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Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about thirty-five 1-3/4-inch-square bars.

One of our favorite holiday cookies, these bars have a tangy cranberry filling that keeps the ultra-rich crust and streusel topping in check.  


For the crust and streusel:

  • 10-1/2 oz. (1 cup plus 5 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 14-1/4 oz. (3 cups plus 3 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour

For the cranberry topping:

  • 12-oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over, rinsed, and drained
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size per bar
  • Calories (kcal) : 150
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 60
  • Fat (g): 7
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4.5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Cholesterol (mg): 30
  • Sodium (mg): 50
  • Carbohydrates (g): 21
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 1


Make the crust:

  • Line a straight-sided 13×9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt. Whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Transfer about 2 cups of the dough to the prepared pan, and press the mixture evenly into the bottom. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 7 minutes), until the dough is firm.
  • Meanwhile, position a rack near the center of the oven and another near the top. Heat the oven to 325°F.
  • Bake the dough until the crust begins to set but does not brown at all on the edges (the center will not be firm yet), about 20 minutes. While the crust bakes, prepare the streusel and the topping.

Make the streusel:

  • With your fingers, combine the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the reserved dough until crumbly. The mixture should hold together when pressed, but readily break into smaller pieces.

Make the cranberry topping:

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the cranberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool 5 to 10 minutes—the syrup will continue to thicken as the mixture cools.
  • Spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the hot crust. Scatter the streusel over the cranberries (don’t crumble the streusel too much or the texture will be sandy). Increase the oven temperature to 350°F and bake the bars near the top of the oven until the streusel is golden and set, about 25 minutes. (Baking these bars at the top of the oven helps the streusel brown faster without overbrowning the crust.)
  • Place the pan on a metal rack to cool until the crust is completely firm, at least 1 hour. (For faster cooling, put the bars in the fridge once the pan is no longer piping hot, or even outside in winter.)
  • When the bottom of the pan is cool, carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Cut the bars into 1-3/4-inch squares.

Make Ahead Tips

The bars will keep at room temperature for one week.


For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4-1/2 oz.) If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups.


Rate or Review

Reviews (27 reviews)

  • pastrychef | 11/10/2021

    When I make these I brown the butter in the crust (in the microwave) and add 1/4 t. Almond Extract. My filling version also has 1/4 c. orange juice & some orange zest in it. I make these for parties and have a lot of orders for them by clients. The browned butter puts them over the top!

  • notworthy | 03/07/2021

    Thank you Nicole Rees! Another perfect recipe from Fine Cooking that has made me look good :)

    I made this EXACTLY as per instructions... except... sorry... I used an 8x8 pan, but that's it. Rich shortbread crust, light golden streusel topping, tart but semi-sweet filling... I timed it exactly as per instructions... couldn't be easier. I also appreciated the tip to not crumble the streusel mix too much - I would have if I didn't read that. There are just so many bad recipes to there (Fine Cooking excluded) that I still find myself surprised when one turns out so good... Mine looked exactly like the photo. Should have taken a pic.

    Would be interested to know if anyone has successfully frozen these. I was thinking about it so I don't eat them all in a couple of days.

  • Red#1 | 11/30/2017

    Under the ingredients on the left above, 1/4 cup water has been omitted in the list.
    In the directions, it is there.
    Wanted to point it out for those of us that read the ingredients and go by it first.
    I cannot wait to make this. I had a cranberry shortbread wedge at Starbuck's yesterday. This recipe looks just like it.
    Thank you Nicole Rees for sharing this with everyone!!!!

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