Apple Crumble Bars

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Gooey Apple Crumble Bars are chewy, caramel loaded, and the perfect autumn treat!

We love baking with apples; add our popular applesauce cake or apple turnovers to your list for future baking projects.

Image of several Apple Crumble Bars in a stack.

Apple Crumble Bars

Apple crumble meets carmelitas to create these incredible Apple Crumble Bars and I’m here for it. These bars are the perfect apple treat; they’re gooey, chewy, and have just the right amount of apple.

They’re unlike any treat I’ve ever had, and I can’t get enough of them! These bars don’t have a distinct caramel layer; the caramel bakes into the apples making for an ultra-gooey center.

The apples bake up super soft and create an overall chewy, gooey bar. If you love salted caramel, add a sprinkle of sea salt flakes and be prepared for a whole new dessert obsession.

Process shots-- images of the butter being melted and the dry ingredients being added to make the crumble. Then images of the apple being mixed together with lemon, flour, and spices.

Apple Crumble Bar tips

  • Use Granny Smith apples. Avoid other varieties of apples; they typically end up too soft and begin to disintegrate or become watery during baking. The other variety that works well in these bars is Honeycrisp. For a better flavor, I like to use a combination of both the Honeycrisp and Granny Smith.
  • Dice the apples into small, even pieces. For the apples to soften in the right amount of time, they need to be chopped pretty small. Try to cut the pieces as evenly as possible so your Apple Crumble Bars aren’t left with some crunchy/firm pieces and some overly soft ones.
  • Peel the apples. The skin doesn’t break down nicely during the baking and the apple layer will have a strange texture if you leave the peel on.
  • For the crumble, make sure the butter has fully cooled to room temperature before adding other ingredients. If the butter is still hot, it will melt the sugars and become greasy and more prone to burning during baking.
  • For the crumble, use old-fashioned oats. Quick oats make the crumble topping too dry and steel-cut oats won’t soften enough.
  • Give the baked Apple Crumble Bars plenty of time to cool. Right out of the oven, these bars are a gooey mess! They need a good hour to firm up enough to cut into bars. Even after an hour, they’re still quite soft.
  • Use good, soft caramels! More on this below.

Process shot-- images of the caramel and cream being melted and poured over the apple layer; then the crumble topping going on top of it.

What caramels to use

I’ve tried a lot of different caramels in Apple Crumble Bars and my favorite (affordable) caramels are Werther’s soft (not original) caramels. They generally come in 4.51-ounce bags so you’ll need three bags for this recipe. Here’s a visual of the bag (not sponsored). These caramels have a great flavor, melt easily, and are perfect for these bars.

Apple pie spice

Apple pie spice is a blend of spices (usually cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice) that pairs nicely with apples. It’s widely available at most grocery stores (in the baking aisle), or you can make your own for a fraction of the cost.

Here’s a recipe for homemade apple pie spice. My homemade version combines cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, and ground cloves. If you don’t have apple pie spice, I recommend just using cinnamon instead.

Salted Apple Crumble Bars

If you love salted caramel, you’ll love Apple Crumble Bars with a sprinkle of salt. I love a sprinkle of these Maldon sea salt flakes (not sponsored) on top of the bars.

Overhead image of Apple Crumble Bars cut and ready to be eaten.

QUICK TIP

Don’t forget to line the pan with parchment paper; it makes a world of difference for removing Apple Crumble Bars (and later on for clean-up)! Leave an overhang of parchment paper so you can pull the bars from the tray onto a counter to cut.

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Apple Crumble Bars

5 from 2 votes
Gooey Apple Crumble Bars are chewy, caramel loaded, and the perfect autumn treat!
Print Recipe

Apple Crumble Bars

5 from 2 votes
Gooey Apple Crumble Bars are chewy, caramel loaded, and the perfect autumn treat!
Course Dessert, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword Apple Crumble Bars
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 8 minutes
Servings 16 bars
Calories 360kcal
Cost $5.12

Ingredients

Crust + Topping:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (24 tbsp; 340g) unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (216g) light (or dark) brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 cups (264g) white, all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (199g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling

  • 3 and 1/2 cups (406g) peeled and diced apples (I use a mix of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (or extra cinnamon)
  • 2 tablespoons white, all-purpose flour
  • 1 package (13.51 oz., 396g) regular caramels unwrapped (3 bags, 4.51 oz each) (See Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the 1 and 1/2 cups butter in the microwave and the set aside to cool back to room temperature.
  • CRUMBLE: In a large bowl, mix the melted and cooled butter (if the butter is still warm/hot it will make this crumble mixture greasy and prone to burning), brown sugar, flour, oats, baking soda, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and salt. Divide the mixture in half and press 1 half of it into the prepared 9x13-inch pan.
  • APPLES: Peel and core the apples, and then chop into small (~1/4th inch) pieces. Place the small pieces in a bowl and toss them with the lemon juice. Coat them in the flour and apple pie spice and sprinkle coated apples over top of the (unbaked) bottom crust.
  • CARAMELS: Place the unwrapped the caramels and the heavy cream in a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat. Heat and stir until completely smooth and then set aside to slightly cool and thicken. Do not heat above medium low; be patient while melting or the caramels will get hard. Once smooth and removed from the heat, stir in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and set aside. When slightly cooled, drizzle and gently spread caramel evenly on top of the apple layer.
  • TOP LAYER: Crumble and sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on top of the caramel.
  • BAKE: Bake the bars in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and the top doesn't look wet or gooey. Remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour to set up. The bars are crumbly and hot straight out of the oven and they harden a bit with a gooey soft center after a few hours (Overall these bars are quite gooey/chewy).
  • STORAGE: Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature. These bars are best used by end of the second day. After that they begin to lose texture and flavor and become mushy. These bars don't freeze/thaw well.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I recommend Werther’s soft(not original) caramels. They generally come in 4.51-ounce bags, so you’ll need three bags for this recipe. Here’s a visual of the bag. Do not use caramel bits; they don't work well in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 46.2g | Protein: 3.4g | Fat: 18.2g | Cholesterol: 47.1mg | Sodium: 19.8mg | Fiber: 2.1g | Sugar: 25.8g

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13 Comments

  1. I have a whole bunch of Granny Smith apples just waiting to be used. These bars look incredible. I love that ooey gooey salted caramel!

  2. I love apple pie, but I bake bars more often — they’re just easier and they feed a crowd more! These look heavenly with all that caramel

  3. These look sooooo yummy! I seriously grabbed my husband so we could drool over these together! Great post and beautiful photos, as per usual!

  4. 5 stars
    I made these for the first time ever last night and they. were. so. good. This recipe is perfect! Everything goes so well with each other! I could eat the entire pan full all by myself! Whew!

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