Cranberry citrus shortbread crumble bars are a delicious shortbread bar recipe that has a cranberry and citrus filling and it is so easy to make. This recipe uses fresh cranberries and one dough for the crust and the crumble. It makes a great dessert to entertain with or a dessert to make just for yourself.
About These Cranberry Citrus Crumble Bars:
If you have never tried, or made shortbread bars with jam or fruit, it is a dessert with shortbread crust on the bottom, a fruity layer in the middle and another shortbread layer on top. These bars have a crumble topping for the top layer which allows you to peak through to the delicious cranberry layer below.
To make this recipe simple, there is only one dough that you need to make for the top and bottom shortbread layers. This saves so much time!
The citrus is added to the fresh cranberries when making the cranberry fruit layer which you will do on the stove before making the bars. You can adjust the amount of citrus added based on your preference.
Now let's get to the recipe!
Ingredients Needed For These Cranberry Bars:
- Unsalted Butter
- All Purpose Flour
- Fresh Cranberries
- Granulated Sugar
- Light Brown Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
Notes about the ingredients
All of the ingredients for this recipe are pretty straightforward and not many substitutions are available. The recipe does call for all purpose flour which if you prefer a slightly lighter cranberry bar, you could substitute half of the flour for almond flour.
I do this with my triple berry shortbread tart and it tastes great. You can also adjust the amount of citrus to your liking for the recipe. If you do not like lemon, you can omit that part and just add orange (and vice versa).
You do want to make sure you are using unsalted butter since there is a lot of it in the recipe and salted butter would add too much salt.
How To Make These Cranberry Bars:
These cranberry citrus bars are to me just the right amount of sweetness with a little bit of sweet and tart in the center from the cranberries. If you like a more bitter cranberry flavor, you can half the amount of sugar in the recipe for the sauce.
These cranberry and citrus bars can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. I would recommend making these cranberry bars no more than 24 hours in advance.
When serving, remove them from the fridge about 1 hour before you are ready to eat them so they have time to come to room temperature. Alternatively, you can just make the dough portion and cranberry sauce ahead of time and assemble the bars the day you want to eat them.
You will want to remove the dough from the fridge about an hour before you need it so you will be able to press the dough into your pan.
More Easy Dessert Recipes For You:
- Triple Berry Shortbread Tart
- Easy Creamy Lemon Bars
- Nellie and Joes Key Lime Tart (or pie)
- Balsamic Strawberries
- Easy Cheesecake Bites
- Easy Classic Carrot Cake
Cranberry and Citrus Shortbread Crumble Bars
- 9x11 pan
- hand mixer or stand mixer
Cranberry Citrus Sauce
- 12 oz fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large orange zested and juiced
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter 3 sticks of butter at room temperature
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- ½ cup granulated white sugar or turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 oz cranberry citrus sauce see above for recipe
- powdered sugar for serving (optional)
Cranberry Citrus Sauce
- Add your fresh cranberries, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, sugar, vanilla and salt to a medium sauce pan.
- Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens. To test for the right thickness of the sauce, dip a spoon into the cranberry sauce and coat it well. Remove the spoon from the sauce and run your finger down the back of the middle of the spoon. If the line you made through the sauce on the spoon stays and does not fill up again with the sauce from the sides then it is ready.
- Once done, remove from the stove and allow to come to room temperature. The sauce will thicken a bit at this point.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- Spray or butter a 9x11-inch pan well so your shortbread comes out easy after baking.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the butter sugar (brown and white) and beat until smooth.
- Next, add your vanilla and salt and mix that in.
- Now, add your your all purpose flour into the butter mixture and mix on low-speed until the mixture starts to form a ball .
- Divide your dough in half and wrap up one half and place in the refrigerator until later. Press the other half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan to form the bottom crust.
- Bake the crust until it is just beginning to turn light brown, around 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
- Place your cranberry sauce over top of the shortbread crust and spread evenly.
- Now, take your reserved half of the shortbread out of the refrigerator and crumble the dough over the cranberry sauce to make your crumbled topping, being careful to not have really large pieces.
- Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for another 30-35 minutes until the crumble topping turns golden in color. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Once cooled, your can slice up your Cranberry crumble bars and serve!
- Dust with powdered sugar (optional)
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here