Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars.

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Apple pie is my favorite dessert, but baking this classic dessert as bars is so much easier! 

These Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are mind-blowing delicious! So much easier to make than an entire apple pie, too. Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Happy 4th of July weekend! It’s officially been one year since I posted my most favorite dessert on the planet. If I had every single dessert on my blog on the table in front of me (can you imagine?! gluttony.) and could only choose one… this dessert would win. By a landslide.

Apple pie is my favorite dessert; it’s also an American classic. And to celebrate our country’s independence, I vow to make an apple pie recipe on the 4th of July every year. A new tradition to celebrate this patriotic holiday. And my excuse to eat apple pie things.

These Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are mind-blowing delicious! So much easier to make than an entire apple pie, too. Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

I have a confession. I made and shot these salted caramel apple pie bars 2 weeks ago and have made them 3 more times since. They are THAT good. Imagine a slice of apple pie, but better. A buttery shortbread crust. A brown sugary oat streusel. Gooey cinnamon apples. And silky smooth salted caramel.

…all in one.

By the way, I didn’t eat all three batches. Though after running 7 miles one day, I definitely wanted to. One batch was a hit at a book signing, another batch went to Kevin’s friends, and I froze the 3rd batch for a party tomorrow.

These Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are mind-blowing delicious! So much easier to make than an entire apple pie, too. Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

(I am so excited to dig into these.)

These apple pie bars are a cinch to make. A few steps and you’ll be ready to go. First, make a simple shortbread crust. Nothing fancy here! Butter, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt. Nothing more, nothing less. Simplicity is key when you are making shortbread.

The buttery shortbread crust is just like my favorite pie crust recipe, only easier. And perfect as the base layer for all your favorite bar desserts. I use this shortbread crust in a few of my cookbook recipes – I’ve heard nothing but great feedback. Plus, it’s easy.

Next, add the apples. Tons and tons and tons of ’em. Use your favorite variety. I like to use two different kinds for more depth of flavor. Think… a tart Granny Smith and a sweet Pink Lady. You’ll need two apples for the filling.

STREUSEL. Yes, I am a streusel cheerleader. I’m also a huge nerd for just typing streusel that way, but whatever. It’s a holiday, forgive my silliness. Brown sugar cinnamon oat streusel is the third layer on top of the apple pie bars. It’s a heavy layer.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the more streusel, the better.

These Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are mind-blowing delicious! So much easier to make than an entire apple pie, too. Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

These Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are mind-blowing delicious! So much easier to make than an entire apple pie, too. Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Salted caramel is my love language. It also takes these incredible apple pie bars to a whole other level. Have you ever made salted caramel before? You must.

Make my recipe for simple salted caramel sauce and you will be a super hero in your family’s eyes. Seriously. This stuff is liquid gold. Dangerously good.

Be warned: your loved ones will have to pry the spoon from your hand. My good friend Megan made it about 5 times during the holidays last year. She gave it to friends and family as gifts. Wouldn’t YOU like to receive a jar of this stuff?

Pour it generously over the apple pie bars and get ready to dig in.

Salted caramel sauce on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are mind-blowing delicious! So much easier to make than an entire apple pie, too. Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

There is so much going on in these salty ‘n sweet caramel apple pie bars, that you will HAVE go back for seconds. But who’s complaining?! Happy 4th, everyone.

*Don’t be overwhelmed by the ingredient list. A lot of the ingredients are repeated in each layer.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)

Apple Filling

  • 2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)1
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup (40g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup (70g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • homemade salted caramel sauce (step-by-step photos included)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Make the crust: Stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling and streusel.
  3. Make the apple filling: Combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
  4. Make the streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two forks (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350°F (177°C). Evenly layer the apples on top of the warm crust. It will look like there are too many apple slices, so layer them tightly and press them down to fit. Sprinkle the apple layer with streusel and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or overnight). Lift the foil or parchment out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. I usually cut them into 16 smaller bars, but you can cut them into 12 larger bars. Once cut, drizzle some salted caramel sauce on top of each. These apple pie bars can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature, or even cold.

Make ahead tip: The bars will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can freeze the bars for up to 3 months. Then, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving and drizzling with caramel.

Recipe Notes:

  1. I like to use two different kinds of apples for a more complex flavor. I typically use 1 tart apple variety such as Granny Smith, and 1 sweeter apple variety such as Pink Lady. You'll end up with about 3-4 cups. A little more or less is OK, based on your preference of filling.

Larger batch: Recipe can easily be doubled and baked in a 9x13 pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes and cool completely as directed in this recipe.

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars - click through for the recipe!

441 Comments

All Comments

  1. Made these for the first time. It turned out great! I used a granny smith and a honey crisp apple and baked it for a little longer than the 30-35 minute time that was recommended – ended up doing 42 minutes to ensure the apples have softened and the streusel browned. The shortbread crust is sooo good! It is perfect for fall!

  2. These are perfect! The shortbread crust works really well here. All the goodness of apple pie, without the hassle! Aside from adding a little lime juice in the apples, and baking mine for longer (I think it’s my oven – it just wasn’t browning the way it should), I followed the recipe for the bars to a T, and it is absolutely delicious! So good in fact, that I was forbidden from letting any leave the house …lol. My poor co-workers will just have to wait for the next batch! Which, I already made a promise to myself to double the batch whenever making these 🙂
    For the salted caramel, you can make it vegan if you like. I ended up using Sally’s recipe for the base, except my grocery store ran out of whipping cream, so I had to improvise. I melted a half a cup of white sugar, added a spoon of butter (coconut oil, if vegan), then the can of coconut milk, but because this has a higher water content, I had to cook it for about 25 minutes instead. But it is totally worth it!
    Thanks for two more great recipes, Sally!

  3. Hi.
    Could this be doubled and baked as a pie? I love the taste and ease of this crust, and my 11 year old really wants to make the pie on her own. Has anyone tried? Thank you and happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Hi Sandra! You can press this crust into a 9-inch pie dish. No need to double the crust or filling recipe. Careful slicing; the pie slices will be a little fragile.

      1. Thank you so much for the quick reply! I assume that I still refrigerate it just as I do for the bars? These are one of my favorite recipes of yours. They are always delicious and easy for children to make on their own.

    1. Hi Tess! That size pan wouldn’t be large enough– you’d need at least a 9×13 inch baking pan for doubling the apple pie bar recipe.

  4. You say they can be served warm, but it says to cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours. How do you serve warm? Are they good served cold out of the fridge?

  5. Hey, Sally! I just made these today. Wow! I really love the short bread. It’s the first time I have ever made a caramel sauce. You made it easy for me! My apples were old so I used applesauce instead, probably around half a cup, just enough to cover the short bread. I think they turned out great! I enjoyed this more than a pie. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Hi Donna! I recommend a 2 or 3 quart saucepan for the caramel sauce. Doesn’t need to be too large. Stainless steel would be best.

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Reviews

  1. These are amazing. I finally made them after having them bookmarked for the last month. I was intimidated by making the salted caramel sauce but I overcame that and it turned out amazing also. I will be making these again very soon.

  2. Hi Sally,

    I brought these for thanksgiving and everyone loved them! They didn’t even know they were gluten free (subbed target brand 1:1 gluten-free flour). My cousin doesn’t even cook and she wants the recipe.. and for me to bring a trunk-full for Christmas this year 🙂 thank you so much!

Questions

  1. Happy Holidays Sally!
    I just made your oatmeal pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They are outstanding! What size sauce pan do you use for your delicious caramel sauce? Also, do you recommend a non stick or stainless steel pan for making the caramel sauce? It looks divine and I thought I would try to lightly drizzle the sauce over the cookies. What do you think?

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