Made with a shortbread crust, spiced apple filling, streusel topping, and homemade salted caramel, apple pie bars are just as delicious as apple pie, but much simpler to make. You’ll love this fun twist on a classic dessert!
Without a doubt, apple pie is my favorite dessert. I love the combination of sweet and tart spiced apples with the buttery, flaky pie crust. It’s cozy, comforting, and simply irresistible. I have the recipe memorized and make it year-round, not just at Thanksgiving. Today’s recipe is the bar version of my salted caramel apple pie (the first apple pie recipe I ever shared on my website!). While I love the pie making process, sometimes we don’t have hours to prepare a dessert, which is where apple pie BARS come in. No traditional pie crust, but same delicious flavors.
3 Layers to Love
- Shortbread Crust: The buttery shortbread crust is just like my favorite pie crust recipe, only easier. It’s simply perfect as the base layer for all your favorite bar desserts. I actually use the same shortbread crust in my recipe for raspberry streusel bars and double the recipe for my lemon bars. It comes together quickly—no waiting for pie dough to chill.
- Apple Pie Filling: No canned filling here. You only need 5 ingredients to make your own apple pie filling and it tastes incredible!
- Streusel Topping: Instead of a top layer of pie crust like you see on traditional apple pies, we’re topping these apple pie bars with streusel. It’s a scaled up version of the topping on our caramel apple cheesecake pie. Lots of streusel because the more streusel the better. 🙂
Best Apples for Apple Pie Bars
Whenever I make apple pie bars, apple pie, or even apple cake, I always use 2 different kinds of apples for more depth of flavor. (One sweet variety, one tart variety.)
Here are some I suggest:
- Sweet apples I love: Jazz, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Gala, Fuji, and Cortland
- Tart apples I love: Granny Smith, Braeburn, Jonathan, and Pacific Rose
For a detailed list of my favorite apple varieties and when to use each, you can visit my post The Best Apples for Baking.
Overview: How to Make Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars
Homemade apple pie bars are incredibly simple to make. There’s just a few steps before you have a delicious fall dessert on your hands!
- Make the shortbread crust. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8 inch pan.
- Bake the shortbread crust for 15 minutes.
- Make the apple pie filling.
- Make the streusel topping. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
- Layer the apple pie filling evenly on top of the crust. It will look like there are too many apple slices, so layer them tightly and press them down to fit.
- Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
- Bake. These bars take about 30-35 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown.
- Chill the bars. Allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
- Cut into bars and drizzle with salted caramel.
Salted Caramel Topping
A generous drizzle of salted caramel takes these incredible apple pie bars to a whole new level. Have you ever made salted caramel before? You must. My recipe for homemade salted caramel is liquid gold and dangerously good. Besides these apple pie bars, it’s delicious on ice cream, pancakes, with apple slices, and more—find 50 ways to eat salted caramel here.
Be warned: Once you start, you won’t be able to stop. I make a batch of salted caramel almost every week and see no problem with this!
One bite of these sweet and salty apple pie bars and you’ll wonder why you haven’t made them sooner!
More Apple Desserts
- Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
- Apple Bundt Cake
- Caramel Apples
- Apple Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
- Brown Butter Apple Blondies
- Apple Turnovers
- Apple Pie
Baking apple pie as bars is so much easier!
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp; 113g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)*
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper leaving enough overhang on all sides. Set aside.
- 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 and then remove from the oven. (As the crust bakes, you can prepare the filling and streusel.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 & Freezing Instructions: 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 8-inch Square Baking Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Rubber Spatula or Wooden Spoon | Pastry Blender
- Apples: 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 9×13-inch pan. Pre-bake the crust for 18 minutes, then extend the bake time in step 5 to about 45-55 minutes.
Keywords: apple pie bars, salted caramel apple pie bars