This Cherry Bars recipe features a sugar cookie-like crust covered in lots of cherry pie filling, topped with more sweet batter and a sugar glaze. It makes a large pan of bars so it’s perfect for a crowd!
I’m a big fan of cherry pie filling.
I also love fruit pies, but pies can be tricky and time intensive to make and they’re usually pretty messy to eat.
This cherry bars recipe works because it’s:
- Not messy to eat. The cherry filling is contained between two shortbread layers so you can eat it with your hands if needed!
- Perfect for a crowd. This is a great recipe to make for your next potluck or large gathering because you’ll get an entire half-sheet pan of bars.
- A great dessert for holidays. Think Memorial Day or the Fourth of July!
- Fairly simple to make. You can have the batter done and the bars in the oven in about 15 minutes and it only takes 30-40 minutes to bake.
- Got a short ingredient list. Compared to most baked goods, you won’t need a lot of ingredients to make these cherry bars and you’ll probably have most of them on hand already!
PREHEAT your oven to 350 degrees.
CREAM together 1/2 cup of softened butter and 1½ cups of granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and light in color (about 5-7 minutes).
ADD 4 room-temperature eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and beat well after each addition.
ADD 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 3 cups of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1½ teaspoons of baking powder to the wet ingredients and mix together gently until just combined.
GREASE a half-sheet pan (often called a jelly roll pan) and spread 2/3 of the batter in the pan. The easiest way to do this is with clean and slightly damp fingers.
SPREAD 2 (21-ounce) cans of cherry pie filling across the batter.
DOT the rest of the batter on top of the filling either using damp fingers or a cookie scoop.
BAKE the bars for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Bars are done when a toothpick inserted into the cookie layer comes out clean.
ALLOW the bars to cool.
MIX 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl to create the sugar glaze. Drizzle over cooled bars.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
If you’re not a fan of cherry pie filling, you can substitute any pie filling you like: blueberry, apple, or peach.
Most bakers don’t cream the butter and sugar long enough. You’ll want to cream it until the mixture goes from wet sand to a fluffy mixture with peaks. This could take as little as 2-3 minutes with a powerful mixer, but up to 5-7 with a handheld mixer.
The longer you cream the butter and sugar, the fluffier and cake-like the bars will turn out.
It is possible to overdo the creaming of the butter and sugar, so make sure you stop once the mixture is light and fluffy. If you beat the mixture until it’s oily and separated, you’ve gone too far and won’t be able to use the butter and sugar.
The eggs should be added one at a time and mixed in thoroughly before another egg is added.
Also, make sure you’re using softened butter and room-temperature eggs for best results.
Make sure you thoroughly grease the pan so the bars come out easily. You can use the butter wrapper to grease the pan or use cooking spray.
While you want to make sure you’re creaming the butter and sugar long enough, you don’t want to overmix the batter. Once flour meets wet ingredients, gluten begins to form. The more you mix, the tougher your baked goods will turn out. So gently mix the batter with a spatula once you’ve added the flour to avoid overmixing.
The batter is very sticky and can be difficult to work with. I find the best way to spread out the bottom layer is to keep a small bowl of water by and get my fingers a little damp to press out the dough. This keeps the dough from sticking to your fingers and makes spreading easy.
You can use one of these butter substitutes if you don’t have any on hand.
More Like This
Looking for more tasty cherry or sweetbread recipes? You’ll love these!
I hope your family loves this cherry bars recipe! If you make it, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!
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The Best Cherry Bars Recipe
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, room-temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 42 ounces canned cherry pie filling, 2 cans
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and light in color (about 5-7 minutes).
- Add eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and beat well after each addition.
- Add vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder to the wet ingredients and mix together gently until just combined.
- Grease a half-sheet pan (often called a jelly roll pan) and spread 2/3 of the batter in the pan. The easiest way to do this is with clean and slightly damp fingers.
- Spread cherry pie filling across the batter.
- Dot the rest of the batter on top of the filling either using damp fingers or a cookie scoop.
- Bake the bars for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Bars are done when a toothpick inserted into the cookie layer comes out clean.
- Allow the bars to cool.
- Mix powdered sugar with milk in a small bowl to create the sugar glaze. Drizzle over cooled bars.