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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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

A few other scrumptious fresh cranberry recipes —

Baked Brie with Maple Roasted Cranberries

Fresh Cranberry White Chocolate Scones

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Cranberry Apple Butter

Fresh Cranberry Bars
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146 ratings

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

Fresh Cranberry 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 (you can use regular flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and patted dry

Instructions

  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.

Notes

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

 

 

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94 Comments

  • Reply
    White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
    January 29, 2019 at 5:07 pm

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  • 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 :)

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