Cranberry Bliss Bars

Update: Make sure to also check out the Cranberry Bliss Cake and Cranberry Bliss Cookie Recipes

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. 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. It’s a very simple batter that comes together in less that five 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.

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.

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 and 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. Place the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, heat on high power for about 30 seconds, stop and stir. Then heat in ten-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,

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.

It’s best to allow the bars to set up for about thirty 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. 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.

Hands down, I prefer these to Starbucks. Scott also loves Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars but 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.

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 storebought 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.

Cranberry Bliss Bars {Starbucks Copycat Recipe} - They taste just like the real thing & you can make them at home, year-round! Think of all the $ you'll save. Spot-on, easy recipe at

Cranberry Bliss Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Just like the popular Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars and the taste is spot-on. These very authentic bars are so fast and easy to make. The batter comes together in one bowl, by hand, in just minutes. While the bars bake make the cream cheese and white-chocolate frosting, get the cranberries ready for sprinkling, and pour a cup of coffee. 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.
Serves: One 8-by-8-inch pan, 8 generous triangles
  • For the Bars
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
  • ½ 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)
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups+ confectioners' sugar (I used about 2¾ cups)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries, loosely packed (optionally, roughly dice them if the pieces are larger)
  1. For the Bars - Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 90 seconds. 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. Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the bars will be tough. Fold in ¾ cup white chocolate chips, ½ cup cranberries, optional orange zest, and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
  2. 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. Allow bars to cool before frosting them. While they cool, make the frosting.
  3. For the Frosting and Topping - 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.
  4. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, about three-quarters of the melted white chocolate (about ¾ 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. 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. Add additional confectioners' sugar (I used about 2¾ cups, I like it on the thicker side) based on taste preference and desired frosting consistency. Frost the bars; if you have excess, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.
  5. Evenly sprinkle ½ 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. Allow bars to set up for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  6. To keep gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free flour blend, taking care that all other ingredients used are acceptable for your dietary needs.
  7. Base of bars adapted from Coconut White Chocolate Blondies and White Chocolate Chip Blondies. Frosting and Topping inspired by Taste of Home

Related Recipes:

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Bliss Cake

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

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies – Cranberry Bliss Bar flavors, in cookie form. Tender, soft, pillowy centers and a 2012 Top 10 Favorite

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

White Chocolate Blondies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting – This blondie recipe yields bars that are slightly cakier, fluffier, and less dense than to today’s recipe. Today’s recipe, and the next two links, use my newer and preferred base, which is the blondie equivalent of a fudgy brownie as opposed to a cakey one, as I don’t use any baking soda or powder in them now, but this is a matter of personal taste preference

Coconut White Chocolate Chip Blondies with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Drizzle – I adapted these blondies for the Cranberry Bliss Bars by removing the coconut flakes and semi-sweet chocolate drizzle, however I think that cranberries, coconut, and white chocolate sounds lovely

Chocolate Chip and Cherry Blondies –My spin on cherry blondies, as opposed to cranberry. And semi-sweet rather than white chocolate. With blondies in general, the fruit used (fresh, frozen, or dried) can usually be varied with ease based on what’s seasonal and what you have around

Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies – Peanut butter is used twice in this recipe, both baked into the batter and then swirled on top, in conjunction with jelly, and they’re my favorite way to eat PB & J

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) – If you have extra dried cranberries, or pumpkin puree on hand, this granola will put both to use and is a snap to make

Do you have a favorite seasonally-available food that you love?

Cranberry Bliss Bars and gingerbread lattes come to mind, and in the spring of the year, the first strawberry or the first bite of summer watermelon are things I look forward to all year. In general, I think people really build up the fall and winter holiday eating season in their minds, counting the days until Grandma’s stuffing and gravy or Aunt Sue’s sprinkle cookies. I think these Cranberry Bliss Bars are a perfect way to kickoff the holiday (eating) season.

Do you like Cranberry Bliss Bars?

Thanks to The Kitchn for featuring this recipe


234 comments on “Cranberry Bliss Bars”

  1. Pingback: Starbucks Petite Vanilla Scone Copycat - Crazy for Crust

  2. Just one quick glance at your website and I know I will LOVE trying your recipes! Can’t wait to carve out more time to look thru everything (especially these copycat recipes!).

    Just a thought, I have an old Cranberry Bliss copycat recipe from the Oregonian newspaper and it calls for diced candied ginger. Maybe something to try?

    Thanks for your great site — Becky in OR

    • I’ve seen some recipes call for it, and it’s not actually ginger that is likely in the real ones; I am pretty sure it’s a teeny tiny bit of orange zest or orange extract. Although ginger couldn’t hurt, I don’t know if it’s as ‘authentic’ if you’d include it. That said, I love love love these bars as written and everyone who makes them seems to be super happy! So before I started messing around with tweaks and twists, I thought I would just leave well enough alone – and they’re one of my fave bars ever :)

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  4. I made these exactly as written (except for the frosting!) and they’re soooo insanely good. Honestly, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And I think the other people who tried them agreed. They’d take a bite, and then just look at me and shake their heads in disbelief. I made these and two other bars and while the other bars were good, people just couldn’t stop eating these. It got to the point where people were saying, “Keep them away from me!” because they couldn’t stop inhaling the bars.

    I made these for a dinner party (which only Germans would be attending and they don’t like things too sweet) so I left the powdered sugar out of the frosting and they were still plenty sweet. I’m sure the texture isn’t the same but it’s not like we have Starbuck’s cranberry bliss bars over here so who cares. :D

    And if you’re in Germany, use half Type 405 and half 550 flour. They won’t come out properly if you don’t! And drain your cream cheese. :)

    Thanks a ton for the amazing recipe! I usually like to make things healthier but no way am I going to mess with this recipe. ;)

  5. This recipe is awesome! For a first time baker, this was so easy to follow and replicate. I did replace the orange zest with minced candied ginger, so it tasted a little different, but was still great. Thank you!

    • Glad to hear that for a first time baker (WOW!) that these were great for you. I am impressed because they’re not ‘hard’ but if it’s literally your first time baking something, and you chose these – I am impressed! Thanks for LMK you found the recipe easy to follow & replicate!

  6. I am thinking about making these for a bake sale — does the frosting harden enough to wrap them individually? If not, any tips for making a frosting that would not stick to the wrapping? Thanks!

    • The frosting marginally hardens. I mean, it will likely come off onto saranwrap. Some of it will be lost to the plastic. You could wrap them in parchment but I find parchment doesn’t get airtight and things dry out. If you’re okay with wrapping in saranwrap, I would just do that. They are wonderful bars – one of my fave recipes of all time!

  7. These were spot on! Thank you so much for sharing these. I live in Colorado and all of the Starbucks here are actually completely sold out the past week or two because of a shipping or purchasing error , so these were a huge hit for several of my friends and coworkers who were going through withdrawals! Thanks again!!

  8. Pingback: Cranberry Bliss Bars - Lady's Little Loves

  9. I made the bars as written, but put 1/2 t. baking soda as I do like them a bit cakier and also included satsuma zest (as I had them instead of oranges). They were exceptionally greasy. I took out too early (10 minutes), so put them in for another 20 (checking after the first 10 and thereafter at 5 minute intervals). The middle still didn’t seem to be 100% done, but since the edges were a bit crispy, out they came. Still, hubby said it tasted only partially done.

    The frosting made as is would have been absolutely way off for us. I only used 1/2 c. Guittard chips, 4 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 t. vanilla, and ~1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar. This was entirely sufficient, and the bars did not need any additional white chocolate drizzled over them.

    By the by, I used my microwave’s melt chocolate button for 1/2 c. and put it on below “recommended.” It really looked as if it hadn’t melted, but when I stirred (per the microwave’s instruction), it was absolutely perfect.

    Delicious? Absolutely! Not as sweet as the original (thank goodness!) and rather greasy.

    • I don’t find them to be greasy at all, but I also make them as written and you used baking soda, which maybe altered the texture. Some brands of butter, climates, etc all vary so it’s hard to say. And have you tried the real ones? They’re pretty moist and soft and loose, i.e. ‘greasy’, but that’s just the way they are. A very soft, supple, tender bar. Thx for trying the recipe.

  10. Pingback: Cranberry Bliss Bars | Hello Homebody

  11. Pingback: White Chocolate Snickers Blondie Bites | The Domestic Rebel

  12. I have made the bliss bars for Christmas gifts and people love them. I changed my bliss bar recipe and use orange zest and orange extract in the frosting, which makes them extra yummy and have a very festive presentation in my opinion.

    I’ve been craving these bars lately but didn’t want to make them so “seasonal.” Now I’m thinking about using dried blue berries (Ocean Spray Craisins type) and have been wondering about sub’ing the orange extract in my recipe with vanilla and a tiny dash of lemon extracts in the frosting. Am I on the right track here?

    My recipe calls also for 1/4 c. minced crystalized ginger as well as 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger. Do you think the ginger should remain if I use blueberries? Just looking for an excuse to celebrate spring and use a different berry.

    PS: My recipe calls for the orange zest to be added to the frosting and not the base. Interesting to see all the variations.

  13. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE these bars! They came out perfectly! I’ve made them twice already and I’m sure I’ll be making them MANY more times, they’re absolutely fantastic. And that white chocolate cream cheese frosting. OMG that stuff is absolutely out of this world! Thank you for sharing this recipe Averie!

  14. Pingback: Cranberry Bliss Bars | simplydelicious

  15. These are AMAZING! I really love cranberries, so I decided, why not try it. It is definitely one of the best things i have ever made! The frosting was a bit too sweet for my liking, so as a personal preference, i would reduce the sugar in the future. Other than that, these turned out amazing and beautiful! Thank you so much for the recipe, Averie :)

    • Thanks for trying them, Jemima, and glad you loved them! You could always just go with less frosting next time, halve that portion of the recipe. Or just drizzle it on, rather than fully spread it on. The Starbucks version is pretty dang sweet and that’s what these are like but I have a big sweet tooth :)

  16. Pingback: Better than Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bread - The View from Great Island

  17. Can’t wait to make these. Thinking of making for Christmas gifts. Do this need to be refrigerated? What’s their approximate “shelf life”? Thanks

  18. hey averie :) from reading the comments, and my experience today – you may want to leave a note for people at the beginning of this recipe and in the directions.

    i absolutely positively followed this recipe to a t, and while my oven hasn’t recently been calibrated – i know it’s fairly close to actual temperature from other things i’ve made recently.

    i suspect i’m at the opposite end of the spectrum as you are humidity wise – today humidity is at 93.6% for example – and these absolutely positively would not set.

    if i had more spare time i would work on this more and offer up suggestions as to making a recipe like this work in the high humidity of the pacific northwest.

    i think for future i will take comments seriously about high cook times for recipes – and consider baking blogs in the pacific northwest as they are apt to have conditions that are similar humidity wise.

    • Thanks for trying the recipe, Amy, and if you read through the comments you’ll see glowing reports from dozens of people, and these are one of my fave recipes and I’ve never had that issue with them but I’m sorry you did!

      I would say just bake them longer, 5 minutes or so (maybe 10?), until they set. Or, add an extra 1/4 cup of flour, give or take, I think either of those two things would do the trick for your humid climate.

      I will say, though, that I vacation in the Caribbean a few times a year and I do cook for my blog when I’m there and recipes that I make there are a totally different animal than in San Diego. I also have a bad oven there but the humidity does change things. There’s a ‘rule of thumb’ to not bake on humid days but I realize that can’t always be avoided. So for anyone in an extremely humid climate I would add more flour and bake longer. Thanks for trying these!

      • Thanks Averie! I have no doubt the recipe works well in lower humidity! I tasted some of the bits on the edges that did harden and they were delicious. I was up over 40 minutes when I had to give up on the recipe. I just think you may want to add a note re flour and humidity over 90% to the recipe – as it sounds to me other people have experienced what I did. I’m chalking it up as a learning experience. I know now I have to consider what recipes to make more carefully because of how it is here. I would have loved if I had known up front.

      • Unfortunately I can’t made a headnote on all 1000+ recipes in my archives that if someone is baking at altitude, in extreme humidity, baking with GF flour, etc. that their results may very well vary from mine. I do my best to share the recipes I created in my kitchen, and share exactly what I did in extreme detail, but I can’t be a ‘short order cook’ to accommodate every possible scenario that my readers may have in their personal situations. If you’re baking at altitude reduce the baking soda, if you’re baking in humidity add more flour and here’s how much, if you’re baking GF add more brown rice flour…you get the point…that would be a FT job right there! Thanks for understanding!

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  20. Averie these are divine. I am making it for the 2nd time in 3 days. I hate paying $$ at starbucks for them. These hit the spot! Havea great week

  21. 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!

  22. 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?

    • 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!!

  23. Pingback: Cranberry Bliss Bars | Sophia Chow

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

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