted amazing!

  • Reply
    Kristin
    December 23, 2018 at 9:00 am

    These are delicious! I added white chocolate chips ??

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 23, 2018 at 9:09 am

      That’s such a nice combination!

  • Reply
    Betina Martin
    December 20, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    I made these for Thanksgiving, I doubled the recipe and used a 13×9 pan, I also added a bit of Lemon Zest and lemon juice to the dough and tossed the cranberries in cinnamon and they were a hit. Made them again tonight the same way but added walnut pieces and they are amazing!!! Thank you so much for the recipe

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 21, 2018 at 7:32 am

      Sounds like you got a tradition in the making, so glad it worked out for you Betina!

  • Reply
    Susannah Strong
    December 7, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Sue,
    I made your cranberry bars recipe! I was in fact so easy, and came out full of flavor. Thanks so much! I also wrote about your recipe in my blog and referenced you and your site. https://homeandhearth.blog/2018/12/07/cranberry-shortbread-bars/

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 7, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Oh yours look beautiful Susannah, thanks for coming back here to let me know :)

  • Reply
    Jessica Hardin
    December 4, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was so good, it was gone even with having pies and other choices. The flaky crust layers mixed with the delightful tangy cranberries huge hit. I got cranberries from my CSA share tonight and plan to make this again! I made extra dough so the top was completely covered and added two extra tablespoons of sugar.

  • Reply
    Tricia
    December 1, 2018 at 10:25 am

    I have made low carb version of this twice with coconut flower and stevia, always turned out great. The color is adorable and the aroma of coconut goes well with cranberries.

    Thank you for the great recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 1, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Nice to know. thanks!

  • Reply
    Susan
    November 30, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    I came across this recipe whilst searching for something to make with the whole cranberries I have left from Thanksgiving! We’re having Christmas cookie baking day tomorrow (me, my daughter and my DIL) and I’m going to try these! This is supposed to be bake and freeze, then bring out for various events, but not sure these will make it to the freezer, they look so good!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 30, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      I love cookie baking days…have fun!

      • Reply
        Susan
        December 4, 2018 at 9:00 am

        Made them, and they are a hit!

  • Reply
    Carol Miner
    November 30, 2018 at 7:12 am

    If I didn’t cut these, do you think they would ship well?

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 30, 2018 at 7:13 am

      If you wrap them well and wedge them in between bubble wrap or something that prevents them from shifting at all, they’d be fine.

  • Reply
    Alia
    November 21, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    I have been making these every Thanksgiving for the past four years. They are so delicious! My son looks forward to them every year (as do I). Thanks for such a simple and delicious way to use up that extra bag of cranberries.

  • Reply
    Chris
    November 18, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Sue, I made this last year with regular flour and loved them! I made them this morning and used cake flour and they are delicious. I love this recipe! So pretty to serve as well. It’s a keeper! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 18, 2018 at 11:22 am

      I keep forgetting to get cake flour, I love what it does to baked goods…glad you liked this and enjoy your holidays :)

  • Reply
    Kristen
    November 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    I would like to make these in a half sheet pan. Do you think tripling the recipe would work? I’ve had success doing that with a brownie recipe that calls for an 8×8 pan.

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 17, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      I think that should work!

      • Reply
        Kristen
        November 18, 2018 at 4:11 pm

        They were a huge hit! I received a lot of requests for the recipe. Thank you for such a delicious and easy treat!

  • Reply
    Lacy
    January 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    I’m a little late making these, but I’m stuck at home in the snow with only salted butter – will it work to use, and just leave out the salt calledfoe in the recipe? Thanks!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 20, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      I think that will be just fine, and enjoy your snow day!

    • Reply
      Kristen
      November 17, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      In the oven now. Looks great so far!

  • Reply
    Suwin
    December 17, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Dear Sue, Thank you so much for posting this recipe–it’s absolutely delicious! I’ve made it 3 times since Thanksgiving and it’s been a hit every single time. Yesterday’s version was for a holiday party so I made them in springform pans. By lining with parchment on the bottom, I was able to display them as a beautiful round “pie” even after slicing into squares. Doubling the recipe resulted in the perfect quantity for a 10″ AND an 8″ round pan. I have been using a little less butter (1.75 sticks instead of 2) and regular flour and it comes out great! Next time I’ll try adding orange zest to the berry layer.

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 17, 2017 at 8:43 am

      I love the idea of serving it in the round, thanks for the tip Suwin. And orange zest sounds amazing, why didn’t I think of that??

  • Reply
    Kelly
    December 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Just whipped these up with some leftover fresh cranberries from the holiday and they turned out amazing !!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 16, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Enjoy Kelly, just thinking about them makes my mouth water!

  • Reply
    Tommy
    December 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Getting ready to make this. Two sticks of butter for a 8×8 pans seems like a lot. But nobody has mentioned so I guess it’s fine.

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 5, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      It’s a butter shortbread type dough, Tommy, I use this proportion in most of my crumble bars and they turn out delicious!

      • Reply
        Tommy
        December 17, 2017 at 12:59 pm

        They were great! Made them twice already and of I get off here I’ll make another batch. I was low on butter and finished with shortening the first time. Worked fine.

        • Reply
          Tommy
          December 17, 2017 at 1:01 pm

          By the way I used whole wheat pastry flour (fine).

        • Reply
          Sue
          December 17, 2017 at 1:21 pm

          Thanks Tommy!

  • Reply
    Toko
    November 23, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Hi, sue
    Thank you so much for the quick reply.
    I’ll try the “flour method” next time, which will be Christmas.
    I hope the dough will be easier to handle, because this recipe is definitely a keeper.
    Thank you again! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

  • Reply
    Toko
    November 23, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I made this last year for thanksgiving dinner and everyone liked it.
    I used AP flour and regular butter omitting adding salt, just because that’s I always have in the house and I hate buying something just for this recipe.
    Anyways, it came out delicious, so I decided to make it again this year.
    Actually, it’s in the oven right now:)
    This time I decided to follow your recipe exactly using cake flour and unsalted butter.
    …dough is SO sticky, I had very hard time spreading it in the pan.
    They stuck to my fingers. Using non stick spatula did not help.
    I don’t recall this happened last year.
    Any suggestion?
    Shall I put the dough in the fridge for a while first?
    I’d appreciate any suggestions.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 23, 2017 at 9:08 am

      The shortbread dough is sticky, Toko, and sometimes I’ll flour my fingers to help with the sticking. So don’t worry, that’s the way it’s supposed to be! Happy Thanksgiving :)

  • Reply
    Katie
    November 19, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I made these tonight and they came out delicious! My husband and I had a hard time waiting for them because they smelled so amazing in the oven! Yours look much thinner than mine, but I used a 9×9 pan…. how do you think they’d do in a 13×9 at less time?

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 19, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks Katie, I’m so glad you liked these. I think you might be able to double the recipe and make it in the larger pan. I think the baking time should be a little longer, if you double the recipe that is.

  • Reply
    Patti J. Stewart
    November 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Oh my! Your recipe is making it to the family recipe box of thing we have to make. What a hit, Sue. Thank you for making a wonderful and wicked easy recipe. Dave and I love them and I am sure the entire family will for the holidays. I wanted to add a picture, but could not get it to happen. They came out just perfect.

  • Reply
    Patti J. Stewart
    November 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Can these be frozen? I have one batch in the oven right now. Added some coconut, almonds slices, and a few white chocolate chips. I would love to make these up ahead of time.

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Yes, sure!

  • Reply
    Linda
    October 19, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Our hostess at my bible study last night made these, and ALL of us asked for the recipe. They were fantastic!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      That’s so great ~ I hope I made a few new readers :)

    • Reply
      Patti J. Stewart
      November 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks Sue,
      Seen I added the same question. Sorry about that and you sure are good at a quick reply. One minute to go and they smell soooo good.

  • Reply
    Mandy
    October 4, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks so much for the fantastic recipe! My family has a new fav! We are cranberry farmers so we eat a lot of cranberries and I am always on the hunt for new recipes to use. Love how much of a fan you are of cranberries…its amazing how many people don’t know how to use them besides in cranberry sauce!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Oh wow, I love this Mandy, i’m so glad you came back to comment ~ what an honor to have this recipe approved by a cranberry farmer! I need to feature you on the blog, let’s talk!

      • Reply
        Mandy
        October 4, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        Sounds like fun! We are cranberry farming in beautiful, British Columbia, Canada. My husband was in the bog today pumping the fresh berries to ship out. We also just polished off the last bit of a batch of your recipe tonight! My kids can’t get enough! Feel free to connect with me @ mandy_dewit@hotmail.com

  • Reply
    Megan
    March 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    THESE were AWESOME! I managed to find fresh cranberries in March here in Florida. I shared with friends and received many compliments–great recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 16, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Oh wow, how did you ever find fresh cranberries in March, and in Florida of all places? I’m thrilled you liked them Megan, thanks for letting me know :)

  • Reply
    Rebecca McCloud
    January 11, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 11, 2017 at 1:23 pm

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

  • Reply
    Saleena Shamin
    November 23, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Pamela
    January 6, 2016 at 5:19 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 6, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      I think I’d put them in frozen, Pamela. Whenever I defrost cranberries they seem to get all mushy.

  • Reply
    Julie
    November 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 25, 2015 at 6:39 am

      So glad they were a hit for you Julie, I look forward to your post!

  • Reply
    Brittany
    November 27, 2014 at 6:41 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Have a wonderful day, Brittany!

  • Reply
    Melissa
    October 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 21, 2014 at 7:08 am

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

  • Reply
    Erin
    December 24, 2013 at 8:33 am

    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!

  • Reply
    Katherine
    November 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 25, 2013 at 6:54 am

      So glad they worked out for you, Katherine — better stock up on the fresh cranberries while they’re around!

  • Reply
    Heidi
    November 15, 2013 at 12:41 am

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

  • Reply
    Vicki
    November 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 15, 2013 at 7:18 am

      I think they would freeze perfectly, Vicki.

  • Reply
    Lorraine
    October 27, 2013 at 3:09 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 27, 2013 at 7:48 am

      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 :)

      • Reply
        Patti J. Stewart
        November 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm

        Oh just asked the same question Sue, sorry about that will make up a second batch and freeze these right up for the hubby when I have little time for cooking/baking. Sue again what a great recipe.

  • Reply
    Paula B.
    October 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    October 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm

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

    THANK YOU.

    Elizabeth

  • Reply
    Dina
    October 10, 2013 at 8:52 am

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

  • Reply
    grace
    October 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

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

  • Reply
    Abbe@This is How I Cook
    October 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm

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

  • Reply
    shannon
    October 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Eileen
    October 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

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

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Wow, mine never last that long!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    October 8, 2013 at 9:29 am

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

  • Reply
    Karen Harris
    October 8, 2013 at 8:06 am

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

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 8, 2013 at 8:34 am

      I know…right about now the days start whizzing by at warp speed…

  • Reply
    Julie
    October 8, 2013 at 7:07 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 8, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Thanks Julie, glad to have you with us!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    October 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I love cranberry bars, these are so pretty!

  • Reply
    Denise @ magnoliaverandah
    October 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm

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

  • Reply
    Mary
    October 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    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.:)

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    October 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

    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!

  • Reply
    Dom
    October 7, 2013 at 9:52 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 7, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Very Christmassy, I was going to say they would look very holiday-ish on a tray garnished with something green.