Caramel Apple Bars

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I really wanted to call these bars Caramel Apple & White Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Caramel Apple Bars

But that was kind of a mouthful.

The bars are a mouthful, too.  In the best possible way, I assure you.

Caramel Apple Bars

So I left the title as Caramel Apple Bars

Caramel Apple Bars

In my world, caramel + apples just go together

And so does PB + apples

apples

And let’s face it, white chocolate goes with everything for me

If you’re not a white chocolate fan you’re crazy you can omit the white chocolate chips in this recipe or use another kind of chips like dark or semisweet or peanut butter chips

Caramel Apple Bars

These bars combine so many of my favorite and just-go-together flavors which is why I was tempted to list each flavor in the title.

While these bars bake, the brown sugar + butter = caramel created

Caramel Apple Bars

Notice the drinkable caramel sauce drippy caramel sauce at the bottom of the bars, both from the butter and brown sugar and from the addition of caramel sauce on top.  I never said these were low sugar or low fat

Caramel Apple Bars

But they are gluten free and vegan as long as you make a couple easy adaptations.

The apples soften and get all juicy and bubbly

Caramel Apple Bars

And the white chocolate and peanut butter melts

Creating bars that taste like caramel apples

Caramel Apple BarsI like these bars better than caramel apples because you don’t have to walk around gnawing on a huge piece of fruit that’s wobbly on a stick with caramel sauce all over your face.

Although there are worse problems to have in life than caramel sauce on your chin.

 Like not making any (vegan) peanut butter soft serve ice cream before serving these.  <— I forgot

But it would have been fabulous with them.  Next time.

Caramel Apple Bars

 

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Caramel Apple Bars (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

1/2 c applesauce (I used 1 small/medium apple with the peel on that I blended in the Vita)

1/2 c peanut butter

1/4 c butter, softened (or margarine)

2 c oats (whole rolled, not quick cook.  See this post at the bottom for a discussion on oats & gluten)

1 c brown sugar, packed

1/2 c white sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon (reduce/increase to taste, if desired)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 c apples, diced & peeled

3/4 to 1 c white chocolate chips (use vegan white chocolate chips if desired, or regular dark/semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc.)

1/4 c to 1/2 c caramel sauce (I used ice cream topping caramel sauce or use Dark Rum Caramel Sauce.  There are many vegan caramel sauce recipes online; google and research them if desired)

Optional: Add raisins, dates, dried fruit, nuts, as desired in 1/4 to 1/3 c quantity

Directions: Combine applesauce, PB, butter in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine them.  Then add oats, sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and stir.  Then fold in diced apples and white chocolate chips.  Spread batter (it will be pretty moist) into a foil-lined and spayed 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  The bars may still look underdone, but that’s ok because they will continue to set up as they cool.   They will be bubbling rapidly upon removing them from the oven.  Let the bubbling stop (about 5 minutes) and then carefully drizzle the caramel sauce over the top of the bars.  Allow bars to to cool very well before slicing.  I suggest popping them into the freezer for 15-30 minutes if you’re in a hurry.  Store extras on the countertop, refrigerator, or in the freezer for long term storage.

Notes: All measurements are approximate and if you love peanut butter, apples, or caramel, add a bit more.  Reduce the sugar amounts if you wish.  Omit or change the type of chocolate chips used.  Add other spices such as pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, etc. if desired.

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A Visual Guide

Gather your ingredients

Ingredients Caramel Apple Bars

Combine applesauce, PB, butter & stir.

Then add the oats, sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and stir.

Caramel Apple Bars ingredients

Add the diced apples & white chocolate chips

Caramel Apple Bars ingredients

Pour mixture into a foil-lined and spayed pan

Caramel Apple Bars ingredients

Bake and allow to stop bubbling.

Then drizzle caramel sauce over the bars.

Allow to cool well before slicing & serving.

Caramel Apple Bars

The edges on these are actually my favorite part

Caramel Apple BarsChewy with some definite texture as the brown sugar and caramel sauce harden up

The bars are like what I call perfect brownies: chewy edges with soft middles, and dense (not cakey, airy, or light)

Caramel Apple Bars

I am big on texture and the way it feels when I am chewing it is just as important as taste.  Well, almost as important.

 

I am digging the translucent apples.  Tender, warm, oven-softened fruit can be so comforting.

Caramel Apple Bars

And brown sugar makes everything more caramely and chewier and gives baked goods that want-to-sink-your-teeth-into-it texture,  which is always a bonus.

 

Other bonuses: Gluten Free, Vegan (adaptable), One Bowl, One Pan, No Mixer, Fast Cleanup

Caramel Apple Bars

Most of all: A hit with the fam

Skylar

Related posts you may enjoy…

Dark Rum Caramel Sauce

Dark Rum Caramel Sauce

Caramelized Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Chickpea “Peanuts”

 
Caramelized Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Chickpea “Peanuts”

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Comments

  1. Hi! These bars sound yummy but I don’t like super sweet desserts. Would they turn out okay if I greatly reduced the sugar in them – maybe by half?

    1. I have only made it as written so cannot say for absolute sure how that will work and my guess is not so great.

  2. So, I’m wondering if I use Kraft caramels and try to melt them, what measurement should I use?  Have a friend brought me Kraft caramels from the U.S. (to Mexico) and I’m searching for  delicious recipes to use them with apples!  Any suggestions?  

    1. I really don’t know because that’s not how I made this recipe. I would start melting at least a couple dozen with a splash of cream and see how it goes.

  3. I don’t like to make bars that are too sweet, just sweet enough. Do you think these would still work without any type of chip added?

    1. Yes they’d be fine w/out the chips. And they are a fairly sweet bar just so you know that upfront and they are excellent – love these!

  4. These look delicious! I have a question–can I omit the peanut butter? I’m looking for granola bar/healthy-ish snack recipes for my kiddo (he’s three) for school, but there’s a girl in his class who’s allergic to nuts, so I’m a bit afraid to send anything with him that contains nuts. Do you happen to have experience with making your own sunflower seed butter (I live in Belgium and I don’t think it’s readily available here)? Is that something that can more or less be used as a substitute to peanut butter in granola bar (and the like) recipes? Sorry, lots of questions… Thanks in advance! :)

    1. Just make these https://www.averiecooks.com/2012/10/sunflower-seed-butter-granola-bars-with-chocolate-drizzle.html

      If you still want to make the Caramel Apple Bars, you could likely use SFSButter in that recipe – but it’s not a universal swap for PB. In those bars, it should be fine, but not always – so don’t assume that it is or for others who read this comment.

      Making SFSB – yes same as making PB but process longer, about 15 mins. https://www.averiecooks.com/homemade-peanut-butter/

      1. Thanks so much! I will try the sunflower seed butter granola bars after attempting to make sunflower seed butter. I have made homemade peanut butter (inspired by your recipe) and it was really delicious! Good to know it’s easy enough to make. And good to know that it’s not always swap-able for peanut butter.

        I have to say that I really enjoy reading your blog–I read maybe five or so blogs daily and yours is at the top of my list! :) I will keep reading and keep baking your lovely recipes! Thank you!!

  5. I see butter in the ingredients list, but I don’t see it in your recipe directions. What do you do with the butter?

    1. Reread the first sentence of the directions:
      Directions: Combine applesauce, PB, butter in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine them……

  6. Just did them myself today, mine turned out quite crumbly and not chewy, not sure why… But I love all the ingredients in this recipe and will try it again.

    1. Lots of variables – could be the type of PB used, how much moisture or lack thereof was in your apples, how long you baked them for, how gooey your caramel sauce was – I say cut back slightly on the dry ingredients next time (the oats) and reduce baking time by 5 mins or so or add a bit extra caramel sauce, PB, etc. It’s a very flexible recipe and can be tweaked to your liking. Glad you liked the flavor though!

  7. Wow! These were extreme;y sweet. If I make these again I will make lots of adjustments. 1st of all I would put in a larger baking pan/dish so that bars are thinner.. Very surprised after 35 minutes in the oven (new, temp accurate) the white chocolate chips did not melt. Other changes I would make:
    1. decrease white and brown sugars and by 1/4 cup each.
    2. decrease peanut butter by about 2 tbsp
    3. increase apples to 1/3 cup and dice larger

    Actually I probably won’t make these again but move to try a different dessert.

    1. Like any baking chip, they vary by brand and I wouldn’t say any of mine “melt” and turn into a runny liquid, but they soften. I use TJs, Nestle, or Ghirardhelli white chips. We love PB and sweet desserts around here so they are perfect for us but of course, do what suits you. Thanks for trying them.

  8. Mine are in the oven right now and the batter was certainly delicious so I’m hopeful for the bars! Thanks for the great recipe. :)

  9. These were delicious! however I don’t think mine turned out because after I let them set I tried to cut them and they were just too gooey. I almost had to spoon them out. Maybe I’ll use more oats next time. Even though they didn’t turn out they still tasted amazing!

    1. Your apples could have had a higher moisture/water content and thus made the bars mushier and gooier, or the type of PB and/or oats and/or caramel. Just bake a little longer next time or add more oats. Or eat with a spoon :)

  10. I’m a long-time lurker with no blog of my own, but I just wanted to tell you that I’ve made many of your recipes over the past couple months and they’ve all been DELICIOUS. The cinnamon roll donuts have won me new friends (ha), your chocolate pb cups lasted for .25 seconds, the chocolate chip cookie dough balls were devoured by my coworkers and these caramel apple bars whipped up so easily and are now tempting me as I (im)patiently wait for them to cool. Thank you for so much deliciousness – keep it coming! :)

    1. Thank you so much, Maggie, for your comment and support. I really, really appreciate the kind words and the feedback. Makes my day knowing you’ve made so many recipes of mine and are enjoying them…and sharing w/ coworkers, too :)

  11. Just made these!!!! YUM!!!!! Mine don’t look as chewy and delicious as yours but they taste amazing!!! Great recipe!!! I will be making these again soon!!!!

    1. Thanks so much for telling me! Tip: Underbake everything by 10% of the recommended amount. My recipes are already written for those that like things pretty chewy and gooey with most things.

      For photos especially, I underbake by a few mins b/c things appear darker on camera.

      Add some more caramel sauce on top. You’ll be good to go :)

  12. I get a lot of free apple these days from a co-worker. These will be the next things I bake with them. Delicious!

    I had to “pin” these.

    1. thanks for pinning them.

      I installed a new “pin” button at the bottom of the post a few days ago b/c the other one stopped working. Lmk if that’s what you used and if it worked for you or if you went to Pinterest and pinned directly from there.

      Trying to figure out what’s working for people and what’s not…thanks so much!! :)

      1. I just pinned from my browser… I have the pin button on my toolbar. If I hit that on any webpage it brings up all the pictures and I select which one to pin. I am addicted to pinterest. :-)

  13. These sound great!
    I’m not a fan of white chocolate, but I can eat it when it’s not the MAIN ingredient (LOVE white choc/macadamia nut cookies!).
    I’m thinking butterscotch chips might work here? hmmmm….

    1. Yes they sure would. I mentioned in the recipe & post to feel free to substitute other kinds of chips. The white choc is not super pronounced but if you’re just not a fan at all, then yep, use another kind….Butterscotch is a huge fave of mine too :)

  14. How typical,a food blogger erasing my comment because I didn’t praise some bars and gush endlessly about them.People act like a bunch of bars are the most wonderful thing in the whole world and nothing better has ever been done.Just a little advice…17 pictures of the same bars is a little overkill,2 would of got the point through :)))))

  15. These bars look delicious! I need to make them soon :) I must also tell you that your photography is amazing! These photos are beautiful and really make your blog stand out.

  16. These look amazing Averie! Wow. I love anything apple or pumpkin during the Fall. It’s my favorite time of year!

  17. Apples and caramel definitely. And cinnamon and pumpkin. I just learned about roasting veggies last year and I didn’t do it nearly enough (darn my impatience). So I’m definitely looking forward to that!

    These bars look AMAZING! Taste, texture – both have to be on the level for me to truly enjoy something. And words like caramel, chewy, brown sugar, and especially white chocolate have me excited! Nothing is too sweet or too rich for this girl!

  18. Amen, girl – White chocolate goes with everything! Love the photos, too – The macro shots make me want to jump through the computer and dive in! Great detail.

  19. Caramel is my favorite fall flavor! Now that apples are in season I can’t wait to try your recipe and combine the two!

  20. Wow, these bars look amazing! Perfect for fall and beautiful pictures!

    1. Pumpkin and apple cinnamon.
    2. Sure, there’s something fun and satisfying about the rich and gooey texture.

  21. These bars look like a much less messy way to enjoy that caramel apple flavor! I feel like I can reach out and grab a bar from your beautiful photos. Love the idea.

  22. These look delicious! Your photography is spectacular – you’ve officially got me craving caramel (which I LOVE)!

  23. My heart is fluttering over here for caramel….caramel and apples ARE FALL to me :) These look amazingly gorg…just like you ;)

    xxoo

  24. I picked up some apples at the farmers market last week and was scared that they would go bad since I haven’t been in the mood for raw apples. Tomorrow, it’s off to the store for the 2 ingredients that I don’t have, and these bars are as good as made. :) And later this week, it’s off to the Cider Mill for the best cider and donuts in Michigan (I wait all year for these) and maybe, if these bars disappear by then, more apples.
    As for caramel…i didn’t like it as a kid at all, but I absolutely love it now.
    Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

    1. as good as made, love that expression

      and apple cider and donuts..oh sounds fab!

      keep me posted if you make these and lmk your thoughts

  25. Ohmygosh, I ADORE the look of these! And I so love having you as a fellow blogger with a sweet toother – and being proud of it. Dessert lovers unite! :D

  26. Wow, they look so gooey! I would have thought that it was seriously just caramel and apples, so I think you named it perfectly. Love the image with the bite marks through all the squares! But you had fun with that one :)

  27. Yum! These look so good! My two favorite ingredients! Peanut Butter and Apples, not to mention chocolate! Thanks for sharing this recipe. This week is about pumpkins so next week I am doing apples and this recipe is going to be made! I can’t wait!!!

  28. Oh. My. Goodness. These look so good. Like I said in yesterdays comments…your bars are amazing! Will definitely have to make these. My friend has an apple orchard and I am going to make my way up there next weekend! These are on the “DO” list! YUM!! :-)

    1. I meant to reply back with a big THANK YOU from your comment yesterday…so thank you! for the high praise on my recipes/bars. You made my day w/ both of your sweet comments!

  29. wow, wow, wow! you have me so motivated to try these out and I forgot how much I like carmel and apple combos (but then you adding white chocolate and all the other goodies,) yeah Averie!

    Pics are looking so fab by the way. :)

  30. Where to begin with this post. First of all, I love caramel apple flavored stuff, but I HATE caramel apples; the ratio of caramel to apple is always off – you get too much caramel with the first bites, and not enough at the end. Then there’s the dip, but that’s not protable. I used to love those caramel apple suckers that came out right around now. Wonder if they still make those?

    I have to say that not only has your photography improved leaps and bounds (as in, you aren’t the same person who posted those older photos) but your recipes themselves have gotten so much better too! Without compromising your easy to find ingredients and fast dessert ideals, you still manaage to create new and AWESOME looking recipes! I’m in awe.

    Can you taste the pb in these? I’m thinking I’d like to try them, but use something else in its place? Is it just for thickness?

    1. too much caramel with the first bites, and not enough at the end. = yes!

      yes they still make those suckers, hard to find but they do

      not only has your photography improved leaps and bounds = thank you :)

      your recipes themselves have gotten so much better too! = thank you. I get accused of having lame recipes or “non-recipes” all the time, so thanks

      And no, you can’t really taste the PB per se. It’s there but as a binder, yes, but why skip it? I know you have nut butter issues but in this case, I am not just saying this…don’t reinvent the wheel. I really think you should keep it in. The batter needed it, if that makes sense.

  31. Oh.My.God!!! I am going to rearrange my afternoon to make these. They look absolutely delicious.
    And your photography is looking awsome :)

      1. Yup! I did it. What’s a bit of paperwork compared to caramel? I think I put too much apple in mine as it was quite lumpy. But still really yummy. Half went into the freezer and half…. went (husband and daughter and mostly me!).

      2. Glad to hear you made them! And there is really no “wrong” way to make these; i.e. more or less apples, applesauce, oats, lumps or bumps…it’s all good :)

  32. These look fabulous. I might make them to serve at my next Yoga retreat, especially since we have an apple picking outing planned for part of the weekend. :-)

  33. wow, what a recipe, averie!! these definitely have a fall vibe to them. i agree: apples, caramel -> fall flavours.
    i think i’ve only had one caramel apple in my life: i was three and my dad took me to the circus. i have vague memories of clutching that apple on the stick!
    i’m not such a huge caramel fan…but i adore pb!
    i always love seeing photos of *my* green speckled bowl! (cuz you’re going to send it to me when you tire of it, right?!)
    have a great eve!

  34. desserts are supposed to be sweet. I do not understand those who think that things can be to sweet, or are put off when a dessert is sweet. That is point!! I think these look so amazing. I bet you could use coconut butter instead of the butter or margarine! Haha, they really look dense, and that is AWESOME.

    1. I like the way you think:
      “I do not understand those who think that things can be to sweet, or are put off when a dessert is sweet. That is point!!”

      Indeed!

      and yes, I bet you could use coconut butter/oil but I wanted to keep these non-coconutty

  35. these look absolutely divine!!!!!!!
    Averie, I am reading your blog for a while now, and with every post I am astonished to see what a great photographer you have become.
    (And I love your mixing bowl ;))

    1. Thanks, Michaela, for reading and the kind words and for all your lovely comments you always leave for me :)

      the mixing bowl pics were taken at night when I was baking but the other pics were taken during daylight.

      1. You are SO welcome :)
        Thank you for keeping up such a great blog.

        you can definitely tell the difference ;)

  36. These pictures are amazing! Love every single one of them. And the bars don’t look so bad, either ;)

    Apples, pumpkin, cinnamon – those sorts of flavors – remind me of fall. I love it!

  37. oh my! yum yum!! Do you ever have bar recipe fails? Yours always look like winners! Fall flavors? Pumpkin, cinnamon, squash, apples, sweet potato! Your daughter is looking so grown up!

    1. Well after putting tons of PB, sugar, and choc chips of some variety in a bowl and mixing it up, I am extremely determined to NOT have a fail and waste all those ingredients. So I keep adding things til I am pretty sure of success and then bake it and hope :)

  38. Sounds yummy, sweeter than anything I’ve eaten in a while! I just posted an apple bar recipe too, but opposite end of the spectrum (‘healthified’ lol)–I love the idea of pb and white choc pieces together, and agree, the texture would be fantastic.

    Fall: apples for sure, also pumpkins, and my favorite persimmons.

  39. OH my goodness, these look so delicious!! Apple definitely makes me think of fall, along with pumpkin. And I am a total caramel addict!!

  40. These definitely look like they give caramel apples a run for their money. Agreed about the wobbly stick part, definitely the most annoying part about eating a caramel apple!
    Perfect recipe for the first week of fall :)

  41. Oh Averie, those look so yummy. I’d have to swap the chips for chocolate (because I just don’t like white chocolate – no judgement!!) But, oh-la-la. Great recipe.
    1. Foods that remind me of fall: love all varieties of winter squash – spaghetti, acorn, butternut, delicata. Not such a pumpkin fan (though I love homemade toasted pumpkin seeds!)
    2. I’m not a sweet fanatic, more of a savory/salty girl. Love salt, and it doesn’t make me bloat one bit. I do enjoy caramel on apples, and any apple dessert for that matter, as long as it’s not too sweet!
    Hope you had a fantastic weekend.