Apple Bars


5 from 9 votes
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What can be better than flaky shortbread layered with luscious apple pie filling and a creamy caramel sauce? These apple bars are the perfect dessert recipe for fall. 

apple bars.

If you are craving a dessert that feels like home, then these caramel apple bars are what you should make. These rustic but super rich-tasting bars feature the timeless combination of apples, caramel, and cinnamon. 

Why you’ll love this recipe 

If you don’t bake often because you find the process of baking to be time consuming, this is the recipe for you!

  • Simpler than apple pie. As easy as pie? Making these caramel apple bars is even easier than making an apple pie!
  • A year-round treat. Unlike many other fruits, apples are widely available year-round. 
  • Rich flavor. Layering apple pie filling and caramel over a crumbly crust creates a rich flavor that you won’t get enough of. 
  • Just 5 minutes prep. After making the dough and the caramel, there isn’t very much hands on time at all.

Ingredients needed

You will need to make a classic shortbread crust for these caramel apple bars and top it  with caramel and apple pie filling. The latter can be either homemade or store-bought. Here’s the list of ingredients you will need for this caramel apple bars recipe. 

For the crust:

  • Butter. Room temperature, unsalted. 
  • Sugar. Granulated white and powdered sugar. 
  • Flour. White all-purpose flour. 
  • Vanilla extract. To taste. 

For the filling:

  • Apple pie filling. Homemade or store-bought. 
  • Caramel candies. Unwrapped. 
  • Heavy cream. For the caramel sauce. 
  • Cinnamon. Goes perfectly with apples and caramel. 
  • Vanilla. To enhance the flavor of the caramel sauce. 

How to make apple bars

Despite the multiple layers, these caramel apple bars are very easy to make. You don’t have to have outstanding baking skills to make them. 

Step 1 -Make the dough

For the shortbread crust, attach the paddle to the stand mixer and start mixing the butter with the granulated and powdered sugar on medium speed. Once mixed, add the flour slowly until a soft dough forms. 

shortbread dough.

Step 2- Bake the crust

Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Once baked, remove the crust from the oven and let it cool. 

shortbread crust.

Step 3- Prepare the caramel filling

Make the caramel filling while the crust bakes. Microwave the unwrapped caramel candies and heavy cream at 15-second intervals. Whisk until smooth. Add the cinnamon and vanilla extract. 

caramel sauce.

Step 4- Add the caramel and apple fillings

Pour the caramel filling over the cooled crust, followed by a thin layer of apple pie filling. 

caramel and apple on shortbread.

Remove the remaining dough from the fridge and crumble it evenly on the caramel apples. 

crumb topping on apple bars.

Step 5- Return to the oven

Put the crust with the fillings back into the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven when the fillings bubbles and the top layer of the crumbled crust gets golden brown.

baked apple bars.

Which apples are best to use?

Texture-wise, the best apples to use for the filling for these apple bars are the ones that are firm and will hold their shape well when cooked and baked. 

If you are choosing based on the flavor, use Granny Smith, Jonathan, or Pacific Rose apples if you like tart apple flavor. Go with Jazz, Honey crisp, or Golden Delicious if you prefer sweeter apples. 

If you are making the apple filling yourself and want to achieve a complex flavor, use a few different apples. 

Storage instructions 

To store. Transfer caramel apple bars into an airtight container as soon as they cool. Stored at room temperature, caramel apple bars will stay fresh for up to 4 days. Refrigerate caramel apple bars to make them last up to 7 days.  

To freeze. Place the baked and cooled bars in a shallow container and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

caramel apple bars.

More apple dessert recipes to try

Frequently asked questions 

How to serve caramel apple bars?

You can serve these bars both warm and cold, though they are delightful served fresh from the oven. Keep the additions simple, like some ice cream, caramel sauce, or whipped cream.

Can I omit the caramel?

If you’d like plain apple bars, you can omit the caramel.

apple bars recipe.

Apple Bars

5 from 9 votes
What can be better than flaky shortbread layered with luscious apple pie filling and a creamy caramel sauce? These apple bars are the perfect dessert recipe for fall. 
Servings: 24 Bars
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 31 minutes


For the crust

For the filling

  • 14 ounces caramels unwrapped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple pie filling


  • Preheat the oven to 175C/325F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, mix the butter and two sugars together on medium speed. Add vanilla, then turn the speed to low. Slowly add the flour until a soft dough forms. 
  • Transfer ⅓ of the dough into the pan and cover the remaining dough and refrigerate.
  • Bake the pan for 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
  • While the crust is baking prepare the caramel portion of the filling. Place the unwrapped caramels into a microwave safe dish along with the heavy cream. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until the caramel is mostly melted. Whisk together until smooth, along with the cinnamon and vanilla.
  • Pour the caramel over the cooled crust. Add a thin layer of the apple pie filling. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel apples.
  • Return the oven to the pan and bake for  25-30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and it is golden brown on top.
  • Let them cool completely before cutting into squares.


TO STORE: Leftovers can be kept at room temperature, covered, for up to one week. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 
TO FREEZE: Place the baked and cooled bars in a shallow container and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. 


Serving: 1barCalories: 295kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 3gFat: 17gSodium: 163mgPotassium: 63mgFiber: 1gVitamin A: 480IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 31mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 44g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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  1. I agree… David is pretty darn awesome! I didn’t know about this apple fetish thing though… haha that’s HYSTERICAL!!! Love this recipe and thanks so much for bringing such a great recipe to the party Arman!

  2. This is such a cool idea for a baby shower! 🙂

    This recipe sounds perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon for a quick fix to sooth your sweet tooth. I love the caramel sauce.

  3. These photos are awesome! I almost thought this was apple pie at first, but this recipe sounds way easier to make than pie – win!

  4. This looks SO heavenly! And I loved reading all about you and David’s friendship 🙂 I so wish this was a real baby shower so I could taste everyone’s amazing treats!

  5. I will totally hold up my beer and apples to David, Laura, and Baby Spice! I will also toast this no bake caramel apple slice – either version! Or maybe that should be both versions. 🙂

  6. I love that you have an original recipe AND a cheaters version. Very intuitive of you to know that I would want to make the original version, but would probably end up cheating…