Yield: 8″ pan apple pie bars // Total Time: 1 hr. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. //
Buttery shortbread, a thick layer of spiced sliced apples, and a generous amount of streusel to top it all off.
Apple Pie Bars
I’ll be honest, I am not pie crust’s biggest fan, which is exactly why you don’t see many pie recipes on here! I’d love to tackle them in the future, but definitely not right now. That’s where these apple pie bars come into play. If you are also not a fan of dealing with pie crust these are perfect for you. It starts with a simple shortbread that uses melted butter so there’s no mixer required. That gets baked and then topped with a generous amount of sliced apples that have been tossed with sugar & cinnamon. To top that all off is a generous amount of streusel. After that, just bake, serve, and enjoy!
Apple pie bars recipe tips
Weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient and can easily throw off a recipe. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Mix the dough carefully
When adding in the flour, only mix just until no flour streaks remain. Overmixing the dough leads to more gluten formation, which can make the shortbread more tough and chewy than desired.
Pre-baking the shortbread
Similar to most pie recipes, you’re going to need to “pre-bake” the shortbread. This just means the shortbread will bake for a short time prior to the apples and streusel being added on to it. This is to ensure that the shortbread cooks throughout, and that you don’t end up with a raw crust on the bottom of your apple pie bars. Bake the shortbread for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown. If this takes longer than 20 minutes for you, continue to cook until the edges brown! It might just be that your oven’s temperature is running lower than what it says it’s at.
Ingredients and substitutions
For the shortbread:
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the shortbread. You can use salted in place of unsalted butter here, just be sure to omit the extra salt from the shortbread.
Granulated sugar: for sweetness and helps to lock in moisture.
All purpose flour: for structure.
Salt: to balance and bring out the sweetness and flavor of the shortbread.
Vanilla: for flavor.
For the apple pie filling:
Apples: use your favorite baking apple here! My favorite are honeycrisp and I used them here since they just so happened to be on sale at the time! You can also use fuji, gala, pink lady, jonathan, granny smith, or braeburn!
Light brown sugar: to lightly sweeten the apples and add some flavor.
Ground cinnamon: for flavor.
Lemon juice: we’ll use a tiny bit of lemon juice to bring out the flavor of the apples. Fresh or bottled works great here, you can even use lime if that’s what you have on hand!
All purpose flour: we’ll use a tiny bit of flour to thicken up any juice that comes out of the apples as it bakes.
For the streusel:
Unsalted butter: the base of the streusel, really what makes it buttery and delicious. You can use salted in place of unsalted butter here, just be sure to omit the extra salt from the streusel.
Light brown sugar: sweetens and adds flavor to the streusel. In a pinch granulated sugar will work here as well.
All purpose flour: adds structure to the streusel.
Salt: to balance and bring out the sweetness and flavor of the streusel.
Ground cinnamon: for flavor.
How to make apple pie bars
Here’s a detailed description of how to make these apple pie bars. You can find the full and complete recipe (which is printable!) at the end of this blog post!
1. Make the shortbread. In a medium sized mixing bowl, melt the butter. Then, whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add in the flour and salt and mix the ingredients together just until no flour streaks remain.
2. Pre-bake the shortbread. It’s important to pre-bake the shortbread so that your end product doesn’t involve a raw bottom layer. Pour the shortbread batter into a lined 8″ square baking dish and smooth it out into an even layer. Bake the shortbread for 15-20 minutes at 350F / 175C, until the edges turn golden brown. This may take longer if your oven’s temperature isn’t true to what it says (like mine), or if you are using a glass pan (which I don’t recommend). In the meantime…
3. Make the apple filling. I love all things apple flavored but i’ll admit, peeling apples is the most frustrating part of this recipe! Wash, peel, and slice the apples into ~1/4″ thick slices. Add the apples to a large mixing bowl, and toss them with the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, lemon juice, and flour, making sure each apple slice has been coated.
4. Make the streusel. In a medium sized bowl, melt the butter. Add in the light brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Use a fork to mix the ingredients together until you have formed little clumps of dough.
5. Layer the bars. Once the shortbread has golden brown edges, remove it from the oven. Spread the apples over the shortbread into an even layer, then top the apples with the streusel. Bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the streusel turns golden brown.
6. Wait for the bars to cool. Is this annoying? Yes. Is it worth it? 100%. Wait for the bars to fully cool to room temperature before slicing to avoid a very messy apple bar situation. You can speed up this process by placing them in the fridge, but only after letting them cool for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
7. Slice, serve, and enjoy! Now all that’s left to do is enjoy these bars, which I hope you do!
Apple pie bars Q & A
Can I double this recipe?
Of course! Simply double the ingredients and bake everything in a 9×13″ pan, or divide them into two 8″ square pans. Keep a close eye on them if you do end up baking in a 9×13″ pan, as the baking time may change.
How to store apple pie bars
Like most baked goods, these blondies will definitely taste the best on the day that they are baked, BUT they will last for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature, and up to 7 days when stored in the fridge. I prefer to eat these warm so I highly recommend heating the slices up for 10-15 seconds before eating!
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.
Tools and ingredients
You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!
Did you make these apple pie bars?
If you made these apple pie bars I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Apple Pie Bars
- 170 g unsalted butter (¾ c.)
- 100 g granulated sugar (½ c.)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 180 g all purpose flour (1 ½ c.)
- ¼ tsp. salt
Apple Pie Filling
- 500 g* apples (~4 medium sized apples)
- 55 g light brown sugar (¼ c.)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
- 70 g unsalted butter (¼ c. + 1 tbsp.)
- 100 g light brown sugar (½ c.)
- 120 g all purpose flour (1 c.)
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Grease and line an 8" square baking dish with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Then, whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add in the flour and salt, and mix the ingredients together just until no flour streaks remain.
- Pour the shortbread batter into your lined baking dish and smooth it out into an even layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown. In the meantime…
Apple Pie Filling
- Wash, peel, and slice the apples into ~1/4" thick slices. Add the apples to a large mixing bowl, and toss them with the brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and flour. Make sure that each apple slice has been coated, then set aside
- In a medium sized bowl, melt the butter. Add in the light brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Use a fork to mix the ingredients together until you have formed little clumps of dough.
- Once the shortbread has golden brown edges, remove it from the oven. Spread the apples over the shortbread into an even layer, then top the apples with the streusel. Bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the streusel turns golden brown.
- Wait for the bars to fully cool to room temperature before slicing to avoid a very messy apple bar situation. You can speed up this process by placing them in the fridge, but only after letting them cool for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Once the bars have cooled to room temperature, slice them up, serve them with ice cream if desired, and enjoy!
Help! My apples are not getting soft! I used Granny Smith and honey crisp. Do you have any idea what I could be doing wrong?
Hi! Do you mean after baking the bars? They don’t get too soft before adding them to the bars to bake, and definitely still retain *some* crispness after baking. If they’re completely crisp still after baking for the 30-35 minutes then it’s possible you are slicing them too thick, or that your oven temp is a little off (I highly recommend using an oven thermometer for this reason!) I hope this helps!
This was delightful! Switched out the butter for Earth Balance vegan baking sticks to accommodate my dairy-free friend and it came out just fine. Also, in addition to the cinnamon in the apple mixture, I added roughly 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp ginger, and a pinch each of ground cloves and allspice and it was delicious! Will definitely make again — considering trying it with pears next time just for fun. 🙂 thanks for the lovely recipe!!
Ah I’m so happy you liked them and that they turned out with the accommodations! Also, making them with pears sounds amazing, I’d love to know how they turn out if you do end up making them that way! 🙂