These Cranberry Shortbread Bars consist of two layers of buttery shortbread that sits between a sweet, but tart, cranberry filling. The addition of cinnamon and honey compliments the cranberries so well, making this a must-bake holiday dessert!
This recipe was originally published in December of 2020, but was updated on November 9, 2021 with newer content and fresh pictures.
These cranberry bars can be made with either fresh or frozen cranberries, making them a perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert.
The cranberry filling sits between layers of sweet and buttery shortbread, which pairs so well with the berries tartness. And then, I add just a teaspoon of cinnamon to the shortbread mixture and oh. My. Goodness! Just that simple addition takes these cranberry bars over the top and gives you all of those warm and cozy holiday feels.
Why You'll Love These Bars:
- The shortbread is both the crust and crumbly topping.
- There's a hint of cinnamon flavor.
- The cranberry filling is both tart and sweet.
- You can use either fresh or frozen berries.
- They're so easy to make, requring just 10 minutes of prep time!
I love my recipe for shortbread crust because it has so much flavor. Both granulated and brown sugar are used, along with just a hint of cinnamon. The key to a very flaky dough is to cut in cold unsalted butter. Once baked, all of that butter will have melted into the other ingredients, creating one delicious shortbread crust.
Also, the shortbread crust is used for both the top and bottom of the bars. No extra bowl, no extra ingredients. Just simply divide the mixture in two: half for the crust and half for the crumble topping.
- Baking Pan: Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, creating "handles" that hang over the sides. Then spray with non-stick spray.
- Cold Butter: Make sure your butter is cold before adding it to the flour. The cold butter is what gives us a crumbly and flaky shortbread crust.
- Pastry Cutter: Having one of these is super helpful for cutting the butter into the flour. If you don't have a pastry cutter, you can also use two forks.
- Cranberries: You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries.
- All-Purpose Flour: The base and structure for the bars.
- Sugars: Both brown sugar and granulated sugar are used for sweetness.
- Corn Starch: Makes the crust crumbly and tender.
- Butter: Gives the crust a delicious, buttery flavor. Make sure to use cold unsalted butter.
- Cranberries: Fresh or frozen. During November and December you can find fresh cranberries in the produce aisle.
- Honey: Adds a touch of sweetness to the cranberries.
How To Make Cranberry Bars:
With just 10 minutes of prep, this cranberry bar recipe is so simple and easy to make! Here are the step by step instructions:
- Shortbread Crust: Combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Then mix in the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Press half of the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Cranberry Filling: Combine the cranberries, sugar, and honey and pour over the crust. Sprinkle the rest of the shortbread mixture over the cranberries.
- Bake: Bake for 30-35 minutes and allow them to cool for 1 hour before slicing them into bars. Serve warm or cold.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When the crumble topping is a golden brown color and the cranberry filling is bubbling.
Yes you can! These bars are great to make anytime of the year using fresh or frozen cranberries.
Once the bars are completely cooled, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Feel free to reheat the bars in the microwave for about 30 seconds or eat them cold.
If you made this recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below. I love hearing from you!
More Festive Desserts:
Cranberry Shortbread Bars
- 8x8 inch baking pan
- Pastry Cutter
- Mixing Bowls
Shortbread Crust & Crumble:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed (1.5 sticks)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, creating "handles" that hang over the sides. Then spray with non-stick spray.
Shortbread Crust & Topping:
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, and salt with a whisk. Add the cubed butter and use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the butter into the flour until crumbly (this will take 3-4 minutes). Then mix in the beaten egg and vanilla extract using a wooden spoon.
- Press about half of the shortbread crust onto the bottom of the prepared pan using your fingers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups of this mixture). The crust will be slightly crumbly, but that's ok! Just make sure you press it down well. Set the extra shortbread mixture aside (this will also be the topping).
- Combine the cranberries, sugar, and honey together in a medium-sized bowl. Mix until the cranberries are well coated and then pour over the shortbread crust, even the extra sugar that is on the bottom of the bowl (you may need to use your mixing spoon to spread out the cranberries evenly). Sprinkle the rest of the shortbread mixture over the top of the cranberries.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, just until the crumble starts to turn light brown and the cranberries are bubbling (mine take about 35 minutes). Allow the bars to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing into bars (9-12 bars are made). Serve either at room temperature or place them in the refrigerator to chill. Both ways are delicious!
- Store any leftover cranberry bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.