Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
I found myself with three bags of fresh cranberries in the fridge last week; a happy coincidence of forgetting I already had a bag and then forgetting to update my cart with grocery delivery. I threw one bag in the freezer for healing cranberry smoothies this winter, saved one for my Thanksgiving cranberry orange sauce and used the other to make these fresh cranberry bars.
If you like cranberry sauce and cobbler, then you are going to love these cranberry oat bars. One part sweet brown sugar oat crust and another part tart orange filling; the perfect yin and yang combination for this time of year.
It’s no wonder that all of my cranberry recipes on this blog contain some version of cranberry and orange flavors together– I obviously gravitate towards the combo and I love the bright, tart, slightly sweet pairing. These fresh cranberry bars are no different, pairing fresh cranberries with plenty of orange zest and fresh orange juice.
These bars are also much easier to make than a traditional pie, which is one holiday tradition I can get behind. As much as I enjoy baking this time of year, homemade pie always feels a little overwhelming. But bars? I can make bars in my sleep. They are very forgiving, easy to freeze leftovers and perfect for those sweet little toddler hands that always seems to be in the kitchen with me.
Stock up on fresh cranberries now! They freeze beautifully and while cranberry might be a winter flavor, I’d argue that it’s welcome anytime of the year.
First, make the crust by combining oats, oat flour, brown sugar and spices. To keep things easy, I make my own homemade oat flour by adding rolled oats into a food processor/blender and pureeing until a flour forms. This usually takes about 30 seconds and the oat flour makes these bars lighter than using all-purpose. Yes, you can sub in all-purpose flour if you wish!
Press half into the bottom of a square baker, then make the filling. Simmer fresh cranberries with orange juice, orange zest and enough starch to thicken. Let cool, then add into the prepared crust and top with remaining crust.
That’s it! Bake, let cool and slice.
Yes, you can use leftover cranberry sauce as long as it’s thick enough. The mixture should be like a thick jam, as shown in the photo below. Homemade cranberry sauce is probably best in these and I would skip the canned, gelled version as it will be too thick in these bars.
While these are cranberry bars, the bar recipe is one that I’ve used over and over again with various fruits depending on the time of year.
These bars work great with cooked apples, pear and berries. You’ll cook them the same way, though you may need to adjust the liquid/starch ratio a bit depending on what fruit you use.
Choosing oat flour over all-purpose flours means these bars are completely gluten-free, as long as the oats are certified gluten-free. For non-dairy baking, I prefer to use Earth Balance baking sticks. Earth Balance is a salted butter, so I only use a small pinch of salt in the crust recipe.
However, you can sub in all-purpose flour or regular butter if preferred.
Once you bake these, make sure to let them cool completely before slicing. The cranberry orange filling needs time to set and gel and cutting them warm will leave you with a gooey mess.
To make things easy, I make a parchment-lined overhang in my baker. Cut two long pieces of parchment paper and criss-cross them in the square, pressing down to line. As parchment paper is non-stick, I don’t spray with any type of cooking spray but if you skip the parchment then you’ll need to spray your baker.
When the bars are cool enough to slice, simply lift the parchment paper overhang out and place onto a cutting board to slice. I normally do 12 bars, or 9 if I am gifting these fresh cranberry bars and want a larger, bakery-size offering.
You can also slice these into 16 for a smaller, toddler-size dessert.
Hope you enjoy these fresh cranberry bars as much as we do! If you make them, make sure to come back to leave a comment and rate them. Seeing you make my recipes makes my day and your feedback helps other readers.Print
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Fresh Cranberry Bars! These vegan and gluten-free cranberry orange bars are the perfect balance of tart and sweet. A must for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the holidays.
*To keep these easy, I use oat flour in place of all-purpose. To make oat flour, add rolled oats (or any kind of oats, steel cut will work as well, but it will take longer to process) to a blender or food processor and process until a flour forms.
**A large orange will give you enough zest and juice, but if you are in a pinch then you can use prepared orange juice instead and skip the zest.
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