These easy cheesecake bars come together super quickly. With a no-bake cheesecake filling, loads of sweet caramel apples on top and a salty pretzel crust that doubles as a topping, you’ll love every bite of these sweet, salty, lusciously creamy dessert bars!
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The Makings of the Best Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
When I set out to make this recipe, I knew I wanted something that came together quickly, embodied the flavors of Fall, and required very little oven time. I also wanted to veer a bit from the traditional graham cracker crust because while I like it, I wanted something a little different in this recipe. I wasn't quite sure how a pretzel crust would work out here, but I gave it a go and I'm really glad I did!
The salt from the pretzels creates just enough contrast of salty with the sweet of the caramel and slight tang of the Granny Smith Apples. Then comes the creamy no-bake cheesecake filling that's smooth as silk and super easy to put together. No water baths or cracked cheesecakes to worry about here.
How to Make Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Making this recipe couldn't be easier. The recipe requires very little baking time, although it does require some time to chill in the fridge, making these Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars the perfect make-ahead dessert recipe.
Begin by crushing 3 cups of pretzel twists in a food processor. Alternatively, place the pretzels in a tightly sealed ziplock bag and crush using a rolling pin. Add to the pretzel crumbs melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar to make the crust and topping. Press this mixture into the bottom of a square baking pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.
While the pretzel crust is cooling, make the no-bake cheesecake filling by mixing together softened cream cheese, heavy cream and sugar until thick. Pour onto of the slightly cooled crust and place in the fridge to chill.
Can I make Cheesecake Bars ahead of time?
Yes, you make these cheesecake bars up to 2 days ahead of when you'll be serving them. I would recommend storing the apples separate from the cheesecake in the fridge and assembling just prior to serving. Alternately, you can prepare the cheesecake bars and store them wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge and prepare the apples just before serving.
Can I freeze Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars?
These cheesecake bars can be frozen either with the apple topping or without. Wrap the cheesecake bars tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for up to 2 months. Place in the fridge the night before serving or remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.
Additional uses for Caramel Apple Topping
This recipe makes enough caramel apple topping to pile high atop these cheesecake bars. If you do have a bit of the caramel apples leftover, I would recommend storing them in the fridge in a sealed container for up to one week. Try using them as a topping for vanilla ice cream or on top of your weekend pancakes or waffles!
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Looking for more Fall-inspired recipes? Give these a try:
- 3 cups mini salted twist pretzels
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
Caramel Apple Topping
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 4 medium-sized tart apples such as Granny Smith, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Make Pretzel Crust:
- To the bowl of a food processor, add the pretzels and pulse to make fine crumbs. Measure out 1 ¼ cups then combine pretzel crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Set aside ¼ cup of the crust mixture. Press remaining crust evenly into the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until very lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you prepare the cheesecake filling
Make Cream Cheese Filling:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment affixed, add the softened cream cheese and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the heavy whipping cream and sugar. Beat until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling evenly on top of the slightly cooled pretzel crust. Place in the fridge to chill while you prepare the topping
Make Caramel Apple Topping:
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and lemon juice. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5-7 minutes or until apples are tender. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook 2-3 minutes longer or until brown sugar is fully dissolved. Allow the apple mixture to cool slightly in the pan before topping the cheesecake bars with the apples. Carefully transfer the pan to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours until set and firm. Cut into 16 squares and serve with reserved pretzel crumb sprinkled on top
- To store, cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days
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