Easy Oatmeal Bars with Apple Butter Filling

4.66 from 98 votes

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Oatmeal bars are a perfect way to use what in your pantry. They are one of our most popular easy dessert recipes and our homemade apple butter filling makes them the perfect sweet and savory treat.

These dessert bars can be made in just 45 minutes and you probably already have all the ingredients just sitting in your pantry, waiting to be used. 

As a bonus, they can easily be turned into a make-ahead recipe as they freeze well for up to two months. Read on and we’ll show you exactly how to do all of this.

About these

A day or so ago we had a childless afternoon in our house. Hence I returned home to an unusually quiet home on an unusually frigid day. I had just made some of our homemade apple butter from apples stored in the fridge, and I wanted to put it to good use.

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Using the oven to take the chill out of a cold day is always a great excuse to bake a yummy dessert. We do this often with things like Danish kringle, open-face apple pie, slutty brownies, and of course our family favorite of shoofly pie!

The outside temperature never exceeded 15 degrees below zero throughout the day, so I decided to use the magical heat of an oven ready to bake.

The kitchen began the transformation to a warm and cozy haven; this is how a new recipe came into the world. Along with our no bake cherry cheese cake bars and homemade raised donuts, this is one of our favorite desserts.

Ingredients for this Oat Bars Recipe

  • Old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Flour
  • Brown Sugar
  • White Granulated Sugar
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter
  • Apple Butter or substitute (See suggestions below)
stack of three oatmeal dessert bars with appeles in the background,.

If you don’t have apple butter in your pantry, there are many other common spreads you can use (see the list below.)

How to make these

(New to baking?  Learn how to make cookies from our own in-house professional chef, CIA-trained Chef Kat.)

Start by preheating your oven to 350° and then gather all of the ingredients listed above.

Next, assemble the shortlist of kitchen tools and equipment for this recipe:

  • A mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • A 9″ x 9″ baking pan
Process photos showing the steps to making oatmeal bars
  1. Start by placing 2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal in a medium-size mixing bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
  3. Measure and add  3/4 cup of granulated sugar.
  4. Then add 1/4 cup of brown sugar.
Placing ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  1. Add the salt and cinnamon and mix it all together.
  2. Then, add and stir in the softened butter.
  3. Transfer the half of the mixture to a greased 9″ x 9″ baking pan.
    1. Reserve the remaining crumbs to use as a topping.
Pressing dough for oat bars into a baking pan and adding apple butter.

Use the bottom of a drinking glass to firmly pack the base in the pan.

Next, add the magical ingredient: Apple Butter!

spreading apple butter over oat bars in a baking pan.
Use a soft rubber spatula and spread the apple butter evenly over the oat bar base.
Adding crumb topping to oatmeal and apple butter bars.
Finally, sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top of the layer of apple butter.

Then pat firmly before baking for 30 minutes.

Cutting a pan full of oatmeal bars with a knife.
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 Be sure and try this oatmeal bar cookie recipe; I know you’re going to love it!

Common recipe questions

How do I store these?

These can be stored at room temperature for up to two days, in a sealed container. Otherwise, they will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.

What can I substitute for apple butter in this recipe?

If you don’t have apple butter, you can use things like:

  • Fig preserves
  • Apricot preserves
  • Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (Nutella)
  • Pumpkin butter
  • Ripe Bananas
  • Jelly (Grape, Apple, or Strawberry)

Can this dessert be frozen?

You can make these oatmeal bars ahead of time and freeze for up to two months. Here is the best way to enjoy them as a make-ahead dessert:

1. Bake and Freeze Method

  • Prepare as directed and allow to completely cool.
  • Cut portions as desired.
  • Using a flat surface like a cookie sheet, platter, or large plate, line the bottom with plastic kitchen wrap and leave plenty of extra wrap to cover the top of the bars.
  • Double-wrap the bars, making sure there are no air pockets between them and the plastic wrap.
  • Place a date label on the outside (to remind you of when you made them), and place in your freezer.
  • Remove from freezer 6 to 12 hours before serving to allow them to thaw at room temperature.

2. Freeze and Bake Method

  • Prepare as directed but do not bake.
  • Wrap the entire baking dish, with the unbaked bars, in plastic kitchen wrap. Press down lightly on the wrap to make sure you get out any air pockets. Wrap in a second layer and place the dish in the freezer.
  • Allow thawing in the refrigerator 12 hours before ready to bake and serve.
  • Bake as directed.
picking up an oatmeal dessert bar.

 This easy recipe for oatmeal bars is perfect for the holidays, or any time of the year. If you’re looking for another year-round dessert recipe, be sure and try our forgotten cookies!

Other recipes that use apple butter

(Be sure and check out our own recipe for Crock-Pot Apple Butter.)

See all of our bar recipes and our complete collection of easy dessert recipes!

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Homemade Oatmeal Bars with Apple Butter

4.66 from 98 votes
Easy dessert bar recipe that is a perfect use for apple butter!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Yield: 20 servings


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature.
  • 1 cup apple butter


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon.
  • Add butter and stir until creamy.
  • Pat half of the mixture into baking pan.
  • Spread apple butter evenly over crumb layer.
  • Sprinkle remaining crumbs over apple butter and press down gently.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden.
  • Transfer pan to wire rack and cool completely.



  1. If you don’t have apple butter, consider substituting any of the following:
  • Pumpkin Butter
  • Fig Preserves
  • Apricot Preserves
  • Chocolate and Hazelnut Spread (like Nutella)
  • Grape, Apple, or Strawberry Jelly
  • Ripe Bananas


Calories: 178kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 93mg, Potassium: 54mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 215IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 0.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!
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Updated from the original post of January 22,  2014

Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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  1. 4 stars
    Very good recipe (yes, I consider 4 stars to be very good)! Because I was using a 9×13 pan, I increased the recipe by one-half (so 3 cps oats, 1-1/2 cps flour, etc.). In the comments, someone mentioned adding walnuts, so I did add about 1/2 cp of chopped walnuts to the recipe. I baked the recipe for about 37 minutes. The house smelled wonderful! Just tried one bar and it was delicious. Will be taking them to a friend’s house tonight for a card night.

      1. 4 stars
        Thanks for all the great recipes! And it wasn’t until after I commented that I read the Platter Talk “About” page. I, too, grew up in Detroit, and like Scott, I was one of 7 … but I was a middle child!

  2. 5 stars
    I made thes and they were cool enough to eat around 5pm half the batch was gone by 6pm.

    We devoured these and a second batch was in the oven by 8pm.

    I used homemade apple butter and dusted the top with cinnamon and I can’t tell you how delicious these things are. We printed the recipie almost immediately and added it to our recipie binder with a 5 star review. Even my solids delayed toddler loved it.

    1. Violet; I love your comments and kudos to you for getting that second batch in the oven without delay! Thanks so much for the feedback!

  3. 5 stars
    WOW, these were so good! I was hesitant to try but decided to give these a shot. I mixed all the dry ingredients together night before and in morning softened the butter and finished making. Using regular oats gave these bars a delicious texture. I had made some homemade apple butter in my crockpot and used in this recipe. Yum!

    1. Yes, these can be frozen for up to three months. Double-wrap them in kitchen wrap and ensure all the air is out. Thaw overnight before using.

        1. I would not use this substitution. They are very different ingredients with different baking properties.

  4. These were fantastic! We have a pear tree and I make pear butter every fall and this recipe is just the perfect way to showcase the spiced pear deliciousness! I did decrease the white sugar to 1/2 cup, but other than that followed everything else to the letter. Thanks for sharing, this is now one of our favorites!

  5. Yummy. The only change I made was to substitute 1/2 c. of the oatmeal for chopped, toasted walnuts. As far as the technique. I just put all the dry ingredients into Cuisinart, pulsed a few times. I left my butter ice cold and cut into small cubes. I added that to the dry ingredients and pulsed until I had I good, crumbly consistency, and proceeded with the recipe from there. I cooked mine for 40 minutes and they were perfection with minimum crumble.

    1. Amy, thank you so much for this great feedback. It sounds like you owned this recipe which is exactly what needs to be done for the best results, every time!

  6. Easy directions, delicious, not overly sweet, and great recipe to use apple butter i made! Warm w a scoop of ice cream….ahhh

  7. 3 stars
    These were delicious but turned out more like a crumb cake than bars. Half the batter was absolutely not enough to fill a 9 by 9 square pan. Next time I’ll double the recipe.