This easy Apple Pie Oatmeal Bar recipe is decadent enough as a dessert with its quick apple pie filling and loads of apple pie spice. But its buttery oatmeal crust and topping will definitely make you want to have this for breakfast too!
These apple pie bars were one of those recipes I tried to make “healthier” a few years back and they weren’t all that great. A reader commented that they were dry, which was the kick in the butt I needed to remake them.
This new and improved version has been upgraded with a super buttery oatmeal crust, brown sugar in both the filling and crust, and lots of apple pie spice for tons of flavor this time!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
This recipe is made of two main components that are both super easy to whip up in minutes.
- The crust and topping: I contemplated making a shortbread crust like these pumpkin pie bars and a Dutch apple pie streusel topping for these. But I decided to keep it simple and went with the same dough, made with flour and rolled oats, for both the crust and topping.
- The apple pie filling: I went with a super simple pre-cooked apple pie filling that you can make on the stove top in just 5 minutes.
Ingredients and substitutions
As always, you can find the ingredients list with quantities in the recipe card at the end of this post. Below are some notes and substitution tips.
- Flour – I use all-purpose flour. I have not tried using gluten free flour in this recipe but you should be able to substitute all-purpose gluten free flour. I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour brands before with success.
- Oats – I use old fashioned rolled oats.
- Brown sugar – I use brown sugar to sweeten the crust and the apple pie filling. I like using brown sugar because it adds extra depth of flavor but you can use granulated sugar here if you don’t have brown sugar.
- Butter – unsalted butter is used in both the crust and the filling. This allows you to control the amount of salt in the recipe but in a pinch you can use salted butter. If using salted butter in the crust, reduce the amount of salt called for in the recipe to about a scant ¼ teaspoon but keep the salt in the filling.
- Salt – used in the crust as well as the pie filling to enhance flavor. I use kosher salt, if using table salt, only use a half to ⅔ as much.
- Apples – ripe apples are best, choose ones you enjoy eating or a mix of sweet and tart apples. Some of my favorite sweet apples are Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji. For tart apples, you can use Granny Smith or Braeburn.
- Lemon juice – fresh squeezed or bottle will work here. If you don’t have lemons, you could use limes.
- Apple pie spice – I use my homemade apple pie spice mix in both the crust and filling. You can use store bought apple pie spice or just use cinnamon if that’s all you have in your pantry.
- Vanilla extract – I use a little bit of vanilla extract in the crust. Be sure to use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor, and stay away from imitation flavoring.
How to make buttery apple pie oatmeal bars
Cook the apple pie filling
Mix the diced apple with lemon juice, sugar, spices and salt, and saute the mixture in melted butter for about 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves completely and the apples are just beginning to soften. Set it aside to cool while you prepare the crust.
Make the dough for the crust and topping
You just need to make 1 dough to use for both the bottom crust and as the crumb topping.
- Add room temperature butter, sugar and vanilla extra to a stand mixer bowl.
- Beat until thoroughly combined and light in color.
- Mix together flour, rolled oats, apple pie spice and salt, and add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
- Stir until a dough forms.
Assemble the bars for baking
This recipe will bake in a square baking pan. Prepare the pan by brushing it with melted butter or spray with nonstick spray, then line it with a long piece of parchment paper letting the excess hang over the sides. You’ll use the excess as “handles” to lift the baked bars out of the pan later.
- Use about ⅔ to ¾ of the dough made in the previous steps and press it into the bottom of the pan.
- Add the cooled apple pie filling on top.
- Crumble the rest of the dough and sprinkle on top of the pie filling.
Bake the bars until the crumb topping is lightly brown and the filling is bubbly and caramelized.
Variations, swaps and substitutions
- You could swap out some of the rolled oats for walnuts or pecans. Or just add some chopped nuts to the remaining dough you’re using as the topping in step 7 above.
- Use pears instead of apples, or a mixture of both pears and apples.
- You could even mix some cranberry sauce in with the apple pie filling to make cranberry apple crumb bars.
- Diced or sliced apples will both work in this recipe.
- Make sure the butter is softened but not melted or your dough will turn out too soft to handle right away. Half an hour at room temperature will do.
- If you accidentally let your butter soften too much, you may need to refrigerate the dough a bit to make it easier to handle.
- If you forgot to let your butter soften, you can cut it up into cubes and work it into the crust ingredient mixture like you would a streusel topping with your fingers. The heat from your fingers will soften the butter as you work.
- Double the recipe and bake it in a 9”x13” baking pan. Baking time may need to be lengthened by 5 – 10 minutes.
Leftover apple pie bars can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic at room temperature for 1 – 2 days. You can also refrigerate them for up to a week or freeze them for up to 3 months. Serve them at room temperature or warm them up just a bit in the microwave.
Ideas for serving apple pie bars
- Serve them with a side of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone ice cream.
- Drizzle some caramel sauce or homemade dulce de leche over them.
More handheld Fall treats
- Pumpkin Hand Pies
- Apple Hand Pies
- Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
- Pistachio Cookies
- Carrot Cupcakes
📖 Recipe card
Apple Pie Bars
Crust & Topping
Apple Pie Filling
- 1 lb apple (3 medium apples, peeled & diced)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓ cup brown sugar (60 g, lightly packed)
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
- A pinch of kosher salt
- 1 oz unsalted butter (28 g)
- Start by making the apple pie filling: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Toss the remaining ingredients for apple pie filling in a mixing bowl and add it to the saucepan. Cook until the sugar dissolves completely and the apple pieces are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease an 8”x8” square baking pan with nonstick spray or melted butter, and line it with a long piece of parchment paper letting the excess hang over the sides of the pan and set aside.
- Cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment until light in color.
- Stir together flour, rolled oats, apple pie spice and salt in a mixing bowl until evenly distributed. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until a dough forms.
- Take about ⅔ – ¾ of the dough and press it into the bottom of the prepared pan. Add the cooled apple pie filling on top. Sprinkle chunks of the remaining dough over the pie filling.
- Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the crumb topping is lightly brown and the filling is bubbly and caramelized.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack before removing it from the pan and cutting into bars.
- Use your favorite eating apples for this recipe, or a mixture of sweet and tart apples.
- You can also use a combination of apples and pears. Or swap out the apples for pears completely.
- Swap out some rolled oats for nuts, or just add some extra nuts to the topping.
- Double the recipe and bake in a 9”x13” baking pan. You may need to lengthen the baking time by 5 – 10 minutes.
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