My favorite dessert bars, are ones filled with fruit, lending a jammy center to a hearty crust with a bit of streusel topping. Doesn’t that sound incredible? I love dessert bar recipes. These Peach Bars are lightly spiced, honey-sweet and simply amazing. The homemade fresh peach filling is made with ripe peaches augmented with just a bit of brown sugar and lemon juice. Meanwhile, the oatmeal crust doubles as the streusel topping recipe with a few sliced almonds thrown in for crunch. And you know how most fruit filled bars have no more than a thin layer of fruit? That’s not the case here. Pinky swear.
An Ode To Peach Bars
Having grown up in the South, peaches were known as “the” summer fruit. Oh sure, there were strawberries and melons of all types… but peaches were KING. From peach pie to peach ice cream to savory dishes like grilled chicken with peach salsa.
For this dessert bar recipe, I like to start with the peach filling to give it a chance to cool down before assembling the peach bars. This summery fruit filling only takes about 5 minutes to assemble once you’ve peeled and chopped the peaches.
Ingredients For Peach Filling
- Brown Sugar
- Lemon Zest
- Lemon Juice
Making Homemade Peach Filling:
- Peel and chop the peaches, discarding the pit.
- Transfer chopped fruit to a medium skillet. Add brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water.
- Bring the pan to a boil, and stir to combine.
- Cook the peaches for about 3-5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the peaches give off some juice, creating a kind of sweet syrup. Peaches should be at a rapid simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and remaining tablespoon of water together and pour the slurry into the peach mixture, stirring constantly.
- Cook until the peach filling starts to thicken, about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat to cool.
What I love about this recipe is that the streusel topping also acts as the base layer for the peach bars. The only difference is that the crust doesn’t have the sliced almonds and it gets pressed into the bottom of baking pan.
Ingredients For Streusel Topping Recipe
- Old Fashioned Oatmeal
- All Purpose Flour
- Baking Soda
- Melted Butter
- Sliced Almonds (used for streusel topping only, not in crust)
Stir the dry ingredients together until they’re very well mixed.
Pro Tip: If your brown sugar has any lumps, you may want to use your hands to break them apart so that the crumble is evenly distributed. I’ve found that clean hands can sometimes be the most effective method of combining dry ingredients.
Add the melted butter into the dry ingredients and stir together until everything is moistened and well blended.
Working with Streusel Topping For Dessert Bar Recipe:
- Transfer about 2 cups of the crumble to a baking pan.
- I used an 11 x 7″, but you can also go with a 9 x 9″ square baking pan.
- No need to prepare the pan, there’s enough butter in the crumble that it should release pretty easily.
- Use your hands to press the crumble into an even crust layer.
For The Streusel Topping Recipe
- Add the sliced almonds to the remaining oatmeal mixture and use your hands to toss it together, so that the almonds are evenly distributed throughout.
- Sprinkle the streusel topping over the peach filling and bake until the topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
The hardest part is letting the Peach Bars cool before cutting into them, but it’s important that you wait, otherwise they’ll be too soft to hold together. I know, that’s just plain mean isn’t it? Sorry ’bout that. Trust me, this dessert bar recipe is worth the wait.
You’ll probably want some plates (possibly some forks too) for serving the dessert bars, because there’s quite a bit of peach filling and the spiced crust isn’t as sturdy as shortbread. That’s not a knock on this recipe, just an observation. My tasters loved the buttery, spiced crust and the crunchy almond streusel, but what makes it more interesting is the salt… it’s noticeable, but not salty… just a nice balance to counteract what would be a fairly sweet crust. Then there’s the peaches… A generous layer of fresh peach compote lends a tangy, aromatic complexity to these heavenly peach bars.
More Dessert Bar Recipes:
- Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Brownie Bars
- Strawberry Crumble Bars
- Ultimate Raspberry Truffle Brownies
- Salted Coconut Pecan Bars
- Apricot Almond Bars
- Coconut Pecan Blondies
- Fluffer Nutter Brownies
- Pecan Brickle Pumpkin Blondies
- Pink Grapefruit Bars
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- 3 cups ripe peaches (about 5-6 peaches), peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
FOR CRUST & STREUSEL:
- 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (slightly rounded) - so you have a little more than 3/4 teaspoon, but not quite 1 full teaspoon.
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick + 2 tablespoons), melted
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350°.
MAKE THE FILLING:
- Add the peaches, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and water to a shallow skillet and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes, until sugar is melted and peaches are saucy. Whisk together the cornstarch and water and pour the slurry into the peaches, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute until the peach mixture thickens. Remove from heat to cool.
ASSEMBLE THE CRUST & STREUSEL
- In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add the melted butter to the oatmeal mixture and stir until well combined.
- Add 2 cups of the crust mixture to a 11 x 7" baking pan. Press the crust into an even layer in the bottom of the pan, leaving no gaps.
- Add the sliced almonds to the remainder of the crust mixture and toss to combine.
ASSEMBLE THE BARS:
- Spread the cooled peach mixture in an even layer over the crust. Sprinkle the streusel mixture loosely over the peach filling. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let the bars cool to room temperature before slicing into squares. You should get about 24 1 1/4" bars.