Apple Crisp Bars are easy to make from scratch. This recipe uses a basic shortbread crust topped with apple slices and a simple flavorful crisp.

easy apple crisp bars crumble topping slice showing filling cut into squares

Sliced apples and crumble topping with a shortbread crust—now that’s a dessert I can get behind. This recipe for apple crisp bars is one of my go-to’s. Warm, cold, with ice cream, for breakfast, any way you eat them, they are delicious.

For those of you who usually reach for the boxed apple crisp topping, I think it’s worth trying to make it from scratch. I’ll break the homemade recipe down for you.

So what inspired me to make this recipe? Well, my mom made apple crisp all the time when I was growing up. I loved it so much, especially the crumble topping. I wanted to replicate the dessert, but make it mobile. The simplest answer is to make apple crisp into bars. All it took was making a shortbread crust for the apples to sit on.

easy apple crisp bars with apple slices, knife, cutting board

Step by step instructions

Start with the shortbread crust: The base of these apple crisp bars is a shortbread crust⁠—butter, brown sugar, vanilla and flour. Beat those ingredients together and press the dough into a baking pan. Pre-bake the crust at 350° F so it’s sturdy enough to hold the apple filling and crumble topping.

Make the apple crisp filling: Peel, core and slice apples to make the filling. The job is made easy with this apple peeler. Then toss the apples in flour to prevent a runny filling and sugar for extra sweetness.

Prepare the crumble topping: Crumble topping requires sugar, flour, cinnamon and cold butter crumbled together. When butter is cold, it won’t get completely incorporated into the batter. Use a pastry cutter to obtain pea size crumbles. The butter will melt in the oven to create a crispy topping.

apples slices placed on shortbread crust
hand sprinkling crumble on top of apples in 8x8 pan
apple bars crumble topping in hand

Frequently asked questions

Best apples for apple crisp:

Similar to apple pie, apple crisp bars require the same type of apples. I like to use a mix of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp. Granny Smith are juicy, tart and firm, while Honeycrisp is slightly sweet and crisp. Other good varieties include Northern Spy, Pink Lady, Braeburn and Golden Delicious.

How to store apple crisp bars

Apple crisp bars are best when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They are best served at room temperature or warm. You can reheat apple crisp bars in the oven. Place the bars on a parchment-lined baking sheet or back in the 8×8 baking pan. Reheat at 300° F for 10 to 15 minutes until heated through.

Can you freeze apple crisp bars?

Yes, once the bars have cooled, place the 8×8 baking pan in the refrigerator for the filling to set. Once chilled, use the parchment paper to live the entire uncut bar out of the pan. Keep parchment paper on and wrap the entire bar with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Store on a flat surface in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating, cutting and serving. Bars can also be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 1 month.

easy apple crisp bars square on parchment paper with apple slice

More apple recipes

I have a slew of apple recipes in the archive, but here are a few of my favorites from my blog and others!

Apple bars are a must try during the fall season. I’d love to see how your turned out! If you try one of my recipes, be sure to tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media!

apple bars with crumble topping; one bar turned on its side to show apple layers

Easy Apple Crisp Bars

Apple Crisp Bars are easy to make from scratch—promise. This recipe uses a basic shortbread crust topped with apple slices and a simple flavorful crisp.
4.96 (22 ratings)

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust

  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups (147 g) all-purpose flour

Apple Filling

  • 4 cups (500 g) apples1, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 4-5 medium apples2)
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar

Crisp Topping

  • ½ cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (94 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Instructions 

Shortbread Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper, leaving extra hanging over the ends, spray with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour and mix until combined and dough is crumbly.
  • Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until dough is slightly puffed. Remove from oven and set aside, maintain oven temperature.

Apple Filling

  • Peel, core and chop apples into slices (this apple peeler/corer does the job in minutes). In a large bowl, combine apples, flour and sugar. Mix until apples are thoroughly coated. Arrange apples on baked crust.

Crisp Topping

  • In a medium bowl, mix together first five ingredients. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Spread topping over apples in an even layer.
  • Bake uncovered at 350º F for 45 minutes, or until topping is golden and apple mixture is bubbly. Let cool, lift apple crisp using the extra parchment paper at the ends as handles, and cut into bars.

Notes

Best apples for baking: Use crisp or tart apples such as Granny Smith and Honeycrisp (or mix them!) Avoid sweeter apples (like Macintosh) as it will make the filling mushy. 
Store apple crisp bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Suggested tools: Kitchen scale, apple peeler/corer, pastry cutter, 8×8 baking pan, mixing bowls
Serving: 1bar, Calories: 229kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 78mg, Potassium: 64mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 325IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 1mg

Recipe adapted from The Merry Thought.

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