These caramel apple cheesecake bars have a layer of graham cracker crust, topped with creamy cheesecake, cinnamon apples, and cinnamon oat streusel topping. There are also drizzled with a homemade salted caramel. These cheesecake bars are the perfect fall dessert!
The Best Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
These cheesecake bars are full of flavor and combine a caramel apple pie with a cheesecake. While caramel apple is a beloved flavor during the fall, there is something special in having it in cheesecake bar form!
What makes these caramel apple cheesecake bars so special is the cinnamon oat streusel topping. It completely transforms the bars! Think of it like a Dutch apple pie.
There are a bunch of layers here, but trust me, it is easier to make than you think!
Steps To Make These Cheesecake Bars
There are 5 steps to make these cheesecake bars.
- Step 1- Cinnamon oat streusel. This gets sprinkled on top of the apples. Make this first because it chills in the fridge while you make the rest of the layers.
- Step 2- Graham cracker crust. This is a simple graham cracker crust with a little bit of cinnamon added. It gets baked for 10 minutes, so it is nice and firm.
- Step 3- Cheesecake layer. This cheesecake layer is creamy and very easy to make. It is spread on top of the graham cracker crust.
- Step 4- Cinnamon apples. These are granny smith apples that are covered in sugar and cinnamon. They are sprinkled on top of the cheesecake layer.
- Step 5- Salted caramel drizzle. Make this salted caramel the day you make the cheesecake. Then, the next day drizzle the caramel on top!
There should be a step 6- EAT. Since these cheesecake bars have to chill overnight, you should be rewarded for your patience!
How To Make A Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust
To even make the crust, you need a pan! I used this 9X13 inch pan. Then, spray it with baking non-stick spray. To make it easy to get it out of the pan, line the bottom and 2 sides of the pan with parchment paper. When the cheesecake is cooled, you can pull it right out!
To make the crust, first blend up the graham crackers using a blender. It should be fine crumbs.
Once they are all blended, combine the crumbs with cinnamon, brown sugar, and melted butter. Use a fork to blend it together, it should resemble wet sand. It should also all be wet.
Next, pour it into the pan. Use your hand to spread it around, then use the back of a measuring cup to compact the crust. The crust should only go on the bottom of the pan and not the sides.
Now, bake the crust for 15 minutes. This helps to get a sturdier base.
Tips To Make The Creamiest Cheesecake Layer
Here are my best tips to make the cheesecake layer
- Wait ’til the graham cracker crust is done baking– Before you start the cheesecake layer, the graham cracker crust should be done baking. Allow it to cool down while you make the cheesecake.
- Room temperature ingredients- Pull the cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, and eggs out at least 2 hours before you start baking. Room temperature cream cheese is a lot easier to blend until smooth.
- Use a mixer- Use a hand or stand mixer to blend the batter. You will need blend the cream cheese on medium-high speed to beat the cream cheese until smooth. This is key!
- Low speed when adding the eggs- The lower speed prevents extra air getting into the eggs. If there is extra air, it is likely the cheesecake will crack.
- Scrape the bowl– Scrape the bowl several times during this process. This makes sure all of the cream cheese gets mixed in.
Pour the cheesecake layer over the graham cracker crust. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the batter!
Cinnamon Granny Smith Apples
When I was recipe testing, I tried out 3 apples and 5 apples on these bars. When it was just 3 apples, there was not enough!
Use 5 large granny smith apples, that are peeled and cut into cubes. Start this process once the graham cracker crust is in the oven. Don’t start this process to early, because the apples could brown.
Next, sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the apples. Use a rubber spatula to stir it all together.
Sprinkle the apples on top of the cheesecake layer. Spread the apples around evenly.
Easy Cinnamon Oat Streusel
Here are the ingredients needs to make the streusel.
- Brown sugar
- Quick oats
Making streusel is super easy to do, but it completely transforms this whole dessert.
Make this first before everything else because it needs to chill in the fridge. The butter will solidify in the fridge and make it a better consistency.
Spread the streusel over the top of the apples. There might be some big chunks, so just break it apart with your fingers.
Baking The Cheesecake
Once the cheesecake is all assembled, it is time to bake.
Luckily you don’t need a water bath for this recipe. Just stick the pan in the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes.
The cheesecake is done baking when there is a slight jiggle in the middle and the edges are set. If you jiggle it and it reminds you of Jello, then bake for another 10 minutes.
Once the cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven and prop open the door. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 30 minutes. This slow cool process helps to prevent cracks in the cheesecake.
Once finished, transfer to a cooling rack. Allow the bars to cool down completely. Keep the cheesecake in the pan while it cools in the fridge.
The Importance Of Chilling The Cheesecake Bars
These caramel apple cheesecake bars will need to be chilled for at least 6 hours. I always make these a day before I need them so, they can chill overnight.
It is SO important for these cheesecake bars to cool in the fridge.
There is a big difference in texture between room temperature, slightly cold, and cold cheesecake.
As it sits in the fridge, it becomes more dense and create a creamier texture. If you try to cut into it before it is cold, it will be like soup. Trust me, it is worth the wait!
Homemade Salted Caramel
For this recipe, you only need a small amount of caramel to drizzle on top of the cheesecake bars. I strongly recommend making this salted caramel from scratch because it is amazing and easy to make.
If you do buy caramel from the store, make sure it isn’t the ice cream topping.
Here are the steps to make it:
- Step 1: Butter and heavy cream is room temperature- 2 hours before making the caramel, pull the butter and cream out to get to room temperature. Cold ingredients can make the caramel seize up!
- Step 2: Melt the sugar- In a saucepan, melt the sugar. Melt it until all sugar crystals are melted. Use a metal whisk to stir the sugar. It will clump up at first, but keep stirring until it is all melted!
- Step 3: Let it sit- Let the melted sugar sit for less than 30 seconds until it turns an amber color. It will take less than 30 seconds and it will also have a slight nutty smell to it.
- Step 4: Add in butter and heavy cream- Add half of the butter at a time. Do the same with the heavy cream. Adding half of the dairy at a time, is less likely to overwhelm the caramel and cause it to seize up.
- Step 5: Add in salt and vanilla- Stir in the salt and vanilla. Then, transfer to a glass container.
Drizzling The Caramel
I make this caramel the same day when I made the cheesecake bars. Then, it cools overnight. Once it is cool enough, I will cover the glass container with cling wrap.
Cut the bars before you drizzle on the caramel.
When you are ready to drizzle the caramel, heat it up in the microwave for 10 seconds until it is a pourable consistency. Then, I used a piping bag to drizzle it on.
How To Store The Cheesecake Bars
These caramel apple cheesecake bars should be stored in the fridge in an air tight container.
It will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
Other Cheesecake Recipes To Try
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 packets Graham crackers crumbled into fine crumbs
- 1/4 cup Brown sugar packed light or dark
- 1 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup Unsalted butter melted
- 24 oz Cream cheese room temperature
- 3/4 cup White granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup Sour cream room temperature
- 1/4 cup Heavy cream room temperature
- 1 tsp Pure vanilla extract
- 3 Large eggs room temperature
- 5 Large granny smith apples peeled and cut into cubes
- 4 TBSP White granulated sugar
- 3 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Ground nutmeg
- 1 cup Brown sugar packed light or dark
- 1 cup All-purpose flour
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup Quick oats
- 1/2 cup Unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 cup White granulated sugar
- 3 TBSP Unsalted butter room temperature and cubed
- 1/4 cup Heavy cream room temperature
- 1/4 tsp Pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp Salt
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat oven to 325°F and spray a 9X13 inch pan with non-stick baking spray. Line the bottom and 2 sides of the pan with parchment paper and spray again.
- Crumble the graham crackers in a food processor/blender until fine crumbs formed. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Combine with a fork until it is wet and resembles wet sand.
- Pour the crust on to the bottom of the pan. Compact it on the bottom of the pan and not on the sides of the pan. Use the back of a measuring cup to compact it down. Bake for 15 minutes. Then, allow to cool.
- While the crust is baking, make the streusel. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, quick oats, and melted butter. Mix together with a fork. It should be wet. Place bowl in fridge for the butter to solidify while you prepare the rest of the cheesecake.
- While the crust is baking, prepare the apples. Peel and cut the apples into cubes. They should be thin slices. Place the apples in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir until all coated.
- Once the crust is done baking and starting to cool, start the cheesecake. Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high for 1 minute. It should be fluffy. Add in sugar and beat again for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. If there are any cream cheese chunks, mix again for 20 seconds until it is smooth.
- Mix in the sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla and mix on medium for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Then, add in the eggs one at a time and mix on low. Scrape the bowl in between the eggs. As soon as its combined, stop mixing.
- Pour cheesecake on top of the crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Top with the apples and spread them around evenly. Then, add the streusel on top. If there are large chunks, use your fingers to crumble them.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes. No water bath needed. The cheesecake is done baking when there is only a slight jiggle in the middle and the edges are set.
- Turn off the oven and prop open the door a little. Then, let it sit for 30 minutes in the oven. Transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. Then, cover and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Have the cubed butter and heavy cream ready before you start the caramel. It cooks quickly once the sugar is melted!
- Heat the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Use a whisk to stir it until all sugar crystals are melted. The sugar will clump up at first, but it will melt. Keep stirring and don't walk away! Once the sugar is melted, let it sit until it turns an amber color. This takes less than 30 seconds. Keep an eye on it. Take off heat immediately.
- Add in half of the cubed butter and whisk it in. It will be bubbly. Add in the rest of the butter. Then, add in half of the cream and whisk it in. It will bubble just like with the butter. Then, add in the rest of the cream. Next, add in the vanilla and salt.
- Pour the caramel in a glass measuring glass. Let it cool completely before using. If you make it the same day as the cheesecake, let it cool then cover with cling wrap and store at room temperature.
- After the cheesecake bars have cooled for 6 hours or overnight, take them out of the pan. Cut them into bars. Then, drizzle with salted caramel. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.