Fresh Cranberry Bars

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!

A stack of Fresh Cranberry Bars with a fork.

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.

Two bags of fresh cranberries.

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.

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

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.

Fresh Cranberry Bars before baking.

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.

Fresh Cranberry Bars and fresh cranberries on a wooden surface.

you can never have too many cranberry recipes

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Cranberry Apple Crisp

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

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Fresh Cranberry White Chocolate Scones

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Cranberry Apple Butter

A cranberry shortbread bar on a wooden surface.
3.84 from 314 votes

Fresh Cranberry Bars

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!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 12 bars
Calories 260kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 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.


Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 36mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 481IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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  • 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
      November 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Yes, sure!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2017 at 4:19 pm

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

    • Reply
      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
    October 4, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    5 stars
    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
      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
        October 4, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        5 stars
        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!

  • Reply
    March 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    5 stars
    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
      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

    5 stars
    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
      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
    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
      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
    November 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    5 stars
    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
      November 25, 2015 at 6:39 am

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

  • Reply
    November 27, 2014 at 6:41 am

    5 stars
    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
      November 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Have a wonderful day, Brittany!

  • Reply
    October 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    5 stars
    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
      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!

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