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

Baked Brie with Maple Roasted Cranberries

Cranberry Apple Crisp

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

Maple Cranberry Butter in 15 minutes!

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
    Samantha Lanphar
    December 22, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    5 stars
    Hello and merry Christmas!
    I made these and your cranberry scones for my neighbors and they were a huge hit!!!! I added some chopped almonds for some crunch and not only did my house smell great, I had to hide them from my family so they wouldn’t all be eaten. Thank you!!!

  • Reply
    Christine Reynolds
    November 24, 2021 at 9:37 am

    5 stars
    These cranberry bars are the best! I’ve made them often and they are such a treat and so well received. Very pretty too especially around the holidays! One of my favorite recipes!

  • Reply
    Coleen Brown
    September 29, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    5 stars
    I wish I could leave a pic of how they turned out, but wow! Super impressed. My husband works at an furtalizer warehouse and the farmers enjoy sharing what they produce. Well, they had a huge load of cranberries brought in. Me, never having done anything with cranberries before, hopped onto the web to see what I could find. I am so glad I came across this blog!!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      September 29, 2021 at 4:21 pm

      Thanks so much Coleen, I love cranberries and you’ll find lots more ideas on the blog for using up those berries 🙂

  • Reply
    January 10, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Is it 1 cup of butter PLUS 2 sticks?

    Or 1 cup of butter, which IS 2 sticks?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 10, 2021 at 7:07 pm

      It’s one cup butter, which is also 2 sticks.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2021 at 7:47 am

    5 stars
    My mom brought home a bag of fresh cranberries and I had never seen fresh cranberries before. I popped one in my mouth but that was not a pleasnt experience! No, this is not that kind of fruit apparrently. Immediately looked up recipes using cranberries because I really wasn’t interested in making cranberry sauce, nor did I want to make them into raisins. This recipe seemed simple enough and had so many positive reviews so I gave it a shot.

    It was delicious as promised 🙂
    I used 1 cup of brown sugar instead of 2/3 and regular flour. Also my baking pan was slightly larger so it baked faster took about ~40 minutes with a 9×13 in baking pan. I didn’t have much dough left at the end to make the crumble cover the whole layer but it was actually nice having some of them stick out of the top.
    Next time I’ll try to see how much I can cut down on the butter or maybe do some substituting since that was the only thing that concerned me. I have eaten like 5 already!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 10, 2021 at 8:28 am

      I can imagine your face after eating that raw cranberry! Glad these were a hit for you 🙂

  • Reply
    January 4, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    I love them! We substituted fresh raspberries for cranberries. Does anyone know id we can freeze them?

    • Reply
      January 4, 2021 at 6:05 pm

      They should freeze well Melissa.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    5 stars
    I have been using your recipe for years, sometimes I add other frozen berries, but cranberry is our favorite. Love it!!!

    • Reply
      December 26, 2020 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks for coming back to comment IV 🙂

  • Reply
    Sofia quadri
    December 24, 2020 at 11:59 am

    5 stars
    These were so lovely! Just made them, sprinkled about 2 tbsp of sugar on the top and bakes for about an hour so the edges were nice family loved it thankyou!

  • Reply
    Ann Steinhart
    December 20, 2020 at 10:07 am

    5 stars
    I made this 2x and love this recipe. Will make it again.Thanks.

    • Reply
      December 20, 2020 at 11:16 am

      Thanks Ann 🙂

  • Reply
    November 29, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    5 stars
    Really easy prep and really beautiful result.

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