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A smooth and tangy cranberry filling sandwiched between buttery cookie layers. These creamy cranberry bars are so delicious and the perfect dessert for the holidays!

I love cranberry. I’m so happy when the holidays roll around because I get to break out some of my favorite desserts! (Although in my opinion, they should be enjoyed year-round, they’re that good!) Add these other great cranberry recipes to the dessert lineup: cranberry Christmas cake, cranberry orange cheesecake, or cranberry cheesecake fluff if you want something easy.

3 cranberry bars stacked on top of each other.

The Best Cranberry Crumb Bars

Cranberry bars are the perfect holiday dessert! They’re the perfect combination of tangy and sweet, with a jammy filling on top of a crumbly, buttery crust. The filling is made with cranberry sauce, orange zest, and a bit of lemon zest and orange juice. Nice and tart, and the perfect contrast to the sweet crust.

When you’re wondering what dessert to make for the holidays, cranberry bars are the best choice! They’re so easy to make and since they’re in bar form, making enough for a large crowd and serving them is a breeze. Trust me, you’re going to love them. Even if you’re not a big cranberry fan, they’ll make you a believer!

Ingredient List

These cranberry crumb bars use a lot of simple baking ingredients to make your life a little easier. The perfect way to use up extra cans of cranberry sauce! See the recipe card below for exact measurements.

  • Light Brown Sugar: Think of light brown sugar as the sweet, sugary base for our bars, adding that caramel-like sweetness to the crust.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Gives the cranberry bars structure.
  • Baking Soda and Baking Powder: You’ll need both to help the crust rise so it’s not too dense.
  • Salt: Just a tiny bit of salt to make everything taste even better.
  • Unsalted Butter: Melted butter is the magic that makes the crust so buttery and rich!
  • Cranberry Sauce: The base of the perfect tangy filling. You can use homemade cranberry sauce or canned for easy prep.
  • Orange Zest, Orange Juice, and Lemon Zest: Make the filling even more delicious and vibrant.

How to Make Cranberry Bars

Mix up your crust and filling mixture, layer both, and then it’s off to the oven! Waiting for them to come out of the oven is the hardest part here. Especially with how amazing they make your kitchen smell!

  1. Preheat Oven, Prepare Pan: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare an 8×8 pan by lining it with parchment leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides and then spraying the parchment with pan spray. Then set aside.
  2. Crust Mixture: In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the butter and mix until combined. You may need to use a hand mixer or clean hands to fully combined the ingredients.
  3. Press in Pan: Press about ⅔-½ of the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan for the crust.
  4. Filling Mixture: Create the filling by mashing the cranberry sauce, both zests, and orange juice together. Add the filling to the pan on top of the crust. You can use all of the filling or about ½-⅔ of it. The more filling you use the more jammy the center of the bars will be.
  5. Bake and Serve: Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top of the filling and bake for 22-25 minutes, until the top crust is just beginning to turn a light golden brown. Let cool for 45-60 minutes before lifting out from the pan and cutting into bars. Cut 3×3 for 9 bars or 4×4 for 12 smaller bars.
4-photo collage of the crust being pressed into the pan and then the filling added on top.

Tips and Tricks

Get your cranberry crumb bars just right with these extra tips:

  • Crust to Filling Ratio: The ratio of crumb to cranberry filling is very adjustable according to your preferences. I used about 1/2 the amount of cranberry filling, but for a more jammy, fruit-filled bar you can use the whole thing!
  • Use Your Favorite Cranberry Sauce: Pick your favorite kind of cranberry sauce! If you prefer the jelly kind with no chunks, go for it. If you like it packed with whole berries, use the whole berry kind, and don’t mash them as you stir in the orange juice and zest.
  • Prefer Homemade Cranberry Sauce? Substitute the canned cranberry sauce for 1 ½ cups of your favorite cranberry sauce recipe.
  • Don’t Overmix the Crumb Dough! Mix it until all the butter has been absorbed into the dry ingredients. There should be a mixture of large and small pieces of dough and it may seem quite dry, but it will all come together when you press it into the pan or crumble over the top of the filling.
Cranberry crumb bars, cut into squares.

Storing Leftovers

Store leftover cranberry bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. If stored in the fridge, they will keep for up to 7 days.

Can Cranberry Bars Be Frozen?

Yes! These are a great make-ahead dessert! To freeze them, let them cool completely before lifting them out of the pan and cutting them into individual bars. Place the bars onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between them. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the bars are frozen solid, about 3-4 hours. Once frozen, transfer the bars to a freezer bag or an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost let them sit out overnight, or place the frozen bars on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

2 cranberry bars stacked on top of each other. One has a bite taken out of it.

More Delicious Cranberry Recipes

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Cranberry Crumb Bars

By: Alyssa Rivers
A smooth and tangy cranberry filling sandwiched between buttery cookie layers. These creamy cranberry bars are so delicious and the perfect dessert for the holidays!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 9 Bars

Ingredients 

Filling

  • 1 14-ounce canned cranberry sauce smooth or whole berries
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare an 8×8 pan by lining it with parchment leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides and then spraying the parchment with pan spray. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the butter and mix until combined. You may need to use a hand mixer or clean hands to fully combined the ingredients.
  • Press about ⅔-½ of the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan for the crust.
  • Create the filling by mashing the cranberry sauce, both zests, and orange juice together. Add the filling to the pan on top of the crust. You can use all of the filling or about ½-⅔ of it. The more filling you use the more jammy the center of the bars will be.
  • Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top of the filling and bake for 22-25 minutes, until the top crust is just beginning to turn a light golden brown. Let cool for 45-60 minutes before lifting out from the pan and cutting into bars. Cut 3×3 for 9 bars or 4×4 for 12 smaller bars.

Notes

Originally posted November 24, 2013
Updated on November 7, 2023

Nutrition

Calories: 314kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 4gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 130mgPotassium: 71mgFiber: 1gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 486IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 26mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!

About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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5 Comments

  1. I love these bars, they’re so pretty! The cranberry curd sounds wonderful paired on the walnut shortbread crust. I still have a lot of cranberries in my fridge so can’t wait to try these, thanks for sharing Alyssa 🙂