Guava Bars Recipe

A buttery shortbread base with sweet guava paste, then finished with a lightly crunchy oat topping.

Close up side view of guava bars on a plate.

Serious Eats / Carrie Vasios

Why This Recipe Works

  • The base is a buttery shortbread crust topped with slices of sweet guava paste.
  • A crumbly oat topping adds a bit of crunch and texture.

If every morning I could crunch through the flaky exterior of a pastelito to find the tang of cream cheese mingling with the sweet fruitiness of guava paste, I would be a happy person. And if you know that I live in San Francisco, you know that I, theoretically, should be able to do this quite easily. Mexican markets and Latin American eateries abound in this city. Or do they?

San Francisco neighborhoods are actually rather distinct, and though most people think of the Mexican-influenced Mission area when they think of San Francisco, that part of the city doesn't really extend north of Market Street. Getting between the two sides of the city isn't easy, especially if, like me, you can't drive. Then you have to rely on the bus. That would be fine. Living in New York, I liked my little commute. I got a ton of reading done. But I can't read in cars (my fault) and the bus system here is pretty bad. If it had just been that one time that someone pooped on the bus while I was on it that would be one thing, but then the old man came on without his pants. Nothing puts you off eating pastry like a surprise attack of old man parts. Just saying.

Of course anyone who's eaten in San Francisco knows that the Mission is worth trekking to, and the last time I went I remembered to bring my biggest shopping bag and set aside time to do some stocking up. I hit up a bunch of little markets, scooping up everything from dried chiles to fresh cheeses. And, of course, guava paste.

When you have multiple tins of guava paste, you realize that guava-filled pastelitos are only the beginning of the fun. Take for example, these guava bars. The base is a simple shortbread crust that's pressed into a 9- by 13-inch pan then topped with slices of sweet, fruity, oh-so-delicious guava paste. Many guava bars are topped with a second layer of shortbread, but guava paste is pretty rich, I thought that a crumbly oat topping would lighten the feeling of the bars by adding a bit of crunch. You can still easily get 24 bars out of this pan (or 12 if you're feeding ambitious eaters). They're fruity, crunchy, and totally worth the bus ride—though I'm still looking into a bike.

March 2013

Recipe Details

Guava Bars Recipe

Active 10 mins
Total 60 mins
Serves 12 to 24 bars

A buttery shortbread base with sweet guava paste, then finished with a lightly crunchy oat topping.


For the Crust:

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ouncessugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups (about 10 ouncesall-purpose flour

For the Topping:

  • 16 ounces guava paste, sliced to 1/4 inch thick slices

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats

  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, diced

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 cup (about 5 ouncesall-purpose flour


  1. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with butter. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

  2. 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. Cover dough with slices of guava paste.

  3. For the Topping: 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. Sprinkle evenly over top of pan. Bake until top is golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Special Equipment

9- by 13-inch baking pan, stand mixer, food processor


Guava paste is available in the Latin American aisle of most supermarkets and also in a variety of online stores.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
222 Calories
12g Fat
26g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 24
Amount per serving
Calories 222
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 136mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 43mg 216%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 119mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)