If you’ve recently gone apple picking, you may as well go back for another bushel now because after making just one batch of these Caramel Apple Bars you’ll be making them on repeat all season long.
It’s as if these gooey caramel apple bars know the secret melody to my heart.
Every time I am within three feet of my kitchen (ahem, anytime I’m home and not asleep), they sing me a sweet siren love song, and I am left with no option but to sneak another bite.
Their allure is unstoppable, and I have neither the will nor the desire to resist.
5 Star Review
“Was delicious! Thanks for sharing it. My husband was in heaven”— Debbi —
Caramel apple bars are just one of those desserts—the ones you can’t stay away from (like this Vegan Apple Crisp).
They’re a dessert you spend your entire dinner dreaming about and justify eating for breakfast (after all, they’re not that different from Apple Coffee Cake).
To recap, we have 8×8-inches of:
- A thick, buttery (sorry, I don’t know another word to describe the taste), brown sugar, and oatmeal base.
- Tart, yet sweet, seasonal apples.
- Gooey caramel goodness (preferably this Apple Cider Caramel Sauce).
- Followed by more cinnamony, crumby, crispy topping.
They are everything a fall dessert can, should and must be.
How to Make Caramel Apple Bars
The bars are a perfect union between a gooey caramel apple on a stick and classic apple crisp served warm from the oven (or slow cooker in the case of Crock Pot Apple Crisp).
- Apples. The best apples for this recipe are those that are firm and hold their shape well when baked, like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Gala.
- Caramel Sauce. Regardless of if you use store-bought caramel sauce or homemade, the sweet, gooey caramel factor of these bars will always score a 10/10.
- Butter. Essential for creating a rich crumbly base and topping that hug the tender apples and warm caramel filling.
- Whole Wheat + All Purpose Flour. My way of sneaking a little bonus whole grain nutrition into these bars is with a 50/50 blend of whole wheat flour and everyday all purpose flour.
- Rolled Oats. Add nice texture and subtle nutty flavor to the bars.
- Dark Brown Sugar. Contributes a little extra oomph of molasses flavor than light brown sugar.
- Spices. A blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice round out these bars and give them that iconic fall taste (and heavenly aroma).
- .Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (reserving 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour). Then, work in the butter with your fingers.
- Next, whisk together the caramel and reserved 3 tablespoons of flour in a separate bowl.
- Press the crumbs into a greased and parchment-lined 8×8 baking dish, reserving 1/3 for the top layer. Arrange the apples over the crust in an even layer, then add a thick layer of caramel sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of the remaining crumbs.
- Bake until the top is golden. Let cool completely, slice into bars, and serve. ENJOY!
- To Store. Leftover caramel apple bars may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- To Freeze. Caramel apple bars may be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- To Reheat. Enjoy these caramel apple bars chilled from the fridge, at room temperature, or warm. To reheat, warm an individual serving on a microwave-safe plate for 10-20 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. To make this caramel apple bar recipe in a 9×13 pan, double the ingredients and then prepare as directed. Note that the baking time may vary so keep a close eye on the bars and adjust the time accordingly.
This recipe, as it is written, is not vegan. You may adapt the recipe easily however by swapping the butter for an equal amount of soy-based margarine and your favorite vegan caramel recipe (my recipe is linked in the main post content above).
Possibly! I have not tested these bars with gluten free ingredients so it would be an experiment. You could try swapping the oats and flour for a 1-to-1 gluten free baking mix and gluten-free rolled oats. Otherwise, I recommend trying this killer Gluten Free Apple Crisp recipe instead.
Caramel Apple Bars
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (plus 3 tablespoons), divided
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups peeled diced firm apples such as Granny Smith (about 2 large or 3 medium)
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought caramel sauce try with this vegan caramel sauce
- Place rack in center of your oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, 1 cup all purpose flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, all-spice, and nutmeg. Add the butter in small pieces, then quickly work it in with your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the caramel and remaining 3 tablespoons of flour. Set aside.
- Press 2/3 of the crumbs into the prepared baking dish and evenly arrange the sliced apples over top. Then evenly pour the caramel over the top of the apples and sprinkle with the remaining crumbs.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Let the bars cool completely before cutting—or serve very messy, very delicious bars immediately.
- TO STORE: Leftover caramel apple bars may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- TO FREEZE: Caramel apple bars may be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- TO REHEAT: Enjoy these bars chilled from the fridge, at room temperature, or warm. To reheat, warm an individual serving on a microwave-safe plate for 10-20 seconds.
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