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A stack of three cranberry orange crumb bars.

Cranberry Crumb Bars

  • Author: Nguyet Vo
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 (9x13) pan 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These cranberry crumble bars have a sweet-tart cranberry-orange filling nestled between a buttery shortbread crust and a crumb topping.


Units Scale

For the filling

  • 1 pound fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant tapioca (not starch)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

For the crust and crumb topping

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of one small orange
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


For the filling

  1. Cook cranberries. Stir the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and tapioca together in a medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Cook cranberry mixture over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken and about half the cranberries have burst, 6-8 minutes.
  2. Cool. Remove and discard the vanilla bean pods. Let filling cool completely before proceeding.

For the crust and crumb topping

  1. Pulse dry ingredients. In a food processor, pulse together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest until combined.
  2. Cut in butter. Add the butter and egg and pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbs.

To assemble

  1. Prep oven and pan. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. Make crust. Pat half of the crumb mixture into the prepared pan to make the crust.
  3. Add filling. Spread the cooled cranberry mixture evenly over the crust.
  4. Add topping. Crumble remaining dough evenly over the cranberry layer.
  5. Bake. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


  • Cranberry filling can be made up to 5 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled until ready to use.
  • To quickly cool the filling, first prepare an ice-bath. Put the saucepan in the ice bath being careful not to get any water into the cranberry filling. Allow the saucepan to sit in the ice bath until mixture is cool, stirring occasionally.
  • In place of the half vanilla bean, you can use 1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste. Once we discovered vanilla bean paste, we found it a much more economical way to enjoy the benefits of vanilla beans. It is available at restaurant supply stores and on
  • Recipe for cranberry filling from Bon Appétit, November 2012.
  • Recipe for crust and crumb topping from Smitten Kitchen.

Keywords: cranberry recipe, crumb bars, cranberry bars

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