Get the latest recipes via email!

Cranberry Bliss Bars

PinSaveJUMP to RECIPE

This post may contain affiliate links.

Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars — For anyone who loves the Starbucks version, these are can be made year-round at home for pennies on the dollar and taste every bit as fabulous and then some!! I like to call them Better-Than-Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars!!

Overhead fo Cranberry Bliss Bars on three plates

Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars

I love Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars but they’re a seasonal item and as fast as magically appear in the bakery cases this time of year, they can disappear just as fast, never knowing if, or when, they’ll return.

Something about seasonally-available items makes me yearn for them them even more. Just think of the pandemonium that surrounds the first few days of Pumpkin Spice Latte season.

I don’t have to worry about being bliss-less anymore because I can make these at home now, which is both good and bad. Good because these are a dead ringer for Cranberry Bliss Bars, bad because they are a dead ringer for Cranberry Bliss Bars. Better lace up those running shoes.

Cranberry Bliss Bars are really just blondies that have been amped up with white chocolate, cranberries, and then frosted with white chocolate-infused cream cheese frosting.

Cranberry Bliss Bars on three plates

I am both a blondie lover and a white chocolate lover and for anyone who likes white chocolate as much as I do, it’s used three times in the recipe. As chips baked into the bars, melted and incorporated into the frosting, and lightly drizzled on top of the frosted bars.

I have two white chocolate blondie recipes, this one, which uses a bit of baking powder in the base, creating a fluffier and more cake-like blondie. And then my preferred blondie recipe, which doesn’t use any leavening.

As with brownies, I like my blondies denser and less cakey. So I tweaked my preferred recipe by adding cranberries and kept the white chocolate chips to create the Bliss Bar base.

Hands down, I prefer these to Starbucks. My family also loves Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars but they preferred the homemade version. When we tried to analyze why we liked these better, all we could come up with is that they have a homemade taste, rather than a commercialized, mass-produced taste. Sometimes the exact nuances why one item is preferred over another isn’t always perfectly well-defined and you just like what you like.

Subtle differences are that my blondie base is slightly denser and less cake-like than Starbucks. If you prefer a cakier base, and one that leavens just a bit more, when making the batter add one-half to one teaspoon baking powder when adding the flour, depending on how cakey you want to go. I prefer density as opposed to cakey in all blondies or brownies, so omit chemical leaveners entirely when making either.

close up view of a cranberry bliss bar with a bite missing

The amount of white chocolate chips and cranberries baked into the bars is slightly more abundant in the homemade version. Within each bite, there are plenty of chunky and sweet bits of white chocolate chips, interspersed with chewy and slightly tart dried cranberries, and who would ever complain about slightly more white chocolate or cranberries. With the final sprinkling of cranberries over, I’m sure I sprinkled with a slightly more generous hand.

Homemade frosting always reigns supreme to store-bought and with the Bliss Bars in particular, the frosting really makes them. I adore cream cheese frosting, especially when it’s been beat to submission with the inclusion of melted white chocolate.

Layering this heavenly goodness on just a bit thicker than Starbucks does is the beauty of making these, or anything, at home. You can customize it to your liking, and for me, that will always mean extra frosting. I’m one of those people who likes a little cake with my frosting or a few crackers with my bowl of dip.

We inhaled these and I cannot wait to make them again. They are so easy and came together in about a half hour. A little too easy and so authentic. Between the Outback Steakhouse Wheat Bread and these, I’ve thoroughly been enjoying restaurant-style copycat recipes lately.

I don’t want to burnout on these so am waiting a bit before making another batch, but they’re one of best things I’ve made in ages and I highly recommend blissing out with them.

overhead view of a copycat starbucks cranberry bliss bar on a red plate

What’s in Cranberry Bliss Bars? 

To make this cranberry bliss bar recipe, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Egg
  • Light brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • White chocolate chips 
  • Dried cranberries
  • Orange zest
  • Cream cheese
  • Confectioners’ sugar

two copycat starbucks cranberry bliss bars on a white plate

How to Make Cranberry Bliss Bars

It’s a very simple batter that comes together in less that 5 minutes by hand based on ‘ones’. Melt one stick of butter, add one cup brown sugar, one cup flour, one (and a half) teaspoons vanilla, and stir. Stir in the dried cranberries and white chocolate chips and it’s ready to be baked.

While the bars bake and are cooling, make the white chocolate-spiked cream cheese frosting. The frosting is where the magic happens and catapults this recipe from white chocolate and cranberry blondies to copycat Cranberry Bliss Bars and it lends so much authenticity to the bars.

To make it, melt one cup white chocolate chips. Place the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, heat on high power for about 30 seconds, stop and stir. Then heat in 10-second bursts, stopping to stir after each, until the chocolate can be stirred smooth, being patient with it and not allowing the mixture to get too hot or it will seize up and you’ll need to start over.

You can also melt white chocolate over a double boiler, however I find this to be more work and have no issue using the microwave, but to each her own and melt it in whatever way you’ll have success.

close up of a small piece of cranberry bar

Add about three-quarters of the melted white chocolate to a fluffy pile of confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and four ounces of cream cheese that’s waiting in a mixing bowl. You may use whipped or light cream cheese, you know, to save calories so you can eat more.

Beat this mixture together until it’s very fluffy, playing with the confectioners’ sugar ratio as necessary, adding an additional dollop of cream cheese or splash of milk if it becomes too thick. The mixture will start out thick but keep beating, for at least three minutes, and it will magically fluff up. Spread the fluffy, creamy goodness over the cooled blondies.

Then, sprinkle generously with dried cranberries and drizzle the remaining white chocolate over the top. The beauty of adding both dried cranberries and a parting white chocolate drizzle on top of the frosting is that any imperfections in the frosting will be masked.

I didn’t bother sifting the confectioners’ sugar used in the frosting because I knew that any tiny lumps would be concealed. Sift if you prefer or are serving these to royalty who may chastise you over a miniscule lump of confectioners’ sugar.

Cranberry Bliss Bar with a bite missing

How to Slice the Bars

It’s best to allow the bars to set up for about 30 minutes before slicing into them, because it will make the job easier, neater, and they’ll look prettier and more authentic.

To slice the bars, lift them out using the aluminum foil overhang, because yes, you were smart enough to line your pan with foil before beginning, making this stage of the game a cinch and it makes cleanup effortless, too. 

Slice the bars by making a cross, creating four small squares or quadrants. To each of the four quadrants, slice on the diagonal to create two triangles, for a yield of eight triangular-shaped bars. They’re generously-sized, very similar in size and shape to the Starbucks version, but the beauty here is that this recipe makes just eight bars, since it’s baked in an 8-by-8-inch pan. 

Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars — For anyone who loves the Starbucks version, these are can be made year-round at home for pennies on the dollar and taste every bit as fabulous and then some!!

Can I Double This Recipe? 

I have not tried doubling the recipe, and in theory, doubling and using a 9-by-13-inch pan would probably work, but I haven’t tried. Eight of these puppies in one batch was plenty, eating 16 of them before the frosting gets a little too crunchy or dried out would have been overkill for our family of three.

Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars — For anyone who loves the Starbucks version, these are can be made year-round at home for pennies on the dollar and taste every bit as fabulous and then some!! I like to call them Better-Than-Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars!!

Tips for Making Cranberry Bliss Bars

The batter is fairly shallow in the baking pan and it bakes up quicker than you may think, about 18 to 20 minutes. Even a few extra minutes of baking time will create a much more dried out bar, ruining the bliss.

I find the secret to commercialized chain-store successes like Mrs. Field’s cookies, Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, orStarbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars is that none are overbaked; all are ooey, gooey, and chewy. Keep that in mind and pull the bars from the oven as soon as the top is set. It will be a pale golden hue.

When melting white chocolate — I cannot stress this enough — it scorches easily and melts twice as fast, if not faster, than milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips so go slowly and in little bursts.

Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars — For anyone who loves the Starbucks version, these are can be made year-round at home for pennies on the dollar and taste every bit as fabulous and then some!! I like to call them Better-Than-Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars!!

Enjoy!

Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars — For anyone who loves the Starbucks version, these are can be made year-round at home for pennies on the dollar and taste every bit as fabulous and then some!! I like to call them Better-Than-Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars!!

Pin This Recipe

Yield: 8

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Cranberry Bliss Bars

For anyone who loves the Starbucks version, these are can be made year-round at home for pennies on the dollar and taste every bit as fabulous and then some!!

Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Bars

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, optional and to taste (edited to add this on 12-9-12)

For the Frosting and Topping

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and divided
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (whipped or light may be used)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (I used about 2 3/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed (optionally, roughly dice them if the pieces are larger)

Instructions

For the Bars:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 90 seconds.
  3. To the melted butter (allow it to cool slightly so you don't scramble the egg), add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the bars will be tough.
  5. Fold in 3/4 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup cranberries, optional orange zest, and stir to combine.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
  7. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes, and center is set and golden or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan, or a toothpick comes out clean; do not overbake.
  8. Allow bars to cool before frosting them. While they cool, make the frosting.

For the Frosting and Topping:

  1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate on high power, about 1 minute, reheating in 10-second intervals, or until it can be stirred smooth. White chocolate is notorious for scorching so melt it very carefully, and slowly, heating in quick bursts, and keep a watchful eye; use a double boiler if that's easier.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, about three-quarters of the melted white chocolate (about 3/4 cup, just eyeball it), 2 cups confectioners' sugar (I don't sift it because any tiny lumps will be covered up by sprinkled cranberries and white chocolate drizzle), vanilla, and beat until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Start by mixing on low speed so sugar doesn't spray, and then beat on medium-high for about 3 minutes. Mixture will seem stiff at first but will loosen and fluff up after 2 to 3 minutes of beating on medium-high; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Add additional confectioners' sugar (I used about 2 3/4 cups, I like it on the thicker side) based on taste preference and desired frosting consistency.
  5. Frost the bars; if you have excess, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.
  6. Evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup cranberries over the top of the frosted bars. Evenly drizzle bars with remaining melted white chocolate, reheating for a few seconds in the microwave if it has set up.
  7. Allow bars to set up for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

Storage: Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To keep gluten-free: use your favorite gluten-free flour blend, taking care that all other ingredients used are acceptable for your dietary needs.

Base of bars adapted from Coconut White Chocolate Blondies and White Chocolate Chip Blondies. Frosting and Topping inspired by Taste of Home.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 659Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 162mgCarbohydrates: 97gFiber: 1gSugar: 82gProtein: 6g

More Cranberry Dessert Recipes:

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Bliss Cake — This fast, easy, no-mixer cake is light, soft, fluffy, and moist. It’s springy and bouncey, with just enough density to give it some heft and dimension.

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Bliss Cake - The flavors of Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars in a Soft, Easy, No-Mixer Cake! Recipe at averiecooks.com

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies – Cranberry Bliss Bar flavors, in cookie form. Tender, soft, pillowy centers! 

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cranberry Bliss Seven Layer Bars — A buttery graham cracker crust, topped with white chocolate chips, chocolate chips, walnuts, dried cranberries, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk! 

Crustless Cranberry Pie —A FAST, super EASY, no-mixer dessert that’s perfect for holiday entertaining!! Somewhere in between pie, cake, and blondies is what you get with this FESTIVE recipe! Take advantage of those fresh cranberries!!

Cranberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars — The bars are soft, slightly chewy, and the hearty oats with big crumbles are a perfect contrast to the juicy cranberry filling.

Cranberry Orange Bread— The fresh cranberries in this cranberry orange bread contrast nicely with the sweet orange glaze, making it the perfect blend of sweet and tart!

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Blondies — The soft, buttery, caramely, brown sugary, blondie base is the perfect complement to the chewy, tart cranberries.

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

Get the latest recipes via email!

Leave a Comment

Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. The bars were very good.  I backed for 19 min and turned out fine.  I didn’t have a paddle mixer stand and used a hand mixer. I was worried the frosting wouldn’t smooth out but it finally did. I liked the addition of the orange zest.

    Rating: 5
  2. Hi, I baked my bars at 350 degrees for 18 mins, then added an extra min at 360, but the center still seems raw so I left it in the oven for just 4 mins, and it’s still a bit undone when I cut into it. 
    Why is that? Also, when you say 1 cup of flour, do you mean 125g (using a scale) or 150g (using a scoop then weight it)?

    Veronica

    1. All ovens vary, as well as ingredients from brand to brand, so that could have had something to do with it. An extra 4-5 mins sometimes is necessary, depending on oven, etc.

      1 cup for me is dip my measuring cup into a bag of flour that I recently fluffed up, and loosely shake off the cup, and level it off flat, so that the flour is lightly placed in the measuring cup, but not packed. Honestly I just don’t weigh things because my recipes are not sensitive enough that an extra 25 grams (probably a couple tablespoons of flour) should likely impact the outcome of the recipe.

  3. Averie, I just wanted to let you know that through all of my research and dozens of recipes- you are the ONLY one who dared to negate the leavening and embrace the dark gooey underbelly of the blondie world. I can literally eat a whole 8×8 tray in <1week, if I use some restraint!! In many cases I have felt felt that leavening is just dilution of a perfectly dense, fudgy recipe. Of course there are times that call for a bit of the fluff, and I suspect my aversion may be linked to my loathing for dry, hard, or stale baked goods& as with anything sporting more air volume, comes about sooner than inventions involving less room to dry out. As for people claiming that there is crystallized ginger in this recipe I say only this- go buy yourself a $7 bar from Starbucks and break it down, nibble by nibble& I guarantee you there will be no “Eureka!” Moment when you find the candied gem hidden away in the base- I know because I have done this. I made them utilizing my remaining candied ginger last year& of course it tastes fine- but what it REALLY is(and why you can actually taste that little zing accumulatively- is because it is ground ginger in the batter. It can be done either way I’m sure- just as the citrus can be omitted if needed- it’s very flexible& forgiving. But if you’re trying to nail the EXACT formula- which I know you’re not too concerned with- ground ginger at appy 1/2 tsp per 8×8 does it:)

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad that you love these bars! I totally hate leavening in bars, blondies, and brownies and never use it.

      And you are correct, there is definitely no candied ginger whatsoever in the Starbucks version although I could see maybe a bit of powdered. Although I have not bought one from Starbucks in a good 5 years at this point, so maybe it’s more pronounced now than it used to be.

  4. Found it! Definitely going to try this! I’ve been looking for this recipe for a while! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Rating: 5
  5. You forgot the main ingredient that makes them an exact replica. Candied ginger. Try that and then you will realize that is what is missing from them and is in the cranberry bliss bars.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted candied ginger in the real version, maybe if I’m ever tempted to buy one again I will specifically check for it, but from memory I’ve never noticed it before.

  6. They came out fine doubled. I did part of the batter in a 8×8 square stoneware and the rest in my Pampered Chef Brownie Pan. Awesome! Thanks.

  7. Just found this recipe and am excited to try it for Thanksgiving. I read through the comments and apologize if I missed the answer to this. I was wondering if doubling the recipe and baking it in a larger pan would work. I’m thinking 35 – 40 minutes. Averie, do you think that would work?

    1. I have never doubled this one but you probably could. I don’t know if I would change baking time all that much. Use your best judgment on that, you don’t want to overbake. LMK how it goes!

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! And that you like mine better than Starbucks!

  8. Hello and Seasons Greetings from Canada. I enjoy your blog and love the way you describe your tips, tricks and the photos are awesome. One question regarding this recipe – when you make cookies, you like to use a half & half BF & AP to keep them soft.  Do you recommend this for the cranberry bliss bars as well? Thanks for the great recipe. Can’t wait to make this today with my grandsons. 

  9. I made these over the weekend for a party and they were a huge hit! I had several people ask for the recipe so I referred them right to your blog. I’m thinking I will make them again for a party next weekend. Thanks for all the great recipes!

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! And thanks for sending people over to my blog!

  10. I’m really excited to try these! I’ve always thought the Starbucks version looked delicious but unfortunately I’ve never been able to try them because I’m allergic to citrus and there’s orange peel in the ingredients. One question though: can these be frozen?

    1. You probably could freeze them although I haven’t tried personally. Sometimes frosting doesn’t always hold up the best upon being frozen/thawed but you can give it a try.

  11. Hai Averie, I’m Wiwied from Indonesia. I’ve tried this and so happy with the result. I brought them to my colleagues and got rave reviews. Thank you for the recipe and I can’t wait to try other recipes. Keep up the good work and stay amazing!! :)

  12. I made these last night and indeed followed your recipe as written. I have an accurately calibrated oven and an oven thermometer I use all of the time because I bake/cook for my family daily. This recipe’s baking time is not accurate with an 8 x 8 pan. Note: you previously cited/linked your recipe from a Taste of Home recipe, which when compared reflects the 18-21 minute bake time for a 13 x 9 pan. Perhaps this is where the error occurred? All told, I baked mine for 35 minutes, they did not burn or blacken because the excess foil used to line the pan was in fact folded over the edges to prevent burning. I did find them delicious, if a bit too sweet (frosting wise). I used 2 cups powdered sugar, next time I will try a 13 x 9 dish and compare. When removed from the pan to frost I was surprised how “greasy” they appeared, but I did not think they tasted greasy at all.

    1. The baking time was accurate for me, but all ovens, climates, ingredients, etc. vary. Glad you found them delicious!

  13. I almost want to hate you for absolutely nailing this recipe. Now that I can have cranberry bliss bars at home that taste exactly the same if not better than my favourite Starbucks treat, I’m worried at how large I’m going to get by this time next year. Amazing recipe, and I couldn’t agree more with the addition of orange zest. A lot of copycat bliss bar recipes I’ve tried before add things like ginger and lemon and I always felt is was orange I was tasting in the real ones. You. Nailed. It. I love you and hate you (in the best way possible). THANK YOU!

    1. Glad there’s a love-hate relationship going and that these are your new BFFs :) I agree, it’s quite dangerous to be able to have these around, year-round. I totally love them too!

    2. I used a 8×8 inch. I like the bars thinner, so I used a 9 x 12 inch pan. The original Starbuck’s recipe is thinner then this recipe. Other than that, they were delicious ..

  14. I made these last week and absolutely loved them! You are right, they were so easy and quick to make. Now I can get my Cranberry Bliss Bar fix at home!:) Thank you so much for posting this, and all of the details in your directions. I really appreciate it!

    1. So glad you enjoyed these and thanks for saying that all my details in the directions help you! Isn’t it nice to know you can always have your Bliss fix at home now! :)

  15. Made these today and they were a big hit. I agree that they are even better than Starbucks as they taste like homemade rather than mass produced. The only thing I would do next time is make them in a 9×9 pan so the base woud be little thinner and cut them a little smaller as they are pretty sweet. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. Glad they were a huge hit and I totally agree with ‘better than Starbucks as they taste like homemade rather than mass produced.’ Amen :)

  16. I’m gearing up for my holiday baking/freezing frenzy. I’d love to include these in my baskets this year… they look fantastic! How do you think they would freeze?

    1. Very well! You may want to do the final touches of frosting at the very end, like just make the bars, freeze, and then frost them after you thaw them, but if you can’t swing that, I think just freezing them totally ready to go would be fine. Enjoy!!

  17. Hello Averie!
    Found you on Pinterest. I am baking as I type for a work potuck tomorrow! I’m actually going to cut them into smaller triangles to make the recipe stretch (I’m thinking 16ths). I am super excited because cranberry bliss bars are my Starbucks faves! I’m feeling pretty positive from all the great reviews. I did reduce the amount of white chocolate in the blondie batter only because that is my least favorite part but everything I followed to a T :0) Hopefully it all works out!

Skip to Recipe