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Apple Pie Bars

by Jamie on October 26, 2011

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I’m going through a bit of an apple phase – more specifically an apple pie phase, but not in the traditional sense. I’m all about the warm and cozy taste and texture of America’s favorite pie, but I’m having fun reworking those flavors into other desserts. First gorgeous Apple Pie Muffins, then Homemade Apple Butter and now these lovely Apple Pie Bars.

We are lucky enough to have an amazing apple orchard just minutes from our house. Nestled in front of the orchard is a charming general store filled with smells of cider and freshly baked apple pie. The store also sells a terrific assortment of pantry items like country jams, jellies, syrups and also a variety of locally grown produce.

I may have picked up half a bushel of Granny Smith apples from the orchard on a whim – and I needed to find a plan fast. Having been enlisted to bake a dessert for a staff luncheon, I knew sweet Fall flavors in abundance would work well, but I also needed a recipe with a yield large enough to feed a room full of sweet-toothed coworkers. After a brief Google search, I came across this recipe for Apple Pie Bars and it is simply perfect.

Apple Pie Bars start with a rich, buttery shortbread crust that is topped with a layer of tart apples that are beautifully accentuated by a perfect blend of autumnal spices. To make these already incredible bars even better, a layer of sweet and nutty crumble adds just the right amount of crunch.

Although these Apple Pie Bars definitely fit into the dessert category, we couldn’t help indulging in them with our morning coffee for a delicious breakfast.

This recipe makes a huge batch of these bars which makes them perfect for potlucks, holiday cookie swaps or holiday parties.

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Apple Pie Bars

October 26th, 2011

Yield: 4 dozen bars

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time:

Ingredients:

For the Crust

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Filling

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup water, if necessary

For the Topping

3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

Make the Crust

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms.

Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan creating an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.

Make the Filling

In an extra large skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter with 1/2 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet and if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup of water to prevent scorching. Let cool. (I did not need to add any water to my skillet.)

Make the Topping

In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the pecans and press the mixture into clumps.

Assemble and Bake

Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.

Notes:

- Bars can be stored in at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- I definitely recommend using an Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer for this recipe. You can pick them up at a variety of places such as Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond. They are pretty inexpensive and make the prep work a breeze.


{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

Wenderly November 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I can just smell the cinnamon-y, apple-y, spicy goodness! That is one gorgeous bar!

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Maggie December 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Absolutely amazing!!!! I made them last night and
Everybody loves them!!!!! Sooooo good!!!

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Juile December 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

There were totally amazing. I added a bag of fresh cranberries – just because I love apples with cranberries. It also makes a ton so good for a crowd.

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Nilda December 25, 2011 at 12:08 am

Hello there–
writing this comment as the apple pie is in the oven, so can’t tell you how amazing it is…YET! But wanted to comment on the recipe itself since you wanted more talk about the recipe vs the solely the amazing pictures. So here it is :)

Easy to follow directions. I ran short of apples, possibly because of the size of my apples, but it didn’t end up covering all of my dough, so I ended up scooting over all the apples to a little more than half the dough area. The other part I got stuck on was the topping portion. I didn’t know what a pastry blender was (my fault!), so I thought I could pass with just mixing by hand. However, then I ended up microwaving the mix for about 30 seconds for the butter to moisten vs chilled (as instructed). Once I realized nothing was happening nor did it look right, I gave my mixer a shot and that did the trick. So not sure if pastry blender and mixer is the same thing, but it worked (I think). Layering it all was easy just as instructed, but again my topping amount was much greater than I actually needed for the amount of dough and apples I ended up using.

Can’t wait to try it & serve it tomorrow on Christmas Day! Thanks for the recipe–awesome stuff you have :) Will make sure to credit you & your blog once I am able to blog about it on brown-eyedbaker.tumblr.com

Happy Holidays & thanks for an awesome recipe, in fact my FIRST apple pie attempt :)

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May January 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I made these for a barbecue yesterday here in Dubai and everyone was RAVING about them! These are absolutely fantastic, they’re buttery and apple-y and perfectly sweet and crisp and soft all at once.
Thanks for a fabulous recipe

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Melissa November 3, 2012 at 8:53 pm

These look so good! I love to make apple desserts. =)

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Lisa Cornely December 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

These Apple pie bars are absolutely amazing. The crust is delicious, and the topping is fabulous. They were a huge hit. Thanks so much for sharing.

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Cindee December 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I cut the recipe in half and it turned out good. I think my math on the topping was off, because its awfully crumbly. With a little vanilla ice cream it was heaven!

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MBA December 26, 2012 at 8:53 am

Cindee-
I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback – have a great day!
-Jamie

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Z January 4, 2013 at 7:14 am

This is definitely going in my things to bake (TTB) list! I was wondering though, when you say one stick of butter, is that equivalent to 1/2 or 1 cup of butter? The supermarkets in our country sell butter in 1/2 cup sticks and 1 cup sticks (I’m not sure if you’d still call them sticks. Bar I think is a more apt term), so I’m not sure how much you mean when you say “stick”.

Looking forward to your reply! :)

A (late) happy new year to you and your family! :)

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MBA January 4, 2013 at 9:04 am

Z-
One stick of butter is equivalent to 1/2 cup. Sorry for the confusion and good luck!
-Jamie

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Carole August 20, 2014 at 2:10 am

One stick of butter is 1/4 pound.

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Jamie August 20, 2014 at 10:19 am

Thanks Carole.

-Jamie

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Erin @ Making Memories April 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

These look wonderful!

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Jana Ziegler August 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Thanks so much for the apple recipes — especially the Apple Pie Bars. We have an apple tree in our front yard — paid $2 for it several years ago, and it is “GROANING”, it is so FULL of apples. Not sure what kind of apples they are — a yellow variety, like maybe Grimes Golden or something…. anyway, last year for the first time, we had a good crop of apples and we made applesauce for freezing (then found out how easy it is to can it!!), apple butter, and some flavored applesauces (raspberry, etc.). We also froze some slices. I thought we had a lot of apples LAST year. WHEW — this year is gonna be a DOOZIE!!! So, since I don’t (“can’t”) make pie (for reasons I will never understand……can NOT drive a stick-shift vehicle either….) this “pie-in-a-bar” recipe looks like it might be right up my alley.!!! Keep these GREAT recipes coming!!!!! I “liked” you on Facebook, and am following you on Pinterest!

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Jamie August 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

Jana,

Thank you so much and I’m super jealous of your amazing tree! Please come back and let us know your experience with the recipe and enjoy your summer!

Jamie

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Bridget Zocher September 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I wish more of the people responding had actually made this recipe instead of saying it sounds good. I made these last night and had a few issues. First, I did burn the apples a bit – you have to leave them for quite a while to get all the liquid incorporated, and I didn’t check them enough. But not burned much and I was able to take out the few burned parts and the rest was fine. The amount of topping this makes is really way too much, I did use it all but it was a very thick topping, think I should have just thrown out part and made it how you have pictured. The time needed to bake, at least for me, was 20 minuted less than what you indicate. Glad I kept checking it – this would have burned. I let them fully cool and cut them up – wow this makes a lot, but I lost all the sides as they were so crumbly. I did pat down the topping before baking to try and avoid this, but all the bars were very crumbly, kind of a mess to eat. I added salted caramel to the top which didn’t help in the mess department but did make them tasty. Ultimately too much work to make these again, no real “wow” factor for how long it took!

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Anja September 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Same for me. I just turned the oven off after 1/2h, because it’s getting quite dark. And the bottom was already prefectly done after 20 min. That’s going to be even darker.

I made a bowl crumble with the left-over topping and apples. Just have to bake it.

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Anja September 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Wanted to add, we tried them, and they’re really good. I’ll just know for next time to bake for at least half an hour less and make a bit less topping.

Thanks for sharing.

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diana September 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Great recipe thank you! I made them for a family camping trip since pie is a little tricky to camp with. Grandma loved them (the queen of apple pies!) as did everyone. I’m sending the link to my mother-in-law and a few others.

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Lisa September 16, 2013 at 8:24 am

First of all….these need to be in my life but not 4 dozen of them! There are only 2 of us in the house and all the butter would so not be good! What size pan would I use if I cut the recipe in half? or even just enough to make 1 dozen?

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Dee September 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Hi there. I’m making these Friday and was wondering something. What would be the difference if I used old fashioned/regular oats instead of the quick cooking kind? They bake for so long I wonder if it would matter? I have the regular oats here already and I’d rather not have to buy more if I don’t have to. Any input would be appreciated. Thank you! :)

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Jamie October 3, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Dee-
Thanks for visiting! I think old fashioned oats will work perfectly – great question! I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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Dee October 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm

It did work out wonderfully. They were a big hit! Now some people want a cherry version, so I’m going to use your recipe for cherry pie filling and use almonds instead of pecans in the topping.

As a side note, I was amazed at how much liquid comes out of the apples when you cook them. I had no idea! LOL thanks for such a delicious recipe. :-D

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Jamie October 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Dee-

Yum, a cherry version sounds great! Thanks so much :)

-Jamie

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Vivian October 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I must have done something wrong. These were a BIG disappointment; time consuming and costly. I baked them for 40 min. instead of the 1 hr as directed, yet the bottoms were blackened and the bars dry. I made them for our couples card group but am hesitant to serve them; wondering if I should have a back up dessert.

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Jamie January 10, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Vivian,
I’m sorry you had that experience. It almost sounds like your oven temp is way off. For example, my oven runs 10 degrees hotter than the display says. I found out when I put in a separate oven thermometer. My started adjusting my baking temperatures, and my results got a lot better. I wouldn’t serve them if the bottoms are blackened.
– Jamie

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Tena October 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

I took these to a HS Girls Tennis Banquet last night, and they were a HUGE HIT. I had parents waiting at the end to see who was going to claim the baking pan so they could figure out who had baked the bars. Needless to say, I have folks to send to your blog this morning!

One Tip: Even with a well-seasoned edged baking stone, use the parchment paper and allow it to “stick up” about a 1/2 inch around the entire edge. This will catch all of that wonderful topping!

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Jamie October 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Tena-

That’s great to hear, and thank you for the tip! I’m happy that they went over so well. Have a great day!

-Jamie

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Rinda May 29, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Way to much crumble!! I’d suggest cut the recipe by a quarter!!

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Kellie June 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Like to make 1/2 recipe. .what size pan recommended? Thx!

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Jamie July 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Kellie-
I have never halved this recipe, but I think you’d be okay with a 9×13. I hope this helps.
Jamie

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Mary June 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Is there another pan I can use for this recipe as I don’t have the pan stated above?

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Jamie July 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Mary-
I think you could get away with halving the recipe and using a 9×13 pan. I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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