Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
These vegan cranberry oatmeal bars feature sweet and tangy cranberry jam between layers of oatmeal crust and crumble.
About this Recipe
These bars are the perfect pairing of sweet and tart thanks to the delicious layer of cranberry chia seed jam sandwiched between a buttery oatmeal crust.
They’re very easy to make as the crust and crumble layers are made from the same mixture. There’s also no pre-baking of the crust layer, you simple assembly and bake.
Enjoy these bars for an everyday dessert, add them to your holiday goodie tray or serve them warm with ice cream or whipped cream for an extra delicious treat. They’re always a hit and they travel well, so they’re a great option to take to parties too!
- Vegan recipe (dairy-free, made without eggs).
- Just a few simple ingredients.
- Mix and match different fruits for the jam filling.
- Perfect for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
- Sweet, tart filling with a buttery crust and crumble.
- Easy to make!
- Freeze well, transport well and can be made in advance.
- Cranberries: This recipe calls for whole, fresh or frozen cranberries. Do not use dried cranberries.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are needed to thicken the cranberry jam. If you’re not using chia seeds, you can swap them for 1 tbsp cornstarch.
- Flour: I used whole wheat flour in this recipe and have not tested any other flour, however, it should work just fine with a gluten-free flour blend such as Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour. You could also use the crust/crumble recipe from these gluten-free blueberry crumble bars or gluten-free strawberry oatmeal bars.
- Sweetener: I used organic cane sugar in this recipe but any kind of dry granular sweeteners, such as brown sugar, coconut sugar, demerara or turbinado sugar works. To reduce the sugar in the recipe, you could use monk fruit sweetener.
- Oats: Rolled (old-fashioned) oats are best here but you could use quick oats in a pinch.
- Lemon: Adds a bit of tanginess to the cranberry jam. Fresh lemon juice is best! You could also swap it for orange juice.
- Maple Syrup: Since the cranberries are quite tart, a little sweetness helps to balance them out. You can use maple syrup or sugar.
- Coconut Oil: This is needed for the oatmeal crust and crumble layers. It can be substituted with vegan butter or regular butter.
There are two parts to these bars: the cranberry jam and the oat crumble. Let’s go through how to make each and assemble them into bars.
The full recipe can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. This section provides an overview of the steps with photos for visual reference.
Make the Cranberry Filling
Add the cranberries, maple syrup, lemon juice and chia seeds to a small saucepan on the stovetop.
Bring the mixture to a gentle boil while stirring, then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring and mashing for 6-7 minutes until it’s thick and has a jam-like consistency.
Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit while you prepare the crust and crumble.
Make the Oatmeal Crust
At this point, preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a baking pan with a light coating of butter, oil or cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
Add the oats, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix to combine and break up any clumps.
Add the melted coconut oil, lemon juice and non-dairy milk, starting with 3 tbsp. Mix it up into a crumbly dough, adding more almond milk as needed until you can press the dough together in your fingers.
The consistency should be crumbly but moist enough to start sticking together. It shouldn’t be overly wet or as wet as batter or cookie dough.
Assemble the Bars
Reserve roughly 2/3 cup of the crumble mixture then press the rest of it into the bottom of the baking pan.
Add the cranberry jam and spread into an even layer.
Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over the jam layer.
Bake & Cool
Bake the bars for 35 minutes then let them cool completely in the pan. Letting them cool is important otherwise they’ll be crumbly.
Once they’ve cooled, slice them into 16 squares and enjoy! If you used parchment paper, you can lift them out of the pan, if not, slice them in the pan and carefully remove them one by one with a fork or small spatula.
Tips for Success
- Measuring Ingredients: It’s best to use a digital scale to accurately measure the crust according to the listed weights.
- Cooling the Bars: They’ll be delicate right out of the oven so be sure to let the bars cool completely so they can set and firm.
- Lining the Pan: Lining the pan with parchment so it sticks out over the edges of the pan is helpful so you can lift the bars right out of the pan after they’ve cooled.
- For an extra treat, prepare this glaze recipe with the milk and vanilla or substitute orange juice or lemon juice for milk and drizzle it over the bars before serving.
- Try serving warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
- You can cut the bars into 16 squares or 32 mini bars if you’re serving a crowd.
- You can skip the cranberry jam portion of the recipe and use store-bought prepared cranberry sauce instead.
Absolutely. You can freeze the bars well-covered right in the pan or slice them and store them in a freezer bag or airtight container for individual servings. Thaw the bars at room temperate or in the fridge before serving.
Just be sure to let them cool completely before storing.
Yes. You can use fresh whole cranberries or whole frozen cranberries directly from frozen.
No. You can substitute 1 tbsp of cornstarch for the chia seeds. You can even omit the cranberry jam portion of the recipe and use a can of prepared cranberry sauce or any leftover cranberry sauce from a holiday meal.
- Room Temperature: 3-4 days in a sealed container.
- Fridge: About 1 week in a sealed container.
- Freeze: 3-4 months well-wrapped in the pan or sliced and stored in an airtight container or freezer bag.
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Amazing cranberry bars featuring a gooey layer of cranberry jam between an oatmeal crust and crumble topping. These bars are perfect for the holidays!
For the Chia Seed Cranberry Jam
- 2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
For the Crust and Topping
- To make the cranberry filling, combine the cranberries, lemon juice, maple syrup and chia seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Once it reaches a gentle boil, turn the heat down to low. Continue stirring and mashing the cranberries or popping them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon, for 8-10 minutes until it’s thick and has a jam-like consistency. Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside for now.
- To prepare the crust and crumble, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
- Add the melted coconut oil, lemon juice and nut milk, starting with 3 tbsp. Mix into a crumbly dough, adding more almond milk as needed until you can press the dough together in your fingers. It should be crumbly but moist enough to start sticking together. It should not be overly wet or as moist as cookie dough or cake batter.
- Lightly grease a 7 or 8-inch square baking pan, line it with parchment paper or spray with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray.
- Reserve about 2/3 cup of the dough then firmly press the rest into the bottom of the pan.
- Evenly spread the cranberry jam on top of the crust layer.
- Sprinkle the rest of the dough on top of the jam layer.
- Bake for 35 minutes then let cool completely in the pan. It’s important to let them cool completely so they set up firm. Do not skip this step.
- Slice the bars into 16 squares or 32 mini bars and enjoy.
This recipe can also be made with fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries instead of cranberries, or you can do half berries and half cranberries for sweeter filling.
The chia seeds can be substituted with 1 tbsp cornstarch. For orange cranberry bars, omit the lemon and use orange juice plus 2 tsp orange zest instead.
Store the bars in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for 1 week. The bars can be frozen covered in the pan or sliced and stored in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1 bar
- Calories: 140
- Sugar: 8 g
- Sodium: 38 mg
- Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 21 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 2 g
Keywords: cranberry oatmeal bars, cranberry bars