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Cranberry Lemon Bars

My Cranberry Lemon Bars are a delicious and easy-to-make dessert, with the perfect balance between sweet and tangy flavors. A buttery and light crust with lemon zest and juice provides a refreshing backdrop. 

I love whipping up these Cranberry Lemon Bars – they're like a sunshine-filled treat in every bite! This is a delicious twist on the classic lemon bars with a burst of tart cranberries in every bite.

Cranberry Lemon Bars stacked together on a parchment lined wooden serving board.

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These bars are also a breeze to make. If you're like me and always looking for shortcuts, use frozen cranberries. You can even toss them in frozen- the batter might get a bit stiff to stir, but it's totally worth it for the convenience.

As for serving, these bars are super versatile. A sprinkle of powdered sugar on top gives them a sweet finish, but they're just as good without it. I've even tried them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – talk about a flavor explosion! 

Ingredient Notes

See the printable recipe card below for all ingredients, specific measurements, and complete instructions.

Ingredients to make cranberry lemon bars set out on the counter.
  • All-purpose flour: The basic building block here, providing structure to our bars.
  • Baking powder: A small but necessary element to help our bars rise a bit.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to enhance the overall flavor profile.
  • Butter (softened): The foundation of our crust, giving it a rich texture.
  • Granulated sugar: Adding sweetness to balance out the tart ingredients.
  • Eggs: Binders, keeping everything together.
  • Lemon juice: Providing a subtle tanginess to the bars.
  • Lemon extract: Intensifying the lemon flavor for a bit more kick.
  • Lemon zest: Adding a fragrant hint of lemon to the mix.
  • Cranberries (fresh or frozen): The tart and juicy components, offering a burst of flavor.
  • Powdered sugar (optional): A simple finishing touch.

Recipe Substitutions and Variations

  • Make them into Cranberry Orange Bars. Swap out the lemon juice, zest, and extract for orange versions of the same ingredients for a delightful citrusy variation. Orange and cranberry are a classic combo.
  • Add nuts. Add a cup of chopped nuts, like pecans or walnuts, to the batter for a nutty crunch in every bite. It adds a nice texture contrast.
  • Make Lime Bars. Just like you can swap out the lemon ingredients for orange, you can also use lime zest and juice instead! These will give them a key lime pie sort of twist. 

How To Make Cranberry Lemon Bars

Start by preheating your oven to 350ºF.

Flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Eggs, lemon juice, lemon extract, and lemon zest are added to creamed butter and sugar in a bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. In a separate large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until the mixture achieves a light and fluffy consistency.

Next, beat in the eggs, lemon juice, lemon extract, and lemon zest into the large bowl. This is going to make sure you have plenty of fresh lemon flavor in those cranberry lemon bars.

Flour mixture added to wet ingredients in bowl.
Cranberries folded into batter in bowl.

Then, combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. Gently fold in the cranberries, making sure they're evenly distributed throughout the batter. If you’re using frozen cranberries, stir them in while they are still frozen. 

Batter in a mixing bowl.
Cranberry lemon bars batter in a baking pan.

Once the batter is ready, spread it evenly into a greased or parchment-lined 9x9 inch baking pan. Pop it in the preheated oven and patiently wait for 35 minutes, keeping an eye out for that firm center without any wobbling. 

Cranberry lemon bars baked in a square baking pan.

Once out of the oven, let it cool. If you’re feeling a bit fancy, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top before serving for that sweet finishing touch.

Cranberry lemon bars are served on a parchment paper-lined wooden board.

Storing and Freezing

Store: Once the Cranberry Lemon Bars have cooled to room temperature, store them in an airtight container. If you've cut them into individual bars, you can separate layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Refrigerate the bars for 3-4 days.

Freezing: If you want to keep them longer, these bars also freeze well. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or place them in a freezer-safe container, and they should be good for up to three months. Just allow them to thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Recipe Tips

  • Make sure your butter is properly softened. Leave it out for a bit before starting or use a quick trick – cut it into small pieces to speed up the softening process.
  • Zest that lemon before juicing it. It's way easier to zest a whole lemon than a squeezed one!
  • If you're using frozen cranberries, toss them in straight from the freezer. Yeah, it might make the batter a bit stiff, but it's totally normal.
  • Be sure to let the bars cool off completely before adding the powdered sugar on top- it melts easily and doesn’t look nearly as pretty. 

Can I use dried cranberries instead of fresh or frozen ones?

While dried cranberries can be used, they won't provide the same burst of juiciness as fresh or frozen ones. If using dried, consider soaking them in hot water for a bit before adding to the batter.

Cranberry lemon bars served on a white plate.

Here are a few more delicious cranberry recipes you might like to try!

You’re in for a tasty treat with these Cranberry Lemon Bars! You’re going to love the sweet and tangy flavor of every bite.

Cranberry Lemon Bars stacked on a wooden serving board.

Cranberry Lemon Bars Recipe

Author: Judy Wilson
These Cranberry Lemon Bars are a delicious, easy-to-make dessert with the perfect balance between sweet and tangy flavors.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 170 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon  lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • cups cranberries (can use frozen)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, lemon extract, and lemon zest.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Then stir in the cranberries
  • Spread into a greased or parchment-lined 9x9 inch baking pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, until the center is set (no longer looks wet or jiggles - the toothpick test might be hard to do with all the cranberries).
  • Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Notes

If you use frozen cranberries, stir them in while still frozen, and be aware that they can make the batter pretty stiff to stir!
Allow the Bars to cool to room temperature then place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 170kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 115mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 193IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and should only be used as a general guideline. It is an estimate that will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
Did You Make This Recipe? Please Rate, Comment & Share. Thank you!
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Recipe Rating




Pam

Thursday 28th of December 2023

These look amazing! I'll be featuring this post today at Thursday Favorite Things, starting at 10:00 a.m. CST. :)

Donna

Thursday 21st of December 2023

oh my! This sounds so yummy!

Laura @ Our Grand Lives

Tuesday 19th of December 2023

Two of my favorite flavors! These look delicious and would be a wonderful addition on my holiday cookie tray! Thank you!

Patti @ Pandora's Box

Tuesday 19th of December 2023

Looking forward to making this!

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