Skip to Content

Cranberry Bars

Cranberry bars with streusel and almond icing are extra special holiday dessert. Recipe includes a gluten-free option.

Cranberry bars have a dense, coffee cake-like base with streusel and almond icing. With a gluten-free option.

After Thanksgiving, I’m always stuck with an odd amount of cranberries that didn’t make it into my favorite orange cranberry sauce, a pie, or a crisp. I usually just freeze them to use at Christmas but after making these bars, I now have the perfect use for leftover cranberries!

These cranberry bars aren’t your typical jam-filled fruit bars. They’re definitely a little different. And better! I found a recipe for crustless cranberry pie that I was excited to try and wanted to add a streusel topping to make it extra special. But no matter what topping I tried, it weighed down the batter too much for it to rise. It made sense as the recipe doesn’t have any leavener in it, but I actually loved the result, which is what I’m sharing with you today.

Cranberry bars are perfect for the holidays and  great with a cup of coffee. Recipe includes a gluten-free option.

The day that you make these, the cake base is like a dense coffee cake. It’s really delicious but on the second and third days? They’re even better! They get moister and even more irresistible, making them a perfect treat for Christmas, holiday parties, or basically – whenever! If you plan to let them sit overnight, I recommend icing the bars the day of serving, just to be on the safe side.

The cake and the icing have such a lovely almond flavor which goes incredibly well with the cranberries. If you’re not a big fan of almond extract, you can use vanilla extract in its place. Orange extract would also pair wonderfully with the cranberries!

The part that really throws these over the top for me is the icing. The bars are sweet enough without the icing, but almond flavored icing? That’s just destined to improve anything it touches! My husband is a bit of an odd duck and said he preferred these bars without the icing. I just don’t understand him sometimes.

Cranberry bars with streusel and almond icing are perfect for the holidays! Recipe includes a gluten-free option.

To make these cranberry bars gluten-free, I tried several different mixtures of gluten-free flours. Everything worked fine in the cake portion but what a mess the streusel was! So I turned to this 1-to-1 baking flour and it came out perfectly.

For more gluten-free Christmas treats, check out these cranberry orange muffins or these mint chocolate chip brownies. Really now – gluten-free baking doesn’t have to mean dry and crumbly!

Cranberry bars with streusel and almond icing are extra special holiday dessert. Recipe includes a gluten-free option.

Cranberry Bars

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Cranberry bars have a dense, coffee cake-like base with streusel and almond icing. With a gluten-free option.

Ingredients

For the streusel:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or a gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  •  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold

For the base:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  •  1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-10 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F and line an 8"x8" pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  2.  Prepare the streusel. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry blender or your hands, incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, almond extract, vanilla extract and salt until well combined.
  4. Stir in the flour and then the cranberries until thoroughly combined.
  5. Spoon into the prepared pan and top with the streusel.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the topping no longer appears wet and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bars comes out clean. Let cool completely.
  7. If serving the bars today, prepare the glaze. Otherwise, wait to ice the bars until the day of serving.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, almond extract (use 1/4 teaspoon if you don't want a strong almond flavor), vanilla extract and 4 teaspoons of milk. Add more milk, if needed, so that the glaze is just pourable but not too thin. Drizzle over the bars. Top with toasted sliced almonds, if using.
  9.  Cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on social! I want to see what you made! @jamiemba

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kayla

Thursday 28th of November 2019

Absolutely love this recipe!!! I have made it many times and it is always a hit!!!

Jamie

Sunday 1st of December 2019

So happy to hear you enjoy the bars, Kayla! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback! -Jamie

Sarah

Saturday 12th of December 2015

I made these bars a couple days ago. They are very good. More like a dense coffee cake. I used frozen cranberries and was happy with the outcome. Next time I will try drizzling a good quality, melted dark chocolate over the top. The sweet struesal topping goes perfect with the tart cranberries (I left them whole).

Erin

Saturday 12th of December 2015

It's good to know that frozen cranberries work! And white chocolate sounds so delicious. I'll have to try that! Thanks so much for the tip and for your feedback. :)

Zeetra

Saturday 5th of December 2015

Hi, I live where you cant get fresh cranberries. Could I substitute them with blueberries?

Erin

Saturday 5th of December 2015

I think that'd be fine! Just be careful when mixing them in. It sounds like a delicious variation. :)

Amira

Thursday 3rd of December 2015

This is just amazing... those bars look perfect.. A must share recipe. Thanks

Erin

Thursday 3rd of December 2015

Thanks so much, Amira!

JudyB

Thursday 3rd of December 2015

Wondering if frozen cranberries will add too much moisture to an already dense base. Want to give these a try, using orange extract in place of almond (neither hubby nor I like almond flavoring).

Erin

Thursday 3rd of December 2015

I think you're right in that they'd add too much moisture. Perhaps you could try dried unsweetened cranberries? I hope you'll enjoy the bars!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe