These Vegan Apple Pie Bars combine the best of two worlds- cookie bars & apple pie! A thick shortbread dough that tastes just like pie is topped with cinnamon sugar apples and a vegan streusel for a melt-in-your-mouth apple cookie bar!
*Recipe originally shared December 2022 and updated September 2023*
Apples are getting a sweeter spotlight this week in these dairy-free & eggless apple cookie bars.
If you are a fan of apple pie, but looking for something more forgiving to bake- then you are going to love these vegan apple bars!
Ingredient & substitution notes:
- Cornstarch: can be subbed 1:1 for arrowroot powder.
- Lemon juice: can be subbed 1:1 for any acidic fruit juice such as lime or freshly squeezed orange juice. It will affect the flavor slightly, but works!
- Vegan butter: can be subbed for coconut oil, but keep in mind it will affect the flavor. If using coconut oil, it must be completely solid for the best results.
- Sugar: Coconut sugar or maple sugar would work great in this recipe to make it refined sugar-free. It is crucial to use granulated sugar, so just make sure you keep that in mind when substituting.
How to make vegan apple pie bars
These apple pie crumb bars are made in three easy steps:
Make & par-bake the vegan pie crust
This crust tastes somewhere between a shortbread cookie and a more traditional pie crust. I did add a little baking powder to help fluff it up a bit, but overall it's pretty dense, buttery, and SO delicious!
First, cream together the vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla. Then, add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix together into a thick dough.
Take the dough and press it into an 8* 8-inch baking pan. I like to do this with my hands and a spoon, but a spatula also works. Then, add it to the oven and bake for 15 minutes to par-bake (partially bake) the crust.
Pro Tip: I highly recommend lining your pan with parchment paper for easier removal!
Make the apple pie filling & streusel
While the crust is baking, make the other two layers of the vegan apple bars.
The first is the apple pie filling which combines peeled and thinly sliced apples with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Using cornstarch in this layer helps the apples turn into a nice smooth filling while the lemon juice adds a nice tart edge to offset the sweetness of the dish.
Then, make the vegan streusel topping! Add the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour to a small bowl.
Next "cut" the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers or a fork. Cutting butter essentially means adding cold butter to dry ingredients so that it stays in clumps.
Layer everything together & bake
Remove the partially cooked crust from the oven, top with the apple pie filling, and then finish by layering on the streusel topping. Then, add to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the streusel layer is browned and cooked through.
The apple pie bars will be pretty soft right out of the oven, so it's essential to let them cool COMPLETELY before slicing. In fact, I highly recommend cooling them and then adding the pan to the fridge for about 1 hour before slicing for the best results.
Cold bars are easier to slice and I have found refrigerating these bars up to 24 hours before slicing doesn't affect the texture or flavor at all! This actually makes them the perfect dessert to make the day before you are serving them.
Optional salted caramel
Also, while it is totally optional, I ended up topping these vegan pie bars with a drizzle of my favorite vegan salted caramel once sliced. YUM!
FAQ & Substitutions:
Can I bake vegan apple bars in a larger pan?
Yes, but you would need to double the recipe and then bake it in a 9*13-inch pan. The specific quantities in this recipe only work in an 8* 8-inch pan. I haven't personally tested it, but I believe the bake time would also need to be increased.
Can I make apple bars gluten-free?
Yes! Using a gluten-free 1:1 baking flour tends to work really well for vegan bar recipes.
In fact, you could even substitute the crust for the oat crust I used in my Vegan Blueberry Bars. Just keep in mind, that subbing in almond flour, coconut flour, or other flour alternatives 1:1 does not work in this recipe- it must be a GF flour mix made for baking.
How do I store apple bars?
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days in the freezer for up to 1 month. I highly recommend slicing the bars and storing them between sheets of parchment paper in a closed container for the best results.
Since these bars are pretty dense and moist, I found they actually stored really well in the fridge compared to normal cookies which I never recommend refrigerating.
I truly hope you enjoy these delicious Vegan Apple Pie Bars. They truly taste just like an eggless & dairy-free apple pie with much less work. Enjoy!
More fruit-filled fall desserts you will love:
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Vegan Apple Pie Bars
Vegan Shortbread Crust
- ½ cup vegan butter room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons cane sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt omit if using salted butter
- 2 sweet red apples peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ Tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup vegan butter cubed and cold
Make the Shortbread Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8*8 inch pan with parchment paper. Then, add the vegan butter, cane sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla to a mixing bowl. Whip together with an electric mixer until fluffy and creamed, about 2-3 minutes.
- Then, add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the mixing bowl and mix everything together into a thick dough. Press the dough into the parchment-lined pan until it is spread out evenly. Then, add to the oven to par-bake for 15 minutes.
Make the Apple Pie Filling & Streusel
- While the crust is baking, make the apple pie filling and streusel. Peel two apples and thinly slice them into ¼ inch slices. Then, add to a bowl and mix with the rest of the apple pie filling ingredients including the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix together until the apples are evenly coated and set aside.
- Next, make the streusel. Add the rolled oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon to a bowl. Then, add in the butter and use your fingers or a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly streusel forms. Set aside until the crust has finished baking
Layer & Bake
- Remove the partially baked crust from the oven and top with the apple pie filling. Then, sprinkle the streusel on top.
- Add the apple pie bars to the oven and bake for another 30-35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing. For the best results, put the cooled bars in the fridge 1-2 hours before slicing.
- Slice into 9 even slices and enjoy! Before serving, drizzle with vegan salted caramel if desired.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month between sheets of parchment paper in a closed container.
- I highly recommend topping these apple bars with a drizzle of vegan salted caramel!
- Cornstarch- can be subbed 1:1 for arrowroot powder.
- Lemon juice- can be subbed 1:1 for any acidic fruit juice such as lime or freshly squeezed orange juice. It will affect the flavor slightly, but works!
- Vegan butter- can be subbed for coconut oil, but keep in mind it will affect the flavor. If using coconut oil, it must be completely solid for the best results.
- This recipe was adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars.