Satisfy your caramel apple craving with these easy to make Fresh Apple Caramel Squares. This simple recipe comes together quick with the dough acting as double duty as a bottom layer and delicious streusel top!
Fresh Apple Caramel Squares is one of the those recipes you’ll be making year-round whenever you have apples to spare. It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t require a lot of work.
Rather than having to make a separate crust and streusel layer, here one batch of dough does double duty as both the crust and streusel topping. It’s one of the easiest desserts around!
This is a great make-ahead recipe as well. These squares refrigerate great and can be served cold, room temperature, or even warmed up with a scoop of ice cream.
Fresh Caramel Apple Squares Recipe
Putting together this recipe couldn’t be easier. No need to make a special shortbread layer for these bars. The dough acts as both the crust and streusel topping.
To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Firstly, in a bowl, combine the flour (gluten-free if desired), rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Mix together to combine.
Secondly, add in melted butter and thawed apple juice concentrate. Note that if you can’t find or don’t have apple juice concentrate, you could always substitute apple juice or even water.
The best way to mix the ingredients is to work them together with your hands. You will end up with a crumbly dough that holds its shape when you squeeze it together. Pour half of the dough into the prepared pan. Use your hand to firmly press dough into a crust.
Next, place the peeled and sliced apples in a layer on top of the crust. It is ok if the apple slices don’t line up perfectly, just arrange so that most of the crust is covered.
Then, top the apples with caramel sauce. I like to use store-bought caramel sauce which you can usually find near the ice cream section of the grocery store. You can also order this delicious Ghirardelli caramel sauce online or find it in stores.
Lastly, sprinkle on the remaining dough over the apple caramel layer. Use your hands to firmly press the dough layer so it sticks together.
Bake and Drizzle with Caramel
Bake the bars for about 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let the bars cool completely on a wire rack before cutting or adding the caramel topping.
Finally, drizzle the squares with caramel sauce. This step is optional, but highly recommended!
What apples work best for caramel apple bars?
For this recipe, you want a firm apple that will hold its shape when cooked. I recommend using a Granny Smith apple which is slightly tart and doesn’t get mushy when baked.
Other great apples to bake with are: Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, or Pink Lady. These all hold their shape well when baked.
Gluten-free caramel apple squares
Fresh Apple Caramel Squares are a great recipe to make if you are gluten-free. Other than the flour, the entire recipe is gluten free.
To make this recipe gluten free, simply swap out the all purpose flour with a 1 to 1 gluten free flour. I’ve made this recipe using King Arthur Measure for Measure flour and have had great results!
You can even make this recipe dairy free by using a vegan caramel sauce such as Hey Boo. Moreover, this sauce is made with coconut milk and is super delicious and creamy.
Easy-to-Make Squares and Bars
If you love serving squares at parties and having them on hand for snacking, you need to try these simple and easy-to-make bars that are perfect for every occasion!
So be sure to give these Fresh Apple Caramel Squares a try! You’re going to love how simple they are to make. Enjoy!
Fresh Apple Caramel Squares
- 9 x 9 inch baking pan
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed (could substitute apple juice or water)
- 2 medium granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- ½ cup caramel sauce, divided
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment leaving a slight overhang; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and apple juice concentrate; work together ingredients with your hands until a coarse crumb forms.
- Firmly press half of the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan. Next, arrange sliced apples over the crumb mixture. Drizzle on ¼ cup of caramel sauce (warm the sauce slighly if necessary to make it pourable).
- Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the apples and caramel and pat into an even layer.
- Bake until the top is golden brown and the apples are soft when pierced with a toothpick; about 30-35 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle on additional caramel sauce if desired.