Shortbread Crumb Bars
Homemade shortbread crumb bars are everything we love about classic shortbread cookies, elevated with a jam filling and crumble topping. Customize these bars with your favorite kind of jam and chopped nuts for a quick and easy dessert.
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Techniques Used: Creaming Method for Cookies
These crumb bars consist of a buttery shortbread base, a layer of sweet jam, and a nutty crumble topping.
I love creating customizable recipes and master formulas, and these shortbread bars are another delicious master recipe. Use this crumb bar recipe to make any flavor you like. The possibilities are endless!
Why I love this recipe
- Shortbread crumb bars are customizable! Get creative and use this recipe to make lemon curd bars, cherry crumb bars, raspberry crumble bars, mixed berry bars, or even strawberry crumble bars.
- Only a few, simple ingredients are required. Shortbread is inherently a simple, 4-ingredient recipe, and to the shortbread base we add jam and optional nuts.
- This simple recipe comes together in just 20 minutes before popping them in the oven.
INGREDIENTS IN SHORTBREAD CRUMB BARS
Butter is used in shortbread to create a very buttery flavor and crumbly texture. The butter also makes the bars ultra tender.
Granulated sugar sweetens the bars and is creamed together with the butter to create a light texture.
Salt rounds out the flavors and gives the shortbread a little something extra.
Flour gives these bars structure. For gluten free crumb bars, use the same amount of a 1:1 gluten free flour blend in place of all-purpose flour (or try oat or almond flour).
Jam creates a soft texture and sweet flavor.
Chopped nuts provide a crunchy texture and a salty, toasted flavor.
Raspberry Almond Crumb Bars: Use raspberry jam and chopped almonds. Add ¼ teaspoon almond extract to the dough.
Strawberry Lemon Crumb Bars: Use strawberry jam and omit the nuts. Drizzle powdered sugar glaze (flavored with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest) over the bars before slicing.
Blueberry Crumb Bars: Use blueberry jam and omit the nuts. Add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon to the dough.
Spiced Apple Crumb Bars: Use apple jam and chopped pecans. Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ginger, and ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg to the dough.
How to make Shortbread Crumb Bars
We use the shortbread dough in two parts of this bar recipe – as the bottom layer and in the crumb topping. This simple dough is made from a few ingredients and features a butter, rich flavor that’s even more decadent when combined with sweet jam and salty nuts.
Make the Shortbread Dough
Shortbread dough is made utilizing the Creaming Method for Cookies. The Creaming Method involves creaming butter and sugar together which helps lighten, leaven, and increase the volume of the dough.
The Creaming Method is used for drop cookies (like chocolate chip cookies) as well as shortbread and other sugar cookies.
Steps in the Creaming Method:
Beat the softened butter and sugar together on medium speed using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. This will take at least 2 full minutes. Periodically scrape down the bowl to incorporate all of the butter and sugar.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the salt and flour until well combined.
Add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and mix on medium-low just until combined. Do not over-mix. The dough will be crumbly but should come together when you squeeze it into a ball with your hand. If you notice the dough isn’t holding together, mix in a splash of milk.
Assemble the Shortbread Crumb Bars
Measure and set aside about 75 grams (½ cup) of the dough. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper or spray it with nonstick spray. Press the remaining dough into the bottom of the prepared pan to make the buttery crust.
Spread an even layer of your favorite flavor of jam over the top of the dough. Crumble the remaining shortbread dough in little clumps over the top of the jam. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the top.
Bake the Shortbread Crumb Bars
Bake the bars until the center of the shortbread dough is set and golden brown. The jam will have thickened a bit. Place the pan on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes.
While totally optional, I love drizzling a powdered sugar glaze on top of the bars before slicing. Slice into 9 large or 16 small bars and serve.
Can I cream butter and sugar by hand?
While it is possible to cream softened butter and sugar by hand, you will achieve much lighter and fluffier results using an electric mixer. Creaming by hand can take at least 10 minutes while using a machine takes only 2-3 minutes.
Should I TOAST THE NUTS FIRST?
There’s no need to toast the nuts first as they will toast in the oven.
HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE CRUMB BARS
Room Temperature: Store leftover bars wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Freezer: Wrap any leftover shortbread crumb bars in plastic wrap and place in a zipper bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Let thaw at room temperature before serving.
- 113 grams (½ cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 128 grams (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
- 140 grams (½ cup) jam of choice
- 25 grams (¼ cup) chopped nuts, optional
- At least 30 minutes before mixing your dough, set out the butter to come to room temperature. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
- Prepare an 8-inch (20 cm)* square baking pan with parchment or non-stick spray.
- Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
To Make the crumb bars:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the soft butter (113 grams/ ½ cup) and sugar (50 grams/ ¼ cup) on medium speed until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the salt (¼ teaspoon) and flour (128 grams/ 1 cup + 1 tablespoon).
- Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on medium/low speed until just incorporated. The dough will likely be a bit crumbly looking, but should still look moist and hold together if pressed together in your hand. If it does not hold together, you can add about 1-2 tablespoons of milk or water until it holds together when pressed.
- Divide out about 75 grams (½ cup) of the dough and set aside. Press the remaining dough evenly into the bottom of the pan.
- Spread your jam of choice (140 grams/ ½ cup) over the top of the dough.
- Crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the top of the jam. If using, sprinkle chopped nuts (25 grams/ ¼ cup) evenly over the top. No need to toast the nuts first as they will toast in the oven.
- Bake for 26-30 minutes, until the center is set and the shortbread is golden brown.
- Set the pan on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes.
- If desired, drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze before slicing.
- Cut into 9 bars. Store leftover bars wrapped in foil or plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 4 days.
For the photos in this recipe, I used cherry jam and chopped pecans.
*This recipe also works in a 9 inch (23 cm) square baking pan but the bars will be a bit thinner.