A variation of these ever popular oatmeal fig bars, soft baked cranberry oatmeal bars are the perfect holiday dessert recipe. A crumble topping also acts as the crust for this super easy, hearty three-layer breakfast bar. It’s the best baked fruit bar!

cranberry bars on a plaid plate with white napkin.

If you love a good dessert bar, you’re going to be really happy! Just like my popular oatmeal fig bars, these soft-baked cranberry oatmeal bars will be your new favorite holiday brunch or dessert bar.

Oooh…and don’t miss out on this flaky, almond- kissed Danish puff pastry recipe if you need another amazing brunch coffee cake for a holiday buffet!

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One soft oatmeal bar

baked pan of cranberry bars with wooden spatula and two white ruffled plates.

The best things about this oatmeal cranberry bar:

  • Versatile. The top and the bottom are made from the same crust. The crust doubles as the oatmeal crumble topping both sandwiched around a lusciously tart and sweet fresh cranberry filling.
  • Freezable. Make them ahead and freeze for the holidays. Defrost at room temperature.
  • Portable. Head out the door with one of these bars for a portable breakfast.

But enough romanticizing this cranberry bar….let’s get to making it!

Fresh cranberries make all the difference

pan of baked fruit bars with spatula.

If you can add a few things to a pot, you can make homemade cranberry sauce. Fresh cranberries bathe in citrus, cinnamon and sugar for about 12 minutes until it cools and thickens into a glorious cranberry filling.

This a quick-cook cranberry filling that isn’t cranberry sauce.

Just try and leave your spoon out of this cranberry preserve!

What you’ll need

colander with fresh cranberries, cup of brown sugar, butter, eggs, citrus and dry ingredients.

You might have most of the ingredients in your pantry but a few standouts are:

  • Fresh cranberries. Ok admittedly this can be tricky as grocery stores usually don’t sell fresh cranberries year round. Many stores, like Whole Foods, do carry frozen fresh cranberries which work as well!
  • Oatmeal. Not quick cook but good old-fashioned oats. I like the thicker ones but any will work.
  • Citrus. A little orange juice and zest along with some lemon juice add a little sweetness.
  • Sugar. You probably guessed that to reduce the tartness we need a little sweetness.
  • Cinnamon. Oatmeal and cinnamon are BFF’s and it adds a warmth to the oatmeal bars.

Step by step for the best cranberry bars

Make the filling:

  • Add all sugar and water to a small saucepan and cook to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes [1].
  • Next, toss the cranberries with the fruit juices and zest [2]. Lower heat and simmer until thickened about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely [3].

Make the crust/topping:

  • Cream butter and brown sugar together.
  • Add in eggs and vanilla.
  • Follow with the dry ingredients including the oatmeal. Mix until combined.
  • Evenly pat 2/3 of the crust into the bottom of the square baking pan.
  • Spread over the cooled cranberry filling.
  • Plop over the remaining oatmeal crust and slightly spread out over the filling.
  • Bake until golden brown.

Sticky Dough Tip

To easily spread a sticky dough into a baking pan, spray either your hands or parchment paper with baking spray to easily spread the crust without sticking!

Recipe Tips

cranberry bar on a green plate with white napkin.
  • Don’t have fresh cranberries? Use frozen ones straight from the freezer and follow the recipe as written.
  • To cleanly cut the cranberry oatmeal bars, use this awesome Zyliss lettuce knife. It works great on fudgy brownies too!
  • Make ahead the cranberry citrus filling the day a few days before and bake the bars when you need to!

Storage Suggestions

  • Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze cranberry bars in a single layer until firm and then place in a freezer safe bag or container for up to 3 months.

before you go…

If you make this recipe, be sure to give it a star rating and share your reviews in the comments below! Or pin the recipe by clicking on one of the images above and save it for later.

cranberry bars on a plaid plate with white napkin.
5 from 1 vote

Soft Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

A rendition of my ever popular oatmeal fig bars, these soft cranberry oatmeal bars are the perfect version for the holidays. A crumble topping also acts as the crust for this super easy, hearty three-layer breakfast bar. It's the best baked fruit bar!
Cook Time:50 minutes
Cooling time for filling:1 hour
Total Time:1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 16



Cranberry filling

Crust & topping


  • Preheat oven to 350°.

For the cranberry filling

  • To a small 2 qt. stainless saucepan, add the sugar and water and cook over medium heat to dissolve the sugar which should take about 2 minutes.
    ½ cup water, 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • Add the cranberries along with the orange juice and zest and lemon juice and continue cooking on medium heat until the cranberries pop for 5 minutes. Lower heat and simmer until thickened about 10-15 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Cool completely (see notes below).
    12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, 1 orange, ½ cup orange juice, 1 lemon, Sprinkle of salt

For the crust

  • Grease or lightly spray a 9″ square baking pan.
  • Cream butter in mixer until creamy.
    ½ cup unsalted butter
  • Add brown sugar to butter and mix until lightened and well blended, about 2 minutes.
    1 ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add in vanilla.
    2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla
  • Combine next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl and lightly stir with a fork.
    2 C oatmeal, 1½ C flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Add dry ingredients into mixing bowl and mix on low until worked in completely.
  • Pat ⅔ of mixture into bottom of prepared pan. If needed, use a piece of parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray to help spread it evenly in the pan as the dough will be somewhat sticky.
  • Evenly spread the cooled cranberry filling over the crust.
  • Place (plop!) the remaining crust over the cranberry layer and lightly press down.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking for a golden color on top.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into bars.


Cranberry Notes:
  • Don’t have fresh cranberries? Use frozen ones straight from the freezer and follow the recipe as written.
  • Allow the cranberries to cool completely or they won’t be thickened.
  • When cooking the cranberries and to avoid a mess on your stove., make sure to simmer on low so they don’t bubble over!
  • The filling can be made a couple of days ahead and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
Doubling the recipe. Can be doubled but only increase the salt to by ¼ teaspoon for a total of 1 ¼. Some readers have used only 1 teaspoon when doubling with great success. Also bake for 35 minutes and check every five minutes or so thereafter until golden brown.
Serve warm with some homemade whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream -caramel, vanilla, butter pecan all work well!
Course: Bars, brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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