healthier cranberry bliss bars(gluten free, vegan, dairy free)

Wanting to enjoy Starbucks’ holiday staple of cranberry bliss bars without feeling guilty? No problem!
The blondie base packed with dried cranberries and orange peels and with a hint of  spices topped with diary free frosting, this cranberry bars are not only healthier but taste even better! 

Cranberry bliss bars

One of many things that I used to be excited about when the holiday season comes is  Starbucks’ holiday dessert staple, cranberry bliss bars.

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Although born and raised in Japan where holiday spices are not the “thing” during this season (at all), since I encountered their cranberry bliss bars with beautiful spice they became my ‘symbolic’ food during holiday season.

When I was (deeply) into Starbucks I tried so many Starbucks’ copycats/makeovers including different kinds of pound cakes, muffins, bars, scones and of course, their cranberry bliss bars. 

Although I still get their desserts occasionally if I feel like, sadly they don’t as enjoyable as before after becoming more conscious about food choices as well as my body’s reactions to them.

” I wish they were not as sweet”
“I wish they did not give me funny after taste”
“I wish they did not give me headache after eating it…”

This is how I came up this healthier version of Starbucks’ copycat cranberry bliss bars recipe.

If there are no “ideal” desserst in the market, why not create my own!!

Let me tell you, I tried and experiment many versions of cranberry bliss bars including the “regular” ones in the past, meaning the one with butter, cream cheese, and regular flours, this healthier version of cranberry bliss bars definitely on of my my top three recipes and actually taste same as or even better than Starbucks!

This dairy-free frosting with pleasant aroma is so creamy and you wouldn’t tell it is made dairy free!

Cranberry bliss bars

What is good about these cranberry bliss bars?

  1. made only with natural ingredients
  2. gluten free
  3. vegan
  4. egg free
  5. dairy free
  6.  no added refined sugar
  7. low sugar
  8. flavorful and taste amazing!

The problem of their cranberry bliss bars ( and most of commercial foods) are that they are packed with food additives (chemicals) and are high in refined sugar.

If we keep eating these foods our body systems gets unbalanced and can lead to various health problems.

This is because our bodies are not designed to consume artificial stuffs, processed/refined foods and too much sugar!

If you have ever tried Starbucks’ cranberry bliss bar you will be amazed how my version of it are “easy” on your body (=no harsh sugary stimulation, funny after taste or headache).

Don’t worry!

“healthier” does not mean they taste bland, my cranberry bliss bars are packed with beautiful flavors of dried fruits and spices. 
My family and friends tested my cranberry bliss bars and they all said they taste even better!

Cranberry bliss bars

what’s in these cranberry bars? How to make them tasty?

the base


To make gluten free  blondie base, you can use your own gluten free flour blend or pre-packed gluten free all purpose flour blend like Bobs Red Mill, 1 to 1 Baking Flour.
I also used  almond flour to make the blondie base  more moist and “richer”.

As described above, no eggs are used  in the dough. Eggs are not necessary “unhealthy” at all but I left it out for those who has egg allergy.

This cranberry bliss bar base works well even without eggs:)

And we of course need cranberries as a main character but I also added orange peel to make the texture enjoyable.
Orange peel also adds nice and exotic flavor to the bars giving you festive feeling.

 Most of commercial  on the market use sugar but if you do not mind it you can buy it  or  you can make your own (follow the instruction in the “recipe note” in the recipe section below).

Alternatively you can substitute by adding same amount of cranberries instead although I recommend to use orange peel in this recipe.

Instead of using butter I used coconut oil. Coconut oil is great substitution as dairy-free fat in baking because it gives “rich” flavor like butter does. Also I like using coconut oil for baking as it is heat stable compared to other plant based fats.

To make the base, just whisk together all dry ingredients  in a bowl, add in wet ingredients that have been blended in a separate bowl and stirring until just incorporated.
Fold in the dried cranberries and chopped orange peel.

the frosting

If you do not have orange peel you can substitute by adding same amount of cranberries instead, but I recommend to use orange peel in this recipe.

This cranberry bliss bar recipe is dairy free so how you can make important part of bars, the frosting, without cream cheese?!

The answer is to use cashew and coconut based frosting.

This idea came from those “vegan/paleo/raw cheesecake” recipes that have been popular these days.

It may sounds complicated to make cashew and coconut “frosting” but making it is super easy.
You need to soak cashew nuts for at least 6 hours though, so do not forget to do so before actually starting to make the bars!

To make this frosting simply put all the ingredients for the frost in the blender and blend until they become smooth.

I used hand blender and it just works fine but if you want it really smooth you may want to use powerful blender like  VITAMIX.

The key ingredient here is to use lemon juice and orange zest. Lemon juice give this dairy-free frost sour taste similar to the one of cream cheese .

And orange zest ease the coconut flavor that can overwhelm some people while adding light and pleasant flavor.

This dairy-free frosting with pleasant aroma is so creamy and you wouldn’t tell it is made dairy free!

You will notice how this frosting gives you satiety without feeling heaviness like many dairy products do.

Cranberry bliss bars

Don't have ingredients? Check these items!

What is your favorite way of spending holiday season?

Listening to my favorite holiday musics…

Cuddling in a warm blanket…

And get my favorite coffee or tea and enjoy with one of these aromatic cranberry bliss bars…

That would be my ideal day to spend one of this festive season.

Maybe you can  do that too:)

Cranberry bliss bars

If you try making this healthier cranberry bliss bars on your own, I would love to hear how you liked them.

Please leave  your comments, suggestions or any questions.

And one more thing to ask you.

I would love to connect with like minded people, so please  remember to snap a photo and share it with #living_my_nature tagging @living_my_nature!!

I look forward to hear from you!!


♥Thank you for reading!♥

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Healthier cranberry bliss bars(gluten free, vegan, dairy free)

Wanting to enjoy Starbucks' holiday staple of cranberry bliss bars without feeling guilty? No problem!
The base packed with dried cranberries and orange peels and with a hint of  spices topped with diary free frosting, this cranberry bars are not only healthier but taste even better! 
Course Dessert, Dessert/ snack
Cuisine American
Keyword copycat, dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free,, sugar free, vegan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
making frost & assembling 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 9 squares (18cm×18cm tray)*
Author Mio



  • 150g (1 cup + 4tbsp) gluten free all purpose flour
  • 30g (5tbsp) almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum - leave out if your GF flour already contains it
  • a pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 4+1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2-3 tbsp non dairy milk , such as almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk - you may need just 2tbsp so ready the instruction carefully
  • 50g (2.5tbsp) maple syrup
  • 1 tsp orange zest - choose organic orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 45g (1/3 cup) dried cranberry - with no additives, preferably no sugar added
  • 45g (1/3cup) chopped candied orange peel (I used honey sweetened homemade orange peel) - If you do not have orange peel simply replace with same amount of cranberries (although I highly recommend using orange peel) (*1)


  • 100 g Cashew nuts - soaked at least for 6 hours with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp coconut cream - !not coconut MILK! see the recipe note below(*2)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil - melted
  • 1・3/4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries for topping - chopped


  • Start by soaking the cashew nuts in bowl with 1-2 cup of water with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar for at least 6 hours. (If you plan to bake in the evening, do this step in the morning. If you plan to bake in the morning prepare cashew the night before)

Bake blondie base;

  • Preheat the oven to 180℃(350°F). Line an 7”-square pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, spices, baking powder & baking soda, and salt.
    In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, non dairy milk, maple syrup, orange zest and vanilla.
  • Pour wet ingredients over flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated. If the dough seems too dry add in 1 tbsp of milk to get right consistency.
    Fold in the cranberries and chopped orange peel.
  • Spread the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
    Transfer it into the preheated oven and bake for 14-17 minutes. If a toothpick inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean, then the dough is done.
    Transfer the tray to a cooling rack, and cooling completely to room temperature.

Make the frosting while baking and cooling the dough;

  • Drain and rinse cashew nuts thoroughly with water, and drain.
    Combine cashew nuts, coconut cream, melted coconut oil, vanilla, lemon juice, maple syrup, and orange zest in a blender/ food processor / mixer and blend until the frosting becomes smooth.
  • Once the bar base is cooled completely, remove it from the tray by lifting the parchment paper.
    Spread the frosting on top of the blondie base with a butter knife or spatula reserving 1/4 cup frosting. Sprinkle with the chopped cranberries.
    Place reserved frosting into a small plastic bag and snip off the tip. Drizzle the frosting across the bars by squeezing out of the plastic bag. (You can leave out this drizzle part if you don't bother. If so, spread all the frosting without reserving 1/4 cup)
  • To slice the bars, I recommend to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes to let the frosting hardened a little.


*** This recipe makes one 18cm × 18cm (7"×7") baking pan blondie base***
(*1); I recommend to use orange peel this recipe. If you want to make your own orange peel like I did, follow these step(you will have some leftovers);
<ingredients> 2 oranges, honey (same amount as orange peel), water
<instruction> Cut each orange into quarters and
carefully remove each peel off the "meat" without tearing it off. candied orange peels
Boil the peels in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, drain and rinse with running water. Repeat boiling + rinsing part three times. 
candied orange peels
After final boiling +rinsing, drain the peel well and cut them into ¼ inch strips . Here, you weight the boiled peel and use the half amount(weight) of honey sweeten them.  (mine was 180g so I used 90g of honey)
candied orange peels
Place orange peels, measured honey,  and water that just cover the peels.Bring it to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer until all the liquid gets evaporated.
Once all the liquid is gone, lay them out on parchment paper on the baking pan without touching each other using a small tong or chopsticks. 
candied orange peels
"Bake" them to dry at 100℃ (212°F). After 25 minutes flip over and "bake" another 25 minutes. 
(*2); This is NOT coconut milk. To get coconut CREAM, chill the canned coconut milk in the fridge and use ONLY the solid part that "float" on the top.

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