These Cranberry Lemon Bars are tart, sweet and delicious. The crust and topping are made using the same mixture and they’re filled with a luscious cranberry lemon filling. This recipe is perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert!
These cranberry lemon bars have bottom and top layer of soft oatmeal brown sugar crumble. They have a a jammy cranberry lemon middle layer. They’re soft, crumbly and bursting with fresh cranberry and lemon flavor.
These are similar to a store bought cereal bar, but way more delicious. They also taste so fresh.
Why This Recipe Works
- The crust and topping are made from the same simple mixture!
- No need to chill the crumble and you don’t have to prebake the crust.
- Cranberries and lemon make them deliciously tart and fresh tasting.
- They have the best texture! The cranberry filling is luscious and the crust and topping are tender and crumbly.
- So easy and quick to make. No mixer needed!
- Enjoy them for breakfast, brunch, an afternoon snack or dessert!
Below are some useful notes on some of the ingredients. Please see recipe card below for full list of ingredients and measurements.
- Cranberries: Cranberries are a small, tart fruit. I love the tart, sweet, fresh flavor they add to desserts! Use fresh or frozen cranberries to make the sauce.
- Lemon: Lemon adds bright fresh flavor. Lemons and cranberries are both tart fruits. They are delicious together. We are using both the zest and juice in the cranberry sauce.
- Butter: Use unsalted, room temperature butter.
- Brown sugar: Use fresh, light brown sugar for the crust and topping.
- Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens up the cranberry sauce.
- Cornstarch: For thickening the cranberry sauce.
- Cinnamon: It adds a nice depth of flavor to the cranberry sauce.
Here is how to make these cranberry oatmeal bars.
Step 1: Make the cranberry sauce. Bring the water, lemon juice, cinnamon stick and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
STEP 2: Add the cranberries and cornstarch. Add the cranberries and cornstarch and simmer for 6-8 minutes. Stir constantly until sauce thickens and most of the cranberries burst.
STEP 3: Add the lemon zest. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon zest. Remove the cinnamon stick. Set aside to cool.
STEP 4: Combine the ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, stir to combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and baking powder.
STEP 5: Stir in the butter. Use a rubber spatula, wooden spoon or your hands to mix in the butter.
STEP 6: Form the crust. Press half of the mixture into a butter 8X8 inch square pan lined with parchment paper with an overhang on two sides.
STEP 7: Layer with cranberry sauce. Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to spread the cranberry sauce over the crust.
STEP 8: Top with remaining crumble. Sprinkle the rest of the crust over the cranberry layer. Press very lightly just to make sure it’s in place.
STEP 9: Bake. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes.
Then, place the pan on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before serving.
- Cranberry sauce- instead of homemade cranberry sauce, you can use store bought cranberry sauce or leftover cranberry sauce. You’ll need about 3/4 cup.
- Jam-if you don’t have cranberry sauce, you could use homemade or store bought jam.
- Icing – these bars are delicious with a drizzle of icing on top! The lemon icing from my blueberry blondies makes the perfect topping.
- Powdered sugar– dust a little powdered sugar on top of the cooled bars just before serving.
- Nuts- chopped nuts would add delicious texture to the crust and/or topping. If you love banana walnut cake, add an additional 1/4 cup chopped walnuts to the crust.
You can use either fresh or frozen blueberries! Do not thaw frozen cranberries. Add them to the pot straight from the freezer.
Yes! I love these bars as is, but they are delicious with a drizzle of lemon icing. You can also dust them with powdered sugar.
Store these cranberry lemon bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. Freeze leftover bars in an airtight for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
This cranberry bars recipe is super easy to make. Here are my top tips for making it!
- Spoon the flour into your measuring cup. Level the cup off with the back of a knife. If you dredge the measuring cup into the flour, the flour will become compact. This can cause you to using too much flour.
- Use an 8 inch pan. I don’t recommend making them in a 9 inch pan. The bars would be too thin if you use a 9-inch pan.
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Cranberry Lemon Bars
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cups cranberries
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2½ tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 teaspoons lemon zest
Crust and Topping
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 1⅓ cups old fashioned oats or quick-cooking oats (not instant)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅔ cup light brown sugar packed
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing the pan
- Place the water, lemon juice, cinnamon stick and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cranberries and cornstarch and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Stir constantly until thickened and most of the cranberries have burst. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the zest. Remove the cinnamon stick. Set aside to cool slightly.
Crust and topping
- Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square pan. Line the pan with a large strip of parchment paper. Leave an overhang on both sides of the parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir to combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and baking powder.
- Add the cubed butter. Stir or mix together with your hands.
- Spoon half of the mixture into the pan. Press it firmly in the bottom of the pan.
- Spread the cranberry sauce over the crisp layer. Sprinkle the remainder of the crisp topping over the cranberry layer. Press lightly to make sure it's in place.
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Place the pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Cut into squares and enjoy!