Aromatic vanilla pairs well with bright cranberries and nutty oats in this easy Cranberry Oatmeal Bars recipe; it’s the perfect way to use leftover cranberry sauce!
Most people save their snowy wishes for a white Christmas, but I confess, I am desperately hoping for snow for Thanksgiving.
A Buffalo girl at heart, nothing says holiday season to me quite like a good foot or so of snow. (Not to mention eggnog or mulled cider and some kind of cranberry treat.)
Living in the DC area now, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that Thanksgiving will most likely not be welcomed in with snow (but I am surely keeping my fingers crossed for Christmas). However, that doesn’t mean I can’t make the rest of the festivities happen, right?
Bring on the cranberry treats.
The Best Easy Cranberry Oatmeal Bars Recipe
These jam bars are so multi-purpose, they’ll have your head spinning!
Make a double batch of your favorite cranberry sauce (mine is this Easy Apple Cranberry Sauce recipe) the day before Thanksgiving, and whip these up in the morning for Thanksgiving brunch.
Include them in the dessert buffet for Thanksgiving dinner.
Or serve them as an early morning breakfast with coffee on Black Friday before you brave the shopping crowds.
Cranberry Oatmeal Bars are the perfect use for leftover cranberry sauce!
- Cranberry sauce – you can use homemade or store-bought whole berry cranberry sauce; I highly recommend Apple Cranberry Sauce
- Butter – like many baking recipes, use unsalted butter here; make sure your butter is chilled and diced small
- Flour – all-purpose flour (unbleached if possible) is perfect here
- Salt – to add balance and enhance the other flavors
- Cinnamon – this adds a hint of warm spice that pairs well with oatmeal and cranberries
- Baking soda – this is our leavening agent here
- Sugar – granulated sugar works well here, but light brown sugar is also delicious
- Vanilla – for flavor and aroma
- Blackstrap molasses – adds caramelized brown sugar flavor notes; if you use brown sugar, you can skip this
- Eggs – acts as a binder and adds structure
- Old-fashioned rolled oats – don’t use instant oats here because they absorb liquid differently
Step 1: Prep Work:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with 2 pieces of parchment paper so that the paper hangs over all 4 sides (so you can easily lift out the cookie bars).
Taste the cranberry sauce and if it’s on the tart side, add sugar to taste (it should have a pleasantly sweet/tart flavor without making you pucker).
Step 2: Make the Pastry:
Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the cold butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal, and then use a fork to stir in the salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and sugar. Add the vanilla and molasses, and combine with a fork until incorporated. Stir in the eggs, and then the oats.
Step 3: Assemble and Bake:
Press 2/3 of the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared dish (the dough will be sticky). Spread the cranberry sauce on top of the dough, and crumble the remaining 1/3 of the dough on top.
Bake until golden, about 45 minutes, and then cool completely.
Step 4: Glaze:
Once cooled, whisk together all ingredients for the glaze and drizzle it on top of the bars.
Let the glaze set before cutting and serving.
Cranberry Oatmeal Bars FAQs
What Kind of Cranberry Sauce Can I Use to Make These Bars?
You can use any whole berry cranberry sauce to make this recipe. But because it’s much more delicious and it’s so easy to make cranberry sauce from scratch, I like to use a homemade cranberry sauce to make these pastry bars.
The following cranberry sauce recipes work well to make these bars:
- Easy Apple Cranberry Sauce
- Cardamom-Spiced Cranberry Pear Sauce
- Cinnamon and Ginger-Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce
Can I Use Instant Oats in This Recipe?
This recipe was developed using old-fashioned rolled oats, and they are what I recommend using here so that the recipe works as pictured.
This is because instant oats are more finely ground and absorb liquid differently than old-fashioned rolled oats.
How Long do Cranberry Oatmeal Bars Last?
You can store these bars covered for up to 3 days at room temperature, or up to 1 week in the fridge.
More Recipes that Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce
- Cranberry Cake
- Eggnog Muffins with Cranberry Filling
- Cranberry White Cheddar Cheese Ball with Fresh Rosemary
- Grilled Cheese Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich
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Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
- 1 1/3 cups Apple Cranberry Sauce
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter chilled and diced small
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cold water
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with 2 pieces of parchment paper so that the paper hangs over all 4 sides (so you can easily lift out the cookie bars).
- Taste the cranberry sauce and if it’s on the tart side, add sugar to taste (it should have a pleasantly sweet/tart flavor without making you pucker).
- Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the cold butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal (with some small bits of butter), and then use a fork to stir in the salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and sugar. Add the vanilla and molasses, and combine with a fork until incorporated. Stir in the eggs, and then the oats.
- Press 2/3 of the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared dish (the dough will be sticky). Spread the cranberry sauce on top of the dough, and crumble the remaining 1/3 of the dough on top.
- Bake until golden, about 45 minutes, and then cool completely.
- Once cooled, whisk together all ingredients for the glaze and drizzle it on top of the bars.
- Let the glaze set before cutting and serving.
- Storage: Store these bars covered for up to 3 days at room temperature, or up to 1 week in the fridge.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on November 6, 2014. I updated it with more information on November 18, 2022.
Another winner, Faith! Added a handful of coconut as well; not sorry.
Maybe we can hope for snow the week OF Thanksgiving but then have it stop a few days before my wedding…compromise? :P
I love cranberry infused sweet treats. They feel so festive! These are great.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Such pretty bars, Faith! Love that oat crumble!
Oh Faith, these looks delicious! I love that you add mahlab…I love the flavor that adds. I’m going to look for that cranberry sauce with the vanilla! Sounds yummy!
I hope you get a white Thanksgiving, Faith! After a winter in Michigan last year, I’m hoping for only a slight dusting of snow at the very most now that I live in Portland, Oregon.
These oat bars look delicious! I’m inspired to make some baked oatmeal with cranberries now. :)
You guys should come visit me for Christmas! We’ve got plenty of the white Christmas action going on. We can all go skiing/sledding and drink hot cocoa with these deeeelicious cranberry bars! I love cranberry sauce and these are definitely making me excited for a white Christmas :D
Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes says
These are so perfect in every way. Loving the images too Faith. Beautiful.
mmm mmm mmm! Delicious! Snow for Thanksgiving? I pray for a bikini for Christmas haha :)