With a sweet almond glaze and not one, but two soft, buttery layers of shortbread wrapped around a sweet inner stripe of cherry pie filling, these Cherry Bars are the perfect way to celebrate the bounty of cherry season.
Remember when I told you all the different ways you can use this easy Cherry Pie Filling? I left out the best one of all: cherry bars.
Can you blame me for wanting to keep these easy cherry bars to myself?
Just look at that drippy glaze (similar to the one used on these Strawberry Oatmeal Bars), crunchy almonds, and juicy homemade cherry pie filling!
The base and topping of these cherry bars come together in a single bowl and are a cross between a buttery shortbread cookie, a fluffy, moist Buttermilk Cake, and oatmeal crumble.
The inner layer of these cherry bars is my homemade cherry pie filling. It’s naturally sweetened, so these are about as close to healthy cherry bars as possible.
A sweet almond glaze adds the perfect amount of sweetness to counter the tartness of the cherries.
Sturdy enough to pick up with your fingers (like Blueberry Oatmeal Bars), but light and moist enough to melt right on your tongue, this cherry squares recipe is a cherry shortcake in a more portable form.
How to Make the BEST Cherry Bars
Made with homemade or store-bought cherry pie filling and topped with the most tender, flaky crust and topping, you may want to go ahead and make a double batch. These easy cherry bars will not last long!
Cherry Pie Filling. I like to use my favorite homemade Cherry Pie Filling for this recipe, but you can use any recipe or store-bought variety you enjoy. You’ll need a total of about 2 cups (which, conveniently, is what one batch of my recipe yields).
Make sure to cool your filling completely before adding it to the bars.
Sugar. Perfectly sweetens the crust and topping, and helps it turn golden in the oven.
Flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is my secret to making these healthy cherry bars—or healthy-ish at least.
If you don’t stock whole wheat pastry flour, you may swap for regular pastry flour or all purpose flour.
Butter. Adds richness and tenderness to the shortbread-like crust and topping.
Eggs. Soften the crust and give it structure and stability.
Vanilla. For an extra layer of flavor that complements and enhances the cherries.
Almonds. Provide a little crunch and contrasting texture. (I also love adding almonds to this Easy Strawberry Cake.)
Glaze. A simple blend of milk, powdered sugar, and almond extract is the perfect sweet finish to these cherry bars.
Not a fan of glaze? There are other options. As you might suspect, these easy cherry bars taste dreamy served warm with vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt, or whipped topping too!
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
Add the eggs and vanilla.
Stir in the baking powder and salt, then slowly add the flour. Don’t overmix!
Reserve 1/2 cup of the dough for the topping, then spread the remaining dough into the bottom of a parchment-lined and greased 8×8-inch baking pan.
The bottom layer will seem thin, but it will rise and thicken as it bakes. No worries!
Mix sliced almonds into the reserved dough. Set aside.
Spread an even layer of pie filling over the dough. Then drop spoonfuls of the reserved dough over the top.
Bake cherry bars at 350 degrees F for 50 to 55 minutes, until lightly golden and set. Let cool. Make the glaze, drizzle over the bars, slice, and serve. ENJOY!
To Store. Store leftover cherry bars in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To Freeze. Wrap individually in plastic and freeze for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
To Reheat. You can enjoy these cherry bars straight from the fridge. However, they’re also tasty warmed in the microwave for 10-15 seconds too.
Hurry and make these bars while fresh cherry season lasts!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Make Cherry Bars with Dried Cherries?
No. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend making this recipe with dried cherries since the moisture of the cherry pie filling is necessary for these bars to turn out correctly.
Can I Make Fresh Cherry Bars?
I have not tried making this recipe with fresh cherries rather than cherry pie filling before, so it would be an experiment. I’d suggest chopping the cherries and using them in this Blueberry Oatmeal Bars recipe.
Can I Make Cherry Bars Gluten Free?
I have not tried making gluten free cherry bars before. I suspect you could try to swap the whole wheat pastry flour for a 1-to-1 gluten free mix, as I have had good luck with it in other baking recipes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper (so that you have some overhanging two sides), then lightly grease again. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract.
Sprinkle the baking powder and salt over the top, then mix to combine. Reduce the mixer speed to low and, with the mixer running, slowly add in the flour, mixing just until it disappears. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed to make sure the ingredients are evenly blended. The dough will be very moist and sticky.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the dough for the topping, then scrape the remaining dough into the bottom of the prepared dish. With a knife, the back of a spoon, or an offset spatula, spread the dough into an even layer, smoothing it all the way into the corners. The layer will seem thin, but it will rise and thicken as it bakes.
Mix the sliced almonds into the reserved dough, and mix to combine. Set aside.
Spoon prepared pie filling (make sure it’s cool) over the top of the bottom layer. Spread it into an even layer, then drop small spoonfuls of the reserved dough with almonds over the top of the bars. Some of the cherry pie fillingwill show through.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until lightly golden on top and set. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. To remove the bars from the pan, use a dull knife to loosen the sides, then gently lift them out using the overhanging parchment paper.
To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle over the bars, slice, and serve.
TO STORE: Store leftover cherry bars in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
TO FREEZE: Wrap individually in plastic and freeze for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
TO REHEAT: You can enjoy these cherry bars straight from the fridge. However, they’re also tasty warmed in the microwave for 10-15 seconds too.