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These cranberry crumble pie bars combine a buttery flaky shortbread crust, jammy cranberry filling, and crumbly almond topping. The crust and crumble topping are made from the same mixture, so there’s no need to dirty an additional bowl. Easy to eat, transport, serve, and freeze, pie bars are the best answer for a large crowd!

cranberry crumble pie bars with orange glaze

Let’s take a break from traditional pie and pie crust and whip up a batch of pie bars. Hey, don’t you know that it’s HIP to be SQUARE?!

These Cranberry Crumble Pie Bars Have:

  • a buttery shortbread crust
  • orange-hinted cranberries
  • an irresistible buttery crumble topping
  • sweet orange icing, obviously

Oh and the best part of all? The crust and crumble topping are from the same mixture, so you don’t need to make a bunch of separate layers. Same story for my strawberry rhubarb crumb bars, too!

AND AND AND! There’s no pre-baking or pre-cooking. Add the layers and bake.

cranberry crumble bars

Cranberry Crumble Pie Bars Ingredients

  • All-Purpose Flour: Flour is the base of this recipe.
  • Sugar: Sugar sweetens the crust/crumble and the cranberry filling.
  • Baking Powder: Baking powder keeps the crust/crumble on the lighter side. Without it, the texture would be a little too hard and dense.
  • Salt, Cinnamon, & Vanilla: All 3 add flavor.
  • Cold Butter: Just like pie crust, biscuits, and scones, cold butter is necessary for this recipe. We’re cutting the butter into the dry ingredients to create the same deliciously flaky and crumbly texture. The texture would completely change if we used softened butter.
  • Egg: An egg binds the crust/crumble ingredients together.
  • Milk: Along with 1 egg, milk is the wet ingredient to bind the ingredients together.
  • Cranberries: Use fresh or frozen cranberries, just like we do for cranberry sauce. Do not use dried cranberries.
  • Cornstarch: We’re essentially making a cranberry jam as the filling, so cornstarch is necessary to keep those cranberries combined.
  • Orange: A splash of fresh orange juice and zest add flavor to the cranberry layer. Like cranberry orange bread in bar form!
2 images of pie bars crust mixture

Crust & Crumble Topping

If pie crust intimidates you, this is a wonderful place to start. You’re applying the same general mixing process, but without the headache of rolling out dough.

It’s so convenient that the crust and crumble topping come from the same bowl! Combine the dry ingredients together, then cut in the cold and cubed butter. If you don’t have a pastry cutter or if you don’t want to make it by hand, you can use a food processor to gently cut in the butter. By hand it takes a good 5 minutes to get that flour completely coated with little butter bits. (Photo above on the left.) Worth it!

The photo above on the right shows the mixture after we add the wet ingredients: egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t totally come together– the mixture will have the texture of moist sandy crumbles.

  • What’s next? You’ll have about 6 cups of crust/crumble mixture. Reserve 2 cups for the topping, then press the rest into a lined 9×13 inch baking pan.
shortbread crust in a glass baking pan

No pre-baking the crust! Just hold on tight until we add the cranberry layer.

Jammy Cranberry Filling

This part is so easy. Combine the filling ingredients into a large bowl. Spread over crust. That’s it, you’re done with the filling.

2 images of cranberry bars filling in a mixing bowl and a baking pan
cranberry crumble pie bars before baking

Add the remaining crust/crumble on top of the cranberries. For extra flavor and texture, add a big handful of sliced almonds on top. So good with these flavors!

cranberry crumble pie bars in a baking pan

Optional Icing

You know how some baked goods rely on the frosting or icing? Like, they’re just not as good without that finishing touch? Totally not the case here. These cranberry crumble pie bars don’t even NEED the icing. But, alas, I never turn down the opportunity for a garnish– especially orange icing. If desired, take a little more juice from the orange you used in the filling and whisk it with confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle over the bars after they’re done cooling.

Do the bars need it? No. Do we love it? Yes.

cranberry bars

I love serving brown butter pecan pie bars this time of year because bars are hand-held and easy to eat, great for freezing or transporting, and the recipe yields a nice big batch if you’re feeding a crowd. A welcome addition to your usual Thanksgiving pie recipes! Same goes with today’s cranberry bars– they’re a convenient dessert that feels just as special as a slice of pie or cranberry cake!

Print
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stack of cranberry bars

Cranberry Crumble Pie Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 1824 squares 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These cranberry crumble pie bars combine a buttery flaky shortbread crust, jammy cranberry filling, and crumbly almond topping. The crust and crumble topping are made from the same mixture, so there’s no need to dirty an additional bowl.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/3 cup (30g) sliced almonds

Cranberry Filling

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) fresh orange juice

Orange Icing (Optional)

  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
  2. Make the crumble mixture for the crust and topping: Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and using a pastry cutter, two forks, or a food processor, cut in the butter until all the flour is coated and resembles pea-sized crumbles. (See photo above for a visual.) This takes at least 5 minutes of cutting in with a pastry cutter.
  3. Whisk the egg, milk, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Pour over the flour/butter mixture and gently mix together until the mixture resembles moist crumbly sand. See photo above for a visual.
  4. You will have about 6 cups of the crust/crumble mixture. Set 2 cups aside. Pour the remaining into the prepared pan and flatten down with your hands or a flat spatula to form an even crust. It will be a little crumbly– that’s ok. Set aside. (Almonds will be used in the topping in the next step.)
  5. Cranberry Filling: Mix all of the cranberry filling ingredients together. Spread over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture all over the cranberries. Sprinkle the almonds all over top.
  6. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out *mostly* clean (with a few jammy cranberry specks!). Mine take about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. After about 1 hour, I stick the whole pan in the refrigerator to help speed things up.
  7. Make the icing and cut into squares: Whisk the icing ingredients together. Add more orange juice to thin out, if desired. Drizzle over cooled bars, then cut into squares.
  8. Cover and store leftover cranberry bars (with or without icing) at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Iced or plain bars freeze well up to 3 months. Arrange in even layers in a large freezer container between sheets of parchment. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before icing and/or serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Pastry Cutter, Zester, 9×13 inch Baking Pan
  3. Milk: I use and recommend whole milk, but nondairy or lower fat milks will work too.

Keywords: cranberry pie, Thanksgiving, crumble

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I’ve made these 3 times in 2 weeks. What a hit! Everyone “LOVES” them!! Perfect for Thanksgiving. Another winner from Sally!!!!!

  2. made this recipe for Thanksgiving- and they were a hit! As always, another hit from Sally!

  3. Just made these to freeze for a girls night next weekend! I think I put too much orange juice in the cranberry mixture, so the filling got extra juicy – I was very concerned it wouldn’t set so I let them sit in the pan for a few hours and they set right up beautifully! I cut the edges off to make them uniform and froze them. I’m proud to say I ate all the edges and wished there were more! Delicious and tart and jammy! Great winter dessert. 🙂 Can’t wait to eat them all on the weekend after defrosting!

  4. I cater for a living and these are on the top of my list! I always get ask what the recipe is. Delicious!

  5. I made two batches this morning only to find out something must be wrong with my oven . One hour and 45 minutes bake time and they were still raw on the bottom in the middle. Time for a new oven!!! Ugh!

  6. Dear Sally,

    how if i only have dry cranberries? can I still make it or show I soak them in the water?

    1. Hi Lily, unfortunately dried cranberries won’t work the same here. It’s best to wait until you can get some fresh or frozen!

  7. Can I substitute the all purpose flour with gluten free flour? Would it be the same ratio (1:1)?

    Can I substitute the granulated sugar for coconut palm sugar?

    1. Hi Diana! We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes or gluten free flour. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for your ingredients. Thank you!

  8. I made your Jam Shortbread Bars Recipe from “Sally’s Baking Addiction” and there wasn’t any special instructions for how to crumble the reserved dough on Step 4.
    The reserved dough did not crumble. Did I miss an instruction?

    1. Hi Cyn! Be careful not to over-mix the crumble mixture. You can break it apart with your fingers and sprinkle over the filling.

  9. Hi ! This is a very good recipe ! I made it 2 but now we can’t get fresh or frozen Cranberrys ( Hungary) is possible to make it with blueberry or frozen cherrys ?

    1. Hi Eva, You can definitely substitute the same amount of other berries in this recipe. Let us know which one you try!

  10. Sally, have you ever used your leftover Cranberry Sauce (holiday classic recipe) in place of the cranberry filling in this recipe? I’m always looking for a way to use our leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    1. Hi Kelly, you should be able to use cranberry sauce. Don’t add the sugar to the filling. Since the cranberry sauce has likely already thickened, we recommend using that and mixing it with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and the orange zest (if desired) before spreading it on the crust. Let us know how it goes!

      1. My question is how much left over cranberry sauce do you need for the filling

    2. Another good use for leftover Cranberry Sauce is to use it on leftover turkey in a sandwich!

    1. Would love to try this one! I need to do it dairy free. Any experience or suggestions on a butter substitute! Olive oil based “butter” maybe?

      1. Hi Christie, we haven’t tested a dairy-free version of these, but perhaps a plant-based butter would be a good place to start. Again, we’re unsure of the results with that substitution, but let us know if you give anything a try!

  11. Can I use a jam or jelly in the middle? If so, how much would I need in that size pan.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Pamela, we haven’t tested this recipe with jam or jelly, so we’re unsure of how much and how it would work. Since the cranberries make for quite a thick layer here, you may have to play around with the jam/jelly to ensure it’s not so thin that it disappears into the crust/crumble layers. Let us know if you decide to do any experimenting. Or, you may enjoy these apple blueberry pie bars instead — the filling there is more of a cooked down jam/jelly consistency.

    1. Hi Wendy, we haven’t tested it that way so we’re unsure of the results. Let us know if you decide to do any experimenting.

  12. Delish!! I’m not a big fan of cranberries. This recipe changed my mind!! Has anyone tried freezing these bars? I made them for Thanksgiving so hoping that’s an option!

    1. Hi Joanna, Iced or plain bars freeze well up to 3 months. See recipe notes for more instructions!

    1. Hi Dawn! The cranberry topping may seep into the crust, but the baked bars freeze beautifully! See recipe notes for details.

  13. I have a lot of dried cranberries. Is there any way I could use those in this recipe? Perhaps if I re-hydrated them?

    1. Hi Casey, unfortunately dried cranberries won’t work the same here. It’s best to wait until you can get some fresh or frozen!

  14. Oh my. Eating one of these right now. Phenomenal. Only things I changed up were pecans instead of almonds and the icing needed more confectioners sugar for the amount of recommended orange juice. This was overall super easy to make and so worth it. Thanks, Sally!!

  15. I can’t wait to make this! Could I half the recipe and make in an 8×8 inch square baking dish? Thank you! (Having a smaller thanksgiving with multiple desserts from Sally’s Blog, so don’t need the whole 9×13 tray.) Thank you!

    1. Hi Jessica, yes, absolutely. Simply halve each ingredient and use an 8 or 9 inch square pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time so keep an eye on them!

  16. Delicious! My husband and I like to eat these sweet/tangy bars straight from the freezer.
    If I wanted to halve the recipe so it would fit in an 8 x 8, would it be ok to use one whole egg or would it be best to mix the egg and only use half of the egg in the recipe?
    Thanks for another great recipe.

    1. Hi Jen, for half a recipe, we could crack the egg, whisk it, and then use half of that. So glad they’re a favorite for you!

  17. These were a big hit! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Gave me something new to try and a new holiday dessert tradition!

  18. Made for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit! I didn’t use the almonds (because young grandkids that don’t like nuts – I may grind them up a bit and add to the crust next time). It’s wonderful that they could be made ahead and frozen! New holiday favorite, for sure!

  19. Oh my, these are the bomb. So refreshing and different. I will definitely be making them again at Christmas. Thanks for sharing, Sally!

  20. Made these for my boyfriend’s family holiday party, and they were a huge hit! Curious… Have you ever tried using lingonberries instead of cranberries? Or adding some lingonberry jam into the cranberry mixture?

    1. Hi Rachel, we haven’t but that sounds delicious! We’d love to know if you give these bars a try with lingonberries.

  21. Oh, these cranberry bars were so good! Made them for a family gathering over the weekend and they were delicious. Seemed like every time I looked at the dessert table someone was eating one. I didn’t have an orange so left it out, subbed pecans for almonds, left off the icing and it was still good.I like this recipe; easy to make, serves multiples, and so good. Wish I had another one right now.

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