Tart cherry pie bars made with a homemade tart cherry filling and topped with a delicious oatmeal crumble. These bars are both vegan and gluten free, naturally sweetened, chewy and easy to make! This recipe is in partnership with Montmorency Tart Cherries.
My husband’s favorite fruit pie happens to be cherry. For the past two years, he’s begged me to make cherry pie for Thanksgiving, and each year I have. It’s buttery, sweet and topped with a delicious dutch crumble that no one can ever get enough of.
Over the past months, I’ve been in a fun partnership with Montmorency tart cherries, which gave me the perfect excuse to make cherry pie again — except this time I wanted to make it in bar form, and a little bit more nutritious than the version most of us are used to.
I love this recipe because not only is it easy to make, but the bars come out sweet and chewy. Tony loved them with coffee, while I preferred to drizzle them with a little melted dark chocolate for an indulgent twist.
The best part? These bars are gluten-free thanks to oat flour (which you can easily make yourself). They’re also easily dairy-free and vegan too!
Fun facts about Montmorency tart cherries:
- Montmorency tart cherries pack a punch of bright, tangy and intense flavors that end on a sweet-tart note enticing you to come back for more. Montmorency tart cherries provide an adventurous flavor profile that offers something new and unique compared to other fruit.
- Research suggests Montmorency tart cherries may help you recover after intense exercise. Other studies have examined the impact of Montmorency tart cherries on heart health, sleep and inflammation.
- Choosing U.S.-grown Montmorency tart cherries can help support local agriculture and preserve generations-old family farms. This varietal is not imported like other types of tart or sour cherries. Even though you won’t find Montmorency tart cherries in the produce section but in dried, juice or canned forms instead, they are farm fresh since they are picked at the peak of ripeness and made available year round.
- About 75 percent of U.S. Montmorency tart cherry crop is grown in Michigan – the Cherry Capital of the World. Other prominent Montmorency tart cherry-producing states include Utah, Washington, New York, Wisconsin, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
Tart cherry pie bar ingredients:
Oat flour: you can easily make your own flour at home by simply adding oats to a blender and blending until they resemble a fine flour. You can also purchase oat flour at grocery stores or online.
Oats: this cherry bar recipe calls for old-fashioned rolled oats. If you’d like you can use gluten- free oats!
Coconut sugar: both coconut sugar and brown sugar will work in this recipe. I like to use coconut sugar because it’s an unrefined sweetener, but know that either will work!
Butter or vegan butter: I opted to use butter in this recipe because I think it’s delicious, however vegan butter or even coconut oil will work.
Vanilla and almond extract: for flavor, of course!
Frozen Montmorency tart cherries: frozen tart cherries work well in this recipe because you can find them in most grocery stores, even when they aren’t seasonal. Typically I purchase mine at Whole Foods.
Pure maple syrup: you’ll only need a few tablespoons to help sweeten the cherry pie filling.
Cornstarch or arrowroot starch: this is used to help thicken the filling!
How to make cherry pie bars:
Step 1: This recipe starts with an oatmeal cookie crumble base that’s used for the crust and the topping. You’ll mix oat flour, oats, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl, then you’ll add in melted butter and both vanilla and almond extract. You’ll press a little more than half of the dough into the bottom of an 8×8 inch pan.
Step 2: Make your cherry filling by combining frozen tart cherries, maple syrup, starch and extracts in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the filling thickens, you can pour it over the crust.
Step 3: Top cherry filling with remaining oatmeal crumble, then bake for about 30 minutes or until filling is nice and bubbly and the topping is golden. Allow bars to cool before cutting and serving!
How to store cherry pie bars:
The bars are delicious served at room temperature or straight out of the fridge. After 1-2 days, transfer the bars to the fridge.
Make it Ambitious:
After your cherry pie bars are done baking, add ¼ cup white or dark chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl, and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Drizzle over your bars!
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If you make these tart cherry pie bars, be sure to leave a comment below and rate the recipe below! You can also snap and picture and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #ambitiouskitchen. xo!
- Serves: 16 servings
- Serving size: 1 bar
- Calories: 167
- Fat: 6.9g
- Saturated fat: 3.6g
- Carbohydrates: 24.3g
- Sugar: 10.8g
- Fiber: 1.9g
- Protein: 2.4g
- For the crust and crumble:
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free oat flour (or sub all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, gluten free if desired
- ½ cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter or vegan buttery stick, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- For the filling:
- 2 1/2 heaping cups frozen Montmorency tart cherries
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot starch, plus 1-2 teaspoons more if necessary
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper and generously spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Make the base + topping: In a large bowl, use a fork to mix together the oat flour, oats, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add in melted butter, vanilla extract and almond extract and stir until a nice crumble forms and dough begins to clump together. Place 1 ½ cups of the mixture into the prepared pan and place the remaining mixture into the fridge (the remaining mixture will be used for the topping). Use your hands to evenly press the dough to the bottom of the pan.
- Next make your cherry pie filling: place a medium pot over medium heat. Add in tart cherries, maple syrup, almond extract, cornstarch (or arrowroot) and salt. Use a wooden spoon to press down and break down the cherries just a bit. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 5 more minutes until mixture is thickened up and nicely coats the back of a spoon without being too drippy. If it’s too drippy stir in 1-2 teaspoons more cornstarch or arrowroot. Pour mixture over the crust and use a spoon to evenly spread.
- Take the remaining topping out of the fridge. By now there should be some nice crumbles that have clumped together. Sprinkle the topping over the tart cherry filling. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden. Allow bars to cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to the fridge to chill. Bars are delicious served at room temperature or straight out of the fridge. Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 bars before serving.
This post is in partnership with Montmorency Tart Cherries. All recipes, text and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting AK and the brands who help make this site possible!