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

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Cranberry Christmas Cake

Cranberry Apple Butter

A cranberry shortbread bar on a wooden surface.
3.84 from 313 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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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

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

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

  • Reply
    December 24, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    5 stars
    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
    December 23, 2018 at 9:00 am

    5 stars
    These are delicious! I added white chocolate chips <3

    • Reply
      December 23, 2018 at 9:09 am

      That’s such a nice combination!

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

    5 stars
    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
      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

    5 stars
    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.

    • Reply
      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

    5 stars
    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
    December 1, 2018 at 10:25 am

    5 stars
    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
      December 1, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Nice to know. thanks!

  • Reply
    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
      November 30, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      I love cookie baking days…have fun!

      • Reply
        December 4, 2018 at 9:00 am

        5 stars
        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
      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
    November 21, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    5 stars
    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.

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