The best part of any fruit crisp is the crunchy streusel topping, so we added it TWICE to these delicious Apple Crisp Bars - in the crust AND the topping. These apple squares are a crowd-pleasing fall dessert recipe for any occasion from tailgating to Thanksgiving.
Nothing screams fall like the smell of apples and spices drifting from the kitchen. When apple season rolls around, these Easy Apple Crisp Bars are one of the first things we make with our haul of apples.
Why you'll love this recipe
- If you enjoy apple crisp, you’re going to love this apple bar recipe. It's basically crisp in portable bar form. Easy alternative to apple pie!
- The crust and the topping are the same oat mixture, separated by a layer of sweet, seasoned apples. The result is a double dose of the crunchy topping that everyone always fights for anyway.
- Your kitchen will smell amazing thanks to generous amounts of fall baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
- Top the bars with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce to make this recipe doubly indulgent!
You probably have all the ingredients for this apple dessert recipe in your kitchen right now.
A few ingredient notes:
- Butter: If you are watching your sodium intake, use unsalted butter.
- Apples: A combination of sweet and tart baking apples gives you the best flavor. I love Honeycrisp and Haralson apples in these bars.
- Oatmeal: You can use old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats in this recipe.
- Extras: Don't forget to add caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream to your shopping list to top these bars. It takes them over the top!!
If you've ever made apple crisp, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect when making these bars.
Combine crust/streusel ingredients in bowl. Reserve 1 cup and press remaining mixture into prepared pan.
Peel, slice and season apples and evenly layer on top of crust in pan.
Tip: I love using an inexpensive handheld mandoline to slice my peeled apples. It keeps all the apples at an even thickness and makes quick work of all that slicing. Highly recommend!!
Sprinkle reserved streusel on top of apples and bake.
Apple varieties vary by region. Here in Minnesota, my go-to baking apple during apple season is a Haralson apple. They are crisp, juicy and hold their shape well when baked.
If the apple crisp craving strikes and Haralsons are not in season, I often reach for Granny Smith apples because they are available year round.
I usually add a few types of apples to this recipe (Honeycrisp and Haralson, for example). They key here is to make sure you choose apples that have a firm texture and retain their shape when baked. Apples that are a bit softer will not stand up when cut into bar form.
I also suggest that you taste your apples before baking and adjust the sugar as needed to hit the perfect sweet spot, especially if baking with local apples or a combination of apples.
I've made these bars up to two days ahead of time, and they still have fantastic flavor. I suggest storing the baked bars lightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The top will start to lose its crunchiness but not its flavor.
You can also pop them in the oven to warm them up before serving, especially if topping them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce!
If you want to make and freeze your apple crisp bars ahead of time, assemble the recipe as directed in a metal pan. (Avoid a glass pan as going from freezer to hot oven may cause the pan to shatter.)
Wrap tightly in foil and place in freezer for up to two months. When ready to bake, follow the baking instructions in the recipe and add on an additional 15-30 minutes of baking time. If the top is browning too quickly, tent with foil.
Apple crisp as a whole is a fairly forgiving recipe, and adding gluten-free ingredients to these apple bars is no exception.
Simply swap in gluten-free oats and gluten-free flour for the regular oats and all-purpose flour in this recipe. You get the same great flavor with just a few tweaks to accommodate dietary restrictions.
Tip: If you're not used to baking with gluten-free flour, I suggest buying a brand that is labeled as a 1-to-1 replacement for regular flour. Cup 4 Cup and King Arthur's Measure for Measure are both reliable gluten-free flours that don't require you to add any other ingredients to the recipe (like xantham gum).
Crisp fall nights call for comfort food classics to serve with these apple crips bars:
- Our Chicken Taco Soup is always devoured when we lay out a spread of toppings like tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream. Or toast some rolls and be generous with the melted cheese with this easy French Dip recipe. Both recipes earn bonus points for being made in the slow cooker.
- Don’t forget your greens! Our balsamic vinaigrette recipe goes with nearly any salad but we really love it tossed with spinach, goat cheese and craisins. Or double down on those fresh from the orchard apples with this blue cheese salad that is topped with apples and candied walnuts.
Expert tips for making apple crisp bars
✘ Use a combination of sweet and tart baking apples for best flavor.
✘ Either old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats work in this recipe.
✘ Chilled bars retain their shape best when cut so store these lightly covered in the fridge.
✘ You can make these bars a few days ahead of time. The topping starts to lose its crunch after a few days in the fridge but the flavor stays strong.
✘ Feeding a crowd? Double the recipe, use a 9x13" pan and extend the baking time by 5-10 minutes. Lightly tent with foil if browning too quickly.
More apple recipes
Not an apple fan? We have a ton of flavorful dessert recipes for any occasion.
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Easy Apple Crisp Bars
- 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour divided
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 6 cups peeled and thinly sliced baking apples, about 3 large apples
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment so the paper hangs over all four sides. Set aside.
- Stir together oats, ¾ cup flour, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon cloves, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Pour melted butter into oat mixture and stir to combine. Place 1 cup oat mixture aside and press remaining into bottom of baking dish.1 ½ cups old fashioned oats, ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, ¾ cup packed brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon,, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg,, ¾ teaspoon ground cloves,, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 8 tablespoons butter,
- Combine apples, granulated sugar, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon cloves. Stir to evenly coat. Dump apples on top of crust in baking dish and gently even them out. Crumble remaining 1 cup oat mixture on top of apples. Cover foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until crumb is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon,, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg,, ¾ teaspoon ground cloves,, 6 cups peeled and thinly sliced baking apples,, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Slice bars once completely cool and cover loosely until ready to serve.
- This recipe was adapted from One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti. Recipe retested and slightly modified in October 2020.
- Use a combination of tart and sweet baking apples for best flavor.
- Old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats may be used as well as salted or unsalted butter.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting them. Chilled bars cut the most cleanly and retain their shape better than warm bars.
- Lining the pan with parchment paper makes it easier to remove the bars from the pan. Just lift the paper hanging over the edges like handles to remove all the bars to a cutting board.
- Store these bars lightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The topping starts to lose its crunch after a few days but the flavor remains strong.
- You can freeze these bars assembled but unbaked. Wrap metal pan tightly with foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Add extra baking time (15-30 minutes) and tent with foil if browning too quickly.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.