These easy Apple Crumb Bars are the perfect way to enjoy apples. Granny smith apples are cooked in a butter and sugar mixture and baked in a layer of sweet and warming crumb crust on the bottom. Kids and adults love them!
We love apple season! Apple cider, apple crisp, apple donuts – you name it, we love it! So this time of year, apples make their way into a lot of our meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Balancing clean apple eats with sweet apple treats means you can enjoy apples in a variety of ways.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy apples is by making a batch of these apple crumb bars. Tart and tangy green apples are cooked down in butter and sugar and thickened to make a warm apple pie filling. The apple filling gets sandwiched between a layer of crumb topping on the bottom with some sprinkled on top. Bake until golden brown for perfect apple pie bars with streusel topping.
This dessert can be cut into squares, or rectangles and enjoyed with some whipped cream, a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream, or a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce.
This recipe requires 30 minutes bars prep time and 30 minutes cook time.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Apple squares with crumb topping are a great excuse to go apple picking.
- The filling and the crust are easy to make using basic pantry ingredients.
- They taste just like apple pie in square form.
- These are a perfect treat to make and serve as dessert, or a quick sweet breakfast!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Granny Smith Apples – These tart and tangy apples have the perfect amount of sweetness to make a decadent apple pie filling.
- Butter – Used to cook down the apples and adds a rich buttery flavor to the inside.
- Brown Sugar – Sweetens up the apple filling while adding a light caramel flavor. In a pinch you can substitute the brown sugar for 1/4 cup granulated sugar, but it will change the flavor and texture slightly.
- Cinnamon & Nutmeg – Adds warming spices to the apple pie filling.
- Lemon Juice – Keeps the apples from browning and adds a fresh burst of citrus that balances the flavors.
- Cornstarch – Helps thicken the filling so it stays in place to make apple squares.
Apple Crumb Topping:
- Flour – A mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour works best to make the crumb topping.
- Old Fashioned Oats – Adds a nutty flavor and texture to the topping.
- Light Brown Sugar – Sweetens up the crumb topping.
- Seasonings – A mix of cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt season and spice this apple dessert properly.
- Butter – Added to the crumble to give it a buttery flavor and helps to set the crumb while baking.
- Honey – Adds additional natural sweetness to the topping and helps create the crumble texture.
- Heavy Cream – Helps to moisten the dry ingredients to turn them into a crumb texture.
You do not need baking soda or baking powder for these bars as the crust firms up nicely.
How To Make Apple Crumb Bars
- Cook the apples: To a skillet, add the butter and sugar and turn on low heat. Add the prepared apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Bring the heat to medium and let the apples simmer for 10-15 minutes total time until the sauce begins to form and thicken.
- Assemble the filling: Once the sauce is thickened, whisk in the cornstarch until no lumps are present. Remove the filling from the heat, set it aside, and let it cool completely.
- Prepare for baking: While the filling is cooling, preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Make the crumb topping: Add all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Then, add the butter and honey. Mix with your fingers to form a crumbly coarse mixture. Pour in the heavy cream and work it into the crumb mixture.
- Assemble and bake: Add 3/4 of the apple crumb mixture to the bottom of the parchment-lined baking pan and firmly push down creating a crust that goes all the way to the edges. Spread the cooled apple filling on top, then distribute the remaining apple crumb on top and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Cool and serve: Remove the cooked apple crumble squares from the oven and let them cool completely before slicing and serving with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- Use old-fashioned oats. Do not use quick-cooking oats as instant oats will change the texture of the crumb layer.
- Flour substitution. These apple crumb bars call for a mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. If you don’t have whole wheat flour, replace it with additional all-purpose flour. You can also substitute with gluten free 1:1 all purpose flour.
- Pack the crust firmly into the baking dish. This helps the bars stay together.
- Cool completely before serving. It’s very important to make sure the apple bars with crumb topping are completely cooled before cutting and serving as it takes a while for the filling to set. To speed up the process, you can store the apple pie bars in the fridge.
- Use any type of apple – While we used granny smith apples for this apple pie bar recipe because we love the balance of tart and sweet, you can use any variety of apples you enjoy.
- Add more flavor – Add a dash of vanilla, almond, or maple extract to the apple pie filling to infuse and deepen the flavor.
- Add nuts – Feel free to fold in some chopped pecans or walnuts into the prepared filling for a nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
- Use pumpkin pie spice – Pumpkin pie spice is a great blend of seasonings to add to these apple pie bars. Use it to replace the spice mixture in the filling.
- Don’t like apples? Try making this apple crumb bars recipe with your favorite pears or a mix of apple and pear.
More Apple Dessert Recipes
- Caramel Apple Cake – Although this is actually a cake, you cut the cake into small bars and serve with our easy homemade caramel sauce.
- Apple Cheesecake Bars – Do we need to say more? Layers of apple, crust and cheesecake combine to create an irresistible bar.
- Baked Apple Cider Donuts – A classic taste of the fall season, enjoy these donuts for breakfast or dessert!
- Homemade Apple Pie – Nothing beats a slice of homemade apple pie for dessert.
- Apple Pie Egg Rolls – These are baked, not fried for a fun twist on a classic dessert.
These apple crumb bars are too good to resist and come together easily. They taste just like apple crisp or apple pie, but in bar form. Try this recipe and leave a review below!
Apple Crumb Bars
For the apple filling:
- 4 granny smith apples, peeled & cubbed
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
For the oat crumble:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground cloves
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and sugar together over low heat. Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon and stir. Turn the heat up to medium and let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
- Whisk in the cornstarch, smoothing out any lumps, then remove from the heat. Let cool as completely as possible before assembling the bars.
- Line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the flours, oats, sugar, salt + spices in a bowl. Add the butter and honey and use your fingers to combine into a crumbly mixture. Add cream and continue to work the dough with your hands. Pour 3/4 of the mixture into your prepared pan, firmly pushing it down evenly and into the corners.
- Spread the apple filling on top, then sprinkle the remaining crumble across the fruit mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the bars cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving (otherwise they may be too soft and fall apart). Keep in the fridge until ready to eat.