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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

You need these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars in your life! They’re made with fresh apples, a crisp topping and homemade date caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Okay I’ve got a hot take to share with you guys that I just have to get off my chest. I think everyone gets so caught up in pumpkin spice season, that we all forget that it’s also apple season.

Don’t get me wrong. I love using pumpkin in recipes for any meal of the day. From my Vegan Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats to Pumpkin Sage Oat Risotto and Vegan Oatmeal Pumpkin Waffles, I certainly have no shortage of vegan pumpkin recipes on the blog. But as soon as September hits, everyone is so knee-deep in pumpkin spice everything that we forget that it’s the best time of year for apples!

Well my friends, I’m here to celebrate apple season with these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars! Not only are these apple pie bars vegan and gluten-free, but we’re also making our own homemade salted caramel sauce using dates! Delicious, and a little healthier than your average salted caramel.

I’m a very determined, self-motivated person. If I have a goal or if you give me something to get done, you bet your a$$ I’m going to put my 100% into accomplishing it. As soon as I had it in my head that I wanted to make apple pie bars, I couldn’t shake the idea. It took me three attempts and many failed crusts in the trash to get these right, but these salted caramel apple pie bars turned out to be one of my new favorite desserts – decadent, fresh, full of classic apple pie flavor, and made with healthy ingredients.

a hand holds a square apple pie bar

Ingredients for Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

I know the ingredient list looks scary long, but I separated them into each step (crust, filling, topping, and caramel sauce). You’ll use a lot of the ingredients in more than one step, so I promise it’s less ingredients than it looks like! Keeping’ it simple here.

Here’s everything you’ll need.

  • Oats. This recipe calls for both old-fashioned rolled oats and oat flour. You can make your own oat flour by throwing some oats into a blender and grinding it into flour!
  • Almond flour. We’re using almond flour with our oat flour to make a delicious gluten-free crust.
  • Flax meal. Flax meal is a great egg replacement and will help bind the crust together.
  • Coconut oil. Since these are vegan apple pie bars, we’re using coconut oil in the crust. You could also use vegan butter.
  • Maple syrup. Apples and maple syrup are made for each other! Maple syrup is going into multiple components of these apple pie bars.
  • Coconut sugar. The coconut sugar is going into our apple pie filling. I love the toasty flavor of coconut sugar, but you could also use brown sugar or granulated sugar.
  • Apples. You can use any kind you’d like! Honeycrisp are my favorite in this apple pie bar recipe.
  • Apple sauce. I recommend unsweetened applesauce since we’re already getting plenty of sweetness from the maple syrup, coconut sugar and dates.
  • Vanilla extract. Just a touch really helps add some warmth and flavor.
  • Pecans. I love the crunch that pecans add to the topping, but if you don’t like them or are allergic, you can leave them out.
  • Dates. We’re making a homemade salted date caramel sauce to drizzle on top that is TO DIE FOR. Just you wait.
  • Non-dairy milk. Any kind will work!
  • Spices. You’ll need salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

six apple pie bars drizzled with salted caramel sauce

How to Make Date Caramel Sauce

There are a lot of reasons why these salted caramel apple pie bars are so delicious, but that SAUCE. I think that’s the best part. I mean who doesn’t love salted caramel? And BONUS – this salted caramel is actually a date caramel sauce! So it’s a little healthier (and easier to make!) than a traditional salted caramel.

To make it, you’ll want to start by soaking your dates in hot water until they start to soften. Then, add your soaked dates, non-dairy milk and salt to a blender and blend it all up until everything is suuuuuper smooth. It’s that simple! No burning sugar in your sauce pan and cleaning up a crystalized mess. Just a delicious, salty, sweet date caramel sauce in a matter of minutes.

a batch of apple pie bars cut into squares

How to Make Gluten-Free Crumble Topping

I don’t know that I could ever decide between apple crumble and apple pie, so why not meet in the middle? Sure, these are apple pie bars, but we’re finishing them off with a gluten-free apple crumble topping because why the heck not. It’s crunchy, salty, sweet and so delicious.

To make the apple crumble topping, mix together old-fashioned rolled oats, oat flour, pecans, cinnamon and salt. Then, add in a bit of melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Fold everything together until the crumble is well-coated in the coconut oil and maple syrup.

Time to assemble the apple pie bars!

a hand presses a gluten free pie crust into a dish next to a baking pan full of spiced apples

a pan of apple pie bars topped with a crunchy gluten free topping

 

How to Make Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

This isn’t technically a “dump into one bowl, mix, and bake” sort of recipe, but it’s super easy once you break it down. There’s really only three steps when you’re making these vegan apple pie bars:

  1. Vegan Pie Crust: Make the crust. Press it into the pan. Bake. Cool.
  2. Apple pie filling: Slice the apples. Toss with other ingredients. Pack them onto the crust.
  3. Topping: Mix ingredients. Sprinkle over the apples.

To make the crust, mix your oat flour, almond meal and flax meal together. Then, add your coconut oil, maple syrup and salt. Next, add water and mix until everything comes together as a dough.

Press the crust into a prepped baking pan so that it covers the bottom of the pan and starts to come up the sides. Then, pop it into a 350F oven for 15 minutes, then place it in the fridge to cool.

For the filling, you can use the same bowl you just made your crust in! Slice up your apples and add to the bowl with your coconut sugar, oat flour, applesauce, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir to coat the apples, then spread the apple pie filling on top of your cooled crust. Put the pan of apple pie bars back in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until your topping is brown and starting to get toasty.

Now this is the HARDEST PART, but it’s critical. You have to let the bars cool in the pan for at least an hour before cutting into them. If you slice into them straight out of the oven, they’ll be a gooey mess.

Once they’re (finally) cool, pull them out of the fridge and drizzle your homemade date caramel sauce on top! NOW you can dig in 🙂

three honeycrisp apples and a measuring cup of oats

More Vegan Apple Recipes

Pumpkin season and apple season BOTH deserve their time to shine, so celebrate apple season with more delicious apple-y treats! If you’re looking for more fall goodness, check out these other vegan apple recipes.

a stack of three apple pie bars topped with caramel

Print
How to make:

Vegan Apple Pie Bars (gluten-free)

The classic apple pie gets a delicious, vegan makeover in these Apple Pie Bars! A soft crust, fresh apples & crisp topping make these perfect for any time.

Prep Time:
1 hour 30 mins
Cook Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
2 hours 25 mins
three apple pie bars stacked on top of one another
Yield:
12-16 bars 1x
Rating: 5 from 2 reviews

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour (ground-up rolled oats)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water

Filling:

  • 2 apples, sliced thinly (I used Honeycrisp)*
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon applesauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped**
  • 2 tablespoons oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Caramel sauce:
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, soaked in hot water
  • 1/3 cup almond milk or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch x 8-inch baking pan with foil; lightly grease with non-stick spray.
  2. Crust: In a large bowl, add oat flour, almond meal and flax meal. Stir to combine. Add coconut oil, maple syrup and salt; stir until ingredients are fully incorporated. Add water; mix well.
  3. Press the crust evenly into the pan, slightly bringing the crust up on the sides. Make sure the crust is the same thickness throughout. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven; place in the fridge and cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Filling: In the same large bowl, place the sliced apples, coconut sugar, oat flour, applesauce, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir until the ingredients evenly coat the apples. Evenly layer the apples on the baked crust; slightly press down to pack the apples in.
  5. Topping: In the large bowl, add oats, pecans, oat flour, cinnamon and salt; stir to combine. Add melted oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir well until ingredients are fully incorporated. Sprinkle topping evenly on top of the layered apples.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the topping is lightly browned and crispy. Remove from the oven; let the bars sit in the pan for 30 minutes. Place in the fridge and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
  7. In a blender, add soaked dates, milk and salt. Blend until smooth. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the bars. Slice and enjoy!

Notes

*I sliced the apples vertically about 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick and cut those slices in half. Cut out the core and seeds.
**You can use any nut you want, like walnuts or almonds. You can also use seeds if you’re nut-free.

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