Lemon Cranberry Bars | Everyday home cooking

Filled with layers of sweet and tangy cranberries and lemon on a buttery shortbread crust, these Lemon Cranberry Bars are a unique spin on a classic lemon bar recipe.

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There’s no denying that classics like chocolate chip cookies (this recipe is made without baking soda), brownies (these don’t include cocoa powder) and cheesecake (no baking, no problem!) are all winners.

I also love a good lemon bar – it’s a delicious combination of buttery, rich shortbread and perfectly tart citrus.

Recently, while snacking on a lemon bar, I had a brilliant idea: these would be delicious with a layer of cranberries!

I tried it at home and was so happy with the results. I will definitely be making a few batches for the holidays! Christmas lemon bars, anyone?

Here is what I will teach you in this post:

  • The ingredients you’ll need for each layer of my Cranberry Lemon Bars, plus how to make and assemble them.
  • Specific instructions on how to get the best lemon cranberry bars every time.
  • Prepare instructions ahead of time on how to store a batch in the freezer, as well as tips on where to store your Lemon Cranberry Bars so they stay fresh.

I love the idea of ​​serving lemon Christmas bars with cranberries at my parties this year. It’s a twist on the lemon bars everyone knows and loves!

ingredients for making cranberry lemon bars

How to Make Lemon Cranberry Bars

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this article.

THE FIRST STEP: Start with your crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with your favorite nonstick spray. Whisk the flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl, then add the melted butter. Mix to combine. Pour the batter into the pan and gently press it into an even layer. Don’t press too hard – you don’t want to compact it. Bake the shortbread crust for your lemon cranberry bars for 15-18, then let cool while you make the other layers.

layer of shortbread in the mold

SECOND STEP : Now onto the cranberry layer. Add cranberry sauce, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and cornstarch to a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave then whisk to remove large lumps. Spread in an even layer over the shortbread crust.

layer of cranberries on shortbread crust

THIRD STEP: Last but not least, the lemon layer of the best lemon cranberry bars ever. Whisk together the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Then add the eggs and vanilla and whisk again. Add the lemon juice and mix. Carefully pour the lemon mixture over the cranberry layer.

lemon layer on cranberry layer

STEP FOUR: Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the lemon layer is set. Let the bars cool to room temperature, then place them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.

several lemon and cranberry bars

STEP FIVE: Once cooled, use the parchment paper to lift the Lemon Cranberry Bars out of the pan. Dust with powdered sugar if desired and cut into even squares. Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 3 days!

Can I freeze Lemon Cranberry Bars?

100%! One of the reasons this is the best lemon cranberry bar recipe is that it freezes perfectly.

Once the bars have cooled, you can either cut them up or freeze them as a slab. I recommend wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap and then wrapping them again with foil.

They will keep for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight, or you can even enjoy them frozen!

Why Are My Cranberry Lemon Bars So Gooey?

You have to be careful to let the bars cook until the lemon layer is completely set. Test them by gently shaking the pan. If the lemon shakes, it needs to cook longer.

lemon cranberry bars on a wire rack

Do Lemon Bars need to be refrigerated after baking?

It’s important to chill your Lemon Christmas Bars after baking to ensure they’re set.

You can serve them at room temperature or chilled, it’s all a matter of preference! That said, you should keep them refrigerated to avoid any foodborne illness.

Can you overcook Lemon Cranberry Bars?

Yes. If you overcook this dessert, it will take on a grainy texture. The best lemon cranberry bars have a smooth, firm consistency, so watch the baking time!

lemon cranberry bar with a bite

Other dessert recipes you’ll love:

Preparation time
15 minutes

Cooking time
40 minutes

Cooling time
4 hours

Total time
4 hours 55 minutes


For the dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, melted

For the cranberry layer

  • 1 can (14 ounces) cranberry jelly sauce

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 lemon, squeezed and zested

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the lemon layer

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


For the dough

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and powdered sugar. Add melted butter and stir to combine.
  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and gently press it into the bottom – you just want to smooth the dough into an even layer, not compact it.
  4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  5. Take the crust out of the oven and let it cool while you prepare the other layers.

For the cranberry layer

  1. Add cranberry sauce, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and cornstarch to a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute then whisk until no large lumps remain. Spread the mixture evenly over the shortcrust pastry.

For the lemon layer

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. Then add the eggs and vanilla and that to combine.
  2. Finally, add the lemon juice and whisk to combine.
  3. Gently pour the lemon layer over the cranberry layer, being careful not to disturb the cranberry layer.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the lemon layer is set and no longer jiggles when the pan is gently shaken.
  5. Let the bars cool completely to room temperature, then transfer them to the refrigerator to chill (at least 4 hours).
  6. When ready to serve, use the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan. Cut them to the desired size and dust them with powdered sugar, if desired.
  7. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Nutrition Information:





Amount per serving:
calories: 247Total fat: 2gSaturated fat: 1gTrans fat: 0gUnsaturated fat: 1gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 30mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 4g

This nutritional information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Product brands and sizes can alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

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