Halloween is over, so it is officially my favorite time of the year! Every holiday season I try to convince Ryan that we need to decorate for Christmas a little earlier than the previous year. If you follow me on social media, you know all things Christmas makes me extremely happy. The movies, baked goods, and especially a house full of festive decor. However, I could never skip over the Thanksgiving meal! In honor of one of the food holidays I love the most, I’m sharing a brand new dessert recipe with you just in time for your Thanksgiving meal planning – Apple Pie Bars with Cinnamon Apple Crunch Topping! This recipe is grain-free, dairy-free, and has no refined sugars. And it can be made nut-free too!
What it does have is a decadent shortbread crust with a gooey apple filling that’s topped with a crunchy apple and cinnamon crumb. It pairs perfectly with a scoop of your favorite dairy-free ice cream after a Thanksgiving feast! This recipe is meant to have all your favorite flavors of a traditional apple pie but in a less time-consuming bar fashion.
For this recipe, I used my shortbread cookie recipe, but you can use a dough of your choice. Your favorite cookie dough would work well as a crust too. My recipe for snickerdoodle cookies, sugar cookies, nut-free cut-out cookies, or even a graham cracker crust will all work well with this recipe.
The filling for this recipe is similar to traditional apple pie filling. It has thinly sliced apples that stew and soften in their own juices mixed with maple syrup, lemon juice, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I love to use a combination of granny smith apples and honey crisp.
I wanted to give this recipe a crunchy topping, without the hassle of making a grain-free top crust. It’s simple yet packed with apple flavor. I used baked cinnamon apple chips mixed with a bit of ghee, coconut flour, arrowroot, and maple sugar for a sweet and crunchy topping bursting with flavor. To elevate this already delicious treat, I added a drizzle of my honey-based caramel sauce from page 290 in my first cookbook, Against all Grain. This step is optional as it tastes amazing without it, but I highly recommend not skipping it!
I hope you enjoy this recipe and be sure to let me know if you make it! If you are looking for more Thanksgiving and holiday desserts, be sure to check out my cookbook Celebrations. The Thanksgiving and Christmas chapters are some of my favorite recipes of the whole book! I also have several holiday desserts over on the blog under the desserts tab!
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Apple Pie Bars
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
- ½ recipe for shortbread or crust of choice – (enough dough to make 1 dozen cookies – crust should reach about ½-inch up the dish when pressed in)
- 1 ½ pounds tart and firm apples, such as granny smith and honey crisp
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 1/2-ounces baked apple chips
- ¼ cup maple sugar
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter or coconut oil
- ¼ cup warm caramel sauce, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a 10×10 baking dish with parchment paper. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Toss with maple syrup, lemon juice, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Add the filling to the top of the crust and return to the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbling.
- Place the baked apple chips, maple sugar, arrowroot powder, and coconut flour in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter to crush. Cut in the butter. Add the crunchy topping to the dish and return to the oven for 12 minutes, until the apples are bubbling on the sides and the topping is golden.
- Drizzle with caramel if desired, cut, and serve. Bars can be stored in the fridge, tightly wrapped, for 2 weeks.
Keywords: dessert, apple, fall, thanksgiving, Danielle Walker, against all grain, paleo, gluten free, grain free, clean eating, healthy, kid-friendly