Blog Recipes/ Desserts and Sweets

Fresh Cranberry Orange Bars

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Add beautiful variety to your holiday cookie menu with these fresh cranberry orange bars! These are a great holiday cookie bar for cookie swaps or holiday parties and potlucks.

Fresh cranberry orange cookie bars on a plate with cranberries and oranges in the background

Move over Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars, these Fresh Cranberry Orange Bars are everyone’s new favorite around here! Fresh ginger, fresh cranberries, and fresh orange zest take this bar cookie treat to the next level. I just saved you 10 minutes in line at the coffee shop this afternoon. You’re welcome. 😉

Fresh cranberries are how I know the holiday season is upon us. They only appear in stores in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas baking. As soon as I spy the fresh cranberries at the store, I grab a few bags. One to use, and one for the freezer. Pro tip, fresh cranberries freeze really well.

And while a traditional recipe for fresh cranberries would be something like my slow cooker pomegranate cranberry sauce, you know I’m making dessert too. Darlings, there is always dessert.

Fresh cranberry orange bars seemed fitting because coffee has been very popular in this house recently. By popular, I mean extra popular with the toddler. She’s gotten pretty good and trying to drink from mugs when we aren’t looking. I applaud the effort she puts into these shenanigans. But the last thing any mama needs is a caffeinated kid, am I right?

Thankfully, I can distract her (for now) with small coffeehouse bakery case-worthy treats. I just love how the fresh flavors make these bars next level. And all the flavor comes from natural ingredients. Fresh cranberries, fresh orange zest, ginger… all bright flavors that pair so well together.

top view of cranberry orange bars on a cutting board

That’s what really makes these bars the best cranberry orange bars I’ve ever tried, the natural flavors. Dried spices and extracts are great for convenience. There’s just nothing like the lemon brightness of a fresh cranberry, the spicy zing of ginger, or the mellow brightness in orange zest. This is what makes it worthwhile to bake from scratch. You can’t get these flavors at a shop that has to bake in bulk.

And that smile you get from the lucky people you share with after they try the bars? It’s just the icing on the cranberry bar. 😉

A few cranberry orange bar baking tips…

If you don’t have fresh cranberries, just use dried. When I’ve wanted these bars and couldn’t find fresh cranberries, I just use dried cranberries. If you do this, cut back on the sugar by about a tablespoon. Fresh cranberries are tart, and dried cranberries are not, so you’ll need to compensate for the added sweetness.

Also, if you don’t have fresh ginger, I’ve used powdered ginger. It tones down the ginger flavor a bit, which is good if you aren’t a huge fan of ginger. And it’s convenient. As much as I will wax poetic about fresh flavors, this is real life. And real life means shortcuts and using what you have is okay.

When you bake, be sure to let the bars cool completely before frosting. If they’re still warm, the frosting will melt off. I frost, and then like to top with chopped dried cranberries for a little color. Since the frosting is cream cheese based, be sure to refrigerate the cooled bars. Cover them tightly to maintain freshness.

You’ll get the cleanest cuts from cutting chilled bars. So bake the bars, cool completely, frost. Chill for 30 minutes until the frosting is cold, then cut. You can make them a day in advance, then cut before serving. Let the bars sit out about 10 minutes to let the frosting soften a bit before enjoying.

I hope you love this fresh cranberry orange bars recipe, darlings! Happy baking!

Fresh Cranberry Orange Bars

Fresh Cranberry Orange Bars

Yield: 24 2" triangles
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Add beautiful variety to your holiday cookie menu with these fresh cranberry orange bars! These are a great holiday cookie bar for cookie swaps or holiday parties and potlucks.



  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon powdered ginger)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup fresh cranberries, halved
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips


  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened (see notes)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp fresh orange zest
  • Optional: chopped dried cranberries for topping


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter a 9x13" pan and line with parchment paper, leaving enough extra on either side to help you lift the bars out later. Set aside while you make the cookie batter.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, orange zest, and grated ginger.
  5. Stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder until just combined, then stir in the fresh cranberries and chocolate chips.
  6. Press the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown at the edges and cooked through. Don't over-bake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
  7. Once the bars are completely cool, make the frosting by creaming together the cream cheese and butter with the orange zest. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. If your frosting is too thick to be spreadable, add a little milk to thin, 1 tsp at a time.
  8. Spread the frosting on the bars evenly, making sure you get the corners as well. Sprinkle with chopped dried cranberries, if using.
  9. Use the parchment paper liner to help you lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board where you can cut them into squares or triangles.
  10. Bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week.


You can actually use salted butter for the whole recipe, just omit the salt in the cookie dough. And if you use unsalted butter for the frosting, add a pinch of salt there.

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  • Reply
    Whitney @ That Square Plate
    November 2, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    This seriously looks like a perfect dessert (or breakfast!) Love all of the fresh ingredients — and the white chocolate 🙂

  • Reply
    Leia @ Eat It & Say Yum
    October 30, 2015 at 10:47 am

    These bars look SO delicious! I love the flavor combo with the cranberry, orange, and white chocolate. Yum! Pinning and sharing!

  • Reply
    Paige @ Where Latin Meets Lagniappe
    October 30, 2015 at 7:16 am

    WOW Mary, these look so heavenly! I love combining orange and cranberry, and putting them in a dessert like this is awesome! Sooooo yummy 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Oh man, Mary. These bars are stunning! Perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Totally saving these so I can make them next month!

  • Reply
    Byron Thomas
    October 26, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Oh my goodness, Mary! These look absolutely delightful! I can’t wait to make them! Now, I have to ask, where did you get those adorable mugs? 😉

    • Reply
      The Godmother
      October 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Old Navy on clearance last year, would you believe it? I never would have imagined to find something like that at a clothing store.

  • Reply
    Nicole @Little Blog on the Homestead
    October 25, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Oh my goodness, I can so imagine your little one doing that! how cute 😀 These definitely have a very holiday-esque flair to them, probably why I love them so much 😀

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