These light and fluffy, fresh Apple Bars come together with the perfect balance of golden raisins, walnuts, and a spice blend that channels the spirit of apple pie. Whether it’s apple season or simply a random apple hankering, these bars are a go-to sweet treat.
If you love indulging in seasonal flavors, these apple bars are tailor-made for you. However, don’t confine making these tasty and aromatic treats to apple season alone – they’re a year-round joy. Light, airy, and perfuming the house with the scent of freshly ripened apples, they’re a treat that transcends the calendar.
Why You’ll Love These Apple Bars
- The blend of sweet and spiced flavors, hit a perfect balance when it comes to showing off the tart apple flavor.
- The apple bar texture is a winning combo of light and airy.
- Baking these bars fills your home with the scent of freshly baked apples. Trust me, it’s love at first bite (and sniff).
Fresh and Pantry Ingredients for Apple Bars
All-purpose flour: The foundation, providing structure and body to the bars.
Baking powder: The leavening agent that ensures a light and airy texture.
Apple pie spice: A blend of warm spices, infusing the apple pie flavor.
Cinnamon: Adds warmth and depth to the overall taste.
Table salt: Enhances and balances the sweetness of the other ingredients.
Butter: Contributes to the bars’ moistness and flavor.
Light brown sugar: Sweetens while adding a subtle molasses note.
Eggs: Binds everything together and contributes to the bars’ structure.
Vanilla extract: Adds a touch of vanilla fragrance.
Granny Smith apples: Definitely he star ingredient, adding a tart and crisp apple flavor.
Golden raisins: Adds sweetness and chewy texture.
Walnuts: Adds crunch and nutty undertones.
Confectioners’ sugar: The finishing touch, dusted on top for a sweet and elegant presentation.
- You could replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend for dietary preferences.
- If you don’t have apple pie spice you can make your own by combining 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon ground allspice, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and a 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional). Store in an airtight container.
- Nutmeg or cardamom can replace the ground cinnamon for a different warm spice note.
- Dark brown sugar can be used interchangeably for light brown sugar.
- Maple extract can be used instead of vanilla extract.
- Any crisp and tart apple variety like Honeycrisp or Fuji can be used in this recipe.
- If you don’t have golden raisins, regular raisins, currants, or chopped dried apricots would work.
- Pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts can be substituted for a different nutty flavor.
- If you want to make these apple bars nut-free, you’re best bet would be pumpkin seeds (pepitas).
How To Make Apple Bars
- Step One: Prepare your baking pan with parchment (see instructions below).
- Step Two: Whisk together dry ingredients, making sure they are fully combined.
- Step Three: Blend together butter, sugar and other wet ingredients. Gradually mix in flour, making sure to not overmix.
- Step Four: Stir in apples, raisins and walnuts.
- Step Five: Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Step Six: Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.
- Step Seven: Cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar.
How To Line A Baking Pan With Parchment
- With a pencil, trace the bottom of your baking pan onto a sheet of parchment paper.
- Cut the parchment paper about six inches longer on each side so it hangs over the sides of your pan. It should only hang over on one side, as seen in the above picture.
- Press the paper in the pan, making a crease at the edges, making sure it fits tightly into the bottom. Remove the paper.
- Spray nonstick cooking spray onto the sides and bottom of the pan and place parchment on top. The cooking spray helps the parchment stick to the pan and helps keep the parchment from moving when adding the batter to the pan. Using clothespins to hold the parchment in place during batter addition is also really helpful.
Drizzle caramel sauce over the bars or add a layer of caramel between the crust and apple filling and call them caramel apple bars.
Swap out the apples for ripe pears for a whole new flavor profile.
Instead of dusting with confectioners’ sugar, top the bars with a maple glaze made with maple syrup and powdered sugar.
Replace the apple pie spice with a blend of chai spices like cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black pepper.
Feel free to add an extra layer of texture by incorporating a crunchy oat streusel on top.
- Measure and prepare all ingredients before getting started.
- The recipe calls for a 9 x 13 pan and the Magic Pan (linked in the recipe card) is my favorite for baking. It has excellent heat conduction, gives the perfect angles and the sides – your bars/cakes will be edge-less and not over baked. I use it for everything, especially brownies.
- Use parchment to line your pan (directions are above).
- The batter is thick so hold down your parchment with clothespins.
- Use a small, offset icing spatula to smooth your batter into place, the back of a large spoon works too.
- Do not overmix the batter once you add the flour.
- Start checking bars with a toothpick after 25 minutes in the oven to see if they are done.
- Let cool for 15 minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack.
- If you want perfectly clean cut edges, cover bars tightly once cooled and refrigerate them overnight.
- Use a ruler to measure bars before cutting for uniformity of squares.
- Dust with several layers of powdered sugar right before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use a different type of apple? Yes. While Granny Smith apples have a nice tartness, feel free to experiment with your favorite apple variety. Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Gala apples work well too.
Can I make these bars ahead of time? Yep. These bars can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for a few days. They can also be frozen for longer storage.
Can I omit the nuts for allergies? Absolutely, you can omit the nuts if you have allergies or simply prefer a nut-free version. The bars will still be delicious.
What can I use instead of raisins? If you’re not a fan of raisins, consider using dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, or omitting them altogether.
How do I know when the bars are done baking? Insert a toothpick into the center; if it comes out with a few moist crumbs (not wet batter), they’re done. Baking times may vary depending on your oven, so keep an eye on them.
Can I make these bars vegan? Yes, you can experiment with egg substitutes like applesauce, mashed bananas, or flax eggs for a vegan version. Also, use a plant-based butter substitute.
More Fresh Apple Recipes
- Cream Cheese Crisp Apple Crisp
- Butterscotch Apple Cake
- Apple Chai Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Drizzle
- Cinnamon Apple Bundt Cake
- Upside Down Apple Pie
- Baked Apples with Maple-Walnut Sauce
- Crockpot Apple Crisp
- Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
- magic line pan or other 9 x 13 baking pan
Apple Bar Ingredients:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1 tsp apple pie spice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples, peeled, diced (about 2-3 apples)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts plus extra for garnish
- confectioners' sugar for topping
How to Make Apple Bars:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium sized bowl, Whisk together flour, baking powder, apple pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsps baking powder, 1 tsp apple pie spice, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp table salt
- With a stand or electric mixer, blend butter and brown sugar; about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, blending until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture and blend only until incorporated (do not overmix). Stir in apples, raisins and walnuts. The batter will be very thick.1/2 cup butter, room temperature, 2 cups packed light brown sugar, 2 large eggs, room temperature, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1-1/2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples, peeled, diced (about 2-3 apples), 1/2 cup golden raisins, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Prepare a 9 x 13 pan (my favorite is the magic pan) by either liberally coating it with cooking spray or lining it with parchment, which is the preferred method. (See instructions in the post on how to line a baking pan with parchment paper.) Spread apple batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- If you lined your pan with parchment, let the bars cool for 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Lift them out of the pan with the overhanging parchment on each side, otherwise wait until the bars are completely cool before cutting them into squares before removing.
- Dust squares with powdered sugar when they are completely cool. And garnish each square with a walnut.confectioners' sugar for topping
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.