Cherry Pie Cookie Bars

Cherry pie in bar form! Yesssss! These cherry pie cookie bars are amazing!

Cherry pie cookie bar on wood cutting board.

I’ve waited my whole life for a cherry pie bar recipe like this.

It seems like fresh cherry season is here for a few fleeting moments each summer, and I try to take advantage of every second because I love fresh cherries more than life.

I actually despise cherry-flavored things, but fresh cherries? I can’t stop.

We live close-ish to several u-pick cherry orchards, and this year, in particular, we ended up with more cherries than we knew what to do with.

After eating so many, I thought we’d all be sick…and with bottled cherries still on the shelf from last year, I decided to do the only sensible thing and work on a perfect cherry pie cookie bar recipe (with a homemade cherry filling!).

Close up of the top of the cherry pie cookie bars.

With a super soft buttery cookie dough crust, the sweet and tart cherry filling is obviously the real star of the cookie bar show here.

Can you use frozen cherries?

I can hear the question now! And the answer is…I don’t know. I didn’t try it because the 15 pounds of cherries on my counter were calling my name.

But I think frozen cherries stand a great chance of working. If it were me, I’d thaw them completely and then drain off excess liquid before using in the recipe.

But back to fresh cherries. If you have them, put them to good use in these delectable cherry pie cookie bars!

Cherry pie cookie bar on white napkin.

The cherry filling develops a jam-like consistency popping up through the nooks and crannies of the sugar cookie dough.

Yum.

To be honest, I consider the glaze optional. It’s tasty. Really tasty. And a wonderfully sweet compliment to the cherries and cookie dough crust.

But you could leave it off for a less sweet approach to the bars. Although the hint of lemon in the glaze IS quite delicious next to the cherry bars.

In addition (yes, there’s more!), while these bars are super tasty cooled and cut into squares, if you want to take it up, like, a hundred notches, serve them room temp or slightly warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Seriously, they are incredible.

I don’t know if I’ve confessed this before, but cherry pie is probably one of my favorite desserts in the entire world (I know, who am I??), and these cherry pie cookie bars are right up there with my love for cherry pie.

I hardly know myself with that statement.

Basically, they are worthy of your fresh cherries. And that’s saying a lot if fresh cherries in your store are as expensive as fresh cherries in my store.

Ok, sorry, one last final note. I am not usually a fan of almond extract. I almost always leave it out of recipes that call for it because it so easily overpowers everything else.

But the 1/8 teaspoon called for in this recipe is perfection. Almond and cherries are often paired together, and in this case, don’t be like me and let temptation urge you to leave it out.

A couple drops will make you and these cherry bars very happy.

Phew! I think I’m done now. If you’re looking for the perfect little summer dessert for upcoming holidays, potlucks, or just because you also happened to pick WAY too many cherries, look no further.

Cherry pie cookie bar on white plate with scoop of ice cream.

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Cherry Pie Cookie Bars

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Ingredients:

Cherry Pie Filling:

  • 5 cups fresh Bing/sweet cherries, pitted and halved (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds) – see note
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1-2 drops almond extract

Cookie Dough:

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons, 8 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour

Glaze:

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about a teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon milk, plus more as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. For easier cleanup, line a 9X13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract. Let sit while making the crust.
  3. For the cookie dough, with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer), cream together the butter, sugar, milk (or buttermilk), baking powder, baking soda, and salt until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk. Mix until well-combined.
  4. Add the flour and mix until just combined and no dry streaks remain.
  5. Take 2/3 of the dough (more or less) and press into the bottom of the pan. It helps to drop pieces relatively evenly across the bottom before spreading into an even layer. I use my hands – makes it super easy.
  6. Give the cherry filling a good stir and pour over the top of the bottom crust. Pinch off quoter-size pieces of the remaining dough and drop on top. It won’t cover the cherry filling all the way but will puff and spread while baking.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cherry filling is bubbling and the edges of the dough are lightly golden. Let the bars cool completely.
  8. For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon zest and milk until thick and pourable (add milk a little at a time if needed to thin the consistency).
  9. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the bars. Serve the bars at room temperature or slightly warm with ice cream.

Notes:

With cherry season upon us, I highly recommend using fresh sweet cherries for this recipe, however, I think it would work fine with frozen cherries. If it were me, I’d thaw completely and drain excess liquid before using in the recipe. 

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Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe in The Pioneer Woman’s Magazine Summer 2018