While fall doesn’t officially begin for a couple more weeks, many of us use the passing of Labor Day weekend as the unofficial start of the beloved season.  After all, seasonal fall beverages are now available at coffee shops around the country – I enjoyed one myself last weekend :)  Normally at this point in the year, I’m confused because my mind turns to fall but the atmosphere is still all summer.  This year, though, the weather seems to be playing along.  I mean, it may not be sweatshirt weather just yet but I’ve been enjoying the breezy days and the cool foggy mornings.

Any day now we’ll be heading to the apple orchard for our first of many trips this season.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the crops weren’t totally demolished by the drought.  Each year I get overzealous and pick far more apples than we could ever need, but somehow we manage to find a use for them all.  About half are eaten straight, many are used in applesauce, some atop waffles and now, some will always be earmarked for these bars.  The simple crumble dough with oats and a dose of warm fall spices is used for both the base and topping of these bars.  Sandwiched between the two layers is a combination of gooey caramel sauce and tender cooked apples.  If you are a nut lover, sprinkle some chopped walnuts or pecans over the top for additional crunch.  Fall in a bar cookie?  I’ll take it.

Note: This recipe was developed as part of my ongoing contribution to the Go Bold with Butter blog.  Head over to see my posts as well as more great recipes from the other awesome bloggers involved with the project!


For the filling:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 large (or 5 medium) apples, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of grated nutmeg
9 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For the dough: 
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper.  To make the filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring occasionally, under the apples are golden brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, prepare the dough.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and stir with a fork or knead very briefly just until a crumbly dough comes together.  Transfer about two thirds of the dough mixture to the prepared baking pan and press down into an even layer.  Bake until light golden, about 12-14 minutes.

  • 03

    While the base is baking, combine the caramels and cream in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Melt the caramels, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is totally smooth.  Remove from the heat.  Once the base layer is baked, pour the caramel over the top.  Layer with the cooked apple slices.  Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the apple slices.  Sprinkle evenly with the chopped nuts, if using.

  • 04

    Bake about 22-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.  Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

  • Sarah

    Hi Annie, I can’t wait to make these! I have two questions though, I have a lot of cooking apples at the moment from the trees in my garden, can I use these or should I use regular shop bought apples? Also, I don’t have time to make the caramel candies from scratch (and I live in Ireland and we don’t have corn syrup!), is there anything shop bought that I can substitute? Thanks :)

  • These look so fabulous Annie! I love the caramel in the middle – delicious!

  • Kristin

    Mmmm…I have a very similar recipe already, but will just have to try yours. I’m not sure if mine has cinnamon. Bring on fall!

  • Kate

    This looks great- I definitely can’t wait to pick apples and make these!!

  • leslie

    these look amazing! I am soooo looking forward to fall!

  • Pinning this on my “Fall Faves”, sharing with friends, and making as soon as I can. Hello Autumn!

  • Katie M

    These look so delicious! We have AppleFest in my town in a couple weeks, I will be stocking up on some apples to make these. Thanks!

  • Liz N.

    Annie, this looks absolutely delightful. Fall is my favorite season and the itch to bake is beginning. I will start my baking with this recipe! Out of curiosity, what are your favorite apples to eat and bake with?

  • Bakeaholic

    These bars look delicious. A perfect way to break into fall! I’m going to make them for a “Fall Themed” cooking club I’m going to.

    Love your blog!

  • Carrie M.

    I can’t wait to make these! We are having family over for dinner this weekend and these just went on the menu for dessert! Thanks so much for the recipe, Annie! :)

  • annieseats

    I’m not aware of “cooking apples”. You can use whatever variety you prefer. You can use regular caramel candies.

  • Oh my, those look good and how could they be anything but with those ingredients?!

  • These look awesome! I’ve found that anything resembling apple pie or apple crisp satisfies the picky dessert eaters in my life, so I am definitely pinning this to make this fall! I love when you post dessert bars – those are one of my favorite things to make!

  • Ah! That fabric is so cute. I just went badly over my budget buying new fabrics yesterday, and I saw something similar to that striped pattern at Jo-Ann’s. It’s one of my favorites! Lovely photos as always :)

  • Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    These look so fantastic! And so perfect for Fall.

  • Sarah

    Thanks! I just googled it, and apparently cooking apples are an Ireland and UK thing, and aren’t seen too often in the US. They are much more bitter than regular types of apples, so much so that you can’t eat them unless they are cooked. I will try them in this if I manage to find some sweets to use for caramel candies!

  • Ann P.

    Beautiful, humble, and so perfect for Fall! I am SO ready for the cooler weather! :D

  • Danielle

    Looks great! Wondering why you used caramel candies instead of using your own, though. Any benefit to using those instead?

  • Divamommy

    Sounds so good:-) is there anyway you can put the nutrition facts on these yummy recipes?;?

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes

    I’m hanging on to every last bit of summer that I can :) These bars look awesome!

  • I’m loving all the caramel apple recipes right now; these look amazing!

  • Tracy

    I’m waiting a week to start fall baking, but I’m so glad I can bookmark this recipe and save it for later! A great and unique kick off to fall baking!

  • Patti T.

    These look very tempting. It helps solve a problem, I bought caramel candy and could not for the life of me figure out what for. This will definitely give me a good reason to use it.

  • Mmm fall! Could I just use caramel ice cream topping for the caramel part? I know it wouldn’t harden, but would it still work?

  • Amy

    OMG, these look amazing!

  • jude10536

    yum, all my favorite fall tastes. Annie, could you substitute home made caramel sauce for the packaged caramels? If yes, what consistency should it be?
    Thanks, I love ALL your recipes!

  • annieseats

    Results will vary with any substitutions. Good luck!

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks :)

  • annieseats

    I did use my own – linked in the recipe :)

  • annieseats

    I haven’t tried that so you would have to experiment. Enjoy!

  • dstewart

    Just pulled the pan from the oven, now I have to wait for it to cool :)

  • dstewart

    I made these last night within an hour of seeing this recipe as I had 5 apples in the fruit bowl that weren’t getting eaten. I followed the recipe exactly (other than salted butter as it’s all I had). It’s a little ‘busy’ having to cook the apples first, and make the caramel sauce (for all you metric cooks, 9oz of caramels is 270gr) but the results are so worth it. The gang LOVED them, and I will make this recipe again :)

  • Andrea

    Made these last night to rave reviews! Your recipes never fail…keep ’em coming!

  • Emilie

    These look terrific, Annie — I’ll be trying them soon! In the meantime, I’m making your Pumpkin Snickerdoodles today, and have a quick question (that applies to all of these wonderful sweets recipes that use flour). If a recipe doesn’t specify a measuring method or the ingredients by weight, do you do the “scoop and sweep” or “spoon and sweep”? I find it more convenient to always scale my flour and so would love to know if your typical weight per cup when you make these recipes is on the heavy or light side. Thanks!

  • These sound fantastic! Just one more thing to add to my fall baking list…:)

  • Heather Koziarz

    My 5 year old daughter and I made these today, and they were fantastic!! We may or may not have eaten them for dinner with homemade vanilla bean ice cream : )

  • annieseats

    I scoop and sweep. I only use weights when they are provided which unfortunately isn’t often.

  • arthurb3


  • annieseats

    Favorite to eat – Pink Lady, no contest. I’m obsessed. Gala are my second choice. For baking, I prefer Granny Smith but I often use a variety depending on what is available, sounds good at the time, etc.

  • Annelle

    Your selections match my own so I wanted to share with you…if you ever come across ‘Transparents’ or ‘Yellow Transparents’ you should try some for applesauce. It is incredible! I have always liked the idea of homemade applesauce but without fail it would make me gag after the third or fourth spoonful. I now have to assume I have always had the stuff made with the wrong apples. ;) I was given some of these apples recently and was told they make great applesauce. As I found them to be a much softer apple than I care to snack on, I thought I would try them in your applesauce recipe and it was delish!!

  • I love fall baking and although the days are still hot, you can feel the crisp fall air in the morning.
    Your caramel apple bars look scrumptious!

  • AspasiaTerese

    Oh, the drama involved when I made these tonight! First, I bought the wrong caramels (I got the hard instead of the soft. I’ve never used caramels before, and foolishly thought they were interchangeable). Then, I decided to double the recipe nearly 2/3 of the way through. Finally, I scorched the pan with the caramels and heavy cream, which meant I had to buy another bag of caramels, and unwrap the bloody things again! *Groan* By the end, my enthusiasm for these delicious looking bars had waned, and it became personal. I was too involved to quit now, so I just waded ahead, and they are now out of the oven. They look lovely, and I suspect that I will greatly enjoy them, once they’ve cooled. Sometimes, my cooking projects go like that! Just one wrong thing, and near disaster!

    Thanks for the recipes to inspire me, though! Makes me come back for more. :o)

  • Tanya

    Just wondering if hard werther caramel candies would work? Do you know if they melt down?

  • annieseats

    Aw, sorry you had troubles. Unwrapping them is one of the worst parts so no fun that you had to do it twice! Hopefully they were worth it :)

  • annieseats

    I don’t think that’s the right type of caramel. The softer/chewy ones are what you need.

  • Msimp

    These were amazing. Made them yesterday with your homemade caramels recipe. My husband and I finished them off this morning for breakfast! I topped mine with chopped peanuts – what could go better with caramel apples?!

  • annieseats

    So glad you enjoyed them!

  • Aymee

    Hi! Love your blog. Made this recipe this weekend and I was sad I only made one batch. They were perfection!

  • rm

    FYI for anyone else like me that doesn’t have a 9 x 9 inch pan. I did this recipe at 1.5X and it was enough for a 13 x 9 inch pan. I would probably increase the amount of caramels (14 oz bag of store bought caramels) and have a thicker layer (it just barely covered the bottom crust).
    Oh… btw, they were very yummy.

  • Anna Geidl

    I made these last night and couldn’t *believe* how delicious they were. One of the best apple desserts I’ve ever made. I will definitely be making these again, however I found that five apples barely covered my pan, so I’ll definitely use more next time. Autumn on a plate. :) Fantastic recipe!

  • annieseats

    So glad to hear that you enjoyed them :)

  • Sounds yummy…any idea of the calorie content?

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • eileen

    sorry…didnt turn out great. stuck to foil. caramel was tough to chew through. topping was dry,

  • I made these last night and they are delicious!! The issue I ran into is they didn’t come out as much like bars as they did an apple crisp. The flavor is amazing! But I had to refrigerate them to keep them from completely falling apart, and even then I struggled to keep them together when cutting them into bars and had to wrap each one individually to transport them. Could that be because I used a clay (Emile Henry) 9×9 dish instead of a metal pan? Or maybe I needed to bake it longer? I know it’s hard to say since there are so many possibilities, but I’d love any thoughts on how to improve next time I make them!

  • Alison

    I made these today and they are DELICIOUS!! The only thing I would do differently next time would be to skip the tin foil and just spray the pan. The foil was a huge pain and I think they’d be fine without it.

  • annieseats

    It sounds to me like they probably needed to bake longer. I’m not really sure, but mine were very much a bar and had no trouble being sliced, keeping shape, etc. Glad they at least tasted good!

  • Paula @ Paula’s Plate

    Thanks! I was wondering about this :)

  • Melissa M.

    Is it possible to omit the oats in the crust? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks.

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page regarding omissions/substitutions. Thanks!

  • Sarah S

    I made these for a work potluck. They were a big hit, everyone loved them! Thanks, Annie, I love reading your blog

  • thekrausehouse

    Annie, do you think the recipe could be doubled for a 12 X 18 half sheet pan?

  • annieseats

    I haven’t doubled this so you’ll have to experiment. I tend to think you’d need more than double for that size of pan. Enjoy!

  • As usual, an outstanding recipe! I made a batch and fell in love. I took some to work today, and they were a huge hit! You can do no wrong in my book, Annie! :-D

  • Tracy

    I made these bars for a fall party and used the same recipe in a 9 x 13″ pan. The bars were thinner, but crispy and perfect for eating at the party! They held up well being out all night and there wasn’t a bar left, delicious!

  • Tania

    I made these bars today. I had some extra apples in the kitchen that needed to be used and I came here because I can always trust your recipes. These bars were the bomb, one of my favorite apple desserts ever. I would say it even rivals apple pie. What a great treat!!! I loved them! My boyfriend thanks you many times over:) He can have a picky palate and he called these DELICIOUS. I don’t review a lot of recipes online, but when I come across one that knocks my socks off, I’ve got to let everyone know! Thanks Annie!

  • John B.

    I think it was Kraft that used to make the little square, individually-wrapped soft caramels that came in a bag (you may also be able to find them in larger stores that have candy in bins that you buy by weight).

  • John B.

    I thought about that but suspect the caramel ice cream topping would make a caramel sauce that was too thin. Those soft-chew caramels should make a thicker sauce that will help provide a bar that sticks together.

  • Lauren Ochoa

    I made this today with the crappy old apples that my husband got at sam’s club and it made me long for the chilly fall days of my youth and an afternoon at the apple orchard followed by a bonfire and a haunted hay ride. Boo for living in Florida!

  • stacy Tarkowski

    Made these for coworkers and have now shared your page/link with 3 of them. These are delicious! Thanks!

  • Ashley Sanders

    I made these over the weekend and they were out of this world! Thanks, Annie, for another winner!

  • Joanna

    Hi – We LOVE these bars. They are my son’s favorite Thanksgiving treat! Do you think we could freeze them for a week or so? He wants to cook them on Wednesday for a school project and save for Thanksgiving. What do you think? Thanks in advance!

  • annieseats

    I haven’t frozen them but I see no reason why they wouldn’t freeze well. So happy to hear your son enjoys them so much! :)