Tart cranberry sauce and sweet layers of cookie combine in this easy Cranberry Crumb Bars recipe. Perfect for using up leftovers!
In my childhood kitchen, there was an eating counter. It wasn’t a kitchen island — more like an archipelago of countertop with stools stowed beneath it. And it was there, on its shades of tan Formica top, that food preparation happened.
We’d gather around the countertop to make fruit cocktail for holidays — a combination of canned fruit cocktail in light syrup with fresh halved grapes, chunks of pineapple, sliced bananas and other fruits. It was there that we’d layer noodles, ricotta, meat, sauce and mozzarella for lasagna or combine freshly cooked sausage, sauteed peppers and onions, sauce and cheese in big metal pans for sausage and peppers.
It was also there that we’d eat, daily, as a family.
If the kitchen is the heart of the home, that countertop was the aorta of ours.
In our home now, the kitchen is also the heart and our kitchen island is the center of all activity. From meals to entertaining guests, food prep to recipe development so much happens in that space. So many great memories have already been made in that space, which is as it should be. I can’t wait to make more.
It was at that very kitchen island that I made cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, served it with our big meal and later transformed it into these Cranberry Crumb Bars. Naturally, we ate them hanging about around the kitchen island too.
Do you have a space like that in your home?
How to Make Cranberry Crumb Bars
Cranberry Crumb Bars feature a sweet crust and crumble topping with tart cranberry sauce in the center. These are perfect for using cranberry sauce leftovers in a new and different way.
Making these bars is a simple process. Start by mixing the dry ingredients. Use a whisk to sift them together.
Next you’ll add the butter, which lends a lovely flavor and texture to the finished bars. Cut in cold butter using a pastry blender or two knives.
Now, it’s time to add the only liquid ingredient: one egg. Whisk an egg and then add to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. The dough will be crumbly, but you want to take extra care to mix it as well as you can.
The crust and crumble are made from the same dough. It will only hold together when you press it down. Press half of the crumb mixture into a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Top with cranberry sauce. Then crumble the remaining crumb mixture on top.
Then bake. When the crumbs on top are golden brown, the bars are done.
Let them cool thoroughly before slicing and enjoying.
Hint: These bars are pretty flexible so you can use whatever cranberry sauce leftovers you have. I made these bars with as little as 1 1/4 cups of cranberry sauce, but you could use up to 2 cups — if you have it.
Then serve. These bars are made for sharing.
Cranberry Crumb Bars
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup cold butter , cut into pieces (2 sticks)
- 1 egg , beaten
- 1 1/4 cups leftover cranberry sauce (or more!)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking pan with cooking oil spray or butter.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the sugar, baking powder, salt and flour. Add the butter and cut in either using two knives or a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form.
- Add the egg to the dry ingredients and stir together until a crumbly dough forms.
- Add half of the dough to the prepared pan and press firmly to form an even layer. Spread the cranberry sauce over, spreading from end to end. Crumble the remaining dough on top of the cranberry layer, taking care to evenly disperse it.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Cool completely before slicing and serving.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.