These Salted Caramel Apple Bars layer sliced apples and cinnamon streusel on top of a sweet shortbread crust. Finished with a drizzle of vegan salted caramel, they’re just as comforting as an apple pie but easier to make!
Sometimes, baking an entire vegan apple pie is just too overwhelming or way too much work. That’s when I like to make pie bars instead, like these Salted Caramel Apple Bars! Just like my Blueberry Pie Bars and Mini Pumpkin Pies, they’re much easier to put together but taste just as heavenly as a real pie.
There are four layers in these easy apple bars: (1) A buttery shortbread crust, (2) cinnamon sugar-coated apples, (3) oat crumble, and (4) vegan caramel sauce. Together, they form the most comforting dessert!
Why I love these salted caramel apple bars
- Bite-sized apple dessert – When you want to capture the magic of a comforting vegan apple crisp or vegan apple pie in a small bite-sized dessert, make these salted caramel apple pie bars.
- Tastes like fall – You’ll find the most comforting blend of sweet-tart apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg in every bite of this apple bars recipe. A drizzle of vegan salted caramel on top doesn’t hurt, either.
- Surprisingly easy – Despite the lengthy steps, this is a foolproof dessert through and through. The shortbread crust, apple filling, and streusel topping all come together so easily!
How to make apple bars
To make the shortbread crust, stir the melted vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla together. Stir in the flour until combined. Dump the crust into a parchment paper-lined baking pan and press it into an even layer. Par-bake the crust.
Meanwhile, stir the sliced apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate bowl to make the apple filling.
Stir the oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in another bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the cold vegan butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
To assemble the bars, layer the apple filling over the warm baked crust, pressing them down to make them fit. Sprinkle the oat mixture over top. Bake until the topping is golden brown.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, I highly recommend peeling the apples. The peeled apple slices are more tender and you’ll get cleaner bites (no stringy peels pulling the bars apart!).
Sure! Just use a quality gluten free flour mix instead of the all purpose flour.
I like to eat the vegan apple bars within 1 or 2 days of baking because the sliced and baked apples tend to turn brown as they sit. The caramel on top will make the streusel soggy, too. Still, if you have leftovers, you can keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for about 3 months.
Salted Caramel Apple Bars
- Prepare the pan and preheat oven – Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a 8-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper. Leave some overhang on all sides for easy removal later. Set aside.
- Make the shortbread crust – Add the melted vegan butter, sugar, vanilla to a medium sized bowl and stir. Now add the flour and stir until combined. Press evenly into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then remove and set aside. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees F.
- Make the apple filling – In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir until the apples are coated. Set aside.
- Make the topping – Stir the oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl (I use the same bowl I made the crust in). Use a pastry cutter (or your hands) to cut in the cold vegan butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
- Put together and bake – Layer the apple mixture evenly over the warm crust. Press them down a bit to make them all fit. Sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
- Let cool and serve – Remove from oven and let cool for about 30 minutes at room temperature, then move to the refrigerator and let chill for 1 hour, if possible. You can also serve warm, they just won't hold together as well. Use the parchment overhang to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into squares with a large heavy knife. Drizzle with some vegan salted caramel before serving. Enjoy!
May double and bake in a 9×13 inch pan. Bake the crust a little longer, about 19 minutes, and the bars for 50 minutes.
- Gluten free? Substitute a gluten free flour mix.