A buttery shortbread crust topped with a luscious cherry pie filling, crumble topping and a sweet powdered sugar glaze. These cherry pie bars are an easier take on the classic recipe and taste just as delicious!
Cherry pie crumble bars
These cherry pie bars have everything you love about a good old fashioned cherry pie! No need to make a homemade pie crust or spend any extra time latticing the top. Simply mix together an easy shortbread crust and use that same mixture for the crumble topping. Then use your favorite cherry pie filling to layer in between the two.
They make a great summer dessert and are about as All-American as you can get. These are the perfect treat to whip up for 4th of July or any summer barbecue or gathering. You can enjoy them chilled or at room temperature with a scoop of homemade ice cream to top it off. Trust me, you will be hooked as soon as you take a bite!
I’ve made these a few times now and have discovered a few tricks to make them a little easier and tastier.
- Line the pan. Use parchment paper or foil to line the pan. I like to leave a little bit extra hanging over the edges (picture above). Then when they are completely cooled, lift them out and then slice. It’s so much easier to remove them this way.
- The dough is a bit sticky. What has worked great for me is scooping the dough into the baking dish, and then placing a layer of plastic wrap or parchment paper over the top. Then I press the dough into the pan with my hands and it spreads easily in the pan without sticking.
- Crumble topping. Make sure the little gobs of dough that you drop on top of the filling are small and well-spaced (similar to the picture above). The first time I made these, I tried to spread the dough fairly evenly across the pan and it made the top a lot less pretty (and the bars less ooey-gooey and delicious). You want a lot of that pretty pie filling showing through!
- Let cool. As tempting as it is to enjoy them warm from oven, you must wait! The bars need to cool completely before enjoying, so that both the cherry filling and crumb topping have time to set. If you try to cut them while warm, the filling will turn into a gooey mess and the crumble topping will be mushy. You can place them in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.
- Homemade filling. Make a homemade cherry pie filling instead of using canned filling.
- Almond extract. Instead of adding almond extract, you can use all vanilla (although I do think that adding a small amount of almond extract helps boost the cherry flavor).
- Glaze. I love the sweet finishing touch that the glaze adds on top. However you can make these bars without the glaze, or use a cream cheese glaze for a tangier flavor.
- Filling alternatives. This recipe also works great with other types of pie filling, like peach pie filling or apple pie filling. A fresh strawberry filling like I made in these strawberry crumb bars also tastes delicious.
How to store, freeze, and thaw
- To store: These cherry pie bars will stay fresh at room temperature for about 2 to 3 days. Just make sure to cover the pan with a lid or transfer the sliced bars to an airtight container. If storing in layers, I’d recommend adding a sheet of wax paper in between so they don’t stick.
- To freeze: After they’ve cooled completely, slice the bars into squares. Then place the squares in a single layer on a pan and flash freeze for about 1 hour (or until hard). Then stack in a freezer container and store in the freezer for about 3-6 months.
- To thaw: Remove from the freezer and set on the counter to thaw for a few hours (or until no longer frozen).
More cherry desserts:
Cherry Pie Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
- 21 ounces cherry pie filling ,1 can
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract , or vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon milk , or cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9x9" pan by lining with parchment paper.In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Mix until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined, scraping the sides as you mix.
- Press about 2/3 of the dough in the prepared pan. You can use a use a piece of parchment paper to press down easier. Top dough with the pie filling.
- Drop the remaining dough by small spoonful's evenly over the top of the filling, leaving space between the spoonful's. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the dough on top does not indent when lightly pressed with your finger. Remove and let cool completely.
- When the bars have cooled, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract and milk. Add more milk or powdered sugar as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bars and refrigerate for about 10 minutes to set.
- Once set, slice into 16 bars and serve. They will stay fresh for 2-3 days or in the freezer for 3-6 months.