Triple Berry Crumb Bars

updated Jun 29, 2021
summer
Triple Berry Crumb Bars

A combination of strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries makes these tender crumb bars fit for the season. Serve them with vanilla ice cream for the ultimate summer treat.

Serves24

Prep45 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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cut bars on parchment paper
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

Finally — it’s berry season! Tart blackberries, rich blueberries, and sweet and juicy strawberries are all at their peak right now, and begging to be made into pies, tarts, jams, and the quintessential crumb bar.

This recipe has it all: a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread-like crust that doubles as the crumble on top; a sweet, jammy triple-berry filling that’s so irresistible, you’ll have to fight the urge to eat it by the spoonful as it’s cooling; and a simple vanilla glaze to drizzle over top. They taste just like your favorite berry pie, without all of the work. 

While their subtle red, white, and blue coloring is perfect for the 4th of July holiday, the easy, big-batch nature of these bars makes them well-suited for any summer gathering. Here are a few tips before you start.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

4 Tips for Making Triple Berry Crumb Bars

  1. Use any mix of berries. You’ll need five cups of berries total, but the ratio is up to you: Use any combination of fresh blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Here’s how to pick the best ones at the grocery store or farmers market.
  2. Keep the butter cold. Just like with shortbread cookies, cold butter gives this crust its tender, crumbly texture, so don’t pull it out of the fridge until you’re ready to make the dough.
  3. Let the bars cool completely. If you cut into these bars while they’re still warm (I know it’s tempting!), the filling will ooze everywhere. Instead, let them cool completely in the pan on a wire rack for two to three hours before slicing and serving.
  4. Enjoy them day-of. Although the baked bars can be frozen (or leftovers can hang out in the fridge), the crisp crumb topping and crust will begin to soften.  
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

Serving Your Homemade Crumb Bars

These bars already have a luscious vanilla glaze, but don’t let that stop you from embracing more toppings! I like to serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, although whipped cream, crème fraîche, or lemon curd would all be delightful.

Triple Berry Crumb Bars

A combination of strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries makes these tender crumb bars fit for the season. Serve them with vanilla ice cream for the ultimate summer treat.

Prep time 45 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves 24

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the berry filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    combination of fresh strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons

    cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons

    cold water

For the crust:

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 1/2 sticks

    (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter

  • 1

    large egg

  • 3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the glaze and serving:

  • 1 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    milk

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Ice cream, for serving (optional)

Instructions

Make the filling:

  1. Prepare 1 1/2 pounds fresh berries and place them in a large saucepan: trim and cut strawberries into 1/2-inch thick slices, halve blackberries, and leave blueberries whole.

  2. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon) into the saucepan. Juice the lemon and add 2 tablespoons of the juice into the saucepan. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the saucepan.

  3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices release and come to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices reduce slightly and the berries soften, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water together in a small bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved.

  4. While stirring constantly, add the cornstarch mixture and cook until the juices thicken, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the crust.

Make the crust:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with overlapping pieces of parchment paper so that there is excess parchment hanging off all four sides to create a sling, then coat the parchment with more cooking spray. (Alternatively, line with aluminum foil and then coat the foil in cooking spray.)

  2. Cut 2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Beat 1 large egg in a small bowl until broken up.

  3. Option 1: Making the crust by hand
    Place 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture and drizzle with the egg. Using a pastry cutter or 2 small knives, cut the mixture together until the dough is crumbly, forms pea-sized crumbs, and holds together when pressed.
    Option 2: Using a food processor
    Place 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher in a food processor and pulse until combined. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture and pulse until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Add the beaten egg and pulse until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Transfer to a large bowl.

  4. Transfer 2/3 of the dough (about 4 1/2 cups) to the baking pan and press evenly into the bottom with your hands or with the bottom of a measuring cup. Using your hands, squeeze the remaining dough in the bowl together to form crumbles no larger than a marble. If the filling is not cooled yet, refrigerate the crust and dough clumps.

  5. Transfer the berry filling onto the crust and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the dough crumbles. Bake until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely, about 3 hours.

Make the glaze:

  1. Place 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.

  2. Remove the crumb bar slab from the pan by grasping the parchment or foil sling. Place on a cutting board. Drizzle with the glaze. Let sit for 30 minutes for the glaze to set. Cut into 24 bars. Serve topped with ice cream if desired.

Recipe Notes

Frozen berries: You can use frozen berries instead of fresh, but do not thaw before using.

Make ahead: The filling can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before using.

Storage: Store the cooled bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. To freeze, cool bars completely and cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.