Caramel Apple Bars

These Caramel Apple Bars are chewy, sweet, and oozing with a decadent caramel sauce. Every bite is crazy good full of delicious apple flavor and gooey caramel! These easy apple dessert bars are perfect for all entertaining. Enjoy them for game day fun, family gatherings, a potluck, or simply a treat for the family on the weekend.

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Apple caramel bars in a white baking dish with a few taken out.

Now, I’m a big fan of those sweet, hearty caramel apples that you find in grocery stores or next to the cider donuts at apple orchards. But I’m an even bigger fan of their equally delicious counterparts: Caramel Apple Bars. They’re sticky, crisp, and spiced to perfection.

The Heart & Soul Of This Caramel Apple Bar Recipe

Cuisine Inspiration: All-American Baby!

Primary Cooking Method: Bake and Stovetop

Dietary Info: Vegetarian

Key Flavor: Molasses, apples, and caramel infuse every single bite of these chewy bars.

Skill Level: Beginner!

Sweet Spots

  • Shortcut Crust: This recipe uses a cake mix to create the perfect chewy base for these apple bars. This keeps the prep down so you can relax and enjoy more free time with family and friends.
  • Flavors of the Fall: We’re combining caramel and apples for a winning bar dessert that’s perfect for all your Fall events.
  • Great Way to Use Apples: If you have a bounty of apples from your apple picking adventures these apple bars are the perfect way to use them up!
  • Homemade Goodness: Each bite of these apple bars tastes purely homemade from scratch even though we’re using a few easy-packaged grocery items.
  • Short Ingredient List: These caramel apple bars require only 8 ingredients to make!

Ingredients to Make Caramel Apple Bars

  • Yellow Cake Mix: The shortcut base of our bars is a convenient package of yellow cake mix.
  • Brown Sugar: We mix it in with the cake base for a touch of molasses magic, and caramelize our apples for that cozy, autumn feel.
  • Butter: We’re melting some in our bar mix for rich, moist goodness, and also sautéing apples in it for that extra silkiness.
  • Eggs: Two large eggs to bind our bar mixture and give it that perfect, cakey texture.
  • Caramel: These little chips of joy go right into the bar mix and also star in the caramel sauce. They bring the perfect hit of sweet, buttery flavor. Make sure to use caramel chips not “bits.”
  • Cinnamon Spice: A dash of ground cinnamon with our apples.
  • Apples: Core and thinly slice two apples for a juicy, tart layer in your bars. They add a fresh, fruity zing!
Image to make caramel apple bars on the counter before mixing up.

How to Make Caramel Apple Bars

Step 1: Make the Base for the Bars

  1. Combine the cake mix, brown sugar, melted butter, and eggs in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat the ingredients together with an electric mixer on medium speed until it’s smooth and evenly combined. This takes about one minute.
  3. Spread the dough into your prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the caramel chips.
  4. Bake the chewy base in the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
Ingredients to make the bars in a bowl before mixing, after mixing, in the pan and after baking.

Step 2: Make the Apples

  1. Add the butter to a pan over medium-low heat and melt it.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Add in the apples.
  4. Cook the apples in the sauce until they become tender and the sauce develops. This takes about about 7-12 minutes to fully cook and combine together.
Making the caramel apples in a skillet to top the bars.

Step 3: Make the Caramel Sauce

  1. Add the caramel chips to a microwave-safe bowl and pour the milk over the chips.
  2. Microwave at 20-second intervals and whisk after each one until the chips melt and the mixture is combined. It usually takes about 1 minute.

PRO TIP: You can easily adjust the sauce to the texture you prefer. If the sauce is too thin, add a few more chips and stir to melt. If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk and whisk until smooth.

Butterscotch chips in a bowl before melting and after they're melted.

Step 4: Assemble the Caramel Apple Pie Bars

  1. Drizzle with a bit of caramel sauce.
  2. Spoon the apples over the bars. Serve and enjoy!
Caramel drizzled over the top of the bars and then the apples added.

Tips for Making the Best Apple Caramel Bars

  • Choose the Right Apples: You want to use apples that are best for cooking, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Braeburn.
  • Cooling Time: While the prep is quick you will need to give the apples and bars a bit of time to cool before serving. The bars will be much easier to cut when cool.
  • Cutting the Bars: Cut the bars before adding the apple and caramel mixture at the end for a lovelier presentation.
  • No microwave? You can melt the chips in a metal bowl set over the top of a saucepan on the stove with a bit of water at the bottom or a double boiler.
  • Prep Your Pan. This is essential for easy cleanup! You can even take things a step further and line the pan with parchment to make cleanup even quicker.
  • Add Nuts: Apples pair great with walnuts and pecans and chopped up these would make a great addition to the bars. You can add them to the chewy base of the bars or sprinkle it over the top.
  • Add Dried Fruit: Cranberries or raisins added to the caramel apple topping would pair great with the apples and a bit of texture.
  • Salted Caramel: Add a pinch or two of flaky sea salt to the caramel sauce or sprinkle a few flakes on the top of your apple bars.
  • Add a Crumb Topping: If you love apple pie with crumb topping then you can take these apple pie bars over the top by adding your favorite crumb topping. I love this one from my peach crumb bars.
A overhead of caramel apple bar recipe drizzled on on marble background

What to Serve with Apple Bars

How to Store Caramel Apple Bars

If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, be sure to wrap them up well or store them in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. Just remember to let them come to room temperature before serving for that just-baked taste! If you want them slightly warm you can heat them for just a couple of seconds in the microwave.

How long will last?

Keep your apple caramel bars at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for up to a week.

Can I freeze apple bars?

It’s not recommended to freeze these bars once they are fully assembled. The caramel apples will not hold up well to freezing. If you want to make the base in advance you can bake it ahead of time and freeze for up to a month. Thaw it out on the counter and then add the apple mixture and caramel sauce for serving.

A single caramel apple bar sitting on a wooden cutting board with a green apple in the background.

Frequently asked questions

What apples are best for apple desserts?

The Fall season brings with it an abundance of apples that we pick for snacking, baking and even bobbing. There are so many different kinds out there it’s hard to keep track of. Granny Smith, Jonagold, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp apples are all incredible options for baking.  When looking for the right apples you want to pick one with the right consistency, flavor, and texture. Your apple needs to be sweet but slightly tart, crisp but capable of breaking down without getting too mushy, and jam-packed with a strong flavor.  I love using up those bags of Honeycrisp apples we haul home from our fall days spent out at the orchards. They are wonderfully sweet with a slight tartness that balances out with the butterscotch. When cooked, the Honeycrisp apple maintains its structure so that each bar bite is filled with tender, never mushy, bits of apple. 

Do I need to peel the apples?

You don’t have to but I prefer to remove the peel. The peel won’t cook up as soft as the apples and I prefer the texture without the peels but of course, you can skip that step and keep the peels if you want.

Can I use a different flavor of cake mix?

Yellow cake mix makes a nice neutral yet chewy base for these caramel apple bars but of course, you can certainly experiment if you want! White cake mix and French vanilla are a couple of classics but Butter Pecan cake mix or spice cake mix add a different flavor profile which works well with caramel and apples.

Caramel apple bar dessert in a white baking dish ready to eat.

These caramel apple bars are the easy answer to fresh baked apple pie flavor without all the work and effort. They’re simple to make using a few quick grocery store finds and are ready to serve in less than an hour. The combination of apple and caramel is perfect for entertaining in the Fall but you can certainly enjoy this apple dessert any time of year!

More Apple Dessert Recipes to Try

*Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating and leave comments below!* Post a photo of how your version of the recipe came out on Instagram (using #grandbabycakes)!!

Caramel apple bars on a piece of parchment on the table showing the chewy base and apple topping.

Chewy Caramel Apple Bars

Delicious caramel apple bars made fresh apples in a buttery caramel sauce served up over a chewy bar using cake mix is a simple dessert everyone will love.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 24 servings

Ingredients

Base

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup salted butter melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup caramel chips Make sure to use caramel chips not “bits.”

Apples

  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 apples cored, cut into ¼ inch slices

Caramel Sauce

  • ½ cup caramel chips Make sure to use caramel chips not “bits.”
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Instructions

For Bars

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 13×9 pan with nonstick baking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix, brown sugar, melted butter, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and evenly combined, about 1 minute.
  • Spread dough into prepared pan. Sprinkle with caramel chips. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack until room temperature. Cut into 24 bars.

For Apples

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon, then apples. Allow apples to cook in the sauce until tender and sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

For Caramel Sauce

  • Add caramel chips to small microwave safe bowl, then add milk.
  • Microwave at 10 second intervals and stir each time, until smooth and combined. (If sauce is too thin, add more chips; if too thick, add more milk and stir.)

Assembly

  • Drizzle caramel sauce over bars, then spoon apples over each bar and serve.

Video

Notes

  • Choose the Right Apples: You want to use apples that are best for cooking, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Braeburn.
  • Cooling Time: While the prep is quick you will need to give the apples and bars a bit of time to cool before serving. The bars will be much easier to cut when cool.
  • Cutting the Bars: Cut the bars before adding the apple and caramel mixture at the end for a lovelier presentation.
  • No microwave? You can melt the chips in a metal bowl set over the top of a saucepan on the stove with a bit of water the bottom or a double boiler.
  • Prep Your Pan. This is essential for easy cleanup! You can even take things a step further and line the pan with parchment to make cleanup even quicker.

Nutrition

Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 36mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 242IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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Filed Under:  Bars And Brownies, Dessert and Baking, Fall Recipes, Oven

Comments

  1. Good grief, Jocelyn, these are delectable! When things are just crazy, I love using a few shortcuts (like cake mix) to make my life easier. My cake mix treats never turn out this gorgeous though 🙂 Totally want to give them a try!

  2. I am scared to try these…because I have a feeling I may become addicted! 🙂 They are beautiful and I am sure taste as good as they look. 🙂

  3. I love bars. Plus everyone else seems to love bars too. So it’s fun to bake them. Excellent recipe.

5 from 11 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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