I have to confess I was one of those people who never ate cranberry sauce as part of our family’s holiday meals. I always secretly hoped that there would be a lot of cranberry sauce left uneaten so I could use it to make Cranberry Oat Squares. I’ve been making these squares for years, but back in the day they were made with white flour, brown sugar and butter, and the cranberry sauce that filled the squares was made with processed white sugar.



These days I use gluten free oats, almond flour, brown rice flour, Medjool dates and coconut oil, and naturally sweetened cranberries, making these Cranberry Oat Squares gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and as delicious as they have ever been.


The sweetness of the dates in the crumb mixture combined with the sweet, nutty taste of almond flour balances nicely with the tartness of cranberries, making these squares not too sweet and not too tart. If you have leftover cranberry sauce these squares come together in minutes in a food processor.



People are often unsure what the differences is between almond flour, ground almonds and almond meal, including my partner who I once asked to pick up almond meal without realizing what a stressful decision he would have to make when he couldn’t reach me to ask if almond meal was almond flour or grounds almonds, the two options available at the store. So, what is the difference?


Ground almonds. Left: almond meal (ground with skins on). Right: almond flour (blanched before being ground).


Ground almonds

This is the general term that includes both almond flour and almond meal. Sometimes this is what is listed on a recipe. So how do you decide which to buy?

Almond flour

Almond flour is finely ground almonds that have been balanced without skins. This is most commonly used in baked goods, especially when a more delicate texture is desired, like when making cakes, cookies or sweet breads. The texture of almond flour is much finer than almond meal.

Almond meal

Almond meal is coarsely ground almonds that are ground with the skins still on. Almond meal uses the entire almond. With almond meal you’ll see the tiny brown flecks from the skins in the meal, whereas almond flour will have a lighter and consistent color throughout.


I always buy almond flour because it is more versatile and more delicate for most recipes. If I’m in a pinch, I’ll grind my own almonds and use the almond meal in my recipe. These Cranberry Oat Squares would be very forgiving if you used raw almonds and made your own almond meal.



Cranberry Oat Squares

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, snacks
Servings 25


  • food processor


  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats gluten free
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dates, pits removed about 10 Medjool dates
  • cup coconut oil
  • 1 ½ cups cranberry sauce


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9X9 square pan with parchment paper.
  • Measure all ingredients except cranberry sauce into a food processor. Processor until mixture sticks together and begins to form a ball.
  • Add half of crumb mixture to the 9x9 pan. Press down firmly.
  • Pour cranberry sauce over base. Sprinkle remaining half of mixture over cranberry sauce and press down enough to pack the crumb mixture without pushing it into the sauce.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until squares are golden brown.


Serve these with a dollop of coconut whipped cream.
Keyword cranberries, dairy free, gluten free, plant based, refined sugar free