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!
Let’s take a break from traditional pie 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 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. 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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. Same goes with today’s cranberry bars– they’re a convenient dessert that feels just as special as a slice of pie!Print
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Pastry Cutter, Zester, 9×13 inch Baking Pan
- Milk: I use and recommend whole milk, but nondairy or lower fat milks will work too.
Keywords: cranberry pie, Thanksgiving, crumble