You are going to love how easy these Gluten Free Cranberry Shortbread Bars are to make! Sweet and tart at the same time, these bars are just bursting with holiday flavors!

Three gluten free cranberry shortbread bars stacked on a small black plate.

Cranberries are one of those treasured holiday ingredients we love. Their sweet-tart flavor works in recipes from sweet to savory! I couldn’t wait to share this new recipe with you.

The thing I love most about these gluten free cranberry squares is that they FREEZE well. Yup, I am on sweets overload here, and I had to freeze several to hide them from myself. I have been recipe testing, tasting, and eating a lot lately, and I needed to make some of the sweets disappear.

If you love cranberries as much as I do, wait until you try these gluten free cranberry bread!!

A slice of cranberry shortbread bar on a small white plate.

These cranberry shortbread cookies would taste amazing with vanilla ice cream served on top! If you love cranberry sauce, you will also want to try my Gluten Free Cranberry Hand Pies.

Are you ready to see how easy these cranberry shortbread bars are to make?

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Ingredient Notes:

  • Gluten free flour blend – I tested this recipe using Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour Blend and King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Blend. That doesn’t mean others will not work; I just have not tested other flours, and I can not guarantee the recipe will work if you use other mixes.
  • Xanthan Gum – If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain xanthan gum or guar gum, please add 1 teaspoon.
  • Butter – For dairy-free, use vegan butter.
  • Fresh cranberries – Be sure to look over the cranberries and pick out any that are mushy.
  • Vanilla – Please use pure vanilla extract; imitation doesn’t give the same flavor.

Step-By-Step Directions:

Cooking cranberries in a small pot on the stove.

1. The first step is to make fresh cranberry sauce. Add the cranberries and other cranberry sauce ingredients to a pan and boil. You will hear some popping as the cranberries pop under the heat.

Using a pastry blender to cut cold butter into flour.

2. If you like shortbread, you will love how easy this gluten free shortbread crust recipe is to make. First, add your dry ingredients to a bowl. Add the cold butter in chunks to the bowl.

3. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until your crust is crumbly. (You can also use a food processor to do this.)

Pressing the shortbread crust into the 8x8 baking pan.

4. Add 3/4 of the crust dough to a greased 8×8 baking dish. (Save the other 1/4 to be used in the topping.) Press the dough down into the baking dish. Bake the crust at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Adding the cranberry sauce.

5. Add the cranberry sauce you just made or leftover cranberry sauce to the partially baked shortbread. Spread it out to cover the shortbread crust.

Adding the crumble topping.

6. I bake my gluten free shortbread bars at 350 degrees F. Add the sugar to the remaining shortbread crust and then drop on the cranberry layer.

7. Bake. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

My daughter pulled these cranberry bars out of the freezer the other day for some friends, and they DEVOURED these bars in record time. She heated them up for 30 seconds in the microwave. This easy gluten free banana bread with cranberries also freezes well if you want to make two recipes :-).

Two cranberry shortbread bars on a plate.

Flavor Variations:

Feel free to customize this recipe. Fresh cranberries are hard to find year-round, so feel free to substitute your favorite fruit like blue, black, and strawberries!

  • Try using blueberry jam (or your favorite jam) instead of cranberry sauce. You will love shortbread bars with jam!
  • Add slivered almonds on top!
  • Add chopped pecans to the bottom shortbread layer
  • Top with fresh whipped cream
  • Add white chocolate chips!

Recipe FAQ:

Can you use leftover cranberry sauce instead?

This recipe is a great way to use leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving!

How can you tell if the shortbread is done?

I usually use the fruit layer as a barometer to determine if they are done. They should be done if the fruit layer is bubbling up around the top layer.

How long will these cranberry bars keep fresh?

These cranberry bars can be kept for up to 4 days in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or up to 4 months in the freezer.

A photo of a reader's cranberry bars. She loved the recipe.
Crystal M’s finished cranberry bars photo

Love This Recipe?

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave a comment below. Include which flour blend you used. This helps others know this recipe is delicious. Thank you!

Gluten Free Cranberry Shortbread Bars

Sandi Gaertner
A delicious holiday gluten free cranberry shortbread bar recipe
4.77 from 47 votes
an egg free allergen icon
gluten free allergy icon
soy free allergy icon
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Gluten Free Cookies and Bar Recipes, Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 186 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Crust
  • 1 ¼ cups gluten free flour blend
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons water crust (Add one then if you need more add accordingly)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar topping
  • Berry layer
  • 1 package fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  • Make the crust first. Add all of the dry crust ingredients to a bowl. 
  • Add the cold butter. Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender.
  • Add the water to make a dough. Pour 3/4 of the crust into a greased 8×8 pan.
  • Press the dough down into the pan so that it is flat.
  • Bake only the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  • In a small pot, add the cranberries, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Cook for 15 minutes on low heat until the cranberries all pop open. You can press a spoon against the berries to pop them. 
  • Let the cranberry mixture cool 5 minutes. 
  • Pour the cranberry mixture on top of the crust.
  • Take the remaining 1/4 crust mixture and add the brown sugar. Toss to mix.
  • Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture on top of the cranberry layer.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cranberry is bubbling.

Notes

  1. I have tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure GF, Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 GF blend, and Authentic Foods Multi Blend. That doesn’t mean others will not work, I just have not tested other flours.
  2. If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, please add 1 teaspoon.
  3. To make this recipe dairy-free, substitute the butter for vegan butter.
  4. These bars will keep up to 4 days in an air-tight container, or up to 4 months in the freezer.

SPECIAL NOTE

Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 186kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 117mgPotassium: 4mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 236IUCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
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Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

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Recipe Rating




54 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We absolutely love this recipe at the holidays! This weekend I tried it with a strawberry & rhubarb filling. Family loved it! Doubled the crust to fit a 9×13 pan. Cooked shortbread for 20 min ( larger pan). Filling was 4.5 cups chopped rhubarb, 1 lb fresh strawberries, 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp vanilla. Simmered for 10 minutes.
    Final bake was 40-45 min (again due to larger pan).
    Make sure not to simmer the filling too long or it all becomes a yummy soup in the final bake.
    I’m excited to see what other flavors may work as the shortbread and crumb are delicious!

  2. I will hopefully be making these today. I would like to add a layer of creamcheese on the shortbread then add the cranberry sauce. Have you tried doing this? Would I have to add anything to the creamcheese?
    Thanks
    Darleen

    1. 5 stars
      Sandi these bars were delightful. I made them for the Bazaar at the church and as it passed through the baking room I had a complement on them right away. my husband liked the look of them so much he bought some. I also think they are delicious.

  3. These were delicious! I used wild organic blueberry preserves that we always buy from Costco. I’m newly diagnosed with celiac disease and it is nice to find a yummy dessert recipe that everyone enjoyed. Brought it to a Christmas gather and everyone loved it. Thank you for the recipe!