Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples caramelized in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and apple cider piled onto a buttery, crisp shortbread-like crust and topped with a crunchy walnut and oatmeal streusel topping, make these incredibly delicious apple crisp bars an apple season must-bake.
This recipe makes a full 13×9 pan and can feed quite a few people (12-16) – perfect for any fall parties or get togethers. And let me tell, you these are most definitely a crowd pleaser. They will go fast. However, you can half the recipe for an 8×8 or 9×9 pan if you want less servings.
The shortbread crust
The crust is similar to a shortbread crust. This buttery, crisp, lightly sweetened crust is perfect to pile on loads of caramelized apples.
- Combine all purpose flour, granulated sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to combine
- Add the room temperature butter and process until large clumps form.
- Press the dough into the lined pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup to pack and even out the crust. I like to use an offset spatula to even and smooth out the top crust.
- Chill the crust to firm the butter up a bit while the oven preheats to 350F.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until light golden brown.
How to make the walnut oatmeal streusel topping
The walnut oatmeal topping provides a crunchy and chewy textural contrast to the crust and softened apples. Toast the walnuts before using, as toasting will deepen and enhance the flavor.
- In a food processor, pulse to combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
- Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together.
- Pulse in the oats.
- Stir in the walnuts and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
How to make the Apple Filling
My apple pie filling has multiple uses so this is a good filling to make on repeat. Your kitchen will smell amazing.
- In a large skillet combine the butter and brown sugar.
- Add the sliced apples and cook for 10 minutes until softened.
- Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and apple cider.
- Cook the apples until most of the liquid has been cooked down and reduced.
- Let the apple cool to room temperature.
Assembling the Apple Crisp Bars
- In an even layer, spread the apple filling over the shortbread crust.
- Sprinkle the walnut oatmeal streusel topping over the apple filling.
- Bake the bars for 50-60 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
- Allow the bars to cool, before slicing into squares and serving.
What are the best apples to bake with?
For this recipe, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp are favorite. They don’t get mealy or mushy while cooking, still keeping their tender texture. Granny Smith tend to be on the tart side, while Honey crisp apples are sweeter. Using a combination of the two balances the sweet/tart flavors.
Can any substitutions be made in this recipe?
Absolutely! Pears can be used in place of apples. Not a fan of walnuts, substitute almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts instead. Nuts can also be omitted for those with allergies. Out of apple cider? Apple juice or water can be used in place of apple cider. Add a tablespoon or two of boubon or Calvados to the apples towards the end of cooking, if you’re looking for a boozy kick.
Can I make these gluten free?
Yes, my favorite gluten free baking blend is Cup4Cup.
How to store Apple Crisp Bars
Apple Crisp bars can be left in an airtight container for up to 3 days. They can be frozen for up to a month.
The shortbread crust and walnut oatmeal streusel can be made in 2 days in advance. Make the apple filling the day you plan to serve them
If you make these apple crisp bars, let me know! Drop a comment or tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your bakes and creations.
For more fall baking recipes, check out these posts:
Apple Crisp Bars
- 2 ½ cups (420g) all purpose flour
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Walnut Oatmeal Topping
- 1/4 cup (38g) walnuts, chopped and toasted
- ¾ cup (90g) all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (142g) light brown sugar, packed
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1/3 cup (59g) old fashioned oats
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup (142g) light brown sugar, packed
- 8 medium baking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced I used Granny Smith and Honeycrisp
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅓ cup (151g) apple cider
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 12×9 pan with two pieces of parchment paper which extend over the sides to give you a ‘"handles" (this helps with removing the bars easily once it is set).
- In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture begins to form large clumps.
- Press the dough into the prepared pan, then level and smooth it with a bench press or measuring cup. Chill the crust for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown. Let cool completely.
Walnut Oatmeal Topping
- While the crust bakes, prepare the walnut oatmeal topping.
- In the bowl of the same food processor used to make the crust, place the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pulse to mix.
- Add the butter cubes and pulse until mixture begins to stick together and form small clumps.
- Add the oats and pulse to incorporate.
- Remove the bowl from the food processor and remove the center blade. Stir in the walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a large skillet with deep sides, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium high heat.
- Add the apples to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg along with apple cider.
- Cook until the apples have caramelized, softened and the liquid has reduced, about 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, spread the apple filling evenly over the crust.
- Evenly scatter the walnut oat topping over the apples.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until the topping has turned golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
- Let the bars cool completely on the rack before slicing and serving.