Lemon Cranberry Swirl Bars

When it comes to Thanksgiving, lemon may not be something you instantly think of. There are always those pumpkin, apple, or pecan pies, which are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but why not something a little lighter? A little something something to refresh that palette after you eat 5 helpings of mashed potatoes and way too many servings of stuffing (if there is such a thing!)?

These lemon cranberry swirl bars, I believe, are the answer to all of your “I’m so stuffed, I can’t eat another bite of anything else” feelings. I always thought that my mom was silly for being absolutely in love with any dessert that involved lemon, I mean come on mom, no chocolate = no dessert. But these bars have changed the game completely.

Maybe you aren’t sold because you’re not really a lemon meringue pie type of person, or, you’re like me, who needs something super rich and way too decadent to even consider it a dessert. WELL MY FRIENDS, this has even me converted.

It could be the fact that the crust is like one big sugar cookie…


But let’s look beyond that! There’s this amazingly tart, yet sweet, lemon curd that has these mesmerizing cranberry swirls all over it. How can you not just love that? While lemon may be a far-fetched flavor during November and December, cranberry is certainly going to making its appearance more than once.

So, there you go my lemon lovers and soon-to-be, a dessert that is equally refreshing as it is vibrant in all sorts of intense flavors. Plus there's the added fun of making the cranberry swirl in any design, I could do that for hours. I guess my mom will start needing to share her part of the dessert table this year!

crust ingredients

Butter—14 oz, or 3 sticks + 4 TBL

Sugar—7 oz or 1C 1 TBL



Salt—½ tsp

Flour—20 oz, or 4 C

crust process

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar.

Once light and fluffy, add in your egg and yolks.

When combined, add in the flour and salt.

Mix until your dough is formed, refrigerate to chill and until ready to use.

When you are ready to prebake the crust, preheat your oven to 350˚ F.

On a floured work surface, knead the dough so that it becomes more pliable and easier to roll.

Roll out your crust into a rectangle that is about ¼” thick and is about an inch bigger than the size pan that you’ll be using. I use a 9” x 13” pan, therefore rolling my dough into a 10” x 14” rectangle.

Take your crust and press it into your pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Poke holes in it with a fork, this works as a vent, therefore no big air bubbles will come up in your crust while it is baking.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, just until the crust begins to become slightly brown.

Let it cool until you’re ready to use for the filling.

filling ingredients

Lemon Juice—4.25 oz, or ½ C

Sugar—22 oz, or 2 ¾ C

Cranberries—4 oz, or 1 C

Water—2 oz, or ¼ C



Flour—4 oz, or ¾ C

filling process

In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, water and 2oz/¼ C of the sugar.

Over low heat, stir the berries until they begin to simmer and pop open.

The cranberry mixture will begin to thicken, this should take anywhere from 8-10 minutes.

Once all of the berries are cooked and very thick, strain them. Set aside until you are ready to use.

Preheat your oven to 350˚ F.

In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, remaining sugar, eggs, yolks and flour.

Add a few spoonfuls of this lemon mixture to your strained cranberry purée.

Pour the lemon juice filling into the par-baked crust.

Drop spoonfuls of the cranberry purée around the lemon filling, and then proceed to swirl with a knife.

When you are satisfied with how your beautiful cranberry swirl design has come out, bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling has set.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool.

Finish with a nice dusting of confectioner’s sugar and enjoy!

Bon Appétit!