These Cranberry Bars are so delicious and easy to make using leftover cranberry sauce layered over a buttery grain-free shortbread crust. They’re made with with simple gluten-free, paleo and vegan ingredients and make the perfect healthy dessert for the holidays!
Updated November 2020
Healthy Cranberry Bars Recipe
Wondering what to do with all the fresh cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving or your Christmas holiday dinner? These Cranberry Bars are easy to make and the perfect way to use up some of your homemade cranberry sauce!
They start off with an easy gluten free and vegan shortbread cookie base. Spread the mixture into a square baking pan and bake until golden. Then you just top with our fresh cranberry sauce recipe or use your own.
Once the dough has cooled slightly, you simply spread the cranberry sauce over and pop it back in the oven for another 7 minutes.
Allow them to cool slightly then slice them up into bars. As much as we love making cookies around the holidays, bars are SO much easier to make and transport.
These fresh cranberry sauce adds a bit of sweetness as well as some tartness to balance out the rich, buttery crust.
Why we love this vegan cranberry square recipe:
These cranberry sauce bars are incredibly irresistible and make the perfect healthy dessert. Not these delicious bars easily customize-able, but the best part is that they are made from scratch by using whatever type of fruit you have on hand. Plus they are also gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, refined-sugar free and easily low carb or keto.
All you need are just a few simple pantry ingredients. The portable size also make them perfect for the dessert table and bring them over to smaller friends or family holiday dinners or gatherings.
Ingredients you need:
For the gluten-free and paleo shortbread crust:
- Almond Flour: You can use superfine blanched almond flour or almond meal. Almond flour is the main nut flour providing most of the bulk. Measure properly using the spoon and level method.
- Sliced almonds and coconut flakes – classic fruit bars use rolled oats in their crumble topping but since we are trying to keep this grain free, we use a combination of nuts and coconut flakes to give these that oatmeal texture. You can either chop them or pulse them a few times in a food processor until the texture resembles oats. Our favorite ones are from Bob’s Red Mill. If you’re not grain-free, feel free to use gluten free old fashioned rolled oats instead.
- Coconut sugar and maple syrup – we use a combination of both of these unrefined sweeteners to make them extra flavourful and delicious. You can also sub with any other liquid sweetener or brown sugar substitute if you don’t have these on hand.
- Baking powder – the leavener we use to help the crust rise slightly
- Salt – to balance out the sweetness and add flavor
- Lemon zest
- Vegan butter or coconut oil (you want the texture like softened butter for a vegan fruit bar. You can also use refined if you prefer it without the coconut flavor) or use ghee or grass-fed butter if not dairy-free or for paleo.
For the cranberry filling:
The cranberry filling is made using up fresh cranberry sauce. You can use my homemade cranberry sauce recipe or your favorite. Our paleo cranberry sauce recipe is super simple to make and only requires 4 ingredients:
- Cranberries – we like to use fresh but frozen works as well. You may need to adjust the cooking time since there will be extra water.
- Pure maple syrup – a natural unrefined sweetener that is paleo-friendly. You can also sub with Lakanto sugar-free maple syrup for low carb / keto or other liquid sweetener of your choice.
- Lemon juice and lemon zest – we prefer using Meyer lemons for this cranberry sauce recipe since they are less tart but you can also sub with fresh orange juice and orange zest from half an orange
- Ground cinnamon
How to make Cranberry Bars
- Preheat the oven and line the baking pan: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang.
- Mix the filling: Combine cranberries, orange juice & zest, maple syrup and cinnamon in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until berries pop and sauce thickens.Chill in fridge until ready to use.
- Make the crust: In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, sugar-free maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Sift in the almond flour and coconut flour and mix until dough forms and comes together. Press the mixture into an 8×8 inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake: Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for 11-14 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Add the fruit filling: Spread cranberry mixture evenly over crust. Bake again for 7-8 minutes.
- Cool and cut into bars: Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.
How To Store The Leftovers
To store these cranberry shortbread bars, just simply transfer them to a reusable storage container and store in the refrigerator for up to four days. When ready to enjoy, reheat in the microwave and coat with your favorite nut butter or just allow them to come to room temperature.
Can I freeze these cranberry squares?
Yes! These healthy cranberry crumble bars are perfectly freezer-friendly. Arrange the cranberry sauce bars in a single layer inside a reusable storage container or bag. Store these cranberry cookie bars in the freezer for up to six months. When ready to eat, allow the bars to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
More cranberry recipes you might like:
These Cranberry Bars are so delicious and easy to make using leftover cranberry sauce layered over a buttery grain-free shortbread crust. They're made with with simple gluten-free, paleo and vegan ingredients and make the perfect healthy dessert for the holidays!
Preheat oven to 350° and line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper leaving a slight overhang. Set aside.
MAKE THE CRANBERRY FILLING: Combine cranberries, orange juice & zest, maple syrup and cinnamon in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until berries pop and sauce thickens.Chill in fridge until ready to use.
MAKE THE SHORTBREAD CRUST: In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Sift in the almond flour and coconut flour and mix until dough forms and comes together.
Press into the bottom of the lined pan and bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Spread cranberry sauce smoothly over shortbread with a spatula. Return to oven and bake for another 7-8 minutes.
- Cool completely in pan prior to cutting into bar or placed in fridge to speed up the cooling process. Lift out of the pan using parchment paper. Cut into squares before serving.
- Stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.