Fall Flavors: Apple Surprise Bars

These Apple Surprise Bars, featured in the Sunday Night Football Cookbook, are easy to whip up and full of fall flavors. A terrific game day treat!

Apple Surprise Bars by FamilySpice.com

I’m a big fan of desserts, can’t you tell? What’s not to love? Cakes, cookies, tarts, muffins and bars – yum! Which one to choose? Which one to make? I usually make cakes for big parties and special occasions. Cookies and bars are great for school and little hands. Tarts and pies are fabulous with fresh fruit that is in season. With so many recipes out there to choose from, why would you make something out of a box? Well, don’t diss the instant cake mix. The cakes really do turn out moist and delicious and they are so convenient to make (not to mention cheap, as little as 99¢/box or less when on sale and that’s without a coupon!). In a pinch, they do the job and do it well. Also out there in recipe-land are adaptations you can make with boxed cake mix. The recipe I’m featuring today is one of them. My neighbor made these for her family and brought some over the other day: Apple Surprise Bars from Miami Dolphin’s Ernest Wilford, featured in the Sunday Night Football Cookbook.

As it usually happens in my neighborhood, someone bakes something sinful, enjoys a few bites and then realizes that the dessert-in-question must evacuate the home immediately or else 5 pounds will be gained in one day. Usually, I am guilty of this and I spread fat and sweet goodness with my beloved neighbors. This time, my neighbor Lyn, was the culprit. The phone call came one afternoon, “Want to try something yummy?”

Um, do you need to ask twice?!

Consider this to be one part cake, one part gooey pie and one part bar. The recipe is easy enough to put together. Mix the yellow cake mix with butter and an egg until crumbly and press into your 9×13 baking pan. Over that you spread a can of apple pie filling. Then sprinkle a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. Over THAT, yes, it keeps getting better, add a mixture of sour cream, egg and vanilla. Bake for about an hour and you’ve got something amazing waiting for you to dive in.

Although I’m not a big fan of canned goods, like apple pie filling, this apple bar is full of flavor and very addictive. You really can’t eat just one! I was disappointed to see that my kids enjoyed the bars, too. I couldn’t have seconds. And quite frankly, my butt didn’t need seconds either!

Apple Surprise

This great apple bar recipe shows you the versatility of a simple box of cake mix! Recipe adapted from Ernest Wilford, Sunday Night Football Cookbook


  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted, softened
  • 2 egg, large
  • 21 oz apple pie filling
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, light, packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together:
    • 1 box of yellow cake mix
    • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted , softened
    • 1 egg, large
  3. Press into an ungreased 9" x 13" baking pans.
  4. Spread evenly over the top of cake mix layer:
    • 21 oz apple pie filling
  5. In a small bowl, mix together:
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, light , packed
    • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
    • 1/2 cup almonds , coarsely chopped
  6. Sprinkle almond mix over the apple layer.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together:
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 egg, large
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. Pour over the brown sugar mixture.
  9. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely on a wire rack, cut into squares and serve.


Serving Suggestions: Try adding 2-3 TBS of raisins with the walnuts for a little extra chew.

Prep Time:

Yield: 12 bars

Cook Time:


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