Easy and Delicious Cranberry and Lemon Bars for the Holidays

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Easy and delicious cranberry lemon bars for the holidays are simple to make and a great addition to your holiday table. They are the ideal blend of tart and sweetness and are the perfect dessert or fun treat with a cup of coffee.



For the cranberry layer

  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 to 3 large lemons (lemon zest from 2)
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the shortbread crust

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled

For the lemon layer

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • Confectioners’ sugar


  1. The cranberries: Place the cranberries, sugar, and three tablespoons of water in a saucepan. Zest two lemons and add that to the saucepan as well. Make sure you save the lemons as you’ll need the juice later. Bring the cranberry mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and stir occasionally. Continue boiling until the berries have all burst and the cranberry mixture becomes like a jam. Continue to stir the mixture making sure it doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit.
  2. The shortbread crust layer: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While it’s heating, line the bottom and sides of a 9″ X 13″ baking pan with aluminum foil and make sure there are no gaps or holes in the foil. Give the foil a good coating of nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make sure the butter has melted and cooled and then whisk the vanilla into the butter. Now, pour the butter and vanilla over the flour mixture and stir until the dough comes together and all the ingredients are incorporated. No white flour should be visible. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press it into an even layer over the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Put the pan in the oven and bake until golden brown around the edges and in the middle, about 17 to 20 minutes.
  4. While the crust is baking you can prepare the lemon mixture. Start by squeezing the juice from the two lemons you zested and saved. You should have about 1/2 cup of lemon juice. I had to squeeze a bit more juice from the third lemon to get the needed 1/2 cup.
  5. Whisk the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and whisk gently until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and stir very gently with the whisk just until the mixture is smooth and fully combined.
  6. After the crust has cooled for at least five minutes, spread the cranberry mixture gently in an even layer over the crust. Now, very carefully and slowly pour the lemon mixture over the top of the cranberry mixture. You want to have two different layers here.
  7. After you have added the lemon mixture, carefully return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set, 18 to 22 minutes. When ready, remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool. After about 30 minutes to an hour of cooling, place the pan in the refrigerator until it is cold. It will need to be there for at least two hours.
  8. Using the foil, carefully remove the bars from the pan and place them onto a cutting board. Carefully remove the foil from the bottom of the bars. Cut the bars into even squares, rinsing the knife between cuts so that you get clean slices. Top the bars with confectioners’ sugar and serve.