Easy Oatmeal Bars with Apple Butter Filling

4.64 from 94 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.

 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

4.64 from 94 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

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  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
     

Nutrition

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!
Updated from the original post of January 22,  2014

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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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158 Comments

  1. 1 star
    Wow. Major Flop. SO dry. Over 1/2 of the crumb mixture just fell off-both bottom layer and top layer.
    IF I try it again (which is doubtful) I’d use 1 c oats and 1/2 cup of flour

    1. Eve, Sorry these didn’t turn out for you. It sounds like your measurements were off, either too much dry ingredients or not enough wet ingredients (apple butter and butter).

  2. 4 stars
    Just made a batch, they turned out so yummy! Thanks so much for sharing this delicious recipe! One question ..should I store them in the refrigerator or on the counter?

  3. 2 stars
    I tried this recipe and they came out very dry. No eggs or liquid is added to the recipe that I printed so was wondering about that. Also #4 instructions says to add butter until creamy. They never were creamy. Did I do something wrong or was my recipe incomplete? I got the recipe of FB.

    1. Hi Pat! We’re sorry this recipe did not turn out for you as you had hoped. As for the butter question, I can’t imagine why your mixture was not creamy after mixing the butter in with it. Thanks for your feedback!

    1. Hi Ann. These should freeze well. I suggest double wrapping them in plastic wrap before freezing. I hope you enjoy these!

  4. What if I dont have a 9×9 pan? Only 9×13 and an 8×8. How would I adjust the time and or ingredients? I have the mix ready and can’t find the pan to continue.

    1. Julie! These are small problems! If you use the 8×8 pan, you may need to bake 5-10 mins longer and if you use the 9×13, reduce the time by about 5 minutes. Either way, you’re going to have some yummy fall bars here!

  5. 5 stars
    These bars look beautiful and irresistible…so buttery and moist, I want to reach into my screen and grab one right now!

  6. 5 stars
    I love oatmeal bars. Love having them on hand for my sweet cravings. This LOOKS so good! I love how simple it is to make too.

  7. 5 stars
    Those oatmeal bars scream ideal Fall treats. My mouth is watering and I can just imagine the wonderful aroma that permeates the house when they’re baking. We have a gathering this weekend and the bars would be ideal.