Cranberry Oatmeal Bars: An Easy Dessert Recipe

This dessert recipe is for Cranberry Oatmeal Bars and it’s perfect for after Thanksgiving because it uses leftover cranberry sauce. I partnered with The New York Apple Growers to bring you this post.

My mom is one of the most innovative cooks I know. It’s from her that I learned to trust my instincts to jump in and try new things in the kitchen. Not that my instincts (or probably hers) are always right. But the fun of cooking is when you try something different and it works.

I had that kind of perfect kitchen experience last week when working on some recipes for the New York Apple Growers’ RubyFrost apple (which you’ll be seeing in stores everywhere next fall!). I mixed together rosemary, pine nuts, butter and sea salt and spread it on a slice of the tart crisp apple.

Let’s just say I swooned. But more than that, I felt really proud for having come up with such a perfect flavor combination. Nutty, salty, sweet and sour with a crunch and a creamy softness all in one bite.

I bet that’s how my mom felt when she came up with this idea to use cranberry sauce in place of the date puree in Matrimonial Squares (a.k.a. Date Squares).

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars: A delicious, easy dessert and a great way to use up leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving

This easy dessert recipe hits so many of those flavor and texture components, sweet, tart, rich, crunchy, soft and chewy. It’s got it all. I wonder if she swooned when she first made it.

The best thing about these cranberry oatmeal bars, besides their taste and ease, is that they’re a great use for leftover cranberry sauce.

So once Thanksgiving rolls past and you find yourself with leftover cranberry sauce don’t fret and wonder what to do with it. Make these oatmeal bars. You’ll love them. So much so that at future Thanksgiving dinners I bet you’ll hide the cranberry sauce at dinner just so you’ll have enough left to make these bars.

But really, no need to hide the sauce from your guests. If you don’t have the amount of cranberry sauce called for in the oatmeal bars recipe below, you can absolutely supplement with jam of any kind. Or open another can of cranberry sauce and combine it with your leftovers since these bars can happily accommodates more filling.

Got leftover cranberry sauce but you’re not in an oatmeal bar kind of mood? Check out this cranberry smoothie recipe that also uses leftover cranberry sauce:

Cranberry Sauce Smoothie: A delicious use for leftover cranberry sauce.

Or this very easy (and gooey!) Cranberry-Basil Baked Brie:

Baked Brie with Cranberry, Basil and Lemon and 19 more delicious baked brie recipes

Or these Steaks with Cranberry Horseradish Glaze:

Cranberry Horseradish Pan-Fried Steak

Or check out my list of ideas for what to do with leftover cranberry sauce . There are tips, ideas and recipes too.

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars: A delicious, easy dessert and a great way to use up leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving

And I’d love to hear your ideas about ways to use up leftover cranberry sauce. It really is such a wonderful ingredient and it’s a shame to waste it if it doesn’t get eaten at Thanksgiving.

And now for the Cranberry Oatmeal Bars recipe.

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

This twist on the classic Matrimonial Squares (also called Date Squares) uses cranberry sauce as a filling instead of a date purée. They're super easy to make and are a fabulous use for leftover cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour (2 cups of all-purpose white or 1 cup of all purpose white and 1 cup of whole wheat)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 (14 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce or 1 and 1/2 cups homemade cranberry sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use your fingers to rub in the butter until everything is moistened and no pieces are bigger than the oats.
  3. Spoon three-quarters of the oat mixture into a 13"x 9" cake pan. Press down on it firmly to form a firm layer that evenly covers the bottom of the pan. Add the cranberry sauce in dollops and spread it in a thin layer over the oat layer. Sprinkle with the remaining oat mixture.
  4. Bake for 25-28 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 8 strips along the length of the pan and 3 strips along the width yielding 24 bars.
Disclosure: The New York Apple Growers mentioned above have hired me to develop recipes and photograph them as well as to help promote their new apple varieties. All opinions are my own.