Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars

Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars are ooey-gooey treats that have an amazing buttery shortbread crust and a soft and sweet caramel apple center!  This is one of the best desserts you will make this fall!

Try Salted Caramel Butter Bars or Dutch Caramel Apple Pie Bars too!  They are two buttery bars that deliver the perfectly sweet and salty caramel flavor that is so popular this time of year.

Salad caramel apple butter bars stacked on top of each other with parchment paper underneath.

Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars

Salted Caramel Apple Butter bars are so insanely delicious that they are worth every bite, even if you are on a healthy eating plan.  Personally, I have been watching what I eat, but I still believe in a little treat here and there.  I recently started with a crossfit personal trainer and it is amazing!  It is one of the hardest and most rewarding workouts that I have ever done.   I can already feel a difference in the short time that I have been doing it.  There really is no way to not get results with crossfit.  Even when you eat dessert now and then.  I made these Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars last week and that tiny square was worth every single calorie that I burned that day!

These Caramel Apple Butter Bars are adapted from the Salted Caramel Butter Bars recipe. It’s one of my favorites on the blog. I know, I know, these aren’t going to help with the weight loss plan. After all, they are called butter bars. But, oh man are they incredible! They start with a buttery shortbread crust. The center is salted caramel apple and the top is more buttery shortbread goodness. I love the hint of saltiness in these bars.  Everything combined in these bars was so amazing! These are sure to be a hit with your family as well!

Ingredients in Caramel Apple Bars

Just a few easy to work with ingredients blend together flawlessly to create this family favorite dessert bar.  The shortbread cookie crust is flaky and crumbly, while the center is filled with soft caramel coated apples.  These family favorite flavors will have you obsessing over these Salted Caramel Apple Bars.

  • Butter:Softened not melted.
  • White sugar: Adds sweetness to the shortbread crust.
  • Powdered sugar: Creates the melt-in-your-mouth texture in the shortbread.
  • Vanilla: Added to both the shortbread and the caramel filling, this extract brings out all the flavors and adds its own buttery rich flavor.
  • Flour
  • Apples: Medium sized Granny Smith apples work best.
  • Caramels: Unwrap soft caramel candies and melt in microwave for super quick and easy caramel.
  • Whipping cream: Prevents the caramels from drying out as they melt.
  • Coarse sea salt: Just a pinch!

Let’s Bake Apple Butter Bars

It’s easier than you think to bake these Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars from scratch.  They smell SOOO GOOD as they bake and they will get devoured right away!  The hardest part is letting them cool before cutting into them!

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine ingredients to form dough: In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar, and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in the flour and combine until it forms a soft dough.
  3. Add half of the dough to dish: Press half of the dough in the bottom of a 9×13 dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Mix caramel sauce: Remove the pan from the oven and melt the caramels, heavy cream and ½ tsp vanilla in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir together until smooth. Stir in the chopped apples. Pour evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the crust. I didn’t end up using the entire T, just lightly sprinkle evenly on top. You don’t want them too salty.
  5. Add top layer of dough: Take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble over the top of the caramel.
  6. Bake: Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and the top is firm. Let them cool completely before cutting.

Tips for the Best Butter Bars:

Keep these quick and easy tips in mind as you prepare your Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars.  They will help you bake the perfect buttery shortbread crust.  You will be serving a professional looking desert that people will rave about in no time!

  • Crumbly dough: Shortbread dough is supposed to be a bit dry and crumbly.  However, if your dough is still too crumbly even after working it for a while, you can easily adjust it by either adding more butter or more water.
  • Chill your dough: Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. This will help the cookies to be firm and not spread too much while baking.
  • Pierce shortbread dough with a fork: Poking holes in your shortbread dough will help it cook evenly since it is such a dry dough.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together very well: The creaming process will give the shortbread great texture by adding air pockets in that will puff up when the cookies are baking in the oven.
  • Do not overcook: The shortbread will still be soft when it first comes out of the oven. Do not leave it in too long.  As it cools, it will harden.  Look for a golden color to know when it is done.
  • Storing: Once the bars have cooled completely, cover in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Salad caramel apple butter bars stacked on top of each other with parchment paper underneath.

Perfect Fall Apple Recipes

Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings 16 Bars

Description

An amazing buttery shortbread crust with a caramel apple center!


Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword apple butter bars, caramel apple bars, caramel apple butter bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 and ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 medium apples chopped (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1 14 ounce bag caramels unwrapped or 11 oz unwrapped Caramel Bits work great
  • cup whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.

  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar, and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in the flour and combine until it forms a soft dough.

  3. Press half of the dough in the bottom of a 9×13 dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

  4. Remove the pan from the oven and melt the caramels, heavy cream and ½ tsp vanilla in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir together until smooth. Stir in the chopped apples. Pour evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the crust. I didn’t end up using the entire Tablespoon, just lightly sprinkle evenly on top. You don’t want them too salty.

  5. Take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble over the top of the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and the top is firm. Let them cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Notes

Updated on August 6, 2020

Originally Posted on October 13, 2014


Nutrition Facts

Serves: 16

Calories542kcal (27%)Carbohydrates71g (24%)Protein5g (10%)Fat27g (42%)Saturated Fat16g (80%)Cholesterol70mg (23%)Sodium562mg (23%)Potassium125mg (4%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar43g (48%)Vitamin A805IU (16%)Vitamin C1mg (1%)Calcium53mg (5%)Iron2mg (11%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. Is this a mistake having 2 CUPS of butter? Was it supposed to be 2 sticks? I just made these and they are swimming in butter, haven’t tasted them yet, but looks like a gooey mess, not at all like your picture.

  2. I made this recipe last night and ended up with a big pan of butter soup 🙁

    Even after I dabbed the grease off the top, the bars were kind of inedible.

  3. Not a lot about this recipe that’s right. When she says use a large mixing bowl, she really means use kitchen aid or add 20 min to prep time. When she says prep time 15 min, she really means 1 hr 15 min and that was with using kitchen aid. It took 20 min of peeling caramel from the wrapper as 1/3 of them stuck quite badly. When she says melt caramel etc in microwave for 1 min, she really meant 3 min. When she said bake for 25-30 min at 325, she really meant bake for 50-60 min and probably at a higher temperature.
    It appeared that she used a glass pan also, so I didn’t lower the temp. When she said chop 2 apples, she meant peal then chop 2 apples. It lacked in the gooey caramel taste I was so anticipating, and when it completely cooled, the next day I could see a lot of congealed butter in the bottom of the pan. I was pretty disappointed and for the time involved, I won’t be making them again. The crust never browned, some of it still doughy. And the worse part? I might as well have eaten 1/8 of an apple with 3 caramels and 2 Tbsp of butter. I can’t imagine the calories and fat we’ll consume eating these bars.

  4. Wow, here are the comments my sister made after following your instructions:

    “Not a lot about this recipe that’s right. When she says use a large mixing bowl, she really means use kitchen aid or add 20 min to prep time. When she says prep time 15 min, she really means 1 hr 15 min and that was with using kitchen aid. It took 20 min of peeling caramel from the wrapper as 1/3 of them stuck quite badly. When she says melt caramel etc in microwave for 1 min, she really meant 3 min. When she said bake for 25-30 min at 325, she really meant bake for 50-60 min and probably at a higher temperature.

    It appeared that she used a glass pan also, so I didn’t lower the temp. When she said chop 2 apples, she meant peel then chop 2 apples. It lacked in the gooey caramel taste I was so anticipating, and when it completely cooled, the next day I could see a lot of congealed butter in the bottom of the pan. I was pretty disappointed and for the time involved, I won’t be making them again. The crust never browned, some of it still doughy. And the worse part? I might as well have eaten 1/8 of an apple with 3 caramels and 2 Tbsp of butter. I can’t imagine the calories and fat we’ll consume eating these bars.”

    Hope other people’s experiences are better than this. (Tried to rate it with one star, but it won’t go that low.)

  5. These were delicious!! Instead of the whipping cream and caramels, I substituted a can of Eagle Brand Dulce de Leche and they were melt in your mouth good 🙂

  6. I’ve made these two times in the last month and they turned out perfectly. I think it’s one of the best bar recipes I’ve made in a while actually. I don’t see what can really go wrong here, but I guess they didn’t work for everyone. Yes, peel the apples. I just used a hand mixer on the crust. I loved that the shortbread was very sweet. I used the caramel bits (Target) with the cream and it was perfect. I did microwave it a little longer than a minute (in 15 minute increments) until it looked like a caramel sauce. For the remaining dough, I didn’t crumble it on top, I just flat disks of the dough and put them on until it covered most of the caramel. I used almost a full Tablespoon of the salt and put it on top of the crust (pressed in a little) and popped it in the oven. Both times I made these they turned out about double the thickness of those in the photo, but seriously one of the best bars I’ve tasted. A definite staple.

  7. Followed the instructions and ended up with butter soup. Not sure how the end result looked nothing like the picture. Stay away from tHis recipe.

    1. Hilary here is a previous comment that was left that might help: I’ve made these two times in the last month and they turned out perfectly. I think it’s one of the best bar recipes I’ve made in a while actually. I don’t see what can really go wrong here, but I guess they didn’t work for everyone. Yes, peel the apples. I just used a hand mixer on the crust. I loved that the shortbread was very sweet. I used the caramel bits (Target) with the cream and it was perfect. I did microwave it a little longer than a minute (in 15 minute increments) until it looked like a caramel sauce. For the remaining dough, I didn’t crumble it on top, I just flat disks of the dough and put them on until it covered most of the caramel. I used almost a full Tablespoon of the salt and put it on top of the crust (pressed in a little) and popped it in the oven. Both times I made these they turned out about double the thickness of those in the photo, but seriously one of the best bars I’ve tasted. A definite staple.

  8. This looks so good. I’m a caramel lover. I’d like to make these but I have a stupid question. Your recipe is called “Salted Caramel Apple Butter Bars”, where do you use the apple butter in the recipe? Or are you using regular butter and apples only? Please clarify. Thanks. I came across your recipe while looking for uses for apple butter, saw this delicious looking recipe and others I will have to look into too.

  9. These are amazing! I’ve made them probably a half a dozen times and get rave reviews EVERY time (including winning a “best dessert” contest at my office!). It does seem like a lot of butter, but I’ve never had issues with the crust if you mix the flour in increments and use truly softened (not melted) butter. Definitely a fall staple!

  10. It is sad these are getting a bad review. I made these for a Christmas party. They were great. Everyone loved them. They turned out perfect. I live in High elevation so I did have to bake them for 40 minutes instead of 30 min. Thank you. They had the perfect caramel with shortbread cookie mixture. Don’t worry about the reviews!

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