cranberry shortbread tart

Cranberry Shortbread Tart

Come this time of year, when bag after bag of cranberries shimmer their ruby red presence all over my favorite grocery stores, I rack ’em up and use them any way I can. In fact, I usually keep a bag or two in my freezer for when it’s mid-winter and I need that cranberry kick in a bunch of scones or in a hot bowl of oatmeal. However, as we’re well into November and quickly approaching December, I make my favorite cranberry recipe – the quintessential cranberry sauce – quite often. In fact, I make it like it’s going out of style. What do I eat it on? Turkey? Chicken? Mixed into oatmeal? Nine times out of ten, I just eat it by the spoonful. I love cranberry sauce that much. Do my stomach, esophagus, and teeth enjoy this acidic treat? I’ve never bothered to ask them, nor do I care.

That being said, I oft have an extra bowl or bag of it in the back of my fridge, and I don’t want it to go to waste.

cranberry shortbread tart

Come the holidays, we all eat our fair share of delicious dishes, but let’s be honest: we waste some of it. It’s not ideal, but it happens. We end up pitching some of that leftover turkey in the trash. Some of those roasted veggies may end up in the compost bin. It’s always best to re-purpose leftovers, if possible. Don’t waste that precious cranberry sauce if it’s been languishing in the back of your fridge for a few days. Breathe some life back into it by layering it onto a delicious buttery shortbread crust.

cranberry shortbread tart

I love this tart because it’s a little freeform, a little rustic, and a little messy, too. Don’t wear light colors while eating this and have a few napkins handy. 😉

cranberry shortbread tart

Cranberry Shortbread Tart
(Makes 9 – 12 slices…well, depending on how you slice it!)


– 2 cups fresh cranberry sauce, chilled (Please see Before We Get Started…)
– 1 cup flour
– 1 stick butter (traditional or vegan), chiiled and cubed or frozen to grate (Please see Before We Get Started…)
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher

Before We Get Started…

– DO NOT USE CANNED JELLIED CRANBERRY SAUCE FOR THIS RECIPE! Yes, this statement is worth the caps lock.

– If you do not have leftover cranberry sauce and are making this dish completely from scratch, please follow the directions on your bag of cranberries to create a sauce. It’s basic and you can’t go wrong!

– Also, if making fresh cranberry sauce, you can alter it as you please. I prefer to boil my cranberries in either 3/4 cup apple cider or orange juice (whichever I have at the time) and 1/4 cup water. Due to this, I cut the sugar down to about a 1/4 cup instead of the traditional 1 cup the average cranberry sauce recipe recommends; said average recipe recommends boiling them in water, which does not have additional sugar in it. (Am I  perhaps stating the obvious? Ha!) What’s great about making homemade cranberry sauce is the fact that you can easily control the amount of sugar that’s in it.

– My way of cutting butter into flour involves grating it with a cheese grater, a method I have mentioned a few times in this blog. Please refer to my Orange Ginger Scones recipe for more specifics. This method is a godsend! 

– I have made vegan shortbread in the past using Earth Balance, and it has worked! That being said, I haven’t tried it for this specific recipe. If you feel inclined, substitute Earth Balance or your favorite vegan “butter” for the traditional butter in this recipe; likewise, use your own favorite vegan shortbread recipe, if you please! I’ve read many blogs that state that using coconut oil makes for a tasty version. 🙂


1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 8″ x 8″ x 2″ baking pan with parchment paper; fit to bottom of pan and allow 1″ – 2″ of paper hang off of the sides, as this will allow you to easily lift the tart from the pan when it’s finished. Set pan aside.

2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter; combine with hands or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembled a fine meal. Evenly press mixture into the bottom of the baking pan; using the bottom of a bottle or a measuring cup can help ensure an even surface.

3.) Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and place on wire rack to cool.

4.) Once shortbread is cooled, spoon cranberry sauce on top and spread evenly. (If making cranberry sauce from scratch and not using pre-made / leftover cranberry sauce, allow sauce to cool before placing on shortbread.) Place in refrigerator for one hour before serving. Remove from fridge, and carefully lift tart out of pan by the parchment paper’s edges. Cut and serve.


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