These Cranberry Oat Crumble Bars have sweet, tart, cranberry sauce nestled between a soft oatmeal base and a crumbly oat topping. Use leftover cranberry sauce to make these crumb bars even easier. They are so delicious. You’re gonna love them!
Bursting with fruit flavor, these dessert bars are soft, crisp, and crumbly – a sweet texture explosion!
Leftover cranberry sauce works great as a filling for these oat crumb bars. If you don’t have leftover sauce, they work just as well with your favorite jam or jelly, making them super versatile.
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Oats ~ I like the wholesome texture of old-fashioned rolled oats.
If you have quick oats, they will work, too.
Flour ~ I used white whole wheat flour here, but all-purpose, spelt, or a gluten-free all-purpose blend can be substituted.
Sugar ~ Coconut sugar is my go-to granulated sweetener for baking. It has a lovely caramel-like flavor similar to brown sugar, but I find it a bit less sweet than cane sugar varieties.
That being said, brown sugar may be used instead if you prefer.
Almond butter ~ A bit of fat keeps the “dough” moist and helps it to stay together. Almond also provides a lovely nutty flavor that complements the cranberry filling really well.
I really like Trader Joe’s Raw Creamy Almond Butter. It’s quite thin and runny, which works really well and incorporates easily.
For a nut-free version, you can use sunflower seed butter or extra coconut oil.
Oil ~ Solid, room temperature coconut oil brings the base of this dessert bar recipe together and allows us to create the crunchy crumble topping.
I prefer refined coconut oil as it doesn’t taste like coconut. Unrefined coconut oil will work, but know that the coconut flavor may come through.
Vegan butter sticks may be used instead. Keep it cold and cut into slices.
Milk ~ Any unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk will work here. I used almond milk, but soy, rice, oat, etc. can all be used with success.
Cranberry sauce ~ This is the perfect recipe for using up leftover cranberry sauce from the holidays. I am partial to my Spiced Orange Cranberry Sauce, but if you have a different favorite, use that.
You can also use canned cranberry sauce or any jam/jelly that you enjoy. Blueberry, strawberry or cherry preserves would all be delicious!
Fresh fruit tossed with a bit of sugar, squeeze of lemon, and a tablespoon of cornstarch could also be used.
For a gluten free version ~ Use certified gluten free oats and a gluten free all-purpose flour blend to make these cranberry oat crumble bars gluten free.
How to make the recipe
In a large bowl, add the oats (1), flour (2), sugar (3), baking powder, cinnamon, and salt (4).
Whisk all of the dry ingredients together thoroughly (5).
Add the coconut oil (6) and almond butter (7). Start to stir it together with a spatula and then get in there with your clean hands and “massage” the mixture until it resembles a coarse crumb and there are no clumps of oil or almond butter left.
Add the milk and stir until well incorporated (8).
Remove ½ cup of the mixture and set aside.
Press the remaining “dough” into the bottom of a prepared baking dish (9). Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the top (10).
Crumble the ½ cup of reserved dough over the top of the cranberry sauce (11).
Bake until the top is a light golden brown, the edges are caramelized, and the filling is thick and bubbling.
Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge.
You can also freeze these Cranberry Oat Crumble Bars. Cool them completely, cut them into squares, and lay them out in one single layer on a parchment-lined large baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for several hours until the bars are frozen.
Once frozen, you can transfer the bars to an air-tight container or freezer-safe plastic bag. Place small sheets of parchment paper between each slice to prevent sticking. They should keep well for up to 3 months.
Pro tips for success
~ Use old-fashioned rolled oats for best texture and crumb.
~ Make sure the coconut oil is solid, not melted.
~ Line the baking dish with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
~ Use leftover cranberry sauce for convenience. Any jam or jelly may be used instead. I recommend a fruit sweetened jam/jelly versus a sugar sweetened one, but either will work.
~ Crumble the remaining crumb mixture over the top. Do not attempt to spread out this top layer.
~ Run a sharp knife along the inside edges of the baking dish while it’s still warm to loosen the bars for easier removal.
~ Let the bars cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting otherwise they may fall apart.
~ Sprinkle a dusting of powdered sugar over the bars for an extra hit of sweetness.
~ To make this recipe gluten free, use certified gluten free oats and a gluten free all-purpose flour blend, like Bob’s Red Mill.
~ To make this recipe tree nut free, use sunflower seed butter instead of almond butter, organic brown sugar instead of coconut sugar, vegan butter instead of coconut oil, and soy or oat milk.
Oat Crumble Bars are layered dessert bars with a crust, filling, and crumb topping.
Besides cranberries as in this version, you can use almost any fruit you like. Apples, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, or any combination of those.
For best results, line the pan with parchment paper and let the edges hang over the sides to use as handles. When the bars come out of the oven, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan to loosen them. Then, be sure to let the bars cool completely in the pan before attempting to remove or cut them.
Once cooled, life the whole slab out by the parchment “handles” and place on a cutting board. Using a long sharp serrated knife, make your cuts, wiping the knife after each cut.
Refrigerating the bars before cutting can help even further to ensure the bars stay together and don’t crumble.
More vegan dessert bar recipes
- Vegan Lime Bars
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
- Classic Vegan Toffee Bars
- Sugar Free Apple Pie Bars
- Chocolate Peppermint Rice Crispy Bars
- Triple Almond Oat Bars
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
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Cranberry Oat Crumble Bars
- 2 cups old fashioned oats gluten free, if desired
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour or a gluten free all-purpose blend
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup solid coconut oil
- ¼ cup raw almond butter (I like Trader Joe's Raw Almond Butter)
- ¼ – ½ cup unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk
- 2 cups cranberry sauce (or jam or jelly, any flavor)
- sprinkle of powdered sugar optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper. Let the ends hang over the sides a bit to use as "handles" when you pull them out later. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Add the coconut oil and almond butter to the mixture. With a spatula start to mix and then, using your clean hands, squeeze the mixture between your fingers to incorporate the oil and almond butter until a crumb is formed. You could try using a pastry cutter, but I find it easier to just get in there with your hands.
- Test the mixture to make sure it stays together. Press a small amount between two fingers – if it crumbles right away, you need more liquid. Stir in ¼ cup of non-dairy milk and check it again. Add another ¼ cup of milk, if needed. The mixture will still look crumbly, but should hold together when pressed.
- Scoop out ½ cup of the mixture and set aside. Transfer the remaining mixture to your prepared baking pan and press down evenly. I like to put a piece of parchment on top and then press down with either my hands or a glass or something with a flat bottom to help get the mixture even.
- Pour the cranberry sauce on top and spread out evenly.
- Crumble the reserved ½ cup of oat mixture all over the top.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the edges and top turn golden brown and the filling is thick and bubbling.
- Run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan while it's still warm to loosen the bars from the sides. Let them cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack, about 2 hours. (You can speed up this process by placing them in the fridge after about 30 minutes).
- Once cool, using the parchment "handles", remove the entire slab. Cut into squares or bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Storage/Freezing Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge. To freeze: cool them completely, cut them into squares, and lay them out in one single layer on a parchment-lined large baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for several hours until the bars are frozen. Once frozen, you can transfer the bars to an air-tight container or freezer-safe plastic bag. Place small sheets of parchment paper between each slice to prevent sticking. They should keep well for up to 3 months.