I love the bright reds in the holiday season, and these Oatmeal Cranberry Bars look festive and taste amazing. The fresh cranberries in the middle are tart and the one bowl, brown sugar crumb doubles as the crust and topping! This recipe is popular with both kids and adults, so pull out a pan and let’s get baking!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x13 inch pan (my favorite) with parchment paper and spray with oil. May also be made in two 8x8 pans.
You can mix the oatmeal crumb mixture two ways -- in a food processor or by cutting the butter in with a couple of knives, a pastry cutter or your hands. I prefer the food processor myself.
Either way, add flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt to bowl or food processor and pulse or stir to combine.
Add cubed cold butter and pulse to combine or use two knives to cut butter into mixture, you might need to use your hands.
Pour oatmeal crumb mixture into large bowl, add egg* and mix well. Press 2 ½ cups (packed) of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
In another bowl, stir together cranberries, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and orange juice, toss to help sugar dissolve.
Bake the oatmeal cranberry bars for about 45-50 minutes, until they’re a light brown, covering with foil if browning too quickly.
Once the dessert has cooled completely, transfer to the refrigerator and chill until firm, about an hour.
When ready to serve, use the parchment paper to lift the crunch bars out of the pan, slice and store in airtight container.
Oatmeal Cranberry Crunch bars will last on the counter in an airtight container up to 3 days. In the fridge up to 7 days and may be frozen (before or after baking) up to 3 months.
Make Ahead and Freeze
You can make these cranberries bars and freeze before baking. I recommend wrapping well in plastic wrap and then foil to prevent freezer burn. Do not thaw before baking, place in 350 degree oven and baking uncovered for 25-30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake additional 20-30 minutes until top is golden and cranberries are bubbling.Or make and bake the entire cranberry crunch bars, allow to cool completely. Using the parchment to lift out of pan, wrap well in plastic wrap, then again in foil, freeze up to 3 months. Allow to thaw on counter.
High Altitude Cranberry Bars with Oatmeal
There are no high altitude modifications necessary for these delicious sweet-tart streusel crunch bars.
Substitutions and Variations
If fresh cranberries aren’t in season, you can substitute frozen cranberries or 1 can of whole cranberry sauce, you can also replace with other fruits; try blueberries, blackberries, peaches, strawberries, but I would cut the sugar significantly. You might also love my Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars.
For a gluten-free option, replace the all-purpose flour with your favorite GF substitute. You can also use oat or almond flour—just be sure the oats are GF.
If you have a corn allergy, tapioca starch replaces the cornstarch easily. Use about ¾ of a tablespoon instead.
Orangier Cranberry Orange bars? Zest ½ an orange before juice and toss into cranberries.
Nuts | If you love nuts, place ½ cup of chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts into the crumb mixture.
Can I substitute dried cranberries for fresh? Yes, I recommend that you rehydrate dried cranberries. Pour hot water over cranberries in a bowl, let sit 10-15 minutes, then strain and use as planned.