Apple Crisp Bars

Apple Crisp Bars - brown sugar shortbread covered with apples, all tucked under a blanket of crisp topping! |

Hi guys.  Is everyone feeling balanced after last week’s post? Good, now we can get back to business!  Would you just take a look at that bar!  Look at all those beautiful apples peeking out from under a blanket of crisp topping filled with brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon.  Then there’s the brown sugar shortbread which is swoon worthy all on its own.  That’s three layers of fall bliss right there my friends.

I don’t know about you, but fall baking is in full effect in my kitchen.  Temps are starting to get cooler, I’ve had my first pumpkin coffee of the season, and my obsession with new fall boots is worse than ever… Most importantly I can’t get enough of apples, and  I wanted to create a dessert that really highlighted them to kick off fall baking.  This bar hits all the right notes, and I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I can’t stop eating them!

The first step in this bar is to make the crisp topping.  Between the oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon, it is definitely a staple for the fall season.  I highly suggest you make a big batch of it and keep it in the freezer.  This way whenever you want to make these, a basic crisp, or my apple crisp cupcakes you’re set.  Next up is the brown sugar shortbread crust.  This stuff is ridiculous, and please know I mean that in the best way possible.  I mean shortbread is fantastic to begin with, but the brown sugar gives it a warmth that screams fall.

Last up is the apple compote.  This is a another recipe you will always go back to, and so good on its own that I had to make it several times :)  I posted the before photo on instagram last week, and the shot above is the after.  When you let a vanilla bean get cozy with some apples, you will get unbelievable flavor, and check out all those pretty specks!  The most important thing when making this is to make sure your apples are all cut the same size so they cook evenly.  I also want to mention that the type of apples you use will make a big difference.  I tested this recipe with a few different varieties and granny smith is the one you need to go with.  The tartness adds a brilliant brightness to these bars.

Apple Crisp Bars - brown sugar shortbread covered with apples, all tucked under a blanket of crisp topping! |

Finally you put it all together and send it off into the oven where everyone can get to know each other.  About 25 minutes later your whole house will smell of cinnamon vanilla goodness.  The shortbread is warm, buttery, and flaky.  The apples take on even more flavor as they bake, and the crisp topping provides the perfect crunch to finish it all off.  Paired with a cup of coffee or apple cider, this a great treat to welcome fall. The only question now is who will get the last piece?

Apple Crisp Bars - brown sugar shortbread covered with apples, all tucked under a blanket of crisp topping! |

Apple Crisp Bars


    Crisp Topping
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cool
  • Brown Sugar Shortbread Base
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • Apple Compote
  • 4lbs. granny smith apples - I used 9 good sized apples
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 8.5 ounces sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean


    Crisp Topping
  1. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Cut in butter with your fingers until you have pea sized pieces.
  3. Store in fridge till ready to use.
  4. Brown Sugar Shortbread Base
  5. Spray 9 x 13" pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick again.
  6. Cream butter, sugar, and salt till light and fluffy.
  7. Add vanilla.
  8. Mix in flour till combined.
  9. Press dough into a pan and chill till firm.
  10. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes rotating halfway through.
  11. Apple Compote
  12. Peel and cut apples and place in saucepan with water, lemon juice, sugar, and vanilla bean. Make sure the your pot is big enough.
  13. Bring to a boil(this is just to dissolve the sugar) then drop the heat to medium low and pop a lid on it. Stir every so often to make sure that apples are cooking evenly.
  14. When apples start to get translucent, it's done. This should take 17-20 minutes.If you let them cook longer they will get mushy.
  15. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain before assembling bars.
  16. Assembly
  17. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  18. Place apple compote on top of cooled shortbread crust. Please make sure you strain the apples first making sure there is no liquid and remove the vanilla bean.
  19. Sprinkle crisp topping evenly over apples.
  20. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
  21. Allow to cool completely in pan.


Make a big batch of crisp topping and keep it in the freezer. You'll be set to make bars and crisps all season.

Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan before you remove them!

I suggest chilling the bars overnight before you cut them if you can wait that long.

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54 Responses to “Apple Crisp Bars”

  1. 1
    Eftychia says:

    Can I have a piece please?

  2. 2
    CArol says:

    Love this professional recipe..I am making them tonight with apples I picked:) oh..and changing it to whole wheat flour for added nutrition and nutty flavour:)

  3. 3
    Cassie says:

    Welcome, fall! These are so great, Meghan. I love apple crisp!

  4. 4

    Wow, your bars look amazing!!! What gorgeous pictures!!! I just love this recipe!!

  5. 5

    these look absolutely amazing! i’ll take one for my afternoon snack, please. =)

  6. 6
    Michael Ann says:

    These look absolutely DIVINE!!! I must try them!

  7. 7

    I love apple baking! I just baked with some apples today :) It is supposed to be cold here tomorrow, so some more fall baking might have to take place!

  8. 8

    Want! These look amazing! Perfect for fall!

  9. 9

    These look amazing!! Apples are one of my favorite things to bake with in the fall!

  10. 10

    Wow, great pictures, what I’d do for a slice right now :( I was balanced until I saw these!

  11. 11
  12. 12

    I love crumbles and crisps and the Apple Compote sounds delish – with the vanilla bean in it – oh wow!

  13. 13

    Apple crisp is one of my favorite desserts! I love the idea of having it in bar form!

  14. 14
    ally says:

    desserts like these somehow manage to make autumn more beautiful & lovely!

  15. 15
    Jane says:

    Looks just wonderful. I always get a yen to bake with apples as soon as my kids go back to school. It’s the best way to welcome in autumn, even if we’re a little early. Lovely recipe!

  16. 16

    [...] Muffins from Scandi Foodie Apple-Chocolate Ebelskivers with Nutella Glaze from Tutti Dolci Bars Apple Crisp Bars from Buttercream Blondie Apple Spice Bars from Noble Pig Apple Pie Bars from Cooking Classy [...]

  17. 17

    Came across this recipe over at Noble Pig and my goodness am I glad I made the click! First, these bars look amazing! I am a complete sucker for crisps! Also, absolutely love your blog and all of your pictures are gorgeous! Glad to be your newest follower :)

  18. 18
    Nicole says:

    Love the shortbread. Love the apples. Love the idea. Will be trying it.

  19. 19

    Last year I purchased 2 new pair of fall boots, and I have my eye on a few that I’d love to add to my collection. Boots are my favorite fall accessory.

    These bars look so good, and I love honey crisp apples this time of year. Yay for fall baking!

  20. 20
    Jaime says:

    Reading your post makes me wish autumn rolled in sooner! Love your photos and this recipe is absolutely scrumptious x Have a happy autumn baking Meghan!!

  21. 21

    These look incredible! I love that shortbread. Wish I could bite into it right now. :)

  22. 22

    Totally swoon-worthy!! It took me awhile to get over summer ending but these just pushed me right into a happy fall :-)

  23. 23

    No question, Meghan, that last piece has my name on it! I love apple crisp but the shortbread adds a whole new layer of flavour(literally!) This is delightful.

  24. 24
    Liz says:

    Printing this off! YUM!

  25. 25
    Peggy says:

    We’re actually going apple picking this weekend, so these bars will be a perfect use for some of those delicious apples =)

  26. 26

    Yes, please!!! These look and sound awesome!!! Love how you described them!

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Elizabeth says:

    Made these for my family and they were wonderful! I wish I’d been better about cutting the apples into more uniform sizes — some of them were smushy and others were still crisp, but they were still amazing! We will definitely have these again. Thank you for the recipe.

  29. 29
    Rhianna says:

    I made these bars last night after seeing how tempting they looked. Fabulous :)

  30. 30

    [...] Sugar Shortbread Crust from THIS recipe at Buttercream [...]

  31. 31
    Leslie says:

    These were so amazing when I made them this fall my family wants them for our Christmas dessert. I can’t wai tto make them again.

  32. 32
    Susan J says:

    Made these the other day. They were delicious. I loved the cookie base with the crisp topping. Totally my kind of dessert. I almost halved the recipe, but then decided to go with the full size. I’m glad I did. The vanilla bean in the compote gave the apples a nice little push in the flavor department. BTW, this is great warmed up with some Haagen Dazs Ducle de Leche ice cream. :-D

  33. 33

    [...] Apple Crisp Bars from Buttercream [...]

  34. 34

    I love anything with apples! This look delicious and bars are such a nice change with the cookies base from traditional crisp! Yum!

  35. 35
    Christine says:

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe! I’ve made this twice already this fall and my family love it. It’s a nice twist on the original.

  36. 36
    Dina says:

    they look yummy!

  37. 37
    Georgia says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe! I was looking for something to use apples from my tree in a dessert for our neighborhood potluck. This recipe turned out great and everyone loved it. I tried it a second time using persimmons, cooking them the same as the apples but then I pureed them and thickened them with some cornstarch before spreading them over the shortbread base and I added a little nutmeg to the topping recipe. They came out really good. I think this recipe will work well with other fruits too. I’m going to try making it with pears next.

  38. 38

    Dreaming I had a apple crisp bar for breakfast right now, looks amazing!

  39. 39
    Shirley says:

    What type of oats do you use for your topping? Quick Cooking? Original?

    Thanks, I’m loving your blog!


  40. 40

    Although I’m super sad to see summer go, I’m totally excited for all things apple. I’m not a pumpkin guy at all… but give me some apple desserts and I’m all over it!

  41. 41

    […] about Fall desserts, I go straight for apple, and I wanted a serious apple dessert.  My beloved apple crisp bars are always the first thing that come to mind, with that buttery shortbread crust  and vanilla bean […]

  42. 42
    Joybee says:

    what is the measurement of a stick of butter ? = 1/2 cup?

  43. 43

    […] Apple Crisp Bars deliver every single time!  Brown sugar shortbread topped with luscious apple compote, all tucked […]

  44. 44

    […] kick things off with the classic Apple Crisp Bars!  These are still the first Fall dessert I make and I cannot even tell you how many I make […]

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