Cranberry-Lemon Bars

Tart, sweet, and buttery, these bars make a delicious dessert year-round.

Cranberry-Lemon Bars
Photo: Will Dickey; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners
Active Time:
40 mins
Bake Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Chill Time:
30 mins
Refrigerate Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
16 mins
20 bars

If there is a bridal tea or baby shower being planned anywhere in the South, you can be assured someone will bring a cut glass platter of lemon bars for the dessert table. Just like fried chicken at a family reunion, sweet-tart lemon bars are expected at all Spring gatherings. For an unexpected twist on this favorite treat, we added cranberries to this recipe for extra color and flavor. A buttery, delicious shortbread acts as the base for the cranberry jam layer, followed by a sweet and tangy lemon curd, which is so easy to make you will never again purchase it at the store. These bars are a great make-ahead dessert because you can make the lemon curd in advance and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use. These Cranberry-Lemon Bars slice easily and garnished with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, make a colorful display on your party table. If transporting for a party, keep cool until ready to serve.


  • 8 ounces frozen (not thawed) or fresh cranberries

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

  • Cooking spray

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus ⅔ cup fresh juice (from 4 medium lemons), divided

  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour, divided

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten


  1. Place cranberries, water, and 6 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries start to burst, about 15 minutes. Continue simmering, stirring and breaking up any whole cranberries using a wooden spoon, until cranberries are completely broken down and no whole pieces remain, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly, about 30minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, and lightly coat with cooking spray; set aside. Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon zest, ½ cup of the granulated sugar, 1 ⅓ cups of the flour, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl. Add butter cubes, and pinch together using your fingers (or cut into flour using a pastry cutter) until mixture starts to form rough, sandy crumbs and starts to press together. Press mixture evenly into bottom of prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until crust starts to turn golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside; let cool slightly, about 20 minutes. (Do not turn oven off.)

  3. Whisk together lemon juice and remaining 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, ⅓ cup flour, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add eggs; whisk until combined, and set aside until ready to use.

  4. Spread cranberry mixture over cooled crust. Chill for 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator. Gently and evenly pour egg mixture over cranberry mixture. Bake at 350°F until egg mixture is set and jiggles only slightly in center, 43 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely, about 1 hour. For best slicing results, cover and refrigerate 12 hours. Garnish with additional powdered sugar.

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