Easy Cranberry Crumble Bars
Make good use of the holiday season’s favorite berry and bake these cranberry crumble bars! The tart berries are complemented by citrusy orange zest. The filling is sandwiched by the same buttery oatmeal crust and topping I use in my raspberry oatmeal bars!
Cranberries are abundant this time of year! If you have leftovers from Thanksgiving, they will be well used in these crumb bars. Packed with tart yet sweet flavor, the berries pair perfectly with a bit of orange zest and juice. You’ll love how good they taste against the oatmeal crumble.
Why this recipe works
These cranberry crumble bars are made in a 9×13 pan, which yields a larger batch perfect for sharing with friends and family around the holidays. The crust and crumb topping are made from the same mixture so the bars are quick and easy to make! In this recipe, you can use fresh or frozen cranberries (whatever you have on hand).
- Oats: Rolled oats (also known as old fashioned oats) will give the best chewy texture. I do not recommend steel-cut outs because the texture is to tough and grainy.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is needed for the crust and crumble topping. Make sure it is softened, but still cool for best results.
- Almonds: I like using nuts in my crumble topping, but they are not required.
- Cranberries: I suggest using fresh cranberries since they have the most flavor and are easy to find during the holidays.
- Orange zest and juice: This flavor naturally complements cranberries. Make sure it’s fresh for the best taste!
- Cornstarch: This helps thicken the filling. You can also use 1 Tablespoon flour as a substitution.
My favorite thing to add to these dessert bars is a simple icing. Whisk 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. For an orange glaze, replace milk with fresh orange juice. Drizzle icing over the bars after they cooled. You can also drizzle melted white chocolate, like I do for my cranberry bliss bars.
As I mentioned, I like adding chopped almonds to my crumble mixture, but walnuts, pecans or pistachios would work just as well. You can also make the mixture without nuts. To make this recipe gluten-free, simply use gluten-free flour and oats.
If you don’t have fresh cranberries, you can use frozen cranberries (don’t thaw them). You can also use 1 1/4 cups cranberry jam or leftover cranberry sauce instead of making your own cranberry filling. This is very similar to the recipe for my strawberry oatmeal bars with jam so I know jam works just fine!
How to make cranberry crumble bars
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, oats, brown sugar, sugar, chopped almonds (if using) baking powder and salt.
- Add wet ingredients: Add butter and mix until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add egg and vanilla, then mix until combined.
- Bake crust: Press half the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.
- Make the cranberry filling: In a bowl, combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest, cornstarch and vanilla.
- Assemble: Spread cranberry mixture over the baked crust. Sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over the berries.
- Bake bars at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely, cut and serve.
Use a kitchen scale to weigh your flour and provide accurate measurements. If you don’t have a scale, be sure to spoon your flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife (don’t pack down the flour).
Make sure your butter is still cool. If the crumble mixture is too warm, then it will melt into the berry mixture. Keeping it cool will make for a slightly crispy texture! So be sure to keep the topping in the refrigerator while the crust bakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, I do not recommend dried cranberries for this recipe. Even if you soak them in water it will not work properly.
Yes, cut the recipe in half to make a smaller batch. Baking time will remain the same.
Yes, other fruits and jams work well. You’ll need about 1 1/4 cups.
Yes, let the bars cool completely, then wrap them securely in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Store in an airtight container or bag for up to 3 months.
If you enjoyed this recipe, try one of these desserts next!
Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.
Get the Recipe: Cranberry Crumble Bars
Crust and Topping
- 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups (125 g) old fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup (55 g) finely chopped almonds, optional
- ½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, softened, but still cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), combine flour, oats, chopped almonds, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix for 30 seconds until thoroughly combined. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand (about 2 minutes). Add egg and vanilla, and mix just until combined.
- Transfer half the crumble mixture to prepared pan. Use your hands or the back of a measuring cup to press mixture evenly into the bottom to form the crust. Store the remaining mixture (used for the topping) in the refrigerator while the crust bakes. Bake crust for 20 minutes or until golden (keep the oven on).
- In a bowl, toss together cranberries, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, cornstarch and vanilla.
- Spread filling evenly over the baked crust (it’s okay if it’s still warm). Sprinkle remaining oat mixture evenly over the cranberry layer.
- Bake 350° F for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and berries are bubbling. Allow bars to cool completely before removing from pan and cutting into squares.