These Apple Crumble Bars are made with whole grain oats, whole wheat flour, and homemade apple butter. An easy recipe that comes together quickly, these Apple Crisp Bars are on the healthy side and make a great sweet snack or dessert.
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I like baking with wholegrain flours because I enjoy the more complex, malty flavour they bring to the table, especially when paired with certain fruits. That's why you'll find combinations like Healthy Cherry Muffins made with rye flour, Carrot Pineapple Muffins made with oat bran, or Vegan Banana Waffles made with spelt flour here on this blog.
These Apple Crumble Bars are of a similar ilk, pairing the intense, caramel flavour of apple butter (I used this Instant Pot Apple Butter) together with rolled oats, a blend of flours, and a good amount of omega-3 rich walnuts.
And we're using juuuuust enough light brown muscovado sugar and butter to pull it together into a deep, complex apple square that'll be calling you back for more.
Do you need any more convincing?
I thought not. Let's make some Apple Crisp Bars!
What's in this recipe?
I think I've listed out most of the spoilers above already, but here's your official ingredients list:
- Oats! --> We're using lots and lots of rolled oats.
- Flour --> I've used a blend of spelt and all-purpose flour here.
- Butter --> I used salted butter but a better baker would definitely use unsalted.
- Egg --> Just one lonely old egg today.
- Sugar --> Light brown muscovado sugar is how I roll, but did you know you can make your own brown sugar?
- Walnuts --> You could swap these for your favourite nuts (hehe) if walnuts aren't your thing.
- Apple Butter --> Yasss!!! This stuff is so good. Use homemade unsweetened apple butter if you have it on hand, or store bought, or another preserve would work as well.
- Cinnamon --> Don't mind if I do!
How do you make apple crumble bars?
Alrighty. Line a 9x11 pan with parchment paper, pre-heat your oven, and let's get down to business.
First things first, we make the crumble part.
Add the flours, oats, sugar, butter, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of your mixer, and mix until crumbly, with the butter broken down into pea-sized pieces.
Remove half of the crumble mixture and set aside, then add the egg to the remaining mixture and mix well.
Press the half of the mixture with the egg into your prepared pan. I find that wet hands do a good job of spreading it out evenly. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until just golden around the edges.
Remove from the oven, cool slightly, and then spread with the apple butter.
Mix the walnuts into the the remaining crumble mixture, and scatter over the top in an even layer. Return to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove the apple crumble bars from the oven and cool completely before slicing into bars. This is the single most difficult part of the entire recipe.
Can I use a different kind of preserve or fruit in this recipe?
The great thing about using my Instant Pot Apple Butter in these oat bars is that it's unsweetened, so the apple flavour is outstanding but the sweetness doesn't overwhelm the bars. But you can for sure use another kind of preserve if you prefer!
If you'd prefer a chunkier apple crumble bar with bites of fruit, start with these Cinnamon Roasted Apples and spread 'em into a single layer. Ohhhhhh so good.
How long do apple crumble bars last?
In an airtight container they'll be good for 3-5 days. However, I recommend you freeze any apple squares that don't get eaten on day one to preserve their freshness.
And just so you know - and I have tested this thoroughly - these oat bars are the bomb eaten straight from the freezer.
Pro tips / recipe notes:
Can I make this recipe gluten-free? I have not personally tested this, but if you used gluten-free oats and a gluten-free all purpose flour blend I'm pretty sure they'd work out just fine. If anyone does try this, please let us know in the comments!
Can I make this recipe vegan? Again, I have not personally tested this, but I'd recommend using a vegan butter substitute such as Earth Balance, and replacing the egg with a flax egg. If you do make vegan oat bars, please share your results!
Can I swap / remove the nuts? You can definitely swap the walnuts for your preferred nut (chopped almonds are very delicious here). As for leaving them out, I'd be inclined to increase the oats by about ½ cup or add some coconut chips in their place.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Apple Crumble Bars
- Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line a 9x11 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In large bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer combine 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 cups rolled oats, ¾ cup spelt flour, ¾ cup all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix until the mixture is well combine and crumbly.
- Remove half of the mixture and set it aside.
- Add the egg to the half you still have in the bowl and blend it in well. Use your hands to press that half evenly into the baking pan (wet your hands with cold water to prevent the dough from sticking).
- Toss the bottom crust in the oven and bake for about 10 min, until the edges are starting to brown just ever so slightly.
- Remove the cooked bottom crust from the oven, and spread with apple butter or other preserve.
- Add 1 cup chopped walnuts to the remaining crumble mixture.
- Sprinkle the oat crumble topping over the top evenly. Set the pan back into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the crumble topping is beginning to brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool well before slicing. Slice into squares, and enjoy.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
- These oat bars will last in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week, or you can stash them away in the freezer for much longer.
Originally posted on November 13, 2011. This recipe was re-tested, re-photographed, and updated on September 24, 2019. Last updated and re-published September 25, 2021.