These Cranberry Pie Bars are a delicious dessert that features a tart cranberry filling, a sweet cookie crust, and a fun pink glaze.
A few weeks ago I was doing some cooking and baking with cranberries, and that got me wondering why cranberries aren't featured more prominently in desserts.
They're usually paired with something else, like apples, in most fruit-based desserts like pies and crumbles. I mean, I know cranberries are sour, but they're also a beautiful color, and full of tart flavor. So I decided to experiment with making a fruit-based dessert with cranberries front and center.
And since I had recently made some pie bars, they were also on my mind and I ended up making Cranberry Pie Bars. They worked out beautifully, and my whole family loved them, so now I'm sharing the recipe with you.
How to make Cranberry Pie Bars:
Making these Cranberry Pie Bars involves making three separate components - the cranberry filling, the cookie crust, and the bright pink cranberry glaze. Luckily, none of these steps are particularly difficult, and this delicious dessert will be on your table in approximately 1.5 hours, including cooling time.
The first step involves preparing the cranberry filling. This is similar to making cranberry sauce, but with a little more sugar. Add cranberries (fresh or frozen), orange juice, orange zest, and sugar to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Simmer the cranberries until they burst and thicken, which only takes 10-15 minutes. Remove the filling from heat and let it cool while you make the cookie crust.
Making the cookie crust is very similar to making most cookies. Whisk the dry ingredients together, then cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the dry ingredients.
To assemble the pie bars, press most of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan. then spread the cranberry filling on top of it. Drop the remaining cookie crust dough in pieces over the top of the filling and bake.
When the pie bars come out of the oven, you will need to let them cool for at least 30 minutes before adding the glaze, or it will melt and run all over the place.
I made my glaze from a few cranberries that I had reserved from the filling, and I loved the bright pink color of it. However, if you forget to reserve the cranberries, or you just don't want to bother, simply make a vanilla glaze by following the instructions in the recipe note.
Cranberry Pie Bars Ingredients:
- Orange - If you only have very small oranges (like mandarins or clementines) on hand, you will need 2-3 of them.
- Fresh or frozen cranberries
- Granulated sugar
- Water: Use whatever water you normally drink - tap water is fine.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter softened: Replace with a dairy-free butter alternative to make these pie bars dairy-free
- Large eggs
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
Cranberry Pie Bars Equipment:
- Small saucepan for boiling the cranberries to make the fruit filling
- Microplane or zester to remove the orange zest
- 9x9" baking pan to bake the pie bars in. Also, aluminum foil to line the pan. Note that if you use a glass baking dish to make these, you will have to increase the baking time.
- Stand Mixer or hand mixer to mix the cookie crust.
Want more Cranberry recipes?
Cranberry Pie Bars Nutrition Notes:
The nutrition information in the recipe below is for one piece of pie bars if you cut the bars into 12 pieces. If you cut the bars into more (or fewer) pieces, the nutrition information will vary accordingly.
These cranberry pie bars can be made dairy-free by replacing the butter in the recipe with a dairy-free butter alternative.
Cranberry Pie Bars
- 1 large orange
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (replace with dairy-free butter alternative to make these pie bars dairy-free)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup cranberries (reserved from cranberry filling step, above)
- 1 Tablespoon water
- ¾ cups powdered sugar
- Measure out ¼ cup of the cranberries and set aside. You will be using these for the glaze.
- Zest the entire orange into a small saucepan using a microplane. Juice the orange into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add enough water so that there is a total of 1 cup of liquid. Pour this orange juice-water mixture into the saucepan with the orange zest. Add the remaining cranberries and ½ cup granulated sugar.
- Bring the cranberry mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until all of the cranberries have burst and the mixture is thickened, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
- Prepare a 9x9" baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and greasing the foil with oil or butter. Turn oven on to 350°F.
- Whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Add 1 cup unsalted butter and 1 ½ cups granulated sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl). Cream the butter and sugar together at medium-high speed. Add 2 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat the mixture again at medium-high speed until it's light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix at low speed until the flour is completely incorporated and a dough forms.
- Press ⅔ to ¾ of the cookie crust dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Spread the cranberry filling over the dough. Drop small pieces of the remaining dough evenly over the top of the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top of the crust is starting to brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before adding the glaze.
- Place the ¼ cup cranberries you reserved earlier into a microwaveable, heatproof measuring cup or bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon water and microwave on high heat for 1 minute. Stir the cranberries, and microwave again for another minute, or until the mixture comes to a boil and all of the berries have burst and released their juices. (Note: you can also do this step on the stove in a small saucepan, but it will take a little longer.)
- Pour the cranberry mixture through a sieve, pressing gently with the back of a spoon to release all of the juice from the cranberries and scraping the bottom of the sieve into the bowl. Stir ½ cup powdered sugar into the cranberry juice mixture. If you want the glaze to be thicker, add more powdered sugar 1 Tablespoon a a time until you reach your desired consistency (I used about ¾ cup of powdered sugar).
- Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled pie bars. Serve immediately, or allow the glaze to harden before serving.