Bring summer inside with this easy apricot bar recipe! These gorgeous bars combine the tangy sweetness of apricot preserves with the deliciousness of homemade oat crumble. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert perfection!
Apricot season is here! It’s time to make ALL the apricot desserts, and these apricot bars are exactly what you need to enjoy the golden taste of summer.
This is a perfect recipe for beginning bakers — the steps are simple, and the results are stunning! Who can resist the orange of the apricots peaking out from the golden brown oatmeal cookie dough crumble? It’s a sensation for the eyes and the taste buds — and no one will be able to guess how easy it was to make!
Why you want this recipe:
- simple and beginner-friendly
- perfect combination of sweet and tangy
- 15 minutes hand-on time
- elegant presentation
- endless variation possibilities!
Apricot Preserves or Apricot Jam
Apricot preserves are the key to creating this gorgeous dessert quickly. Is it a shortcut? Yes. Will you get gorgeous results with a minimum of effort? Also yes! You can also use apricot jelly for this, although it will change the texture of the filling slightly. If you’re interested in making homemade apricot jam, I use this classic recipe.
Butter or Margarine
Both butter and margarine work well in creating that deliciously buttery oatmeal cookie base and crumble. If you’re using butter, you can use either salted or unsalted butter. I prefer salted, but if you use unsalted, you can add a pinch of salt to the crumble mixture.
This recipe was developed using all-purpose flour and is NOT gluten free. I haven’t tested any other flour types with this, but if you try it, I’d love to hear from you!
Any oats will work for this — steel cut, old-fashioned, quick cooking, etc. You’re going to blend them down into oat flour, so the type really doesn’t matter. The oats are there to give that hearty toothsome bite to the base and crumble topping.
While this recipe isn’t too sweet, it does get a certain level of sweetness from the brown sugar. In a pinch, you can sub white granlated sugar for the brown in a 1:1 ratio, but it will change the flavor. You’ll lose the slight nuttiness and warmth that brown sugar gives the finished apricot squares.
Step 1 | Process the Oats
Place your oats into a blender or the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you get an oat flour. The flour will be coarse.
Step 2 | Make the Base/Crumble
In making this recipe as simple as possible (without sacrificing the end result), I collapsed the base and crumble into one. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, oat flour, and butter. Use an electric or stand mixer to beat this into a oatmeal cookie dough with a crumbly texture.
This takes a while, which is why I recommend using a stand mixer. It takes the butter a bit to incorporate. If you’re looking down into your bowl thinking it looks too dry for a dough, it’s okay. Let the mixer work for a few more minutes. It usually takes mine about 3 minutes to start creating a dough.
Do NOT melt the butter to get it to mix in faster. This will wreck the texture of your crumble. Just trust the system and let it mix!
Step 3 | Prepare the Pan
Either grease or line with parchment paper a 9×9 baking dish.
Step 4 | Press in the Base
Take 2/3 of the oat mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan. You want to make it as level as possible, and press the oatmeal cookie base into the corners and sides to fully cover the bottom.
Step 5 | Add the Apricot Filling
Over the top of the base, spread your apricot jam or preserves. I like to use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly.
Step 6 | Top with Crumble
Take the last 1/3 of the oat crumble mixture, and drop it in small pieces over the top of the apricot filling. Do not press the crumble down; let it float on top of the apricot. Try to leave small spots where the jam can poke out so that you get that gorgeous presentation.
Step 7 | Bake
Bake uncovered at 350° for 25-30 minutes, or until the crumble topping is golden brown.
Step 8 | Enjoy!
Allow your apricot crumble bars to cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. These also travel well. Just wait until they’re fully cooled to room temperature and then take them to your potluck or event!
For the apricot preserves/jam
- Fresh fruit – If your apricot tree has given you an abundance of fruit and you want to cut out the jam-making middle man, you can make these with fresh apricots. Take about 1 lbs fresh pitted apricots and put them in a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cook this over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and apricots start to fall apart. You can squish them a little help them along. You should get something that looks like apricot preserves — pieces of apricot floating in a jammy mixture. Pour this mixture over your oatmeal base and proceed according to the recipe!
- Dried Apricots – Believe it or not, the fresh fruit instructions above work for dried apricots. You just have to add one more step: before you add the sugar, cover the dried apricots with water and simmer them for 20 minutes or until they soften. Then, drain the apricots and proceed with the fresh fruit instructions.
- Jelly – You can use jelly in place of the jam in a 1:1 ratio. The only difference is that your jelly will be smoother than the preserves, so you’ll be missing those little apricot bits.
- Other fruit preserves/jam – Peaches and other stone fruits work well as substitutes here. Be aware that peaches and nectarines are going to be sweeter, which means you might want to use slightly less sugar. Plums are going to be more tart, so you might want a little bit more sugar.
For the butter
- Margarine – I’ll let you in on a secret — I typically bake with margarine. Gasp! I know. However, margarine is significantly cheaper than butter, and typically gives you a fantastic product. There are even places where margarine is superior (like if you want a softer texture in a baked good). In this case, margarine is a fine subsitution for butter, and doesn’t significantly change the texture. The only place you might notice the difference is in the taste!
- Butter Flavored Shortening – Very similar to margarine in this recipe, you won’t notice a texture difference if you sub shortening for the butter in a 1:1 ratio. You will notice a difference in the flavor, but if you use butter-flavored shortening, the difference is minimal!
For the brown sugar
- Granulated Sugar – You can sub granulated sugar for brown in a 1:1 ratio. Brown sugar does lend more moisture to baked good, so the crumble might be more dry.
- Coconut Sugar – Coconut sugar can be subbed in a 1:1 ratio. Just like with granulated sugar, there is less moisture in coconut sugar then brown, so your crumble mixture might be more dry.
Apricot Pineapple Bars
While apricot is the star of the show here, adding pineapple flavor to your apricot mixture is a winning combination. You can find it commercially, or make your own. Just sub the apricot pineapple jam in for the plain apricot for a delicious dessert!
Fresh Fruit Apricot Dessert Bars
If your apricot trees have given you an abundance of fruit and you want to cut out the jam-making middle man, you can make these with fresh apricots. Take about 1 lbs fresh pitted apricots and put them in a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cook this over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and apricots start to fall apart. You can squish them a little help them along. You should get something that looks like apricot preserves — pieces of apricot floating in a jammy mixture. Pour this mixture over your oatmeal base and proceed according to the recipe!
Other Fruit Bars
Feel free to sub in other jams and preserves to create endless flavor variations. My family loves plum, cranberry, and cherry jam bars made with this same base recipe, and just changing out the jam!
You can store your apricot bars at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Yes! These freeze quite well! Just seal them in an freezer-safe airtight container. They’ll keep for up to 3 months. To thaw, just place them on the counter and let them come to room temperature. After thawing, you can toss them in the oven for 5 minutes or so to get that fresh-baked warmth back before serving!
No. This recipe is not designed to be compatible with any special diets. I am not familiar with baking for specific diets and cannot advise on substitutions.
Apricot Bars with Homemade Oatmeal Crumble
- 1 ½ cups apricot preserves or jam (approx. 13 oz)
- 2 ½ cups oats
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place oats in a blender or food processor and process until you get a coarse flour.
- Combine butter or margarine, sugar, flour, and oats in a large bowl. Use an electric or stand mixer to mix until it forms a crumbly cookie dough texture.
- Grease or line a 9×9 baking pan. Press the ⅔ of the cookie dough base into the bottom of the pan.
- Spread the jam over the top of the cookie base.
- Drop the remaning dough in clumps over the top of the jam.
- Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes at 350°, or until the crumble topping turns golden brown.
- Allow the squares to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!