These Caramel Apple Crumb Bars begin with a brown sugar oatmeal crust, and they are filled with homemade apple pie filling. These apple pie crumb bars are rich, gooey, and full of caramel apple flavor. An easy fall dessert, but elegant enough for any Thanksgiving table.
Apple pie is the quintessential fall dessert, and is quite possibly the most popular fall dessert (or at least the most popular dessert for the apple season). The rich flavors of brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple have this homey quality about them, as they bring to mind memories of holidays past.
Despite the fact my family has never spent a Thanksgiving holiday without apple pie on the table (we love these apple hand pies, this rustic apple pie recipe, and this cinnamon roll apple pie as well as a classic apple pie), I will be the first to admit a homemade apple pie is a labor of love. Between the chopping and peeling and double pastry crust, it’s a recipe that requires time and energy—no matter how worth the end result is.
These rich and gooey apple crumb bars taste of home—they’re filled with all of the homey, comforting flavors of a classic apple pie—yet they are considerably simpler to make. The oatmeal crumb topping is rich and buttery, reminiscent of oatmeal cookies, and the caramel apple filling is full of warm spices and delicious flavors.
And when topped with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream? Perfection.
Why This Apple Pie Crumb Bars Recipe Works:
Combine the oatmeal crumb with the apple pie filling, and it feels a bit like an oatmeal cookie and a caramel apple pie had a love child. Between the oats and buttery brown sugar, these also feel a bit like apple crisp bars.
- Oatmeal Crumb: I love an easy recipe, and these apple cinnamon crumb bars begin with one dough for both the crust and the topping.
- Apple Filling: The cinnamon apples are a mixture of sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. It’s the simple flavors that enhance the pure apple flavor.
- Caramel Sauce: Finally, the apple filling is mixed with a homemade brown sugar caramel sauce, which makes these apple bars incredibly rich, gooey, and irresistible. The caramel apples takes this apple dessert to the next level.
Ingredients We Need For These Caramel Apple Crumb Bars:
Making these apple pie bars with crumb topping doesn’t require too many ingredients or steps, especially since the crust and crumble topping are made from the same oat crumb dough.
Crust & Topping:
- Unsalted Butter: Unsalted butter is important because it allows you to control the salt content in the overall recipe.
- Rolled Oats: Rolled oats (also known as old-fashioned oats) work really well in the oatmeal crumb topping, because they are thicker and chewier than quick oats. They give these apple pie bars a lot of texture.
- All Purpose Flour
- Brown Sugar
- Baking Soda
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Nutmeg
- Ground Allspice
- Brown Sugar
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Unsalted Butter
- Vanilla Extract
- Chopped Apples: I prefer a sturdy, sweet type of apple for any apple dessert (think honeycrisp apples, jonagold apples, pink lady apples, gala apples, etc.), but you can also use tart apples, like granny smith apples.
- Vanilla Extract
- Cornstarch: This is an important ingredient because it thickens the apple pie filling.
How To Make These Apple Pie Crumb Bars From Scratch:
I love this recipe because it doesn’t require too much time or energy, yet the apple bars are full of flavor, texture, and spice.
- Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, salt, and vanilla together. Whisk until boiling, then remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes while you make the rest of the apple crumb bar recipe.
- Oatmeal Crumb Topping: Using an electric mixer or stand mixer (with the paddle attachment), cream the unsalted butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, on medium speed. Next, add in the dry ingredients: rolled oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix until combined. Set aside.
- Apple Filling: Mix diced apples, vanilla extract, cornstarch, and granulated sugar together. Toss with the caramel sauce. Let the apple mixture sit for five minutes or so.
- Assembly: Press 2/3 of the crust into the bottom of an 8×8 or 9×9 prepared baking pan. Spoon the apple filling on top, spreading into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the oatmeal streusel topping on top of the bars.
- Bake: Place the apple bars in the oven and let the bars bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the apple pie filling is bubbling and the top is lightly golden brown.
- Cool: Let the caramel apple bars cool before slicing and serving, otherwise they will fall apart.
- Serve: Serve these apple pie crumb bars with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an extra caramel drizzle, if desired.
- Room Temperature: These Apple Bars with Oatmeal Crumb Topping can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days.
- Fridge: Or, you can store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days.
How Best To Serve These Apple Cinnamon Crumb Bars?
- Cold: These apple squares are amazing out of the fridge, and can be eaten cold. Top with ice cream, caramel sauce, chopped nuts, etc.
- Room Temperature: These can also be eaten at room temperature, and served similarly with any topping you like.
- Warm: If you prefer a warm apple pie or a warm apple crisp, warm the bars in the microwave and serve a la mode.
- Pro Tip: Want to enhance the depth of flavor even more? Turn these into Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars by adding some flaked sea salt on top after they finish baking.
Other Favorite Apple Recipes To Make Next:
- Apple Spice Bundt Cake
- Easy Apple Cake
- Apple Crumb Cake
- Apple Cobbler With Cinnamon Biscuits
- Caramel Apple Cheesecake
- Slow Cooker Spiced Apples
Quick and Easy Caramel Apple Crumble Bars Tips and Tricks:
- Line the Pan: Line the baking dish with parchment paper or non-stick foil. You can simply lift the apple crisp bars out of the pan and cut them.
- Apples: You can use any apple you prefer, and you can choose to leave the apple peels on or off.
- Rolled Oats: Use rolled oats in this apple bar recipe, as the rolled oats add more texture and substance to the oatmeal crumb.
- Caramel Sauce: If you want to top the bars with extra caramel, you can use jarred caramel sauce. Or, you can double the homemade caramel sauce recipe and reserve half of it as a topping. Plus, you can add a bit of flaked sea salt to the sauce to make a salted caramel sauce.
These Caramel Apple Crumb Bars begin with a brown sugar oat crust, and they are filled with homemade apple pie filling. These apple pie crumb bars are rich, gooey, and full of caramel apple flavor. An easy fall dessert, but elegant enough for any Thanksgiving table.
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- pinch of salt (or flaky sea salt)*
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats (rolled oats)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- 2 1/2 cups chopped apples** (I used honeycrisp)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper (or non-stick foil), or grease with baking spray. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt together. Whisk until the mixture boils, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
With a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed, until light and fluffy.
Add in the rolled oats, all purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix until combined. Set aside.
Mix the chopped apples, vanilla extract, cornstarch, and granulated sugar together.
Next, mix the apples with the caramel sauce. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
Press about 2/3 of the oatmeal dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, pressing in an even layer.
Spoon the apple filling on top of the crust, spreading into an even layer.
Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal dough on top of the apple filling (some of the apples will still be showing, which is just fine).
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until the apple filling is bubbling and the top is lightly golden brown.
Allow the apple crumble bars to cool before slicing and serving.
Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and extra caramel, if desired.
*If you want to make a salted caramel sauce, add flaky sea salt to the finished caramel sauce.
**For the apple filling, you can peel the apples if you prefer. Additionally, you can use your favorite apple in place of honeycrisp.
Originally published 2014. Updated in 2022.
Here are some other dessert bars to check out next:
Strawberry Jam Shortbread Bars
Danielle V says
You say apple, I say I’ll try them. So I tried them. And these are really, really, really good! Nice job!
Thank you! 🙂
[email protected] says
These look delicious! (The pics are showing in the email I rec’d!). Do they hold together well or are they crumbly?
Thanks! 🙂 They hold together well once they’ve cooled entirely, or if served cold (delicious too–like a slice of cold apple pie) but if you cut into them when they’re warm, they do fall apart a litte bit. 🙂
Carol Borchardt says
Craving these….especially warm with some vanilla ice cream! They even look easy enough for a non-baker like me.