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Apple pie bars are a portable, sweet snack for fall. With a shortbread crust and crumble topping, everyone will love this easy seasonal favorite.
Apples are the constant on our grocery list, despite any protests about seasonal eating.
We almost always have some on hand, plus applesauce.
Once the apples start to get forgotten in favor of grapes or whatever the fruit of the week is, I grab them for baking.
Pie is obvious, and one of my favorites is apple pie with cheese, but a whole pie screams dessert.
While Apple Pie Bars? Those whisper softly to you, saying, “I’m a snack! I’m portable! You know you can’t resist!”
Apples know us so well.
Ingredients for apple pie bars
Apples – The number of apples you’ll need will depend on their size. Going by weight, you’ll need a little more than a pound. I always get extra apples — any left over can be used for snacking or dried apple slices!
Flour – I use all-purpose flour in this recipe. If you need your recipe to be gluten free, use your favorite all-purpose gluten-free blend (I like Pamela’s).
Whole wheat pastry flour can also be used.
Sugars – You will need granulated sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar for this recipe. Sometimes I omit the granulated sugar in the filling in favor of more brown sugar for a deeper flavor.
Butter – Use cold unsalted butter.
Egg – One standard large egg helps the crust come together and have a flaky texture.
Cinnamon – If you like, swap the cinnamon for apple pie spice or add your other favorite fall spices.
Vanilla – Use pure vanilla extract if you can for the best flavor.
What are the best apples for apple pie bars?
When choosing apples for pie, you want an apple that will hold its shape after baking.
I also go for slightly tart apples. Because you cook the apples with sugar and then have the crumble topping, you don’t want to go for an overly sweet apple!
My favorites are Pink Lady or Braeburn, which hold their shape well.
You can also use Gala if you prefer to let the apples be softer, but because they are sweeter you might want to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.
Whichever apple you choose, be sure to taste it before using it for apple pie bars. There’s not much worse flavor than a mealy apple!
You can also use premade apple pie filling if you choose.
How to make the crust
One of the reasons I like these bars is because you don’t need to worry about rolling out the crust.
This recipe uses a shortbread-style crust. While you can make it by hand, a food processor makes the process a cinch!
Simple pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter together to create a mixture that resembles sand. Then pulse in the egg, which will bind everything together into a soft dough.
Press it evenly into the baking pan, then prick holes using a fork. This helps it bake evenly and not get too puffy.
Chill while you preheat the oven, then bake! This simple crust can be used for your other favorite bars as well.
How to make apple pie bars
While the crust bakes, make the filling.
Grab a sauté pan, add the butter, and melt over medium-low heat.
Add the sliced apples, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Stir well to coat the apple slices.
Cook this gently, for about 15 minutes, until the apples are soft.
Pour the apples onto the crust, making sure to scrape all the buttery, cinnamon-y juices out of the pan.
Make the topping by pulsing together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter in a food processor. It should be nice and crumbly.
Scatter the crumble topping over the apples and place the pan in the oven.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and the juices escaping are a little bubbly.
Let cool completely before slicing and serving.
Just like with any other apple pie, you can add your favorite ingredients.
Chopped walnuts or pecans are great additions for the crumb topping.
For added sweetness, add raisins to the filling.
Love tart flavor? Fresh cranberries are a natural pairing for apples like in my apple cranberry crisp. Add them as you cook down the filling.
Top with sweet biscuit icing, which is perfect for any dessert, or drizzle on salted caramel sauce.
Don’t like apples at all? My raspberry pie bars are based off this recipe!
You can store apple pie bars on the counter at room temperature in a covered container for up to three days.
I actually like these best the day after baking! The crust softens just slightly and the flavors are fully melded for a great bite.
If your bars last longer than three days, store them in the refrigerator.
Just like with a full size apple pie, you can freeze apple pie bars.
Let the bars cool fully. Decide if you want to freeze whole or sliced into servings.
For servings, arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving some room between slices.
To freeze the batch uncut, use the parchment it was baked on to lift onto a baking sheet.
For both, freeze 1-2 hours, until solid. Wrap tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap, then store in a freezer-safe container or ziptop bag.
Individual slices can be warmed in the microwave in 10-second increments.
To reheat the uncut batch, transfer the bars on its parchment into an 8×8 baking dish. Reheat in a 350 oven until warm.
Try my caramel apple slab pie too!
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It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.
Apple Pie Bars
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2-3 large tart apples, such as Pink Lady (approximately 1 ¼ pounds), peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (enough to yield 4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Line an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse together cups flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until it resembles cornmeal.
- Pulse in egg until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Scoop dough into prepared pan and press evenly to cover bottom. Prick all over with a fork and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375° while crust chills. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Let cool while you prepare the filling.
- In a large sauté pan, melt tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add apples, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir to coat. Cook until apples are softened, approximately 15 minutes.
- Spoon apples evenly into baked crust, scraping the pan to collect caramelized juices.
- To make the topping, in a food processor, pulse together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter until coarse crumbs are formed. Scatter crumb over the top of the apples.
- Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting.
- In place of the homemade filling, you can use one 20-ounce can or jar apple pie filling.
- You can also make the crust and topping using a bowl and pastry blender instead of a food processor.
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.
First published October 2014; last updated September 2021.
I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…