Apple Shortbread Bars are layered dessert bars with a shortbread crust and a layer of spiced apples covered and baked with crumble topping. It’s the perfect holiday dessert that should definitely be added to your Thanksgiving menu!

Apple Shortbread Bars on a Counter Cut Into Pieces with the Center Piece Cut Smaller and Flipped on Its Side to Show Bar Layers.

Apple Shortbread Bars

This dessert starts with my perfected shortbread recipe. Then, a layer of spiced apples from my apple crisp recipe is layered on top of the shortbread. Finally, the crumble topping is added and baked to a golden brown. As an added touch of flavor, you could drizzle some caramel sauce over the top of the baked bars.

Pressing Shortbread Crust Into Pan Before Baking and Then Assembling Apple Shortbread Bars.

Ingredients

This recipe has three parts: the shortbread, apple mixture, and crumble topping.

Butter: In both the shortbread and crumble topping, use cold, cubed unsalted butter.

Superfine Sugar: When making the shortbread, use superfine sugar, also known as caster sugar. If you don’t have any, use a food processor to process granulated sugar into finer crystals. If you use granulated sugar, the cookies will be too coarse and lose their soft texture.

Apples: As with many of my baked apple recipes, I like to use Granny Smith apples. They hold their shape well when baked and have a nice tartness to balance the sweetness of the bars. Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Pink Lady apples would also be good choices. Or, use any apples that have a firm texture.

Caramel Sauce: Add a little drizzle of caramel sauce over the bars when serving. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own!

Sprinkling Crumble Over Apple Shortbread Bars Before Baking.

Are Apple Shortbread Bars Served Best Warm or Cold?

Serving these bars warm or cold would work. But, according to all the taste testers here, serving the bars chilled was the best way to enjoy them. We loved the texture of the cold bars! But, again, you will win with this recipe either way.

Can I Use Canned Apple Pie Filling?

Sure! You could use canned pie filling in place of the apple mixture, but it could change the final flavor of the bars. If you want a different flavor other than apple, I do have cherry pie filling or blueberry pie filling (from my no-bake blueberry pie), which you could try.

Stack of Apple Shortbread Bars on White Counter.

How to Store

Apple Shortbread Bars should be stored in the refrigerator. Keep them in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Can I Freeze Apple Shortbread Bars?

Sure! After the bars have been baked and chilled, wrap them in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. They will last up to a month in the freezer. Let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

More Delicious Bars

Apple Shortbread Bars on a Counter Cut Into Pieces with the Center Piece Cut Smaller and Flipped on Its Side to Show Bar Layers.

Apple Shortbread Bars

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Chilling Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Apple Shortbread Bars are layered dessert bars with a shortbread crust and a layer of spiced apples covered and baked with crumble topping.

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • cups (219 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (32 g) cornstarch
  • cup (150 g) superfine sugar*
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks / 227 g) unsalted butter, cold, cubed

Apple Mixture

  • 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (about 3½ cups)
  • ½ cup (62.5 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crumble Topping

  • ½ cup (62.5 g) all-purpose flour
  • cup (67 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed

Instructions

Shortbread

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined.
  • Place the butter cubes in the flour mixture. Mix by hand until the dough is light yellow in color and small crumbs form, rubbing any remaining butter bits into the flour mixture.
  • Press the shortbread mixture firmly and evenly into the lined pan. Using a fork, pierce dough at 1-inch intervals.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. While the shortbread is baking, prepare the apple mixture and the crumble topping.

Apple Mixture

  • Place sliced apples in a bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir gently, making sure every piece of apple is coated in the sugar mixture.

Crumble Topping

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon until combined.
  • Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture. Using your hands or a fork, mix the butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are pea-sized or smaller.

Assembly

  • Once the shortbread crust has baked for the 15 minutes, remove from the oven. Top the crust with the apple mixture.
  • Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apple mixture.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Allow the bars to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least two hours before serving.
  • Serve drizzled with caramel. (optional)

Notes

*Superfine Sugar: When making the shortbread, use superfine sugar, also known as caster sugar. If you don’t have any, use a food processor to process granulated sugar into finer crystals. If you use granulated sugar, the cookies will be too coarse and lose their soft texture.

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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

    1. Crumble Topping
      ▢½ cup (62.5 g) all-purpose flour
      ▢⅓ cup (67 g) light brown sugar, packed
      ▢½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
      ▢6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed
      Crumble Topping
      In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon until combined.
      Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture. Using your hands or a fork, mix the butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are pea-sized or smaller.
      Assembly
      Once the shortbread crust has baked for the 15 minutes, remove from the oven. Top the crust with the apple mixture.
      Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apple mixture.
      Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

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