Apple Crumb Bars

These apple crumb bars with their oatmeal-pecan topping and tender spiced apple cake are so irresistible, we’re proclaiming them to be better than pie.

Nine apple crumb bars on a white sheet.

Anna generously agreed to share her apple crumb bar recipe. Anna and I met at a cooking contest years ago. She was a cooking contest champion, which is no surprise at all. Anna sticks with a recipe and works it until she gets it just right, which I think is a hallmark of all of the best bakers. They don’t quit until they achieve perfection. I didn’t even try to develop my own recipe because Anna’s recipe is already perfect. I make it every September—and sometimes for Thanksgiving—since I think these bars are even better than pie.–Erin Renouf Mylroie

Apple Crumb Bars

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 9 to 12 bars
5/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the 101 Greatest Cookies on the Planet cookbook

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Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a 9-inch (23-cm) square metal pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper.

In a bowl or food processor, combine the brown sugar, oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Cut in or pulse in 9 tablespoons of the butter until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

Reserve about 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping. Pat the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. It will seem dry, but it’s supposed to be.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Arrange the apples in a single or double layer on the crust. Sprinkle with the cinnamon.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and water and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to boil and thicken, about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the apples. Sprinkle the reserved oat crumbs on top and then sprinkle with the pecans.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the bars cool completely. The bars will hold together better if you tuck them away in the fridge for at least several hours before cutting. Bring them back to room temperature before serving.

Print RecipeBuy the 101 Greatest Cookies on the Planet cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Maybe because today is a perfect fall day with sun shining, leaves crunching under foot, a bit of a nip in the air; maybe all those delicious looking apples at farm stands look so beautiful; and maybe all of that has heightened my taste buds, but these Apple Crumb Bars are DELICIOUS!

I used Granny Smith apples which added a bit of tartness. The cinnamon smelled wonderful as these cooked and added just the right cinnamon undertone. My partner had his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I was a purist—no ice cream—and enjoyed every bite. The bars are a little sweet, but not too sweet. In fact, I had one for dessert tonight and plan to have another for breakfast tomorrow.

I cut the bars in the pan while they were still cooling. I had left the parchment come over the pan on 2 opposite sides so I could lift the parchment to remove the bars. I was able to nudge them apart and they kept their shape and I could serve them while still warm.

This is a really good recipe that yields absolutely fabulous apple crumb bars. Goodness! The crust and crumb topping (2 for 1) is perfect. Although it feels a little dry when you press it into the pan, it bakes up crisp with a little chew and a whole lot of flavor!

I can't decide my favorite part of this comforting treat: the delicious pecans that get all toasty on top or the fact that I didn't have to peel the apples! What a bonus! The sugar syrup makes this delectable as the apple filling is tender and juicy, but not goopy or runny.

I let them cool for about 15 minutes before serving and the bars held together fine. They were still warm enough to welcome a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. This is a keeper!


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  1. Made these today in parchment-lined ceramic pan so I was able to lift them out and slice without first refrigerating. Only change was using walnuts since that’s one of my baking staples. Cut into nine squares. Husband and I each had one for dessert. So much easier than apple pie, and just as satisfying.

    1. Thanks, Roni! We’re delighted that you both loved them so much. They really are a lot easier than making apple pie, and every bit as good. Can’t wait to hear what you make next.

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