Cranberry Crumble Pie Bars

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

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 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. 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!

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

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.

cranberry crumble bars filling

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

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. Same goes with today’s cranberry bars– they’re a convenient dessert that feels just as special as a slice of pie!

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cranberry bars

Cranberry Crumble Pie Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 18-24 squares
  • 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

  • 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

79 Comments

  1. Love the addition of orange and the glaze! Cannot wait to try these!!!

    1. I hope you love these, Allison! Happy baking 🙂

  2. Yum! I have a bag of dried cranberries I need to use up. Could I sub for those instead of fresh or frozen?

    1. I don’t recommend using dried cranberries here. Best to stick to fresh or frozen!

  3. These look delicious. I’ll have to wait for company to make them since I’m the only one who loves cranberries.

    1. Thank you so much, Ann! Happy baking 🙂

  4. Back in September I asked the produce guy if cranberries came in yet and he laughed at me. ;-(
    Last week I came across THEE most beautiful cranberries…..just perfectly plump and bright red, no white ones in the bag……I love it when I find little red treasures in the produce dept. Grabbed a bunch and threw them in my freezer to wait for the temps. to drop.
    Gee, what perfect timing. We have a cold front on the way here in New England. Yesterday I went into full blown baking mode. Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkin Breads. Leaving all my ingredients out on the counter overnight to continue baking today and turn my sights onto all things cranberry.
    And here you are.!! These bars sound like they’ll be magically delicious. I love your recipes….there’s no testing, no wondering hmmm, wonder how this will be……I know this will come out of the oven a winner!
    Thanks Sally !!

    1. Sounds like the PERFECT bag of crannies! Love fun produce finds, too 🙂 What a day you had yesterday- everything sounds delicious! Hope you love these, Brenda!

  5. Can you sub cranberries for something else?

    1. Hi Catherine, sure can! I’ve made many similar recipes including strawberry lemon, salted caramel apple, apple blueberry, pumpkin, and many more! You can find them all in the Brownies & Bars section of this site (https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/desserts/brownies-bars/) or just use the search bar on the top of this page!

  6. Are there variations of the recipe? Can a different berry be used?

    1. Hi Tammy, Yes! I have made similar recipes in lots of different flavors. Try typing “streusel bars” into the search bar at the top of this page and you will get lots of ideas!

      1. Perfect…Thanks!

  7. I want to make this for some Gluten Free friends. Which flour should I substitute with?
    Looks amazing!

    1. I haven’t tested these with gluten free flour, but if you wish to try it I recommend any all purpose gluten free flour that says to use at a 1:1 ratio. Let me know if you try it!

      1. Always looking for cranberry recipes. My sis in law has a cranberry farm in Wisconsin so I always have a TON of them in the freezer and have a bunch fresh since ththeththey just harvested. Gonna make these NOW !

  8. These look delicious, can’t wait to try them. I just bought some cranberries yesterday!

    1. Perfect timing! Happy baking, Marilyn 🙂

      1. Sally I made these yesterday, and am making another batch tomorrow. They are awesome!!

  9. Mmmmm, these looks delicious! I was wondering if I could substitute blueberries for the cranberries? We have a big bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer that I’d like to use in some baking 🙂

    1. Definitely! You might want to reduce the sugar since blueberries are naturally sweeter than cranberries.

  10. I am going to make a batch of these for my daughter to take to work on her birthday 11/23. This recipe looks pretty easy and absolutely delicious. Will let you know how it works out. I LOVE your recipes. Thank you for providing them to all your fans!

    1. What a delicious treat for your daughter’s birthday! Happy baking 🙂

  11. I have some frozen cherries from when they were plentiful this summer – do you think they will work?

    1. Definitely. You may want to slightly reduce the sugar in the filling if the cherries are extra sweet.

  12. Made this recipe tonight as written with the glaze and they are DELICIOUS! I will definitely be adding this to my holiday dessert rotation! Thanks for another great recipe Sally!

    1. You are so speedy! Thrilled you loved these and that they’ll be added to your holiday dessert rotation 🙂

  13. Can I use coconut flour and swerve to be more diabetic friendly?

    1. I haven’t tried it either way, so I can’t be certain. Let me know if you try anything!

  14. I baked these today and they came out great! I used half white whole wheat flour and half all-purpose, and I subbed 1/3 cup of oats for the almonds (my kids don’t like nuts). Mine took 55 minutes to bake. Perfect! Skipped the glaze and served with vanilla ice cream 🙂 thanks Sally!!!

    1. I’m so happy these bars were a hit with your family, Lucy! Thank you so much for your positive feedback 🙂

  15. Hi. These look amazing for Thanksgiving. Did you use fresh or frozen? And what other types of filling could I use here?

    1. Hi Elisa! I’ve used both fresh cranberries and frozen (not thawed). I have more streusel/crumble type bar recipes on my blog if you search the bars section. 🙂 Blueberries come to mind first, but make sure you reduce the sugar in the filling as blueberries are naturally sweeter than cranberries. https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/desserts/brownies-bars/

  16. Sally Cosgrove says:

    So I made this yesterday for a church missions lunch & auction today. Of course, hubs and I HAD to taste test this morning to make certain that it was tasty! Hubs said,”Sorry, this is going to have to stay home. It’s not fit…” HA! He just couldn’t part with the dessert leaving the house! I did use twice as many almonds. Missed the part where they go on top and I put them in the crust, so of course, I put another 1/3 cup on top. I also used Fiora de Celcia from King Arthur in the crust and in the icing for an extra citrus kick! I used frozen cranberries from last fall, and it was Excellent! So YES, definintely a 5 star rating! Will make this again. And I agree, it is excellent without the icing. In fact, it’s a bit sweet for me with icing, so without is my preference. I sprinkled course sea salt on top and it is Excellent!

    1. Loved reading your review, Sally! Thank you so much for sharing your positive feedback with me- love your addition of a sea salt sprinkle- YUM! 🙂

  17. I want to make this recipe for Thanksgiving but I want to make a smaller pan maybe a 9 inch pan as a test run first. How do I cut the recipe in half?

    1. Hi Delores, You can simply cut each ingredient in half and use an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Enjoy!

  18. These came out amazing. They were super easy too. I will definitely make them again, and again.

    1. I’m so happy you loved these bars, Robin!

  19. I have one quick question! The recipe calls for 4 cups of cranberries, but in parentheses it says a 12 ounce bag. Typically a 12 ounce bag has 2 cups of berries so do I need 2 of the 12 ounce bags? Thanks so much for your help! Love your site!!!

    1. Hi Amy! The 12 ounce bag is almost about 4 cups actually (I use the Ocean Spray brand!). But to be safe, pick up an extra bag so you get exactly 4 cups.

      1. Lee Rosenthal says:

        Instead of cranberries, can marmalade or preserves be used for the filling?

      2. Absolutely! I’m unsure exactly how much, but you can make it a nice thick layer.

  20. Would I be able to halve this recipe and do it in a 8×8?? If so, what would be the baking time?? Thanks!

    1. Hi Nicole! Yes, absolutely- simply cut each ingredient in half and use an 8 or 9 inch square pan. I am unsure of bake time so keep an eye on them!

  21. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t use eggs .. is there any substitute for eggs in this recipe ? It seems so tempting, I would love to try this 🙂

    1. Hi Sonya, You can make the crust and streusel topping like I do in my apple pie bars with no egg and use this cranberry filling! Just double them if you are baking a 9×13 pan: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/salted-caramel-apple-pie-bars/

  22. I made these earlier this week and omg, heaven! They’re incredible. Quite possibly the only way to eat cranberries going forward. I’m limiting myself to one per day, it’s not going well. Well done Sally! Thank you for another incredible recipe. You make me look like a pro!

  23. Absolutely wonderfully delicious recipe. Not too sweet you still get the tartness of the cranberries with a hint of cinnamon. I did sub orange juice for the water. Thank you Sally for another great recipe

  24. What would you think of adding a little almond extract to the crust/crumble or the cranberry mixture?

    1. Would be excellent! I recommend 1 teaspoon to the crust/crumble mixture.

  25. I am looking to make these for the holidays and thinking about possibly substituting the icing topping with a different flavor, say the maple or browned butter icing you used in a few of your other recipes. Would you have any recommendations on which flavors to go for that would pair well with this or any others that I may have not thought about?

    1. Hi Brett! Any of those would be delicious, as would vanilla icing and lemon glaze from the gingerbread muffins recipe!

  26. Hi,

    I want to make these for Thanksgiving. Can I do it Tuesday for Thursday and Friday?

    Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Absolutely! Keep them covered at room temperature until ready to serve. For best taste and texture, top with icing the day of serving.

      1. Thank you for the quick reply. Awesome. I can keep them in a covered container and ice morning of.

  27. Love these bars. I have made them several times now, making slight adjustments by adding 2 tablespoons of bourbon to the cranberry filling and orange zest to the glaze. Friends are already requesting that I make them again soon. Great recipe Sally!

  28. Hi Sally! First off I have loved every recipe of yours I have tried to date! They’re always the favorites amongst who I bake for. I have a question about whether or not the orange juice in this recipe could be subbed out for a different type of liquid? My family isn’t not a fan of the orange cranberry combo like myself? Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Nicole! You can use water in place of the orange juice in the filling and milk in place of the orange juice in the icing. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much Sally! Happy Holidays!

  29. Hello! Could the filling be made a day in advance before baking? Thanks!

    1. Absolutely! Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.

  30. Can i use canned cranberry?

    1. Hi Denise! I recommend fresh cranberries for best results 🙂

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