Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

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!

stack of apple pie bars with salted caramel sauce on top

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 Sally’s Baking Addiction!). 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 pie crust, but same delicious flavors.

apple pie bars with salted caramel sauce topping on a green plate

3 Layers to Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

  • 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. Lots of streusel because the more streusel the better. 🙂

Best Apples for Apple Pie Bars

Whenever I make apple pie bars or apple pie, 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

stack of apple pie bars with salted caramel sauce on top

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!

  1. Make the shortbread crust. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8 inch pan.
  2. Bake the shortbread crust for 15 minutes.
  3. Make the apple pie filling.
  4. Make the streusel topping. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
  5. 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.
  6. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
  7. Bake. These bars take about 30-35 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown.
  8. 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).
  9. Cut into bars and drizzle with salted caramel.

salted caramel apple pie bars

salted caramel apple pie bars

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!

salted caramel sauce in a white bowl

salted caramel apple pie bars on a white plate

One bite of these sweet and salty apple pie bars and you’ll wonder why you haven’t made them sooner!

More Apple Desserts

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salted caramel apple pie bars

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12-16 bars
  • Category: Bars
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


Ingredients

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure 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)*
  • 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 (31g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • homemade salted caramel sauce (step-by-step photos included)

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Larger Batch: Recipe can easily be doubled and baked in a 9×13 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

2 images of salted caramel apple pie bars

427 Comments

  1. This is one of the best desserts we have had in a long time. This is easy to make (even the caramel sauce) and so delicious!

  2. Rosemary Mistretta says:

    This is an amazing desert! I have made over and over again since obtaining recipe.
    Great served at room temp with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce! Keep cut up squares in freezer and take them out as needed!!! You and your guests will love it!

  3. I made these yesterday! They were delicious. I accidentally forgot about the shortbread crust in the oven and baked them for 9 minutes longer, but I think the apples softened it anyway I wasn’t going to make the caramel at first because I thought it would be too hard, but I’m so glad I did. These bars are a must-make!

  4. Can you use the more classic streusel (as in your peach streusel muffins) for these? I’m sure the oat version probably holds up better to the caramel sauce, but wasn’t sure if you had tested the classic version as well Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dave, Yes you can certainly try to use that topping for these bars. Let us know if you try it!

  5. Making these tonight ! If I am putting in refrigerator overnight should I put the caramel on before going into the fridge or when I serve it tomorrow? If serving tomorrow can I still make it today ?

    1. Hi Ashley, the bars taste best if you drizzle with caramel close to serving them. The caramel will set if it’s refrigerated. Not an issue, it will just be chewy caramel on top of the refrigerated bars.

  6. Does a 8×8 pan have to be used, or can I use a small rectangle pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cindy, It depends on the dimensions of you pan. If you are using say, a loaf pan, you can probably cut this recipe in half. We haven’t tested this so I’m unsure of the bake time you would need.

  7. I love this recipe. I double it and put lemon and lime zest in the crust and add extra apples. Your carmel sauce is addictive.

  8. How in the world do you get 10 to 12 bars from a 8×8 pan

    1. I usually slice 3 rows of 4 bars or 4 rows of 4.

  9. These were fantastic! Made in a 9X9, not 8X8, so they were a little shorter, but still delicious. Didn’t make the caramel sauce, but did the shortbread, then the apples, and the streusel, just forgot to finish with the sauce. Will make again!

  10. Sydnee R Milis says:

    Really delicious and easy. I had to double the recipe though because there was not enough ingredients to cover the suggested pan size. Otherwise 5 star!

  11. Hi Sally,
    I tried this recipe – I double the recipe, following your instructions to the T, making my bars in a 9×13 pan, using parchment paper. I tell you, these were a dream come true! I also made the sauce – and to my surprise, it wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be. The bars were perfect! The texture of the topping was perfect! The taste – so delicious! So delicious, that I had to share the bars with my grandkids and a friend who loves anything made with apples. Now that I accomplished my ‘test run,’ I will make it exactly the same way again next week and share them at work. Thank you so much, Sally!

  12. Patricia Mcmahon says:

    I just made these and the taste amazing !
    I ended up with a slightly soggy crust even with a pre bake ( maybe not long enough )
    Any tips on preventing a soggy bottom ( as the Brits say ..)

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Patricia, did you pre-bake the crust for 15 minutes? A slightly longer pre-bake should help for next time!

      1. Patricia Mcmahon says:

        Hi Trina ,
        Thanks for your response .
        It definitely could’ve used some extra baking time and will do so with the next batch.
        They are so delicious , as every recipe I’ve made of yours .
        Thanks again

  13. I had 2 goals; to prepare something delicious to mail to a friend who is undergoing radiation and chemo; and to utilize a big bag of apples 🙂 I doubled the recipe to do a 9 x 13 pan and wow are these yummy! I could eat the shortbread base all on it’s own!! I don’t have heavy cream to do the caramel sauce; and it might have made the bars just a little too ooey-delicious-messy for the mail; next time though I will definitely try the caramel sauce. Thank you for a great recipe!

  14. These bars are aamazing and so easy, as everyone has said. Question – I want to make them again for a birthday tomorrow but wanted to get some of the work out of the way today. I’m planning to make the salted caramel tonight which seems to keep well, could I make the shortbread crust dough tonight too, refrigerate and bake tomorrow? If so, should I leave the dough out for a bit before baking tomorrow? Any tips would be great!

    1. Hi Hannah, we are just seeing your question now. In the future, yes you could certainly pre-bake the crust in advance. Cool it completely, cover it, then keep at room temperature overnight. I would place it back in the oven for 2-3 minutes so it slightly warms up before layering on the apples and topping.

  15. Delicious and easy!
    Made to take to the boat picnic but ended up eating most of them haha. I didn’t make the caramel sauce as wasn’t sure how it’ll hold up in the heat and being in a small storage container. They were really tasty without it. Will definitely make again!

  16. I Love Love Love these apple pie bars and recommend them often to my friends!!! I particularly like how buttery and EASY the shortbread crust is. I use it for any bar I make. It is the best. Would you have any idea how to modify the crust to make a roll and slice shortbread cookie? I’ve seen other roll and slice cookies on your site but not a plain shortbread roll and slice. I think it would make a ridiculously fabulous cookie. (I’m going to try your other shortbread cookie in the meantime). Thank you

  17. Absolutely fantastic!

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