Apple Crisp Bars

by | Sep 13, 2018 | All, Desserts

These easy Apple Crisp Bars taste just like a classic apple crisp but in portable form making them a delicious fall dessert recipe for potlucks.

Slices of Apple Crisp Bars on parchment paper.

Once we start picking apples in the fall, I’m on the hunt for all the apple recipes I can find.

We have our favorites, of course – like these ooey-gooey Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls, this irresistible Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread and a crazy good Easy Apple Cream Cheese Danish – but straight up apple crisp is always requested, too.

The bummer about apple crisp, though, is that it’s not portable. I can’t enjoy a big bowl of it when I’m camped along the sidelines during my kids weekend athletic events (well, not gracefully anyway).

These Apple Crisp Bars are the perfect solution: all the fall flavor of apple crisp (especially the crunchy topping everyone loves) in a go-anywhere form.

Apple Crisp bars on a wooden plate. Apple Crisp Bars recipe

Most people have a favorite apple crisp recipe. Some have shortbread crusts, some use oats and others just flour. Some are simply flavored with sugar and cinnamon while others go all in with spices like nutmeg, cloves and even ginger.

These apple squares may more closely resemble apple pie bars because of the thick layer of sliced apples, but the oat and flour crust and topping decidedly land these bars in the apple crisp category.

This recipe for Apple Crisp Bars is adapted from a book called One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti. Whenever I do my library run with the kids, I often spend a few moments cruising around in the cookbook section to see what catches my eye.

Yvonne’s simplified approach to baking where you mix everything in one bowl or pan was my cookbook pick during last week’s library visit, and these easy, aromatic Apple Crisp Bars are the result.

The crust and the topping are the same oat mixture, separated by a layer of sweet, seasoned apples, and the result is a double dose of the crunchy topping that everyone always fights for anyway.

Sliced Apple Crisp Bars with layers of cinnamon, sugar, apples and a crunchy oat topping. Layered on parchment paper with apple slices and crumble bits.

What type of apples are best for Apple Crisp Bars?

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’ve also had good success mixing a few types of apples in 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. 

Apple Crisp Bars stacked on a wooden cutting board with a single bar on a wood plate in the front. Can I make gluten-free Apple Crisp Bars?

Yes!

Apple crisp as a whole is a fairly forgiving recipe, and adding gluten-free ingredients to these bars is no exception. 

I’ve had success swapping 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).

Can you make these apple bars ahead of time?

I’ve made these Apple Crisp Bars up to two days ahead of time, and they still have fantastic flavor. I suggest storing the baked bars in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

You can also pop them in the oven to warm them up slightly before serving, especially if topping them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

How to freeze Apple Crisp Bars

Apple crisp freezes very well, and these bars are no exception. Follow these quick tips for freezing your apple crisp bars:

  1. 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.
  2. Wrap tightly in foil and place in freezer for up to two months.
  3. 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 lightly with foil.

Apple Crisp Bars on a wooden plate. Topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

I used the following equipment to make these Apple Crisp Bars:

  • This 8 x 8″ pan is a workhorse in my kitchen. You’ll see it used in a lot of our recipes. (Bonus points for made in the USA!!)
  • These peelers are my go-to for apples, potatoes and any other fruit or vegetable that needs peeling. Super sharp, though, so mind your fingers if you’re not used to using a Y-peeler.
  • An apple corer may seem like a frivolous tool, but you’ll be amazed at how often you reach for it when making apple recipes. Saves more time than you think!
  • This handheld mandoline makes a ton of equally thin slices of apples in quick fashion. Plus this model is dishwasher safe and only has two pieces that nest together for easy storage.
  • Parchment paper is key to lifting these bars out of the pan. Don’t skip it!

Tuck these Apple Crisp Bars in a lunch box, bring a pan to a potluck or plate them and serve with a big ol‘ scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce (just like these Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars). Or eat one straight up for breakfast.

No judgment here.

Slices of Apple Crisp Bars on parchment paper. Surround by apple slices.

We’ve got loads of delicious sweet AND savory apple recipes to share! 

Easy Apple Tart – Lemons for Lulu

Butterfinger Apple Tart – Inside BruCrew Life

Bacon Apple Jalapeno Poppers – Garnish with Lemon®


collage picture of apple crisp bars on parchment

Yield: 12 bars

Apple Crisp Bars

Slices of Apple Crisp Bars on parchment paper.

These easy Apple Crisp Bars taste just like a classic apple crisp but in portable form making them a delicious fall dessert recipe for potlucks. 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 cups peeled and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples (about 3 large apples)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment so the paper hangs over all four sides. Set aside.
  2. Stir together oats, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Pour melted butter into oat mixture and stir to combine. Place 1/2 cup oat mixture aside and press remaining into bottom of baking dish.
  3. Combine apples, granulated sugar, lemon juice, remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. Stir to evenly coat. Dump apples on top of crust in baking dish and gently even them out. Crumble remaining 1/2 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.
  4. Slice bars once completely cool and cover loosely until ready to serve.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 bar

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 161Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 75mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 2gSugar: 17gProtein: 1g

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Love a classic apple crisp? You’re going to adore these easy Apple Crisp Bars. They have all the flavor of your favorite fall dessert in portable form!

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24 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Those layers of apple are SO beautiful!! I so wish I had one of these right now. My stomach is literally growling looking at them!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Thanks, Nicole! You can never have too many apple recipes.

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    If I wanted to incorporate caramel into this recipe what would be the best way to do that and how many caramel squares would you suggest using?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Karla, I would suggest simply melting some caramel squares and drizzling it over the top of the bars before you serve them. Enjoy!

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Can this recipe be doubled?
        We have large family gatherings and a 8×8 pan would not be enough.

        Reply
        • Avatar

          Hi Andrea, I haven’t personally doubled THIS recipe, but I’ve successfully done it with others in an 8 x 8 pan, so I don’t see why this recipe would be any different. Simply double the original recipe and make it in 9 x 13 pan. The bars will be a bit thicker and you will probably have to adjust the baking time a bit to compensate for the additional ingredients. Enjoy!

          Reply
  3. Avatar

    Did you use Granny Smiths? The pictured apples look more like Gala or Fuji.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Dez, I did use Granny Smith apples, but you’re welcome to use whatever apple you prefer.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    Could you freeze these?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      I’ve never tried to freeze them so I can’t say for sure, but if you give it a go, I suggest freezing the uncooked bars and then cooking them directly from the frozen state, adding ample time for the apples to cook through. Good luck!

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    I’m a sucker for apples, and these look crazy good. How thick are they in the 8×8? Wondering how far I can stretch them…quarter sheet pan, or too thin? Maybe if I double the oats mixture?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Kristy, They are at least an inch and a half to two inches thick in the 8×8 pan. I’ve never tried to make them thinner, but I definitely suggest increasing the oat mixture for a larger pan. You need a good base to support all those apples! Enjoy!

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    How much of gluten free flour should I use. I have almond flour and I would like to know if it is ok to use it
    I can’t wait To try them, thank you for the recipe.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Angie, you can use the same amount of gluten free flour in the recipe as long as it’s marked as an equal equivalent to regular flour (such as Cup 4 Cup or King Arthur Measure for Measure). Happy baking!

      Reply
  7. Avatar

    Have you ever froze them? If so are they just as good?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Betsey, I froze a batch just a few weeks ago and baked directly from frozen (adding some extra baking time to cook through). Worked like a charm!

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    Just wanted to alert you that on Pinterest, someone is posting your picture of these apple crisp bars, when I followed the link, my antivirus said it blocked a virus. The address they used was jadenself.hairdresserhairstyles.com.
    I was searching for gingerbread cookie bars and the photo was in that search at the top.

    Reply
  9. Avatar

    can this recipe be made with unsweetened applesauce?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Dianne, I assume you are asking if you can use applesauce instead of sliced raw apples, and the answer is no. Making that type of substitution will not work for this recipe. Hope you decide to give it a try anyway!

      Reply
  10. Avatar

    These are delicious! I love the tart Granny Smith apples and the cloves! I added some pumpkin spice granola and melted butter to the top and wow! So so good. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Love the pumpkin spice granola idea, Kristy. So glad you enjoyed them!!

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Do you take these bars out of the pan before or after they are cooled?

        Reply
        • Avatar

          Hi Kelly, These bars remove best when they have been allowed to cool thoroughly. Enjoy!

          Reply
  11. Avatar

    Just made them and I’m glad I did. Very Good! I love oats so next time I may double that. I had to bake 15 minutes longer than suggested time, but just realized I had the oven set at 350 instead of 375. Mine looked just like yours! My husband was real happy for me, ( he didn’t have to hear me say, “what went wrong” ). Thanks Anna

    Reply

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