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Two cranberry bars stacked on a table
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Cranberry Pecan Crumble Bars

This Cranberry Pecan Crumble Bars recipe is a small batch of dessert bars that are made with a tender shortbread crust, tart and sweet cranberry filling brightened with fresh orange and cardamom, and finished with a pecan crumble topping.  This is a great dessert for the holidays, or to use up all of those leftover holiday cranberries!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time42 mins
Total Time1 hr 2 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bars, Cranberry, Crumble Topping, Pecan, Small Batch
Servings: 6 Bars
Author: Erin Cernich


Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cranberry Filling

  • 1 and 1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Crumble Topping

  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped toasting is optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom optional
  • 1/3 of reserved shortbread crust

Cardamom Icing (optional)

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons milk or water


  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • Optional - While the oven is preheating, you can toast the pecans. Scatter the pecan on a small baking sheet and toast for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Line a 6×6 inch square cake pan with parchment paper: Cut two strips of parchment to fit the sides of the pan, and long enough to hang over the sides. Line the pan with the paper strips crossed. This creates a sling to lift the bars out of the pan, and keeps the caramel from sticking to the sides of the pan.

Cranberry Filling

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, sugar, cardamom (if using), vanilla extract, and cornstarch. Toss to mix and coat the cranberries thoroughly. Set aside Note - If using frozen cranberries, I don't recommend thawing them as they will release too much moisture. If using fresh cranberries, make sure they have had time to dry after rinsing to clean them.

Shortbread Crust

  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, and butter cubes. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers (works best!), until a crumbly moist dough forms. This may take a few minutes for the butter to moisten the flour. Reserve 1/3 of the dough for the crumble topping in a small mixing bowl.
  • Press the remaining shortbread dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes and until the edges are golden. Set the baked crust on a wire rack, and keep the oven on.

Crumble Topping

  • While the shortbread crust is baking, make the crumble topping. Add the chopped pecans and cardamom (if using) to the reserved shortbread dough. Mix with your hands to distribute the pecans. Because the dough is crumbly, the pecans won't necessarily 'stick' to the dough, which is fine.
  • Assemble the bars to bake - Spoon the cranberry filling on top of the baked shortbread crust. It is fine if the crust is warm. Sprinkle the Crumble Topping over the top of the cranberries. Note - If the cranberry filling has a lot of liquid, use a slotted spoon to spoon the cranberry filling on top of the crust. An excessive amount of liquid my make the crust too moist.
  • Bake the bars for 38 to 42 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and cranberries are bubbly. Note - If the Crumble Topping is browning too quickly, loosely cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Cool the bars completely in the pan set on a wire cooling rack. We cool in the pan so the filling has time to set. When ready to serve, gently lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper sling. Cut the bars into desired shapes and sizes, drizzle with Cardamom Icing, and Enjoy!

Cardamom Icing

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar, cardamom (if using), and 1 teaspoon of milk or water to start. Stir, and add more liquid as necessary until you reach your desired icing consistency. Note - Add extra liquid in about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon increments. A little will go a long way to make the icing.


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