These easy-to-make Guava Bars feature a buttery shortbread base, a layer of sweet and sticky guava paste, and a crumbly oat topping. If you're into guava, you've got to try this recipe!
(This recipe was originally published in August 2016, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
I love visiting the Caribbean and Latin America. There are simple ways to remind myself of some of my favorite food memories of trips to that region, and one of the easiest is to make foods or drinks using tropical fruit. Nothing brings me back like pineapple and coconut-infused Painkiller cocktails and desserts featuring guava.
These fantastic guava bars are crazy easy to make, and begin with a layer of basic shortbread, topped with sliced guava paste, and then finished with an oat-crumble topping. These not-too-sweet bar style cookies are really a treat for anyone who loves guava!
Crumbly and buttery with a tropical flair, these guava bars would be perfect for any occasion and can easily be made year-round because they don't require fresh seasonal fruit.
The majority of the ingredients in these guava bars are baking pantry staples like butter, flour, white sugar, brown sugar, and oats. Guava paste is the one exception. You can typically find it in the Latin foods aisle at your supermarket, and it's also available online. It's shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration.
Personally, I do not recommend the Goya brand of guava paste, as it unnecessarily includes artificial food coloring. My preferred brand is Iberia guava paste. This all-natural ingredient is sold in a 14-ounce block which is very easy to slice for this recipe.
Guava paste is extremely thick and sticky, so just keep that in mind when you start slicing. It will stick to your knife, but it’s easy to peel it off.
How to make them
Guava bars are great because all you have to do is assemble, bake, cut, and serve. Here we go!
Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper that is large enough to go up the sides with a slight overhang. You can always cut your bars directly in the pan, but I prefer having the ability to safely remove the block to a cutting board and cut it there. This way I won’t scratch the interior of my non-stick baking pan.
For this recipe we begin by making a basic shortbread dough. Add room temperature unsalted butter and sugar to the bowl of a mixer, and beat until fluffy. Then add salt and flour and beat until the mixture comes together.
Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Flour your hands if it’s too sticky (PHOTOS 1-2).
Next, slice the guava paste into thin slices and then arrange them evenly over the top of your shortbread dough (PHOTOS 3-4).
Make the topping using a food processor. Add oats, cold cubed butter, salt, and light brown sugar (PHOTO 5). Pulse 10 times (PHOTO 6), then add flour and pulse again until the mixture is crumbly and sandy (PHOTO 7). Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pan of shortbread dough and guava paste (PHOTO 8).
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden. Cool completely, then use the parchment paper overhand to carefully remove the bars from the pan to a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares (4 rows lengthwise and 6 rows crosswise) and serve.
These guava bars will last several days stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe (in a printable recipe card) including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
Other recipes you may like
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- Browse all Caribbean Recipes and Dessert Recipes
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- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (3 ½ ounces) sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups (about 10 ounces) all purpose flour
- 14 ounces guava paste, sliced to about ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, diced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper large enough to go up the sides with a slight overhang (for easy removal from the pan later). Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- For the crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand held mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add salt and flour and beat until dough comes together.
- Press dough evenly into prepared pan. A bit of extra flour may help when you’re pressing the dough if it’s sticky. Also I use the bottom of a dry measuring cup to help flatten the dough. Just add a bit of flour to the dough or your hand to help flatten the sticky dough as needed. You could also chill it slightly before pressing it as well to firm it up a bit.
- For the topping: Cover dough with slices of guava paste. In the bowl of a food processor, combine oats, butter, salt, and sugar. Pulse 10 times. Add flour and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand with some bigger chunks of crumble throughout. Sprinkle over evenly over top of pan.
- Bake until top is golden, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely. Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the bars into squares and serve. These bars will last several days at room temperature in an airtight container.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*