These popular caramel apple bars are a go-to recipe for a crowd. Drips of caramel, loads of apple flavor, and browned butter make these bars a favorite dessert!
If the number of requests for this recipe I’ve received from those who have tried them is any indication of how popular they are, please pause and pin, print, or bookmark this now then come back and read the post. I had to get these out of the house quickly or I would have probably eaten half the pan by myself because this is like a better version of one of my fall weaknesses, cold apple pie.
When I was a kid, all our apple pies came from Publix, and my mom would serve the first slice or so at room temperature, but I loved loved loved that pie so much more after it was chilled. I’d even pair it with ice cream. It didn’t seem odd to me, but as an adult, I’ve realized that not everyone eats apple pie cold. Do you like cold apple pie? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I can’t be the only one, right?
The thing is, I don’t always want to make an apple pie. I have a delicious salted caramel apple pie recipe on the blog, but a pie can just be too much of a commitment sometimes. It’s difficult to share slices, and you definitely can’t just put it on a napkin to eat with your coffee. That, and sometimes there just isn’t enough crust in a small bite. These bars fix all of those concerns with the bonus addition of an oatmeal strusel topping, so there’s a perfect buttery crunch and just the right amount of surface area to catch a little extra caramel drizzle. Yum.
I also have a new magical kitchen tool that makes me want to make loads of apple recipes. A friend of mine was cleaning out her kitchen and gave me her apple peeler/slicer and it’s AMAZING! I used to think they were rather useless little gadgets, but now I feel like I should have purchased one earlier given how much I love to bake. It took me two minutes to have four cups of perfectly evenly sliced apples ready for this dessert. The slices are thin and perfect for oatmeal and topping pancakes or crepes.
The caramel apple bars are very easy to make with minimal mess. I use the same bowl for the base layer and the apple filling, and then another smaller bowl for the strusel topping. The recipe takes about an hour to bake, and then you’ll need to plan about three hours for cooling and chilling, so you do have to plan ahead a little bit. That also means that you can make the bars a day or so in advance though, which is great if you’re planning to take them to work, school, or an early morning event. Simply cut the bars when you are ready to serve, and drizzle with extra caramel!
I hope you enjoy my caramel apple bar recipe! Be sure to set a few aside for yourself before sharing… don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, browned and chilled*
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 c powdered sugar
- 4 cups sliced tart apples, about 3-4 apples
- 2 tbsp unpacked brown sugar
- 1/4 c all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 c caramel sauce
- 3/4 c all-purpose flour
- 2/3 c packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1 tbsp cubes
- 2/3 cup quick oats, or rolled oats
- Additional caramel sauce for drizzling
- Brown the butter by melting over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant and lightly browned. Remove immediately to a glass container and refrigerate 2 hours until chilled. See notes regarding this step.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F and butter an 11x13" casserole dish.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and powdered sugar.
- Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like grainy wet sand.
- Press the crust into the casserole dish and bake for 18 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, peel, core, and slice your apples.
- Mix the apple slices with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Prepare the streusel topping by mixing together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and oats in a bowl.
- Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles very coarse wet gravel. Set aside.
- When the crust has finished baking, remove from the oven and layer the apples over the crust. Drizzle the caramel sauce evenly over the apple mixture.
- Top the apples with the streusel, making sure to get a nice even coating.
- Bake for an additional 45-50 minutes until the apples are cooked and the streusel is a golden brown.
- Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least two hours or until ready to serve.
- Cut and drizzle with additional caramel before serving.
*If you don't have browned butter on hand (I rarely do), and you don't have time to brown the butter and let it chill so you can use it. Just use regular chilled butter. The flavor won't be identical, but it's still really good, and sometimes you need dessert a little faster. 😉