Apricot Bars made with dried apricots have a buttery shortbread crust and topping. Pecans and coconut create a wonderful flavor when combined with the shortbread. You don’t have to wait for apricot season to enjoy sweet apricots.
Apricot Bars bring back childhood memories for me. My grandfather had apricot trees in his backyard in California and every summer we would can and dry all the apricots we couldn’t eat and them bring back to the East coast with us.
I’ve never been able to find fresh apricots on the East coast that actually taste like the ones from his trees. The ones we get in the grocery don’t even come close to what I remember.
All winter long, we would eat dried apricots and apricot jam and canned apricots. It was our go-to fruit. The closest I can find to the real thing now is dried apricots.
For this recipe that uses dried apricots, you’ll find that wonderful sweet apricot taste that comes from the fruit itself and not from a lot of added sugar like you get with most apricot preserves.
What really pushes these apricot jam bars over the top in my book, is the combination of toasted coconut and pecans added to the shortbread crust and topping. While I love the flavor jam adds to dessert bars, whether it’s raspberry white chocolate bars or strawberry shortbread bars, the shortbread in these apricot bars is equally as delicious as the filling.
Why you’ll love it
- You can make them any time of the year
- A toasted coconut and pecan crust gives a delightful crunch to each bite.
- They’re sturdy enough to ship
- Everyone loves shortbread!
What you’ll need
- Dried apricots – these can be found with the raisins and other dried fruit.
- Sweetened coconut – there’s not a lot of added sugar so I like to use sweetened coconut in these bars.
- Pecans – you could also use walnuts
- Pantry staples – salt, baking soda, butter, flour, sugar
How to toast coconut
How to toast coconut
Toasted coconut really takes these shortbread bars to the next level. It’s really easy to toast, but doesn’t take long. If you don’t want burnt coconut, you’ll need to stand by the stove or oven.
I think the easiest way to toast coconut is in the oven at 350º. It will only take a couple of minutes. Check on it frequently and stir it around so that it toasts evenly. You can also toast it in a skillet on the stove.
How do you make shortbread apricot bars
For the apricot jam recipe, chop the dried apricots.
Cover the apricots with water and boil them until they are soft. Save some of the water to dissolve the sugar in and then add the softened chopped apricots to the sugar mixture.
Pro tip: By using chopped dried apricots that have been softened, you get more texture to the bar than if you just use jam.
Make a delicious shortbread and add toasted coconut and pecans to it and place three quarters of it in the bottom of the pan and bake it for 10 minutes.
Add the apricot mixture to the partially baked crust and top with the remaining shortbread and finish baking.
Tips for cutting perfect bars
Once you’ve made the perfect apricot shortbread bar, you want to be able to have beautiful squares.
- To get perfect squares for any dessert bar, line the baking pan with parchment paper with enough to hang over the two ends of the pan. This way you can easily lift it out of the pan to cut. If you don’t have parchment paper, tin foil will also work.
- For most recipes, it helps to first let the bars cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. This will help you get pretty cuts without the bars falling apart.
I shipped these apricot dessert bars to Natalie and she loved them. Try taking these to your next tail gate or potluck. While chocolate chip cookies or fudgy brownies are the standard for tail gates, these bars can withstand the heat and still keep their crunch. Plus it’s something a little different that everyone will love.
Nana sent me this dried apricot recipe from an old Junior League Cookbook printed in the 80’s from Owensboro Ky. I love these old cookbooks, you can find some of the best recipes.
FAQs and tips
In my opinion they do not ripen after they’ve been picked, they only soften. Some people will tell you that if they are colored and soft when picked they will ripen. However, in my experience if they ripen any, it’s only slightly. Since apricots are such a delicate fruit, I guess they have to pick them before they’re ripe, or they would be mush by the time they made it to the East Coast. My advise is don’t bother buying apricots on the East coast, you’re going to have to stick to canned, frozen or dried.
Apricot bars can be placed in an airtight container for 3-4 days. If you don’t plan to eat them in that time, then refrigerate them for up to 5-6 days.
Yes, you can freeze apricot bars. Seal them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and they will stay good for about 3 months.
While it won’t be the same delicious texture, this could be done in a pinch. You would want to use about 1 ½ -2 cups of preserves.
More recipes for dried apricots
- Apricot Dijon Chicken
- Cranberry Apricot Oatmeal Cookies
- I’m going to try this dried apricot tart from The Spruce Eats
- Dried apricot muffins sound delicious too from The Southern Plate
Looking for more delicious dessert bars
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- 12 ounces dried apricots (11/2 cups)
- 1 ¾ cups sugar divided
- ¾ cup butter softened
- 2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sweetened coconut toasted
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan, cover apricots with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until soft. Drain, reserving ¼ cup water. Place ¼ cup water back in the saucepan and add ¾ cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Chop apricots and add to saucepan, turn off the heat.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and 1 cup sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together four, soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until combined. Add toasted coconut and pecans.
- Place ¾ of the mixture into prepared pan, pressing it with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove from oven and spread apricot mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crust over the top and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Start with softened butter. If you press your finger on it it will indent but not go all the way through.
- Line the pan with parchment paper to make it easy to remove when cooled.
- Refrigerate after cooled to make cutting into bars even easier.