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You’re in for a treat with the best gluten free caramel apple cheesecake bars recipe! A gluten-free graham cracker crust is topped with spiced apples and the creamiest no-bake cheesecake filling. The bars are finished with a crisp apple cider caramel swirl for a perfect touch of fall in every bite!
CAramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (no-Bake & gluten free!)
You know fall is here when you have a dessert recipe that showcases apples and caramel. And while your first fall cheesecake might be a pumpkin swirl cheesecake, you may change your lineup when you try these no-bake bars.
A buttery graham cracker crust, spicy fresh apples, the dreamiest creamiest filling, and homemade caramel sauce have all the makings for a delicious fall dessert!
Why You’ll Love These cheesecake Bars
- No-fuss and no-bake dessert bars – No-need to worry about a water bath or having a cracked cake top with this cheesecake!
- Sweet, tangy, and creamy cheesecake filling – Just like my cranberry mousse cheesecake the filling is light and pillowy with the trademark cheesecake flavor.
- Kissed with apple cider – Apple cider is highlighted in the apple layer and in the caramel sauce. And the flavor deliciously perfumes the dessert!
- Crisp spiced apple layer – There is layer upon layer of flavor and texture. The fresh apples offer a delightful fresh bite.
- Everything you love about cheesecake – Whether it’s the can’t stop at one bite, or the combination of flavors, these bars showcase all the wonderful qualities of cheesecake.
caramel apple Cheesecake bars Ingredients
- Fresh Apple – We only use about 1/2 of the apple, and I use Honeycrisp apples. The same apples in my apple spice bread and apple crisp.
- Apple Cider – The cider is in the fresh apple layer, and the caramel sauce. It should be cider because it is unfiltered and full of apple flavor.
- Gluten Free Graham Crackers – To make the cheesecake bars crust. If you don’t require gluten free, use any graham cracker you like.
- Brown Sugar – Just little light brown sugar to add sweetness and flavor to the crust.
- Butter – I like unsalted butter since we add our own salt. The butter holds the crust together and is also used to make the caramel sauce.
- Heavy Cream – The cream makes the lightest cheesecake filling. And we use it in the caramel sauce.
- Cream Cheese – I recommend full fat cream cheese for flavor and texture. Low fat may not yield bars that are as firm.
- Sour Cream – The sour cream adds a slight tangy flavor and creamy texture to the filling.
- Lemon Juice – To enhance the tang prominent in cheesecake.
- Vanilla Extract – For flavor!
- Salt – Salt is wonderful to balance and enhance flavors and sweetness.
- Powdered Sugar – To sweeten and thicken the filling.
- Maple Syrup – Pure maple syrup to make the caramel sauce.
- Small Saucepan – A heavy duty saucepan is a worthy investment! It will ensure there is even heat distribution and not burn the caramel.
- Food Processor – I love my food processor. It has every attachment you can think of. But, most importantly – it has a smaller work bowl that is great for small batches!
- Hand Mixer – With both the beater and whisk attachments.
- 6-Inch Cake Pan with Parchment Paper – You could also make the bars in a 9 x 5 loaf pan – but they will be quite a bit thicker.
- Mixing Bowls – You will want a few mixing bowls on hand for this recipe!
How To Make No-Bake caramel Cheesecake Bars
- Start the caramel sauce first – There is a whole recipe post for the apple cider caramel! and while you’re working on the caramel, you can multi-task and start the cheesecake bars.
- Prepare your pan – Line both sides of the cake pan with parchment paper long enough to hang over the sides. Lightly grease the pan and paper focusing on the corners
- Make the crust – Add the graham crackers, brown sugar, and melted butter the food processor. Pulse to moist crumbs, then press firmly into your cake pan.
- Chop and prepare the apples – Chop into 1/4 inch chunks and toss with the cinnamon and cider.
- Whip the heavy cream – Whip the cream to stiff peaks.
- Mix the cream cheese – Start by mixing the cream cheese until it is creamy. Then add the sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Sprinkle in the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
- Fold in a little whipped cream – Add about 1/3 of the whipped cream to cream cheese and gently fold to start mixing. Then add the remaining whipped cream and fold until no streaks remain.
- Assemble the cheesecake bars – Sprinkle the apples over the crust, then dollop the filling on top. Finish with swirls of caramel sauce.
- Refrigerate for 8 hours – Or overnight. This gives the cheesecake time to firm and set up.
- Slice and serve – Carefully lift the bars out of the pan. Slice the bars into desired sizes – cleaning the knife after each slice to ensure sharp, clean slices.
Tips For Success
- Make homemade caramel sauce – If for no other reason, it just tastes better!
- Don’t forget the pan corners – When you are greasing the pan. This will be the place the caramel apple cheesecake likes to stick!
- Use room temperature cream cheese and sour cream – This will ensure the cheesecake filling is smooth. Otherwise you’re likely to end up with lumps.
- Multi-task – The caramel sauce will take the most time. While you’re waiting for the apple cider to reduce and caramel to thicken, you can make the cheesecake components.
- Refrigerate for at least 8 hours – The cheesecake needs time to firm and set up. I like to make the bars the night before.
- Clean the knife after each slice – This will help with clean, neat slices.
Yes, the recipe is easily doubled and made in an 8 or 9 inch cake pan.
They may work, but the cheesecake filling probably won’t be as thick and creamy. I recommend full fat for this reason.
Start with a 1:1 swap and taste test to your desired sweetness. I prefer powdered sugar for a smooth filling.
I don’t recommend it. A baked cheesecake relies on eggs for texture and to bind the ingredients. If you bake the whipped filling, it will likely just bake flat, without structure.
You can freeze the bars after they have set up in the refrigerator. Wrap tightly in plastic and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator. Just note, the texture may not be as light and fluffy after freezing.
Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
- ½ cup apples, chopped (1/4 inch chunks; about half of one apple)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons apple cider (optional)
- ⅔ cup gluten free graham crackers, crushed (about 6 square graham cracker sheets)
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ½ tablespoons full fat sour cream, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
- Prepare the apple cider caramel according the recipe instructions. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.
- In a small mixing bowl, toss together the chopped apples, cinnamon, and apple cider. Set aside.½ cup apples, chopped, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons apple cider
- Crust – Line a 6-inch square cake pan with two pieces of parchment paper to cover all sides of the pan. Leave enough overhand to easily lift the cheesecake bars out of the pan. Lightly grease the pan and paper – making sure the pan corners are well greased.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, add the graham crackers and brown sugar. Pulse until the graham crackers are crushed into crumbs. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse a few more times until the crumbs are moistened.⅔ cup gluten free graham crackers, crushed, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Pour the graham cracker crumbs into the prepared pan and using your fingers or the back of a small measuring cup, firmly and evenly press the crumbs into the pan. Freeze until ready to assemble the bars.
- Filling – In a small mixing bowl, add the heavy cream. Using a hand held mixer with whisk attachments, beat the cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.⅓ cup heavy cream
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the cream cheese. Using a hand held mixer with beater attachments, mix the cream cheese until is is smooth and creamy. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt. Continue to beat until smooth. Sprinkle the powdered sugar into the mix in increments and beat until well incorporate, smooth, and free of lumps.6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature, 1 ½ tablespoons full fat sour cream, room temperature, ½ teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 6 tablespoons powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add about 1/3 of the whipped cream to the cream cheese. Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream to begin to incorporate – a few whipped cream streaks are fine. Add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold in until no streaks remain.
- Assemble the Bars – Remove the crust from the freezer. Spread the chopped apples evenly over the crust. Then, dollop the cheesecake filling on top and spread evenly to all sides of the pan. Drizzle generous dollops of the room temperature apple cider caramel over the top of the cheesecake. Using a knife or toothpick, swirl it around the top. How much caramel you use is up to you!
- Cover the cheesecake bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (overnight). This allows the cheesecake to firm up and set.
- When ready to serve, carefully lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment overhang. If needed, run a sharp knife around the corners of the pan to loosen the bars. Slice into desired sizes – cleaning the knife off after each slice to get neat slices. Enjoy!
- Serving Size – Depending on the size, you can get anywhere from 4 to 9 bars from the 6-inch pan. This recipe can be doubled in an 8 or 9 inch pan.
- Preparation Tips – While you are preparing the apple cider caramel sauce, you can multi-task and make the cheesecake components – since the apple cider needs time to reduce, and the caramel needs time to thicken.
- Caramel Sauce – Use any caramel sauce you like. You can also use my maple syrup caramel sauce.
- Apple Cider – If you make my apple cider caramel sauce, adding a little apple cider to the apple chunks adds even more flavor!
- Apple – I use Honeycrisp apples for their texture and flavor. Any apple will work.
- Graham Crackers – The graham crackers I use come in 2 segment squares. Thus, 6 squares for this recipe.
- Storing Leftovers – I recommend storing leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will stay for about 3 to 5 days. Beyond that, and the filling may start to loosen.
- Freezing – You can freeze the cheesecake bars after they have set up. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and slip into a ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
about the author ...
I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!
I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!