These Cherry Pie Bars are a dream come true! A thick homemade shortbread crust, spread with cherry pie filling, then topped with thick pieces of more buttery shortbread! A vanilla glaze drizzled on top makes them irresistible. An easy way to serve pie when you’re feeding a crowd!
I went for a walk this morning, and randomly decided to start running instead of walking. Look, healthy me! I ran for a little over a mile, and it took me exactly the same amount of time it takes me to walk the same route. How pathetic is that? Maybe “run” is not even the appropriate word here, more like “fast walking with some knee lifting??”
And now here I am hours later. My whole body hurts and I have a legit headache. Anyone who says exercising is good for you clearly hasn’t lived in my body.
I’m know, I know, I’m only kidding, exercise is great, blah blah. But this baby is almost 3 months old now and I’ve got to get my rear in gear or people are going to think I’m pregnant for the rest of my life.
I was reading my friend Christine’s post yesterday about how she makes a habit of exercise. She listed off all the excuses she usually makes for not exercising, like being too tired, or not having time, etc etc. I’ve literally used every single one of the excuses she listed! Am I predictable or what. Isn’t having a bloodsucking newborn baby a good excuse?? I guess not. So knee-lift walking I go!
Homemade Cherry Pie Bars
I like to round out my 1 mile walk-jogs with some ultra buttery Cherry Pie Bars, because balance.
Really I should call these Cherry Pie Shortbread Bars, because the crust is very similar to shortbread, plus an egg and some baking powder. If you’ve made my Cranberry Shortbread Bars or these Apple Pie Bars, you will know what kind of crust-crumble situation you are in for with these cherry pie bars. They are SOOO good.
How to make Cherry Pie Bars
First we start off with a ton of butter. One pound, to be exact. Beat it up until is is smooth and creamy, then add in some sugar, almond and vanilla extract, and an egg. You can use all vanilla extract and omit the almond, if you are not into the cherry-almond flavor combo. I love the subtle flavor it adds.
Add in your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. (There is only a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder in this recipe. It gives the crust a little bit of a lift, but it’s not enough to turn these bars into something cakey. The crust and topping are closer to a shortbread cookie than a cake.)
Press 2/3 of the dough into a 9×13 inch pan and bake. Once it’s nice and golden, take it out and add 2 cans of cherry pie filling. I used the Lucky Leaf brand, (it has cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and food coloring, which is pretty much the same ingredients I’d be using making it at home.) I don’t usually use any other type of pie filling from a can (apple pie filling from a can is abominable, for example) but cherry pie filling is a pretty good match to what you can make at home. So save yourself some time!
Use the remaining 1/3 of the dough from earlier and crumble over the top of the cherry pie filling. Pop it in the oven and voila! Cherry pie bars.
But wait. It gets even better. Combine some powdered sugar with a little milk and drizzle it over the top of your cooled bars. On the left: how much glaze I pretend to put on my cherry pie bars. On the right: how much glaze I actually put on.
These cherry pie bars are a great last minute dessert to make when you don’t feel like going to the store. All you need to do is make sure you keep 2 cans of cherry pie filling tucked away in your pantry! The rest of the ingredients are pantry staples. I bet no one is stockpiling cherry pie filling, so you could probably even find it at the store right now! ;)
More pie recipes you are going to love!
- No Bake Cherry Cream Cheese Pie << the easiest no bake cheesecake ever.
- Cherry Pie for 4th of July! << so festive!
- Cranberry Shortbread Bars << these went crazy over the holidays last year. They are so perfect!
- Cranberry Cherry Pie with Almond Glaze << I love the cranberry cherry combo! So good!
- Apple Pie Bars << Better than apple pie. For sure. Sorry apple pie, you don’t have as much butter as this crust!!
- The Best Lemon Bars << This is my favorite dessert. Toss up between these and fudgy brownies.
- Gooey Pecan Pie Bars with Toffee << Make these for Thanksgiving! Or literally any day ever.
- Raspberry Cheesecake Bars << the easiest cheesecake ever!
- Blueberry Crumble Bars from Brown Eyed Baker
- No Bake Banana Cream Pie Bars from Love From the Oven
- Fresh Peach Pie Bars from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
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Easy Homemade Cherry Pie Bars
For the shortbread
- 2 cups butter, softened (4 sticks)
- 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 4 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt*
- 2 (21-oz) cans cherry pie filling
For the glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, OR almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Prepare a 9x13 inch baking pan with nonstick spray or grease with butter. It's even easier if you line the pan with parchment paper, that way you can lift the bars straight out of the pan. No greasing necessary. You can line with aluminum foil too, but make sure to grease it.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, add 2 cups of softened butter. (Yes, an entire pound!) Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add 1 and 1/2 cups sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. The sugar should be well incorporated into the butter; be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Add 1 egg and stir to combine well, scraping the sides.
- Add half of the flour but don't mix it in yet. And make sure to spoon and level it so it is not packed.
- Stir 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt to the flour and stir it into the flour with a small spoon. (This is just to make sure you don't get any lumps of salt or baking powder in your dough.)
- Gently stir in the flour. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour (spooned and leveled) and carefully stir it in. You will probably have to switch to hand-stirring toward the end. It will feel like too much flour, but it's not! Once you get the 4th cup in, beat until all the white streaks are gone, and then stop. Do not over mix.
- Add 2/3 of the dough to the prepared 9x13 inch pan. (Just eyeball it.) Press the mixture evenly into the pan and about 1/2 inch up the sides. I usually wet my hands with a smidge of water so that they don't stick to the dough too much.
- For best results, refrigerate the dough in the pan for about 20 minutes. You can skip this step if you are in a hurry, but chilled shortbread going into a hot oven makes for the best texture. The remaining 1/3 of the dough needs to be covered and chilled in the fridge.
- Bake the crust at 375 for about 20-23 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. When it is done, lower the oven temperature to 350.
- Remove from the oven and spread both cans of cherry pie filling all over the top of the crust.
- Get your chilled dough out of the fridge. Use your hands to take medium size chunks of dough and drop them on top of the cherry pie filling. I like dough chunks that are about the size of a quarter, with some a bit bigger or smaller. See photo.
- Bake the bars at 350 for about 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Or if you can't wait that long, at least an hour to let the pie bars set up a bit. You can cover and put in the fridge or freezer to speed it up.
- In a medium bowl, add 1 cup powdered sugar. Whisk in 1-2 tablespoons milk until a glaze forms. Add a bit more milk to get the consistency you like. Whisk in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla OR if you really love the cherry-almond combo, add a 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. (I prefer vanilla.)
- Drizzle the glaze all over the top of the bars. Let the glaze set for about 30 minutes. Again, refrigerating or freezing speeds this up.
- Cut the bars into squares and serve with vanilla ice cream! I like these cherry pie bars at room temperature, Eric likes them warmed up in the microwave. They are also delicious (and make for the nicest "bar" presentation) when they are chilled.
- These bars are best served on the day you make them, or within about 24 hours. I like to store them on the counter, but after 24 hours you should put them in the fridge, where they will keep for 3-5 days.
The flavor was great and I did find the cherries at Walmart my comment is regarding the base. I followed the directions and the crust on the bottom was as hard as a rock so I ended up throwing away. Not sure what went wrong and this is the first time this has happened with a recipe from you.
Hi Elizabeth! I’m so sorry that happened. I’m not sure what happened, the crust is a basic shortbread plus an egg, I’m thinking it must have been over baked? It should be just golden on the edges when you take it out of the oven.
These are the best cherry pie bars! The recipe is so easy to follow! I’ve made them several times now and everyone just loves them when I make them.
So happy you are loving them Sara! Thank you so much for reviewing!
can you use lemon pie filling for this recipe? not a big cherry fan
Hi Terri! I haven’t tried this with lemon pie filling. I’m not sure how it would bake with the shortbread crust, it would probably take some testing.
Hello. Does it matter if butter is salted or unsalted for the dough?
Hi Diann! It doesn’t matter which one you use. I use salted butter. If you use unsalted, maybe add another dash of salt.
Can you use fresh cherries & store bought pie crust on bottom instead?
Hi Julie! You would have to look up a cherry pie filling recipe. It’s not just cherries, it’s cherries and some liquid and some sugar and cornstarch. You could try using the cherry pie filling from this Cherry Pie recipe, but it might not be enough for a 9×13 pan. And no, this recipe has shortbread on the bottom, not pie crust, so that’s not a good substitute. Enjoy!
Made this for my husband, who is a cherry pie nut, and he says it is the best cherry dessert he has ever had!
Hooray!! Shortbread for the win! So glad you all liked the recipe. Thanks so much for reviewing Becky!
I made these for a Memorial Day party and got rave reviews (especially the crust) and I’m already planning to make them again! I thought the two cans of pie filling might be too much, but it was perfect.
Hooray! So glad the recipe was a success Dave! Somebody tagged me on Instagram the other day with a picture of these bars, saying they only used one can of filling. I felt kinda bad for them ;) haha! Thanks so much for the note and positive review!
Well, this recipe puts a smile on my face even in these uncertain times. These cherry pie bars look fantastic!
Cherry pie always brings a smile to my face too ;) Thank you so much Scarlet!
I seriously just bought some cans of cherry pie filling when I was at the store yesterday, stocking up. I knew I would need them for something!
I made the cranberry version at Christmas and my friends loved it. I’ll have to try this the next time we are allowed around people.
These look delicious! I have a quick question before I make them: Can they be frozen, thawed and reheated and then glazed? Because if I make them right now while my husband and I are self- quarantining ourselves, we will definitely eat the whole pan all by ourselves. And that definitely would NOT be a good thing for either of us!
Hi Mary! I haven’t tried it but I think it would work out just fine! I totally hear you about not wanting to eat the whole pan, I’ve been there ;) Stay safe!