Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (gluten-free, whole grain)

These caramel apple cheesecake bars feature an oatmeal cookie-like crust / topping with a simple caramel glaze! They’re oat-based making them gluten-free and 100% whole grain.

Before we talk about these cheesecake bars, I wanted to share some information about a program that involves the ingredient I’ve been featuring all month long – apples! I’m working with the U.S. Apple Association today to tell you about their fundraising initiative, Apples for Education.

Its aim is to provide financial support to important student causes nationwide. Basically, by sharing a picture of an apple, an apple product, or a product from participating brands (see below for more details) you can help raise money for a student cause of your choice.

These healthier caramel apple cheesecake bars feature an oatmeal cookie-like crust and topping with a simple and delicious caramel glaze! They're oat-based making them gluten-free and 100% whole grain.

I love this campaign not only because it raises funds for student causes and classroom projects but because it gets people eating more apples! I think we can all agree that most of us eat far too much processed junk food.

For me, apples have always been the perfect healthy on-the-go snack. Studies have shown that eating apples keeps you fuller longer, which keeps you fit, and can even reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and asthma. Think about that the next time you grab a bag of potato chips. ;)

These caramel apple cheesecake bars feature an oatmeal cookie-like crust and topping with a simple caramel glaze! They're oat-based making them gluten-free and 100% whole grain.

Here’s how you can participate! Now through November 15th, all you need to do is:

  1. Grab an apple, apple juice, apple sauce and / or products made by Marzetti, KIND, Roth Cheese or Johnsonville Sausage.
  2. Take a picture enjoying it – selfies preferred, not required. Just to clarify, pictures of apple baked goods count!
  3. Find a school cause here. Click “Vote Now!” and upload your picture using the online form OR post to Instagram with the project’s name and the hashtag #Apples4Ed. You can see an example I just posted on Instagram here!

You can vote as often as you’d like and each picture you upload counts as a vote. When you vote, you automatically enter for a chance to win one of eight weekly $100 Visa gift cards!

These caramel apple cheesecake bars feature an oatmeal cookie-like crust and topping with a simple caramel glaze! They're oat-based making them gluten-free as well as 100% whole grain.

Now for the apple cheesecake bars! They were a HUGE hit. The crust and topping is made of an oat flour and oat-based crust that’s almost like a cross between an oatmeal cookie and streusel. Top it with a layer of cheesecake, some cinnamon apples, and the other half of the streusel mixture. The result? Totally magical.

I wanted the bars to be somewhat portable so I topped them off with a caramel glaze rather than caramel sauce. You can see what the glaze looks like once refrigerated and slightly hardened in the middle picture. It doesn’t get totally hard but firm enough to make things a little less messy during transportation. Though if you’re anything like me and get a moment alone with these cheesecake bars, there won’t be all that much left to share. ;)

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (gluten-free, 100% whole grain)

Rated 5.0 by 1 reader
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (gluten-free, whole grain)
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 12 bars


    For the crust and topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups (115 grams) oat flour (use certified gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 2 cups (180 grams) rolled oats (use certified gluten-free rolled oats, if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (200 grams) brown or raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (196 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • For the cheesecake layer:

  • 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • For the apples:

  • 2 cups chopped and peeled apples (from about 2 medium-sized, firm baking apples)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated or raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • For the caramel glaze:

  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup (86 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp salt1


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line an 8" x 8" pan with a full piece of parchment paper so that the entire pan is lined (and not just the bottom). Set aside.
  2. For the crust and topping:

  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (oat flour through salt). Stir in the melted butter until thoroughly combined.
  4. Pat half of the mixture (about 1 1/2 cups or 350 grams) firmly onto the bottom of the parchment-lined pan.
  5. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until lightly golden brown. The crust may bubble a little during baking.
  6. Let the crust cool for at least 10 minutes while preparing the filling. If the crust has any small bubbles, lightly press down the crust after it's cooled for a few minutes.
  7. For the cheesecake layer:

  8. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt and egg and beat on low just until combined. Set aside while you prepare the apples.
  9. For the apples:

  10. Mix everything together in a small bowl.
  11. To assemble:

  12. Spread the cheesecake batter evenly over the partially cooled crust. Distribute the apple filling over the top. Add walnut-sized pieces of the remaining oat mixture over the filling. Very lightly press down any parts of topping that are sticking out (to prevent burning). Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until the filling is golden brown, firm and the middle doesn't jiggle when the pan is tapped.
  13. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days.
  14. For the caramel glaze:

  15. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cream. Once well combined, stop stirring and let the mixture come to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute (without stirring) and then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla, salt, and gradually add the powdered sugar. Whisk until the powdered sugar is fully incorporated. Once the bars have cooled, cut into squares. Drizzle the glaze over the bars before serving.


  1. I prefer 1/4 teaspoon for more of a salted caramel variation.

Recipe by  |

Thanks to the U.S. Apple Association for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions expressed are my own. The U.S. Apple Association (USApples) is the national trade association representing all segments of the apple industry. Their mission is to provide the means for all segments of the U.S. apple industry to join in appropriate collective efforts to profitably produce and market apples and apple products.

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52 comments on “Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (gluten-free, whole grain)” — Add one!

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  • Julissa says
    March 20, 2021 @ 6:08 pm

    I never leave comments, but THIS IS AMAZING!!!! Made with vegan cream cheese and plant based butter to make dairy free. Used monkfruit sweetener in place of sugar.

    • Erin replies to Julissa
      March 22, 2021 @ 5:39 am

      I’m so glad that it worked out well with your changes! That’s great to know. :) And wow, I’m surprised that monkfruit sweetener worked in place of the sugar! Thanks a ton for your tips. :)

  • Didi says
    October 8, 2016 @ 2:41 am

    These look sooo good! I have everything except for the whipping cream to make these … Do you think I could get away with substituting whole milk? Thanks!

    • Erin replies to Didi
      October 8, 2016 @ 9:31 am

      Thanks! And I don’t think that’d work. :( The frosting needs the fat in the whipping cream to be thick enough. If you use milk, I think it’d be a soupy mess.

  • Sammie says
    September 28, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

    Oh wow, I have 2 apple trees full of fruit in the garden and I have to make these. To think I never used to like caramel!!! Utterly gorgeous and perfect for packed lunches. Pinned!

    • Erin replies to Sammie
      September 29, 2016 @ 9:07 pm

      Thanks! And thanks for pinning. I’m jealous of your apple trees! That’s a dream of mine. :) Hope you’ll enjoy the bars!

  • Kelly says
    October 20, 2015 @ 12:15 am

    I made these for a halloween party I went to last Saturday. They were SO good! I did alter it slightly though. In the crust part, I substituted coconut oil for the butter and it was still really good. I didn’t use as much sugar as was called for in the recipe. And then the glaze on top, I didn’t want a whole bunch of additional powdered sugar, so I made a glaze of butter, coconut milk, and some coconut sugar and poured that over them. Now I took them out of the oven maybe an hour before the party and poured the glaze over just before leaving so they didn’t actually hold together very well. But they were a BIG HIT! People loved them!!!

    • Erin replies to Kelly
      October 20, 2015 @ 9:56 pm

      Hey, Kelly! So nice to read your feedback. :) Did you use the same amount of coconut oil? I’m surprised (and thrilled!) that that worked. :) I love your healthier glaze idea! I felt quite guilty when I was writing up the glaze recipe and really thought about what it contained. ;) I’m so happy to hear that they were enjoyed! Thanks a bunch for your comment.

      • Kelly replies to Erin
        November 12, 2015 @ 9:45 pm

        I tried replying to this awhile back but it didn’t stick apparently. I did use the same amount of coconut oil as butter and it worked beautifully!

        • Erin replies to Kelly
          November 13, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

          Sorry about that! And thanks for letting me know how much you used. I’ll have to try that!

  • Susan says
    October 5, 2015 @ 4:36 am

    I currently have a basket of apples sitting on my table, as soon as they are in season, they are always in house. Now these bars? That what’s totally missing from home right now. They look amazing!

    • Erin replies to Susan
      October 7, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

      Thanks! I hope you get a chance to try them out. :)

  • Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips says
    October 4, 2015 @ 5:02 am

    I am so ready to sink my teeth into these!

  • Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy says
    October 2, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

    These are fall perfection!!! The caramel? The apple? The cheesecake? Yum!

  • Cookin Canuck says
    October 1, 2015 @ 5:51 pm

    What an awesome program, both for promoting apples as healthy snacks and for raising education funds! And these cheesecake bars…well, I think it’s official that I’ll be thinking about these all day long.

  • Aggie | Aggie's Kitchen says
    October 1, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

    Oh goodness, these look incredible. I’m such a sucker for all things apple and caramel.

    • Erin replies to Aggie | Aggie’s Kitchen
      October 3, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

      Same here! I’m normally in pumpkin mode by now but still… all I want is caramel apple goodies. :D

  • Renee - Kudos Kitchen says
    September 30, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

    I can totally understand why these were a huge hit! They look amazing and that caramel topping is to die for. I seriously can’t believe these are gluten free!!! D-lish!

  • Lori @ RecipeGirl says
    September 30, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

    Totally crave worthy! These are going on my baking list immediately!

    • Erin replies to Lori @ RecipeGirl
      October 3, 2015 @ 9:21 pm

      I hope you’ll enjoy them if you get a chance to try them out! :)

  • Linda Locke says
    September 30, 2015 @ 10:14 am

    Will I be able to substitute oat flour to all purpose flour? Look scrumptious.

    • Erin replies to Linda Locke
      September 30, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

      I haven’t tried it but I think it’d work. I’ve had good luck subbing AP and whole wheat flour for oat flour but it doesn’t always work so I can’t guarantee anything. If you try them out, let me know how it goes! Good luck and I hope you’ll enjoy the bars. :)

  • Rose | The Clean Dish says
    September 30, 2015 @ 5:11 am

    YES! We all need to eat more apples! What a fun project. These apple cheesecake bars look to die for!! The caramel glaze sounds like a total winner, too. Adding this to my fall baking list!!

    • Erin replies to Rose | The Clean Dish
      September 30, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

      Right?! I think so, too! I hope you’ll love the bars as much as we did. :)

  • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
    September 29, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

    WOW! If heaven were a gluten-free dessert, this would be IT!!

  • Justine | Cooking and Beer says
    September 29, 2015 @ 4:04 pm

    Love this post, Erin! Thank you so much for sharing this initiative with us! Also thank you for sharing these amazing bars with us! Pinned!

  • Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
    September 29, 2015 @ 4:26 am

    Great initiative, great recipe! These bars looks scrumptious! I actually sliced myself an apple after dinner tonight! Will try to get a selfie shot for the next time!

  • Becky Hardin | The Cookie Rookie
    September 29, 2015 @ 1:24 am

    These look INCREDIBLE!! Dripping with caramel, how everything should be!! These are a must try!

  • Kristyn says
    September 29, 2015 @ 1:01 am

    These look SO yummy! Can’t wait to try! :)

    • Erin replies to Kristyn
      September 30, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

      Thanks! I hope you’ll enjoy them.

  • Paula - bell'alimento says
    September 28, 2015 @ 11:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing about Apples for Education. It sounds like a great initiative. And who doesn’t love apples yeah ;)

  • Nora (A Clean Bake) says
    September 28, 2015 @ 11:09 pm

    These look like some spectacular treats for a truly wonderful cause!

  • claire says
    September 28, 2015 @ 10:53 pm

    Mouth. is. watering. OMG.

    • Erin replies to claire
      September 30, 2015 @ 12:59 pm

      That’s always good. ;)

  • Stephanie says
    September 28, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

    Holy cow! These bars need to make an appearance in my life REAL soon! They look insane!

    • Erin replies to Stephanie
      September 30, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

      Yeah, they do! You won’t regret it. :)

  • Liz @ The Lemon Bowl says
    September 28, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

    Ahh we picked 50 lbs of apples this weekend – this is perfect!!

  • Ginny McMeans says
    September 28, 2015 @ 6:06 pm

    How exciting to have this as a gluten free recipe. What a fun program too!

  • Kacey @ The Cookie Writer says
    September 28, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

    Let me pick my mouth up off the floor! I love these! And that caramel glaze…!


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