This old-fashioned Apple Crisp (aka Apple Crumble) combines the sweet & spicy filling of apple pie with buttery, nutty oatmeal streusel. Served with ice cream drizzed with a salted caramel sauce, it's a homey dessert that's sure to please!
[Side Note: a version of this post first appeared on my OutlanderCast column, November 26, 2019]
Why this recipe works
- You can control the sweetness and spiciness of the apple filling
- Use your favorite combination of sweet and tart apples
- Apple Crisp is easier to make than apple pie...no pie crust to make!
There's a nip in the air, and the trees are putting on a color show. Fall is here.
Among all the pumpkin spice goodies that pop up this time of year, like Sourdough Pumpkin Cake, desserts featuring apples are especially popular in the fall when apples are at their peak.
Apple pie may be the most popular apple desserts, especially at Thanksgiving time. But let's not overlook the easy Apple Crisp (aka Apple Crumble). It's a cinch to make and just as tasty!
What you need
Apple Crisp recipes are easier than apple pies — there are no pesky pie crusts to trip you up. You just make the filling, mix together the streusel topping and bake.
Simple as that!
I use a combination of sweet and tart apples in my apple crisp recipe, in this case Honeycrisp and Granny Smiths, but you can use any apples you’d like. Buy enough apples to yield two pounds of peeled, cored and sliced apples (about nine cups when you’re done).
To really boost the overall flavor, I highly recommend using boiled apple cider in the filling; it has an extra zap of apple flavor. You can buy boiled apple cider from King Arthur Flour, but it’s really easy to make it yourself (all you need is apple cider and some time).
Get creative with the liquid in the filling, just be sure to choose something that will complement the apples and cinnamon. Rum gives a sweet and spicy kick, and it's what gives Daiquiris and Grogs cocktails their distinctive flavor. You can also use bourbon, hard or straight apple cider, or just apple juice. You can even use water in a pinch.
I also included pecans in the streusel topping because I like the combination of the soft, buttery oats and the crunchy nuts. Adding nuts is optional, but such a good addition!
How to make an apple crisp
Step 1: Prepare the apples
Hey, whatever gets the job done, right?
Step 2: Toss the filling ingredients
Step 3: Mix the streusel
Making the apple crisp oat topping (aka streusel) is really easy, and adds a crunchy, buttery counterpoint to the rich, spicy apples.
Actually, streusel toppings can enhance a number of baked goods, from babkas to quick breads. It always is welcome in my book!
This recipe for streusel called for quick-cooking rolled oats, but I only keep old-fashioned rolled oats on hand. So I ran them through a couple of pulses in a small food processor to break them up a bit (photo 3).
It may not be absolutely necessary, but it doesn’t hurt.
Can you leave out the oats? Yes, but the apple crisp topping may not have the same body as with them in. It'll still taste wonderful, though!
Mix up the dry streusel ingredients, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (photo 4). Think pie crust before you add the water.
Finally, mix in the nuts if you’re using them.
Step 4: Bake the apple crisp
Spread the streusel over your filling, then bake at 350°F for 55 to 75 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the apple filling is bubbling (photo 5).
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
Is apple crisp the same as apple crumble?
In the US, an old fashioned Apple Crisp is basically the filling from an apple pie with a crumbly, buttery topping. That streusel topping is made from oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, and sometimes nuts. Over the Pond, a similar British pudding is known as an Apple Crumble, where the topping made of butter, flour and brown sugar is rolled together so that it resembles breadcrumbs. However the topping rarely includes nuts. Both are served warm with custard sauce or ice cream.
It's best to use a combination of sweet and tart apples that can stand up to baking, like Honeycrisp and Granny Smiths. Other examples are Gala, Golden Delicious, Jonathan or Jonagold, and Cortland. Use what you like to eat!
Sure! Just spray eight 8-ounce bowls with baking spray, and proceed with the recipe as directed. Bake the smaller crisps for 45 to 55 minutes.
Apple Crisp or Apple Crumble… either way it’s a hit!
This is the best Apple Crisp recipe around. It has an intense apple flavor, sweet and spicy that contrasts nicely with the crunchy, buttery topping. Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream to make it extra special.
I go little further though. Just for funsies, and definitely not because it was sitting in my refrigerator calling out to me, I add a drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce.
Super easy and incredibly tasty, this comforting dessert deserves a place at your Fall festivities, whatever they may be. I know it will be on our Thanksgiving table!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Pies can be sweet or savory, and there are so many fillings from which to choose. From fruits to nuts and custards, there's bound to be a pie that catches your fancy! Here are a few choices to try.
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The Best Old Fashioned Apple Crisp (Apple Crumble)
For the filling
- 3 lbs apples, about 4 to 5 medium or large apples
- ¼ to ¾ cup brown sugar, light or dark, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ cup rum, apple cider or juice, see Recipe Notes
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp boiled apple cider, optional, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
For the streusel topping
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup brown sugar, light or dark
- ½ cup rolled oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut in pats
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9- x 9-inch baking pan with baking spray.
- For the filling: peel and slice the apples to about ¼-inch thick. Toss them with the remaining filling ingredients, and spread them in the prepared pan.
- For the streusel: If you're using old-fashioned rolled oats, run them through a couple of pulses in a small food processor to break them up a bit (to mimic quick cooking oats).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
- Using a pastry blender, add the cold butter, working it in to make an unevenly crumbly mixture. Stir in the nuts, if you're using them.
- Spread the streusel over the apples in the pan.
- Set the pan on a parchment- or foil-lined half sheet baking pan to catch any potential drips. Bake the crisp for about 55 to 75 minutes, or until it's bubbling and the streusel is golden brown.
- Remove the crisp from the oven, and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. If you serve the crisp hot/warm, it may be quite soft. If you wait till it's completely cool, it'll firm up nicely.
- If you're making the crisp ahead of time, allow it to cool completely. When you're ready to serve, reheat the pan in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions briefly in the microwave.
- Apple Crisp is best served warmed. Even better, serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. Enjoy!