These healthy apple pie bars include a buttery shortbread crust, layers of thinly sliced cinnamon apples, and a crumb topping sweetened with maple syrup. The ingredients are simple, so these are paleo apple pie bars, too! A handheld version of apple pie with all the flavors of fall!
This dessert combines two of my favorite things: apples and bars! I love a good dessert bar recipe, and this one packs in all the glorious flavors of fall.
If you’re new to healthy apple pie bars, it’s a triple layer handheld version of apple pie that includes a buttery shortbread crust, apple pie filling, and a deliciously sweet crumb topping. Easy to make, easy to eat, and the BEST way to make use of all those apples after apple picking!
Now, don’t get me wrong, these are incredible as is. But, if you’re looking to up your fall dessert experience, I love serving apple pie bars with a little coconut milk ice cream, coconut whipped cream, or a drizzle of powdered sugar glaze. You could even adorn these with my 4-ingredient vegan caramel sauce!
What sets this recipe apart from the rest is that it includes nourishing, whole ingredients. The bars are packed with fresh, juicy apples, and the crumb topping is sweetened with coconut sugar and a little maple syrup. Because the ingredients are simple, these apple pie bars are paleo and gluten free!
New to baking with tapioca flour? Grab some on your next grocery run. It’s readily available in the baking aisle, and has so many uses in gluten free baking.
What Makes These Apple Pie Bars Healthier?
I love figuring out ways to make healthy swaps in desserts without sacrificing texture or flavor. While this easy apple dessert recipe is made with healthier ingredients, it’s everything you’d want! This recipe is:
- Made with whole ingredients: The filling is loaded with fresh apples, and the crust and crumble is made with almond flour and coconut flour. As a result, these are paleo apple pie bars!
- Gluten free: Tapioca flour thickens the filling and gives the crumb topping an irresistible texture.
- Dairy free: Coconut oil is mixed into the dry ingredients to make the crumble. It’s a great dose of healthy fats!
- Naturally sweetened: Maple syrup and coconut sugar sweeten the apples and the crumb topping. Both pair perfectly with apples and fall flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Here are a few tips about some of the ingredients in this recipe:
- Blanched almond flour – I recommend using a fine almond flour for the best texture.
- Tapioca flour – While you only need a small amount, this is the secret ingredient that makes the crust cookie-like.
- Coconut oil – Make sure this is solid at room temperature. You can also easily use butter or ghee. Ghee is just butter with all dairy solids removed. It contains no lactose or casein and can be used just like butter in recipes.
- Coconut sugar – This is a natural sweetener that adds a nice maple-sweet taste.
- Raw pecans – You can get these whole or pre-chopped
- Fresh apples – Any apples will work in this recipe! I personally like slightly sweet apples like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Gala.
- Lemon juice – use freshly squeezed or bottled.
While you won’t get the same consistent results if you vary from the original recipe, here’s a few swaps you can make if you find yourself short:
- Almond flour – You can use another nut flour, like cashew flour
- Tapioca flour – You can swap this for arrowroot flour, but it will be a little more gummy
- Maple syrup – Swap for raw honey
- Coconut sugar: You can swap this for any granulated sugar, including brown sugar. Check out the best coconut sugar substitutes for more suggestions.
- Coconut oil: Use ghee or unsalted butter instead! Just make sure it’s room temperature.
How to Make Healthy Apple Pie Bars
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, and sea salt. Add the ghee, maple syrup, and vanilla to the bowl, and fold everything together. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan and bake for 8 minutes.
- Make the filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple slices, coconut sugar, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tapioca flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir. Once cooled, add the apple mixture on top of the crust in the pan and spread evenly.
- Make the crumb topping. Combine the almond flour, arrowroot flour, coconut sugar, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the solid coconut oil to the bowl and cut it into the dry ingredients using a fork. Once the coconut oil is incorporated, add the maple syrup and gently mix the topping with the fork until a wet crumble forms. Don’t over-mix. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly overtop of the apples in the pan.
- Bake. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Serve. Let the apple pie bars cool completely before cutting into nine even squares. Serve with coconut milk ice cream, coconut whipped cream, or a drizzle of powdered sugar glaze.
- Peel and slice your apples before you make your crust. I like to throw the slices directly into the saucepan with the lemon juice. Cook them while your crust is baking.
- You can use any type of apple when making this healthy apple crisp recipe. My personal favorite is Pink Lady apples!
- Make sure the coconut oil is solid at room temperature—sort of like the texture of butter. You will cut it into the topping mixture with the side of a fork.
- Don’t over-mix the crumb topping. Once the maple syrup is incorporated, stop mixing.
Paleo Apple Pie Bars
Because the ingredients are so simple, these are paleo apple pie bars! I LOVE that these bars are a wholesome dessert, as the main component is just fresh apples, maple syrup, and spices. It’s a dessert for everyone at the table—kids and adults alike!
How to Serve
While you can serve this crisp as is, you can also serve it with:
- Coconut milk yogurt
- Vanilla ice cream
- A drizzle of caramel sauce
- A drizzle of powdered sugar icing. Just mix ¾ cup organic powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons coconut milk.
Firm, crisp, and slightly sweet apples are best for this recipe. Apple varieties that work best for apple pie bars include Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, and Braeburn apples. Tart apples like Granny Smith apples are also great for apple pie bars as they hold up well when baked.
Truthfully, you can use any variety of apples for this recipe! Use what you have on hand, or use a couple different types of apples to give the bars more flavor and dimension.
You can easily make apple pie bars using healthier ingredients. This recipe includes an almond flour shortbread crust, plenty of apples in the filling, and a crump topping sweetened with natural sweeteners.
Yes! For the best texture, make sure to cook the apple slices before you layer the bars and bake them. If you don’t, your apples will be undercooked and more crisp.
Storage and Freezing
STORE: Let the apple pie bars cool to room temperature, then place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will last up to 7 days in the fridge.
FREEZE: These bars freeze well, too! Just place them in an airtight container or freezer-safe storage bag. I like to separate each one with a small piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking. Store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
THAW: When you’re ready to a bar, just lay it out in the fridge to thaw for a few hours.
More Fall Recipes
- Healthy Apple Crisp
- Paleo Pumpkin Bread
- Paleo Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel
- 4-Ingredient Vegan Caramel Sauce
- Fluffy Paleo Cinnamon Rolls
- ¾ cup blanched almond flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup blanched almond flour
- ¼ cup tapioca flour
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoons chopped raw pecans
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, solid at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with a parchment paper sling so the paper drapes over two sides.
- Make the Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, and sea salt. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla to the bowl, and fold everything together until a dough forms. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 8 minutes.
- Make the Filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple slices, coconut sugar, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the tapioca flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the saucepan and stir until dissolved. Once cooled, add the apple mixture on top of the crust in the pan and spread evenly.
- Make the Topping: Combine the almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut sugar, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the solid coconut oil to the bowl and cut it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork. Cut the coconut oil into the dry ingredients so that it crumbles into smaller and smaller pieces. Once the coconut oil is fully incorporated, add the maple syrup and gently mix the topping with the fork until a wet crumble forms. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly overtop of the apples in the pan.
- Bake: Return the pan to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Cool: Let the apple pie bars cool completely before cutting them into twelve even squares. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve with a drizzle of powdered sugar glaze, vanilla ice cream, or 4-ingredient vegan caramel sauce.
- To make baking go a bit quicker, peel and slice the apples as part of your prep work before you make the crust.
- While any variety of apple will work, crisp and slightly sweet apples like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Golden Delicious work great for this recipe.
- Eating the bars warm is tempting, but letting them cool is necessary to cut the apples. The bars are best eaten at room temperature or chilled.
- For a powdered sugar glaze: Mix up ¾ cup organic powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons coconut milk, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour over the apple pie bars just before serving.
Recipe by: Noelle Tarr / Coconuts and Kettlebells | Photography by: Casey Colodny / The Mindful Hapa