Cranberry Bars with Shortbread Crust using leftover cranberry sauce. Cranberry shortbread bars made in a loaf pan to serve two.

Cranberry Bars using Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Or, what I like to call Leftover Cranberry Sauce Bars.

You’re going to have leftover cranberry sauce in a few weeks, this much I know.

I’m not sure why we keep insisting on making large batches of cranberry sauce, when in reality, people take approximately 1.73 teaspoons of cranberry sauce per pound of turkey on their plate.

Recipes to use leftover cranberry sauce-cranberry shortbread bars

I’m not complaining about leftover cranberry sauce one bit. I like to swirl it into my small cheesecake recipe (oh please make that with a gingersnap crust!). I like a big scoop of it on a grilled cheese made with Brie (also leftover from the cheese tray on Turkey Day!). And while I don’t eat much pork, this recipe for cranberry pork chops is a good one–I stocked my freezer with two batches of it just days before I went into labor.

I might have just talked you into making a big batch of cranberry sauce.

Cranberry sauce cookie bars with shortbread crust

I made these cranberry bars in a loaf pan with 1 1/2 cups of leftover cranberry sauce. Scale up or down as you need.

The only thing not up for debate with this recipe is the powdered sugar sprinkle. Have a heavy hand, without apologies.

Cranberry Dessert Bars with Shortbread Crust

What kind of cranberry sauce can I use to make these cranberry bars?

I feel like I should say that the success of your cranberry bars depends on how good your cranberry sauce is. Fresh cranberry sauces and compotes made with apples, oranges, and nuts are all welcome here.

Personally, I make my cranberry sauce with orange zest, Cointreau and a heavy dose of vanilla bean. I highly recommend it, but just in case you don’t make it my way, go ahead and stir in a little vanilla extract into your leftover sauce.

But, really, you do you–make your family’s favorite sauce (just please don’t crack a can), and then press the leftovers on top of my small batch shortbread crust. It’s going to be great!

If you still find yourself with too many bags of cranberries, you have to make my slow cooker cranberry butter. Because I said so.

Cranberry Shortbread Bars made with leftover cranberry sauce

I hope these cranberry bars give you something to do with all of that leftover cranberry sauce!

Yield: 5 small bars

Cranberry Bars

Cranberry Dessert Bars with Shortbread Crust

Leftover cranberry sauce cookie bars.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, cold and diced
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Line a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhanging so that you can easily pull the bars out of the pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse once to combine. Add the butter and pulse a few times until a coarse meal forms. The dough should barely clump together slightly when you squeeze it in your hand. It will not be overly sticky.
  4. Press the mixture into the loaf pan in an even layer. Bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Stir the cranberry sauce and vanilla together in a small bowl.
  6. Pour the cranberry sauce mixture over the cooked shortbread and bake another 20 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden brown. Let cool in the pan before attempting to slice. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 456Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 82gFiber: 1gSugar: 60gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram