Delicious cranberry bars made with fresh cranberries, rolled oats and a hint of coconut. These can easily be made gluten-free and freeze really well making them a great make-ahead cranberry dessert!
It’s early November, friends! The trees still have some beautiful leaves on them, temperatures are still bonfire worthy, and orange sweaters can still be worn… but there is one unique and favorite aspect of the month. The holiday season begins in November and that means… grocery stores have fresh cranberries! 🙂 Cranberries are a favorite of mine and when those bags of red tart fruit catch my eye, I immediately think about making my cranberry bars.
Years ago, I came across a blackberry bar recipe that needed tweaking. I added flaked coconut and coconut oil, made changes to the butter and brown sugar, added fresh citrus zest and created a cranberry filling instead of blackberry. I brought the bars to a church event, and they were an instant hit. The sweet and crunchy oatmeal top and bottom sandwich a tart and flavorful cranberry filling, making them sweet, tart, crunchy and all things irresistible! They can be made gluten-free soooo easily (see notes below) and there are naturally no eggs in this recipe.
Friends, THANKSGIVING IS COMING and here is my favorite way to use fresh cranberries. Are you ready to make cranberry oatmeal bars with me?
Come on in to my kitchen!
Cranberry Bar Ingredients
Here is a gander of what you’ll need! Nothing fancy at all… your basic flour, butter, sugar, oats, coconut, and fruit. You’ll notice there are no spices shown and you won’t miss them! It’s really simple.
How to Make Cranberry Bars
In your largest mixing bowl, stir together the oats, shredded coconut, dark brown sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda. If you want these bars to be gluten-free, simply substitute your favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour. Melt your butter and coconut oil and pour them into the bowl. Mix it all with a spoon and set it aside. The texture will resemble moist cookie dough.
Place a piece of parchment paper over a 12×17 inch jelly roll pan. Press 6 ½ cups of the oat mixture into the pan and use a spatula to help you press it all down into the sides and edges. Keep the remaining oat mixture in the bowl for later. Place the pan into a 350˚F oven for 20 minutes.
Fresh Cranberry Filling
Meanwhile, let’s make that tart cranberry filling! In a large saucepan, pour in 24 oz. of fresh cranberries. Since citrus fruits and cranberry go so well together, cut up two lemons and squeeze out enough juice for 1/3 cup. Then zest an orange or two until you get ¾ teaspoon of orange zest. Add both the juice and zest to the cranberries, along with the granulated sugar. No cornstarch is needed. Cranberries thicken up just fine on their own.
Stir it all together and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
This is what you want to see after 10 minutes of cooking. The cranberries will be soft and most of the liquid drawn out.
Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the cranberry mixture as you see here. In the case of splatter, make sure you are not wearing a favorite white shirt!
About this time, your oatmeal bottom crust will be done and look like this when it comes out of the oven – golden brown and bubbly. Allow the crust to completely cool before spreading on your cranberry filling. This is important! We want the steam to escape and keep our crust crunchy…go do some laundry, take a nap or watch an episode of your favorite baking show!
When the crust is cool, spread the cranberry filling on top of the crust and drop clumps of the reserved oatmeal mixture on top. Using your hand, lightly pat the top into the filling.
Bake the bars for 25-30 additional minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. This is what it will look like right out of the oven. Your kitchen will smell wonderful!
When completely cool, remove the rectangle from the parchment paper (It will come out in one giant piece) and cut the bars on a cutting board. You should hear a crunch when you cut into the crust. Serve them room temperature or chilled.
If you don’t think you can eat 48 bars in one sitting (ha!) these cranberry oatmeal bars freeze really well. Take them out during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and they’ll be perfect to eat after the turkey.
…or cut them up and share them now with friends and neighbors. These are so special! November and cranberry just might become your favorite combination 😉
More Fresh Cranberry Recipes
Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
- 6 Cups regular rolled oats
- 2 1/4 Cups dark brown sugar
- 2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 Cup shredded unsweet coconut
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 Cups salted butter melted
- 3/4 Cup coconut oil melted
- 24 oz. fresh cranberries
- 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 Cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat your oven to 350˚ F.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, dark brown sugar, flour, shredded coconut, soda and salt. Pour the butter and coconut oil into the bowl and mix well. The texture will resemble a wet cookie dough.
- Place a piece of parchment paper over an 12x17 inch jelly roll pan. Press 6 ½ cups of the oat mixture into the pan and use a spatula to help you press it all down. Bake the crust 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let completely cool.
- In a large saucepan, combine cranberries, granulated sugar, juice and zest. Simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries are soft. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the cranberry mixture until it looks resembles a smooth jam. Remember, allow the crust to cool completely before spreading the cranberry on top.
- After adding the cranberry layer, crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture on top and lightly pat it down with your hand.
- Bake the cranberry bars for 25-30 additional minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. When completely cool, remove the rectangle from the parchment paper and cut into bars.
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Comments & Reviews
This recipe is PERFECT! We make it gluten and dairy free and no one in our family can even tell the difference. Delicious!