Nothing speaks more of fall than apples and these rich Caramel Apple Crisp Cookie Bars will become a favorite with their multi-levels of a buttery crust, apples mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg and a streusel topping drizzled with caramel.
If you have some fresh-picked apples and you can’t decide between caramel apples, apple crisp, or apple pie this recipe will decide for you as it combines the best of all three! For more apple recipes, try this homemade cinnamon apple sauce recipe. Next, be sure to try these gourmet caramel apples.
Make these caramel apple crisp crumble bars as an autumn weekend treat or serve as a dessert for Thanksgiving or Halloween.
Keep the bars in the pan and lightly cover so some air can still get to them or put in a Tupperware with a lid. Either way, they keep well in or out of the fridge for days.
How to Make Caramel Apple Crisp Cookie Bars
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 8 X 8 inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
- Beat together butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, flour, and cornstarch until creamy.
- Press dough evenly in bottom of dish.
- Bake in oven for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile peel and slice apples and toss together with water sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Evenly spread filling over top of baked crust.
- Mix together flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
- Add the topping mixture to the room temperature butter and mix until crumbly on medium speed with a hand mixer.
- Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over apples.
- Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes.
- Allow to cool several hours then drizzle caramel topping over the top.
Caramel Apple Crisp Bar Ingredients
Apples: You will want to get a firm apple that holds up to the heat. Some apples that you may love as a go-to snack may cook up mealy so do a little research on apple favorites. You can use one variety or several to add depth to your recipe. Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Crispin, Pink Lady, Jonagold, Ida Red, Mcintosh, and Honeycrisp are some of the good baking apples that will bake up and remain firmer than some of the others.
Oatmeal: I prefer to use Quaker’s old-fashioned oats which are whole grain and remain moist and soft in this recipe as light brown sugar which makes the topping sweet and crunchy.
Flour: Using all-purpose flour will give the topping the lightness it needs.
Cornstarch: When you add cornstarch to flour you will get a greater crumb strength which will aid in the bottom crust not becoming soggy.
Butter: For this recipe using salt in the butter adds depth with all the sweetness. Do not use margarine or shortening.
Salt: If you truly need to restrict your salt you can omit it, but the small amounts added to each of the layers help to break up the richness of the bars overall.
Ground Cinnamon/Nutmeg: Two of the most popular Fall spices. With these spices, a little goes a long way in infusing their warm flavors. You can also try Pumpkin Pie Spice which is a lovely combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice all-in-one.
Vanilla: Vanilla is essential as it adds sweetness and has the ability to enhance the other flavors so your recipe doesn’t taste flat. Caramel: You can buy the bottled caramel sauce or meltdown some caramel candy.
Caramel: caramel candy combined with a tablespoon or two of milk and gently melted in a pan will give you a stiffer drizzle when it dries than using a caramel dessert topping.
Apples: Some folks have their favorite apples that they use time after time. You can change up this recipe for yourself by using the opposite of what you usually use. Granny Smith apples are tart while Honeycrisp is distinctly sweet. Mix them or try sweet one time and tart the next.
Drizzle Topping: Caramel goes well with this recipe but you can also melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzle with the caramel or in place of it.
Sprinkles: Whether you keep your drizzle caramel or change to chocolate, you can add some baking toffee pieces or mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Reader Tips and Questions
Can I use several types of apples in this recipe? You can use more than one type of apple in this recipe, just keep in mind the recipe calls for 4 ½ cups only (unless you double the recipe) so if you want to use 3 or 4 varieties you may only need one per variety depending on how big the apple is.
Can I make these ahead of time for an event? Yes, these will keep for about 4 days with no problem. You can use parchment paper between the layers of bars if you want to plate them.
Will the bottom crust get soggy? The bottom crust will not get soggy due to the cornstarch that is mixed with the flour which aids in crust strength. Be sure to follow the instructions and bake the crust first.
Caramel Apple Crisp Cookie Bars
- ½ cup salted butter, softened
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 1¼ cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 4½ cups thinly sliced apples (peeled)
- ½ tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp salted butter, softened
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ cup old fashioned oats
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup caramel topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 x 8-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper.
- Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, flour, and cornstarch together until creamy.
- Press dough into bottom of dish.
- Bake in oven 15 minutes.
- Toss together apples, water, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Evenly spread filling over top of crust.
- Mix together topping ingredients with a hand mixture on medium speed. Generously sprinkle crumbs on top of apples.
- Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes.
- Allow to cool for several hours. Slice and serve.
- Drizzle caramel topping over the top of the bars.
recipe adapted from Better Homes and Garden 2021 addition