Apple Crumble Bars take tender, juicy apples and nestle them in between a layer of buttery shortbread crust and a hearty, streusel topping.
This delicious fall dessert will be a new favorite at your home and the best part - you don't even need to peel the apples!
A kiss of cool is in the Illinois air which makes some people jump into pumpkin mode, but me??? I'm already yearning for apple season and our first trip to the apple orchard!
Whether you're picking apples at orchard or grabbing one from the bin at the grocery store, you'll want to add this recipe to your autumn baking list! It's joining the lineup up low sugar apple crisp, apple pie baked oatmeal and spiced apple muffins!
Fresh apples are delightful on their own, but when you transform them into a delicious dessert? Even better!
There are three layers to these apple crumble bars. There's the base layer, which is a thick, buttery shortbread crust.
The middle layer which is reminiscent of homemade apple pie, mmmmm!
And the topping is an oatmeal and brown sugar based crumb. Don't let the ingredients intimidate you; we're using many of them in multiple steps so it's pretty simple.
Let's dive in, shall we??
For the shortbread crust:
- brown Sugar
For the apple filling:
- apples - I prefer to use Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples.
- sugar - some but not too sweet
- cornstarch - for thickening
- brown sugar
- spices - think of the typical fall flavors here like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
- lime or lemon juice
For the crumble topping
- rolled oats - these are also called old fashioned oats. If you have leftovers, use them in a strawberry crumble.
- brown Sugar
How to make apple crumb bars
As you probably guessed from the ingredients above, there are three parts to making this.
Make the bottom crust: It's super easy to do this by combining the crust ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer.
Tip: Don't put the bowl in the sink yet, we can still use it!
Press the crust into the baking dish, poke with a fork a few times, and bake. Set aside.
Make the filling: You can do this while the crust is cooking. I like to use an apple corer to core and cut my apple slices. Then I cut each slice into three thinner slices.
These will be combined with the other filling ingredients. Easy peasy! If you have frozen apples, you can use them in this recipe, too!
When the crust is done cooking, pour the filling over the crust.
Make the Topping: You can use the bowl of your stand mixer and save a dish! Basically, we are working the butter into the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
To do this, you'll want the butter to be nice and cold to incorporate, rather than melt, into the other ingredients. This topping gets sprinkled over the top of the apple filling.
There are your three layers!
Spice shortcut: Instead of using the combined cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, you can use apple pie spice for a similar type flavor. The exact amount is in the recipe card below.
Citrus juice: These add a little tang, acid and help keep the apples from browning. You can use lime juice or lemon juice
More apple recipes
These apple pie crumble bars make a perfect dessert in October when Halloween, harvest and fall gatherings are abound. I hope you enjoy them!
Apple Crumble Bars
For the crust
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
For the apple filling
- 3 ½ cups apples cored and sliced
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoon juice
For the crumble topping
- 1 cup rolled oats also called old-fashioned oats
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup chilled butter cut into cubes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x9” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. If you'd like to lift the cooked apple crumb bars out of the pan, you can line the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- To make the shortbread crust: Use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer and add the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Add flour and salt and mix until incorporated and mixture begins to come together.
- Press the dough into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan taking care to push in into the corners as well. Use a fork to poke several holes into the bottom of the crust. Place on the center rack of your preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes until it's a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.
- While the crust is cooking, prepare the apple layer and topping.
- Make the filling: In a large mixing bowl combine your sliced apples, sugar, cornstarch, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves. Mix until the apples are well coated, then add your lime juice and stir gently to combine.
- Make the Crumb Topping: In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and mix in using a fork or pastry blender until crumbly in texture. Note: You can save washing a dish if you use your stand mixing bowl to combine these ingredients.
- Assembly:Spoon the apple mixture onto the pre-baked crust. You'll likely need to use clean hands to spread the apples out evenly.
Spoon the oat topping evenly over the top of the apples. Place back into the heated oven on the center rack and bake for 55 minutes. If the topping starts to get too brown, you can loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- When done baking, remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool.