Dairy-free Caramel Apple Oat Bars

Though they still qualify as dessert, these Caramel Apple Oat Bars are lower in fat than ordinary bar cookies, and packed with gluten-free oats for a healthy dose of fiber.

Makes: 12 bars
Free of: gluten and all top allergens


  • 1 1/2 tbsp + 1 1/2 cups gluten-free quick or rolled oats, divided
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light canned coconut milk*
  • 4 tbsp dairy-free margarine, divided
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp flaxseeds
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 3/8 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp above 3,000 ft.)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 2/3 cup diced apple (about 1/2 medium apple, cored and peeled)

Optional Caramel Icing

Place 1/4 cup of the leftover caramel sauce in a small dish.
Whisk in 6 tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of dairy-free margarine. Spread on the cooled bars before serving.

Recipe Tips

*A Note on Coconut       Coconut is technically a fruit. While most allergists do not consider it a tree nut, if you are nut allergic, ask your doctor if coconut is safe for you.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F, and grease and flour (any gluten-free flour) an 8×8-inch baking dish
  2. Grind 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oats in your spice grinder until they turn into flour
  3. In a small pot, whisk together the oat flour and the brown sugar, followed by the coconut milk. Place the pot over medium heat, and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the margarine.
  4. When the sauce begins to bubble, continue to cook it for 5 minutes, whisking often.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla, and let it cool for 10 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of the oats and the flaxseeds in your spice grinder. Blend into flour
  7. Place the oat-flax mixture into a medium sized bowl, and stir in the remaining 1 cup of oats, cornstarch or tapioca starch, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.
  8. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine, the applesauce, and 1/2 cup of the cooling caramel sauce. Stir to combine
  9. With slightly wet hands, press the sticky dough evenly into your prepared baking dish.
  10. Top the dough with the diced apple, and gently press pieces into the dough. Drizzle the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cooked dough appears firm and slightly pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  12. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into bars. They will still be a touch fragile, so be gentle when removing from the pan.
  13. Enjoy the bars as is, plate them and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce, or frost them with the optional caramel icing.

is a contributing editor to Allergic Living magazine and the author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living, and founder of http://www.godairyfree.com