These strawberry oatmeal crumb bars are incredibly simple to whip up, and make great use of an abundance of summer berries. Combining a buttery crust, sweet crumb topping, and fresh strawberry filling, they work just as well for a breakfast treat as they do for dessert. Although you'd never guess it from the flavor, these strawberry crumb bars are naturally dairy-free, and can be made with whole grain or gluten-free flour. They're also prepped in just 30 minutes!
There's something about the sweet simplicity of dessert bars that's impossible not to love. They typically come together with ease, and their casual slice-and-serve nature makes them perfect for barbecues, potlucks, picnics, and other low-key gatherings.
These strawberry oatmeal crumb bars are no exception. In fact, if you could make strawberry pie easily portable - or turn a strawberry crumble into individual bars - this is exactly what you'd get. Whether paired with an iced coffee for breakfast or a scoop of ice cream for dessert, these bars are sure to be a crowd-pleaser!
Why you'll love these strawberry crumb bars
- One dough is used for both the crust and the crumb topping to cut down on prep time.
- The crust and streusel are made with melted coconut oil, which means there's no mixer or food processor required. All you need is two bowls and a whisk!
- Fresh strawberries give the filling a bold, tart-sweet flavor that contrasts perfectly with the brown sugar oatmeal crumb.
- Although they taste buttery, there's no butter in these strawberry crumble bars. Coconut oil makes them naturally dairy-free, and you have the option to make them gluten-free as well.
- These bars come together with just 30 minutes of prep, which makes them the perfect dessert to whip up when you're short on time.
Most of the ingredients you'll need for these strawberry bars are basic pantry staples. That said, there are a few important things to take note of.
- Strawberries are available year-round in most areas, but they're sweetest and juiciest in the spring and summer. For any recipe where they're playing a starring role (like in a strawberry cake, strawberry mojito, or these strawberry crumb bars), you'll get the best flavor by using local and in-season fruit.
- I've made these bars with both whole wheat pastry flour and gluten-free all-purpose flour. Regular flour should work as well, but you may need to add an extra tablespoon to the crumb topping if it seems overly wet or sticky. If you use gluten-free flour, make sure you stick with a high-quality blend that contains a binder like xanthan gum or guar gum.
- I recommend old-fashioned rolled oats for this recipe, not quick-cooking or steel cut oats.
- You can use refined or unrefined coconut oil for these strawberry bars. Just keep in mind that the former tends to have a more subtle flavor. You can also try swapping the oil with melted, unsalted butter if you aren't concerned about this recipe being dairy-free.
- I love a coarse sugar garnish on everything from a coffee scone to a fruit galette, but as usual, it's optional here!
For all my visual learners out there, let's walk through the steps of making these strawberry oatmeal crumb bars, shall we?
Make the fresh strawberry filling:
Step one - Cook the berries: Stir together the strawberries and granulated sugar in a medium saucepan. Simmer the mixture on the stove over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Step two - Make a slurry: Whisk together corn starch and water in a small bowl until the corn starch has dissolved, forming a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the strawberry mixture while stirring.
Step three - Boil to thicken: Place the saucepan back on the stove (medium heat). Let the mixture come to a sluggish boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
The mixture should thicken substantially, although it will continue to set as it cools. Remove from heat and let it cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes - more is fine!
Make the oatmeal crust and crumb topping:
Step one - Oven and pan prep: Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper or foil. If you use foil, grease it with non-stick cooking spray.
Step two - Mix the dry ingredients: Whisk together 8 ½ ounces (2 cups) of flour, 2 ⅞ ounces (1 cup) of oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
Step three - Mix the wet ingredients: In a separate mixing bowl, combine 5 ounces (⅔ cup) brown sugar, coconut oil, an egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Step four - Combine. Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, working just until everything is evenly incorporated. Set aside 7 ¼ ounces (about ¾ cup) of the batter to use for the crumb topping. Press the remaining batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, using a flat spatula to ensure it forms a flat, even base layer.
Step five - Make the crumble: Add the remaining ¾ ounce (3 tablespoons) of flour, ¾ ounce (¼ cup) of oats, and ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) of brown sugar to the reserved batter. Rub everything in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. (If it seems overly wet, feel free to add an extra tablespoon of flour.)
Step six - Layer into pan: Use an offset spatula to spread the strawberry filling evenly over the crust in your baking pan. Scatter the crumb topping over the filling, so that the filling is mostly covered - a little bit peeking out here and there is fine. Finish it off when a generous sprinkle of coarse sugar before baking.
Step seven - Bake: Bake the strawberry bars in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You'll know they're done when the filling is bubbling and the top is beginning to turn golden. Let them cool completely before lifting them from the pan and slicing. If you find that they're still a little too soft to slice, you can also refrigerate them for 30-60 minutes first.
This strawberry crumb bar recipe is an incredibly versatile one to have in your back pocket.
Serve these bars:
- As a sweet breakfast, alongside a cup of coffee
- For an afternoon treat, with a mug of tea
- Warm, with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream, for an easy summer dessert! (Try my coconut whipped cream to keep the recipe dairy-free.)
Due to the fresh strawberry filling in these bars, they're best kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When properly chilled, they should keep well for 5-7 days.
Fresh raspberries, blackberries, and/or blueberries would likely all make incredible filling options for these crumb bars. Blueberries may not need to be simmered for a full 10 minutes in step one, since they have a slightly lower water content. That being said, feel free to experiment!
Although I haven't used frozen berries for this recipe, I do think it would work. I would suggest letting the berries defrost and straining out any excess liquid before using them.
Strawberry Oatmeal Crumb Bars
A buttery crust and crumble topping sandwich a jammy filling made from fresh strawberries in this easy strawberry oatmeal crumb bar recipe. These bars are perfect for a laid-back summer dessert!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Chill Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes (up to 35 minutes)
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 12 bars 1x
- Category: dessert bars
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
- 1 lb 4 ounces (4 cups) chopped fresh strawberries
- 2 ⅝ ounces (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1 ⅛ ounces (¼ cup) corn starch
- 4 tablespoons water
Oatmeal Crust and Crumb Topping
- 9 ¼ ounces (2 cups plus 3 tablespoons) flour, divided (see recipe notes for flour options)
- 3 ⅝ ounces (1 ¼ cups) old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 ½ ounces (⅔ cup plus 1 tablespoon, packed) brown sugar, divided
- 4 ounces (½ cup) coconut oil, melted and briefly cooled
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- coarse/raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- Cook the berries: Stir strawberries and sugar together in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Make a slurry: In a small bowl, whisk together corn starch and water until smooth. Slowly pour into strawberry mixture while stirring.
- Boil: Return strawberries to stovetop on medium heat and bring to a sluggish boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
Oatmeal Crust and Crumb Topping:
- Oven and pan prep: Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, or foil greased with non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 8 ½ ounces (2 cups) flour, 2 ⅞ ounces (1 cup) oats, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, combine 5 ounces (⅔ cup) brown sugar, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
- Combine: Fold wet ingredients into dry just until evenly incorporated. Set aside 7 ¼ ounces (¾ cup) batter and press the remaining batter into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even, compact layer using a flat spatula.
- Make the crumble: Add the remaining ¾ ounce (3 tablespoons) flour, ¾ ounce (¼ cup) oats, and ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) brown sugar to the reserved batter, rubbing everything in with your fingertips until evenly combined and crumbly.
- Layer into pan: Use an offset spatula to spread the strawberry filling evenly over the crust in the prepared pan. Scatter the crumb mixture evenly on top so that the filling is mostly covered. Sprinkle topping with coarse sugar if desired.
- Bake: Bake bars in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crumble is beginning to turn golden. Cool in pan completely, and then use parchment/foil to lift bars out of pan before slicing.
Ingredients Notes and Substitutions:
- Strawberries can mostly likely be substituted with another berry (or berry mixture). If using blueberries, you may only need to simmer them for 7-8 minutes in step one. Frozen berries should work as well; defrost them and strain out excess water before using.
- Whole wheat flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour can be used. If using gluten-free flour, make sure the blend you use contains xanthan gum or guar gum. Regular flour should work as well, but you may need to add an extra tablespoon to the crumb topping if it seems overly wet or sticky.
- If you don't have coconut oil on hand, try subbing it with melted, unsalted butter.
Storage and Shelf Life:
- Bars should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and should stay fresh for 5-7 days.