Mom’s Apple Pie Bars with Walnut Crumble

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Mom's easy Apple Pie Bars have all the textures & warm flavors of traditional pie, without any of the hassle! Press tender, flaky pie crust into a sheet pan, top it with sweet & spiced apples, & finish with a generous sprinkling of walnut oat crumble. Bake & enjoy warm – always with a scoop of ice cream!

The ultimate fall dessert, perfect for serving a crowd at Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or any autumn celebration!

White ceramic plates with servings of apple pie bars and ice cream are arranged atop a creamy white textured surrounded by a tan colored linen napkin, loose pieces of walnut crumble, & a half of a Granny smith apple. Silver forks rest atop the plates.

Skip Thanksgiving Pie! 🥧 Spiced Apple Bars are the Perfect Fall Dessert!

I’m not much of a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving sweets. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Sure, I love a slice of pecan pie…but my ideal holiday dessert spread includes other fun options like Pumpkin Cheesecake or a BIG platter of bars.

We’re kind of crazy for dessert bars here in the Midwest – there’s something so endearing about them! – & I especially love making a pan for holiday celebrations. They’re perfect for feeding a crowd & have none of the fuss of baking traditional pie.

This easy apple pie bars recipe comes straight from my Mom’s kitchen! It’s one of my all-time favorites during the fall months with layers of flaky homemade pie crust, tender spiced apples, and a super crumbly walnut-oat topping for extra texture.

The textures – flaky, tender, & crunchy-crisp – are what make this recipe really special, & it all happens thanks to Bob’s Red Mill! Bob’s Extra-Thick Rolled Oats give the nutty crumble topping especially satisfying texture, while Bob’s All-Purpose Flour creates a crust that’s light & delicate but also sturdy for toppings (like a generous scoop of ice cream! 😋).

Apple Pie Bars Recipe Highlights

Don’t miss out on apple pie bars this season! They’re…

PURE FALL FLAVOR. In-season apples, toasty walnuts, & warm spices like cinnamon make these easy pie bars the perfect taste of fall!

EASY AS PIE. Apple pie bars deliver classic holiday flavors & textures, but with much less effort than traditional pie. Totally homemade, totally hassle-free!

GREAT FOR SHARING. A giant tray of apple pie bars is perfect for feeding a Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving crowd. Simply top with a scoop of ice cream & enjoy!

The BEST apple pie shortcut! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Mom’s Apple Pie Bars with Walnut Crumble, or jump straight to the recipe & get baking!

Key Ingredients

Aside from fresh off-the-tree fall apples, this recipe comes together with just a handful of pantry baking staples.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You’ll need…

  • Granny Smith Apples – Tart apples like Granny Smith are great for pie & sweet desserts! Learn more about the best apples for baking below!
  • FlourBob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour is my go-to. Bob’s grinds American wheat with quartz millstones (like early Roman times!) to create a minimally processed flour with a high protein content that’s ideal for sturdy-yet-tender baked goods, like pie crust.
  • Unsalted butter – Key to a flaky crust & crumbly streusel topping!
  • Cold milk – Just enough to bring the homemade pie crust together.
  • SugarGranulated white sugar gives the pie crust subtle sweetness, while brown sugar creates a richer caramelly flavor in the apple filling & walnut crumble topping.
  • Spices – Mom keeps things simple with ground cinnamon, but if you have a go-to apple pie spice blend feel free to use it for your bars! Or, give your bars an extra dose of cozy warmth with chai spice.
  • Oats – The star of the apple pie bar’s crumble topping! I love baking with Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats because they’re extra-thick & add tons of epic texture.
  • Walnuts – For a bit of an extra crunch on top of each apple pie bar! Feel free to swap with pecans if that’s what you have on hand or omit for nut-free bars.
Ingredient Spotlight

The Best Apples for Apple Pie Bars

The best apples for apple pie bars are not too sweet & not too soft. We prefer using Granny Smith in this apple pie bars recipe because they’re firm (so they don’t get too mushy in the oven) & they have a beautiful tart flavor (which helps balance the sweetness of these bars.)

Other good apple varieties for this recipe include…

  • Honeycrisp – Minnesota’s signature firm apple that takes on a more complex sweetness in the oven.
  • Golden Delicious – Not quite as firm but boasts a beautiful balance of sweet & tart.
  • Pink Lady – Firm with a pretty rosy hue & the perfect sweet-tartness.

Feel free to use a single type or blend a few different types to create your perfect apple pie bars!

How to Make Apple Pie Bars

One of the reasons I love Mom’s apple pie bars so much is they boast 3 beautiful layers of flavor & texturetender, flaky pie crust, tender & lightly sweetened spiced apples, & a crunchy walnut crumble. These 3 components come together to create the perfect fall dessert, & they couldn’t be easier to prepare!

Flaky Apple Pie Bar Crust

Homemade crust makes any dessert extra delicious – it’s hard to beat buttery, flaky pastry! If you’ve never made a traditional pie crust from scratch, no worries – it’s really the simplest thing, especially if you have a food processor!

Prepping pie dough in a food processor is a game-changer! For coveted tender & flaky results, it’s essential to avoid overworking pastry & pie dough. An overworked dough often results in a tough pie crust because the more you work with it, the more you develop the flour’s natural glutens & soften the butter. A food processor combines all the ingredients quickly, eliminating the need to handle the dough at all. It’s a great shortcut that guarantees tender, flaky pastry every time!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

To make the apple pie bar crust in a food processor…

1

Pulse the dry ingredients. Add flour, sugar, & salt to the bowl of your food processor & pulse quickly – just a few seconds until they’re combined.

2

Add the cold butter. Pulse in cubes of butter until the pieces are broken up & coated in flour. Remember! ⇢ Large pieces of butter help create a flaky crust – there’s no need to pulse for too long here!

3

Slowly add cold milk. Pulse constantly as you do, working slowly just until a loose dough forms. Tip! ⇢ You may not need all the milk! Only use what you need to get a wet yet crumbly dough texture.

4

Chill. Be sure to keep the dough chilled until you’re ready to assemble the apple pie bars. It can’t be overstated how important it is for the butter in the dough to stay super cold! Why? ⇢ If the butter softens or melts too much, it yields a greasy pastry. Cold butter expands in the heat of the oven to create big, beautiful, tender flakes.

Spiced Apple Filling & Crumble Topping

The combination of tender apples & a crunchy crumble topping is one of the main reasons I love this apple pie bars recipe so much. These 2 apple pie bar layers provide the perfect contrasting textures!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

Spiced Apple Filling. ⇢ Peel & thinly slice the apples, then toss them with brown sugar, cinnamon, & a little flour. The flour helps absorb the natural juices of the apples, which helps prevent the pie bars from getting soggy as they bake. Tip! ⇢ For quick & easy peeling, try using an apple peeler.

Walnut Crumble Topping. ⇢ Combine the extra-thick rolled oats in a medium bowl with brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, & salt, then work cold butter into the dry ingredients. This should create an oat mixture with big, clumpy pieces, which get delightfully browned & crispy in the oven as the apple pie bars bake! Finish by tossing in the walnuts.

Assembly & Baking

Once all 3 layers are prepared, all that’s left to do is assemble the apple pie bars & get them in the oven.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Press out the pie bars crust. Use your fingers to press the dough across the bottom of a rimmed sheet pan. Aim for creating an even layer of pie crust without any cracks or holes. Tip! ⇢ If the dough starts to warm too much as you handle it (you’ll notice your hands begin to feel a little greasy & you’ll really begin to smell the butter), pop the sheet pan into the freezer for a few minutes. Remember, the dough needs to stay nice & cold for the best tender & flaky results!

2

Layer on the spiced apples. Arrange the sugary sliced apples in a single row from end to end. I like to overlap them slightly so there’s no gap in the apples!

3

Finish with walnut crumble. Scatter a generous amount of walnut crumble over the spiced apples, creating an even layer that covers the fruit. This crunchy topping is seriously the best – no need to be shy with it!

4

Bake the apple pie bars. Transfer the sheet pan to a 375 degree F oven & bake 45-50 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown. You’ll notice the apple juices bubbling around the edges of the pan – this means they’re tender & cooked through too!

Other Recipe FAQs

What apples should you not bake with?

The best apples for apple pie bars are not too sweet & not too soft. We like to use Granny Smith apples, but Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, & Pink Ladies are great too. Soft apples like Gala, Fuji, & Red Delicious don’t hold up as well in the oven, turning mushy as they bake. For more info on the best apples for baking, check out the Ingredient Spotlight, above!

How do I make my apple pie not mushy?

Pretty simple – choose the right apples! Mushy apple pie likely comes from choosing the wrong apples! Make sure your apples are naturally firm, so they’ll hold their shape in the heat of the oven.

Should you cook apples before making apple pie?

No need for this apple pie bar recipe! The raw apples have plenty of time to cook as the bars bake.

How to store apple pie bars?

It’s best to enjoy apple pie bars while they’re fresh. If you have leftovers, you can also keep them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Can apple pie bars be frozen?

Sure! The crunchy crumble topping may lose some of its texture in the freezer. For best results, consider freezing the bars without the crumble, then make the topping when you’re ready to thaw the bars & bake them.

Serving Suggestions (Don’t Forget the Ice Cream!)

The only way to eat apple pie bars, IMO, is fresh off the tray with a big scoop of ice cream. 🥰 There’s nothing better than melty ice cream over a warm slice of pie!

If you’re serving a crowd, allow the bars to cool slightly then slice & serve them on a platter for guests to enjoy. Everyone can put their apple pie bar in a bowl with their choice of ice cream (vanilla or salted caramel, please!). Perfect for enjoying after a celebratory fall dinner like Thanksgiving.

I can’t wait for you to try this Mom’s Apple Pie Bars! They’re just as delicious as any classic apple pie with none of the fuss – a major fall baking win!

If you do give them a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy baking!

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A side angle shot of three easy apple pie bars stacked on top of each other served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting over top.

Apple Pie Bars with Walnut Crumble

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 32 bars 1x
  • Category: Pies, Desserts
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

If there’s one thing Midwesterners are kinda crazy for, it’s dessert bars. There’s something so endearing about baking a big batch of bars to share with the people you love – especially for a holiday celebration.

This Easy Apple Pie Bars recipe comes straight from my mom’s kitchen. It’s one of my all-time favorite fall desserts & I’m excited to share it with you!

One of the reasons they’re so special are their 3 layers of texture: tender spiced apples, a hearty & crunchy walnut-oat crumble topping, & the most delicate & flaky homemade crust. For an especially flaky crust, be sure to work the dough as minimally as possible – I like using a food processor, which makes it really easy to quickly get the dough just right. 

I love serving these bars warm, topped with a generous scoop of vanilla or salted caramel ice cream. It’s the perfect low-fuss sweet treat for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or any fall celebration! 


Ingredients

Scale

Apple Pie Bars Filling:

Crust:

Walnut Crumble Topping:


Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Line a rimmed half sheet pan with parchment paper & set aside. Gather & prep all ingredients according to the Ingredients List above, e.g. peel & slice apples, dice cold butter for the crust & set it in the fridge, chop walnuts, etc.Apple pie bars ingredients arranged on a creamy white textured surface: Granny Smith apples, light brown sugar, Bob's Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour, ground cinnamon, granulated sugar, kosher salt, cold unsalted butter, cold milk, Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats, and walnuts.
  2. Prepare the walnut crumble topping: In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, & salt, mixing to combine well. Add the butter, using your fingers to work it into the dry ingredients until the oat mixture holds together in nice, big clumpy pieces. Stir in the chopped walnuts. Set aside.Walnut crumble topping for apple pie bars fills a large glass mixing bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  3. Prepare the apple pie bars filling: In a large bowl, combine the sliced apples, brown sugar, flour, & cinnamon. Toss to combine well, ensuring the apples are evenly coated with brown sugar & cinnamon. Set aside.Apple pie bar filling fills a large ceramic mixing bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A wooden spoon resting inside of the bowl for mixing.
  4. Prepare the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, & salt. Pulse a handful of times to quickly bring the mixture together. Pull the diced cold butter out of the fridge & add it to the food processor. Pulse it into the flour until the butter begins to cut into the flour mixture – some pieces of butter will be very small and coated with flour (it will look like fluffy parmesan cheese!), and some pieces of butter will still be large, which is ideal for a tender, flaky crust. While pulsing constantly, slowly & gradually add just enough cold milk to form a loose dough. The dough should be slightly wet to the touch, with pieces of butter still visible. (Alternately, if you do not have a food processor, you can mix everything in a large bowl, using a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dough.)Crust dough for easy apple pie bars fills the bowl of a food processor that sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  5. Assemble the apple crumble pie bars: Transfer the dough mixture to the prepared sheet pan. Working quickly, use your fingers to press the crust dough such that it evenly covers the entire bottom of the pan. If the mixture gets too warm (you’ll notice your fingers feeling oily), you can transfer it to the freezer for a few minutes to chill back down. Toss the sliced apples with the sugary juices at the bottom of the bowl, then starting at one end of the crust, arrange the sliced apples in a single overlapping row spanning to the opposite end. Repeat until the entire crust is completely & evenly covered. Sprinkle the walnut crumble over the apples in an even layer.Partially assembled apple pie bars fill a half sheet pan that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A woman's hand spreads walnut crumble topping over a layer of overlapping Granny Smith apples. A bowl filled with walnut crumble topping rests alongside the half sheet pan.
  6. Bake the apple pie bars: Place the apple pie bars in the oven & bake 45-50 minutes, until until the apples are tender, the filling juices are bubbling around the edges, & the crumble is golden.
  7. Serving: Allow to cool slightly, at least 20 minutes, before slicing & serving. Mom serves these pie bars warm, topped with a generous scoop of vanilla or salted caramel ice cream. Enjoy!A sheet pan of apple pie bars rests atop a creamy white textured surface. The apple pie bars have been cut and some bars have been served on a small white plates that surround the half sheet pan. A small spatula rests on the sheet pan with a single apple pie resting on top. Silver forks rest atop the plates of served apple pie bars.

Notes

  • Storage: Given their crumbly topping, these apple pie bars are best enjoyed the day they’re baked, though leftovers will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Cool completely & transfer to an airtight container, then store in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave as desired.

Keywords: apple pie bars, Fall dessert recipe, Thanksgiving dessert, pie bars, dessert bars, dessert bar recipe

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 11.19.23
    Cal Tomita said:

    Since there is just two of us I made with 1/4 sheet pan. Awesome recipe. Thanks

  2. 12.2.22
    Jacqueline said:

    Do you think the crust could be made dairy free? I could definitely use dairy free butter but I’m not sure about the milk. Looks good though!

    • 12.3.22

      Hi Jacqueline – I’ve not specifically tested a dairy-free version of the crust, so I can’t say with certainty. If you were to try, I would suggest using full-fat coconut milk vs another alt milk like almond/oat. Let me know if you end up giving it a go!