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These Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Oat Bars are an absolutely irresistible treat. Their crumbly oaty biscuity exterior reveals a juicy peek of tangy apple and cranberry. They are a quick and easy crowd pleasing bake. Secret tip –you can even make with leftover cranberry sauce!!
This idea of encasing delicious fruity goodness within an oat cookie bar came to me by way of The Pioneer Woman and her Strawberry Oatmeal Bars. I was so taken by how simple and effective they were that I’ve been making various gluten-free versions of this recipe ever since I first started blogging.
These Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Oat Bars are made with an incredibly easy dough which is just flour, oats, butter and sugar. Half of the dough is pressed into a baking dish, then layered with and apple and cranberry compote, then the other half of the dough is layered on top. Baked, cut and enjoyed.
I’ve experimented with all kinds of different flavours including Nutella, cream cheese, and mincemeat. These Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Bars though are a gloriously tangy fruity triumph and maybe even my favourite version of this recipe.
Table of contents
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Super quick. Once you've cooked down the apples, it takes no longer than 15 minutes to get these bars into the oven.
- Easy peasy. A great bake to make with little ones.
- The biscuit base with its sweet oaty flavour is a perfect compliment to the fruity tangy middle.
- The cranberry flavour is from leftover cranberry sauce - so easy! You can use any cranberry sauce but if you have homemade then you will really be taking the flavour up a notch. READ MORE >>> Cranberry Clementine Sauce
- Wonderful between meals treat that is perfect with a cup of tea, coffee or a long tall glass of milk.
Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Crumble Flapjacks
If you love all kinds of different flapjacks (which are really the British way of saying ‘oatmeal bars’) then these Apple Cranberry Bars are just a little bit more sophisticated with the fresh jam in the middle. The flour in the dough takes it a little bit beyond the flapjack and more into cookie territory though.
Gluten-free flours required
- Cassava flour. This starchy flour is perfect for this recipe as it helps hold all the other ingredients together to give the bars a great structure and good bite. (No substitutions have been tested in place of the cassava flour)
- Oat flour. To match the flavour of the bars we use ultra fine gluten-free oat flour. You can substitute for sorghum flour or just mill some gluten-free oats to produce the flour.
- Bramley apples. For their beautiful tangy flavour. Plus they have the most lovely texture when cooked. You can use any tart cooking apple.
- Cranberry sauce. I really recommend you use homemade cranberry sauce for the best flavour.
You can also use fresh cranberries and cook them down with the apples. If you do this then add 1½ tablespoons caster sugar to the fruit.
- Butter. Make sure it’s unsalted at room temperature
- Gluten-free flour. This recipe uses a combination of cassava flour and oat flour (as above.
- Jumbo rolled gluten-free oats. For a lovely chewy toasted oaty flavour. You can use porridge oats if that is all you have to hand.
- Soft light brown sugar. For flavour and sweetness.
- Baking powder. For a lovely tender bite.
- Salt. It amps up all the other flavours.
For full recipe instructions for these Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Bars go to the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Cook the apples until soft and tender and mix with the cranberry sauce.
- Make a cookie dough. Mix together the flour, the oats, the sugar, butter, baking powder and salt in a stand mixer or by hand.
- Assemble. Firmly press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom of the baking tin. Spread the apple and cranberry sauce on top then crumble over the rest of the cookie dough, pressing in slightly.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- I like to cook the apples so some pieces have turned to a gorgeous smooth pulp and others still have a bit more body.
- Try not to overbake the bars. You will take them out of the oven when they are just slightly underbaked. Leave them in the tin for 30 minutes so they can start to set. Remove them from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Wait until they are completely cooled before eating. They will set firmer and hold together better the longer they are left.
Can you make in advance?
These bars are really at their best the day they are made, they tend to go a little soft the day after (although they are still delicious)
How to store
These are best kept in a bread bin or in aluminium foil as I have found airtight containers make them a little soft. They will store for a day or two.
How to freeze
Allow the bars to cool completely then flash freeze them in a single layer in the freezer for 8 hours. Once frozen then you can keep in an airtight container or in a ziplock bag. You can defrost the bars one at a time as and when you want to eat one.
Allow to defrost fully at room temperature before serving.
Variations to try
- Apple and Blackberry Oat Bars. Just swap out the cranberry sauce for fresh blackberries. Cook the blackberries with the apple pieces and add 1½ tablespoons sugar for extra sweetness.
- Apple and Raspberry Oat Bars. Just swap the cranberry sauce for either a really good quality raspberry preserve or even fresh raspberries.
- Cranberry Orange Oat Bars. Remove the apples completely and just use cranberry sauce or fresh cranberries. Plus add in a little orange zest.
- Add nuts. You can add roughly chopped nuts to the cookie dough. I like to add the nuts just to the top layer of the dough. Pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts are all delicious here.
More gluten-free oat bars you’ll love!
- Nutella Fudge Oat Bars
- White Chocolate Raspberry Flapjacks
- Mince Pie Cheesecake Oat Bars
- Healthy Banana Flapjacks
- Blackberry Cheesecake Hazelnut Oat Bars
- Best Granola Bars
I urge you to give these Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Oat Bars a try. If you do then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.
Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Oat Bars
- 2 bramley apples - about 500g, peeled, cored and diced
- 1 tablespoon water
- 150 g cranberry sauce
- 250 g unsalted butter - at room temperature
- 140 g cassava flour
- 90 g gluten-free oat flour
- 170 g jumbo rolled gluten-free oats
- 200 g soft light brown sugar - sifted
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Put the apples in a medium saucepan with the water. Place the lid on and stew on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until they have broken down and softened. Stir in the cranberry sauce and leave to cool.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan assisted oven / gas mark 5 and line and grease a rectangular baking tin 8” x 12”.
- Add the rest of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl (or you can use a stand mixer) and rub together with your hands until everything has come together to form a dough.
- Press ⅔ of the dough into the base of the baking tin to form an even layer.
- Spread the cooled fruit on top.
- Crumble the rest of the dough on the top and press down lightly into the fruit, don’t worry too much about it spreading out evenly.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the fruit bubbling up.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the baking tray on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.