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Apple Crumble Bars

Apple crumble bars — melt-in-your mouth buttery shortbread crust, soft caramel apples, crispy crumble topping. These caramel apple bars are delicious, easy to make and will make your home smell like fall.

(Love cooking and baking with apples? Check out this collection of sweet and savoury apple recipes to kick off apple season.)

Apple Crumble Bars

I love making apple crumble bars. Easier to make than apple pie, just as delicious!

Apples are available year-round but nothing beats baking with them in the autumn and filling your home with all the fall feels.

Hope you enjoy these caramel apple bars, apple crisp bars, apple pie bars or whatever else you end up calling them in your family. They are easy to make, packed with caramel apple flavour, just the thing we need to kick off fall baking.

Why you’ll love these caramel apple crumble bars

Apple Crumble Bars

You’ll love making these easy apple squares because:

  • The shortbread crust is just the right amount of thickness and is melt-in-your mouth buttery
  • The crispy oatmeal crumble is packed with cinnamon flavour and so easy to put together
  • You don’t have to cook the apple filling
  • And they’re delightfully sweet and sticky because of the caramel 

How to make easy apple crumble bars

Apple Crumble Bars

They’re so easy to make too. The ingredients are simple and easy to find. You probably already have most of them sitting in your pantry.

Ingredients you’ll need to make apple crumble squares

  • All purpose flour
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Rolled oats
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Egg yolk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Caramel squares
  • Half and half

And apples, of course. Plus, ice cream! These bars are amazing topped with ice cream.

Tools you need to make these apple squares with crumb topping

I use my handheld mixer to beat the shortbread crust, though you can also use a pastry cutter or two forks.

Other than that, all you’ll need are:

  • A 9×9 inch baking pan
  • Bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

A vegetable peeler will make your life easier but it’s not necessary. 

I like to use my bench scraper to cut the apple bars into squares though a knife will work too. 

And I always recommend investing in an oven thermometer — they are inexpensive and so useful. It’s so important to bake at the correct temperature and you might be surprised just how inaccurate your oven temperature is.

Apple crumble bars recipe

These apple crumble bars have 3 components: the shortbread crust, the vanilla caramel and the crumble topping. 

First, preheat your oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 9×9 inch baking pan and set aside. I don’t line my pan with parchment paper in this recipe.

How to make the crust for apple crumble bars

To make the crust, start by combining flour, butter, sugar, salt, an egg yolk and vanilla extract in a bowl. 

How to make apple crumble bars

Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour mixture until it resembles a course meal.

How to make apple crumble bars

Transfer to a 9×9 inch baking pan and press to the bottom with your hands. Make sure to pack it in and get to all the corners. 

How to make apple crumble bars

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until it turns a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow cool.

How to make the vanilla caramel sauce

While your crust is baking, melt your vanilla caramel candies in a heavy bottom pan over low heat. When they are almost completely melted, add half and half, and salt. 

Stir to incorporate and remove from heat.

How to make apple crumble topping 

Next you can turn your attention to the oat crisp, which is the easiest thing ever.

Simply mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined and evenly moist. That’s it!

Assembly and baking

Now that you have everything ready, you just need to put everything together.

Put apples on top of your baked shortbread crust. 

How to make apple crumble bars

Drizzle with your prepared caramel sauce.

How to make apple crumble bars

Top with your prepared oat crumble. 

How to make apple crumble bars

Then bake for 30-45 minutes or until the apple filling is tender and the crumble is crisp and golden brown.

Cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares. Drizzle with more caramel sauce and top with ice cream if desired.

Baking tips and FAQs

What is the best apple to use for this apple crumble bars recipe?


When picking the kind of apple to use for this apple pie bars recipe or for baking in general, remember that the best variety is sweet as well as tart and, more importantly, firm and crisp enough so it doesn’t turn into mush when you bake it (unless you want it to turn mushy, of course).

My default is granny smith apples, and this is what I use when making these bars. 

They are crisp and bake really well. They are also more on the sour side and that provides a nice balance for desserts.

You shouldn’t limit yourself to just one apple variety though. You should experiment and see what kind of apple you like. Mix and match until you find your favourite, tastiest apple combination.

How do I store apple crisp bars?


Store leftover apple pie crumble bars in an airtight container. You can leave them on your counter or store them in the fridge.

Apple Crumble Bars

Can I freeze these apple bars with oatmeal crumb topping?


You can also freeze them, like how you would brownies. Wrap each apple square in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and place them in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag.

To thaw, bring down to the fridge the night before.

How long do apple crumble bars last?


Stored properly, apple crumble bars should last about 3 days on your counter, up to a week in the fridge, and at least a month in the freezer.

Do I have to cook the apple filling beforehand?


You don’t have to cook the apple filling beforehand, which make this recipe so easy! All you need to do is peel and dice.

What are the best caramels to use?


I always use Kraft Classic Caramels in this apple crumb squares recipe but you can also use Werther’s Soft Caramels. Of course, you can make your own caramel sauce! I have an easy, foolproof salted caramel sauce recipe you can try.

Apple Crumble Bars

Tips when making the vanilla caramel sauce


There are 2 things I learned when using vanilla caramel candies for making caramel sauce.

One: they harden faster.

But don’t worry. You can just zap them in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, stir and you’ll have lovely caramel sauce again.

Two: they are stickier. But that is not a bad thing at all. In fact it’s a great thing.

It worked so well with these bars that I don’t think I will sub my homemade sauce for this particular recipe. 

The bars — already crispy and soft to begin with — take on another layer of texture (stickiness!) — for one amazing bite.

What to do with extra egg whites


You’ll notice that this recipe only uses 1 egg yolk. Don’t throw that egg white away! There are so many things you can do with it.

Check out this recipe collection that gives you several recipes to use leftover egg whites.

Other delicious apple desserts

Apples are available year-round but they are amazing in the fall. And there are so many apple varieties to choose from!

I love baking with apples; if you do too, check out these delicious apple desserts:

  • This apple crisp cheesecake is sure to be the star of your thanksgiving dessert table.
  • For a simple, everyday apple treat, rustic apple galette fits the bill nicely. Like these bars, it’s your favourite apple pie without all the work.
  • And these baked apple turon is a delightfully delicious twist on the popular Filipino snack.

These apple crisp bars are so easy to do. Make and bake the crust, put chopped apples on top, pour caramel sauce, top with crumble, then bake again.

Before you know it your kitchen will be smelling of caramel apples and, to borrow from Martha Stewart, that’s a good thing! Enjoy!

Apple Crumble Bars

Apple Crumble Bars

Author: Jolina
Apple crumble bars — melt-in-your-mouth buttery shortbread crust, soft caramel apples, crispy crumble topping. These apple bars are delicious, easy to make and will make your home smell like fall.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine North American
Servings 16 bars
Calories 211 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the Shortbread Crust:

For the Apple Filling:

  • 2 pcs Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 20 pcs caramel squares
  • 2 tbsp half and half
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the Crumble Topping:

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 9×9 inch baking pan and set aside.
  • Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 ½ cups flour, ½ cup butter, ¼ cup sugar, ⅛ teaspoon salt, 1 egg yolk and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • Beat on low speed until it resembles a coarse meal.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • Press to the bottom of your pan using your hands. Make sure to really pack it in and get to all the corners.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes or until it turns a light golden brown. Remove and let cool. Don't turn the oven off; lower the oven temperature to 350F.
  • While the crust is baking, melt 20 caramels in a heavy bottomed pan over low heat. When they are almost completely melted, add 2 tablespoons half and half and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir to incorporate and remove from heat.
  • Next turn to your oat crumble: simply mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • Stir until combined and evenly moist.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • To assemble your apple crumble bars, place chopped apples on top of baked crust.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • Drizzle with caramel sauce.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • Then top with oat crumble mixture.
    How to make apple crumble bars
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the apples are tender and the crumble is crisp and golden brown.
    Apple Crumble Bars
  • Cool in the pan before cutting into squares. Drizzle with more caramel sauce and top with ice cream if desired.

Video

Notes

See post for lots of baking tips and FAQs.

Nutrition

Calories: 211kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 3gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 98mgPotassium: 45mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 361IUCalcium: 14mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information are estimates only.

Keyword Autumn, Easy, Fall, Thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Tag @iamtheunlikelybaker I’d love to see your creations!

Happy baking!

Did you make caramel apple bars? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Rate the Recipe




Debbie

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

Hello there Jolina, just stopping by to drop you a note to say these are always a hit with the kids. They're very good. The photos help a lot.

Jolina

Monday 30th of November 2020

Hi Debbie, thanks for taking the time. Appreciate it! Glad you and the kids love the apple crumble bars. I think they're pretty awesome too :)

Selina

Monday 9th of December 2019

I made apple crumble bars and they were delicious. Mine didn't turn golden but was definitley baked through so I broiled for a few seconds and tadah it looks as pretty as your pictures. Definitely making again.

Jolina

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

Glad you liked them Selina!

Chelsey

Sunday 6th of October 2019

These apple crumb bars look so yummy and perfect for fall! We love to go apple picking and I’m always looking for new recipes to try with all of our apples. Can’t wait to try these bars!

Marisa F. Stewart

Friday 4th of October 2019

Those bars are perfect to serve to the grandsons when they stop over after school. My mouth is watering just looking at them. I really love apple desserts in the Fall.

Julia Kirk

Thursday 3rd of October 2019

So glad you re-posted this recipe. It's on my short list to try with fall apples!

Jolina

Monday 7th of October 2019

Would love to hear how it goes :)