It’s the weekend! And it’s long one! Let’s celebrate with some homemade treats! Full disclosure — I actually posted these bars many years ago. But the images were so atrocious and I also updated the preparation method, so I thought it would be appropriate to re-post. I have no doubt many of you will be hosting or attending backyard shindigs this weekend. These are THE perfect dessert to bring to a fancy or casual affair.
Berries are just coming into season and offer the possibility of a patriotic-looking dessert if you go with blueberries and raspberries or strawberries. And we know how much Pinterest and Instagram love themed food! Memorial Day weekend always inspires the red, white, and blue aesthetic. I think they would also make an ideal July 4th treat. So what that there’s no white. That’s a color I frown on in the kitchen anyway, unless your name is Cauliflower.
The first time I made these mixed berry bars was for an airplane snack. My kids went bonkers for them, as did Mr. Picky’s cub scout pack when I made them for a meeting a month later, but with all blueberries. I remember so clearly he said to me afterward, “I’m actually surprised you made something so unhealthy, Mom.” You can see that they’re not “so unhealthy,” but they sure don’t taste like health food either. It’s a slightly sweet bar with a light crumby topping that makes a perfect afternoon snack, too. I love making fruit desserts where the fruit itself can shine. If you haven’t noticed, I approach desserts by using less sweetener than you might expect. Whereas these bars are perfectly sweet, they are not overly sweet.
Berries, especially blueberries, have so many health benefits and are my first choice for fruit. They are incredibly high in antioxidants (wild are higher than cultivated) and very low in fructose (naturally occurring sugar in fruit), not to mention high in fiber and minerals. The downside is that berries don’t last very long after you buy them. Make sure you don’t wash your berries before storing them in the refrigerator because that will make them get moldy more quickly. I always do a once over before I put them away since one bad berry can really ruin things quickly for the rest of them. If you don’t think you’ll use your berries up before they spoil, try freezing them for another time. Give them a quick rinse and lay them on a paper towel to dry. Place them in one layer on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet in the freezer. As soon as they are frozen solid, scoop them up and store them in a container in the freezer. Frozen berries work perfectly well in this recipe in case you have a small amount of this and a small amount of that to get rid of.
I have made these bars successfully with King Arthur Multipurpose Gluten-free Flour and GF oats. I haven’t tried making them dairy-free, but I imagine using coconut oil or organic Earth Balance would work out just fine.
I have a few bars in the freezer that I am going to pull out when my younger daughter comes home from college next week. Yay! And I’ll be making a fresh batch on Saturday to bring to a friend’s house. I hope you have the chance to relax and enjoy yourself this weekend. And to have an extra large mixed berry oat bar! 🙂
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
- ⅔ cup muscovado or packed light brown sugar
- 1 ¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ¾ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup chopped pecans for topping only (optional)
- Berry Filling:
- 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons flour (whichever you used in the crust/topping)
- 1 pound fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries, about 3 cups
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Line the bottom with unbleached parchment paper (to help remove the bars.)
- Put the flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until crumbs form and the mixture is no longer powdery and dry. Alternatively, place everything in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until everything is moistened. Grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze it. It should hold together. Take 1 ½ cups of the mixture, place in a medium bowl and add chopped pecans.
- Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a metal spatula to press the crust into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk lemon zest,
cinnamonand flour together. Add the berries, lemon juiceand butter and use your hands to toss gently until the berries are evenly coated.
- Spread filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumble mixture on top of the filling. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the
topis golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges a little. You may need to rotate the pan halfway so that it cooks evenly.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars. Keep refrigerated for up to two days in an airtight container.
Berries are usually not very sweet and these bars are also not overly sweet. If you think your berries are more tart, you can add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup or brown sugar to the fruit mixture.
Thanks for this recipe! I used frozen blueberries in this recipe, and I was wondering if they need to be fully thawed beforehand? I watched for the filling to bubble around the edges, but I didn’t see it do that, so I thought I’d ask if I should increase the baking time or defrost the berries beforehand.
Thanks! I’ve done both fresh and frozen and thawed and frozen. I would look for the bubbling around the edges more than worry about the time, unless the top gets too dark. Ovens vary like crazy, so it could be that my oven runs a little hotter than yours. So next time, add a few more minutes until you see a little bubbling or defrost the berries. 🙂
Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind for next time.
My family loved these bars! Ours turned out more like a crumble instead of solid bars.
What did we do to make them more solid?
First, make sure the crust holds together when squeezed in your hand. It should not be dry and crumbly. See the image for a visual. Second, you have to press the crust into the pan nicely and firmly. Use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to really get the crust packed. That should do it!
I needed something to give to my daughter’s teachers for the end of the year last week (she is in middle school and has 7 teachers). I made a batch of these, cut them up and gave each teacher 2 bars wrapped up in a plastic bag with a bow as a little treat and thank you for such a great year. They were delicious! And easy. And, inexpensive. One of my daughter’s teachers said as she gave it to her, “Yes, junk food!” My daughter said she just laughed to herself and didn’t tell the teacher they were really healthy. I have a ton of blueberries right now so I am going to make them again with just the blueberries. Thank you as usual!
I was helping a friend of mine with her treat table at her daughter’s mermaid party. I made these with all blueberries to add to the purple theme. Everyone loved them, especially my friend’s dad. They are the perfect treat. I think they are actually better a few days later as the berries melt into the bottom a little. As always, thank you!
You’re such a good friend that you are always baking up healthier treats for parties and teachers and such!
We had guests for the holiday and I woke up early Saturday and decided to make these bars. I only had steel cut oats, and figured how much can they mess these bars up? They were DELICIOUS!!! I know I will make these bars again with the Steel Cut Oats! Thank you for a yummy and easy treat!
I can’t believe steel cut oats worked! I would never have encouraged that if you had asked me. Thanks for letting me know. I am curious to try it out for myself!
Hi Pamela – to make a vegan version, what do you suggest as a butter substitute; something like earth balance, or a liquid plant milk instead?
Ps we love love love the recipe for Vegan lasagna and were eating it until almost midnight last night. We’re now slightly afraid to buy their vegan recipe book as we may not be able to go outside until after Swim Suit season if everything is as delicious as that lasagna.
Lol. I know that lasagna is too good! Re: the bars, you’ll get better results with Earth Balance or a solid coconut oil.
Hi Pamela! Do you really think these would only last 2 days in the refrigerator? I was hoping to make them as an afternoon snack at work that would last throughout the week. Thank you!
Hi Holly, By “last,” I mean they’ll stay the texture you would want them to be. They tend to get hard and drier the longer they’re in the fridge. But they obviously won’t go bad. I think they’ll be fine if they’re just for you, but I wouldn’t make them too far ahead and serve them for company. I hope that makes sense.
I see what you mean — thanks so much (as always) for the response. 🙂
I made these yesterday and I got a lot of credit for your greatness! 🙂 Everyone LOVED these! Thanks! I used gluten-free oat flour instead of regular flour and added a bit of almond milk in place of 1/4 c. of the butter, just to try to reduce calories a tad. I also used strawberries + raspberries and blueberries. Delish!
Ok, I looove when you guys report back with your experimentations! So great to know how you adapt the recipe to suit you. Thanks for writing in!
Made these tonight with wild blueberries and raspberries… absolutely scrumptious.
Thank you for this great recipe!
Thanks for the feedback, Sally Jo. Glad you enjoyed them!
Made the blueberry bars today and they were really tasty;
however, I foolishly did not weigh the berries and used too many for the filling (guess I wanted to use as many of our
yummy NJ blueberries as possible). The texture was more like a blueberry crumble pie which could certainly be topped with ice cream or creme fraiche. So, the choice is yours…blueberry bars for a snack or blueberry pie for dessert. Thanks for such a versatile recipe!
I like your attitude, Mia! There’s certainly nothing wrong with more Jersey blues in July. But I will make a more specific measurement for the fruit. Thanks!
Made these and they were awesome but we ate them warm out of the pan because we couldn’t wait for them to cool. great recipe!
warm is good too!