This easy old fashioned Apple Crisp (aka Apple Crumble) combines the sweet, spicy filling of apple pie with buttery, nutty oat streusel topping. Served with ice cream drizzled with a salted caramel sauce, it's a homey dessert that's sure to please!
[October, 2022: I've reworked the recipe and updated this post with all new pictures. Enjoy!]
Why this recipe works
- An old fashioned apple crisp recipe is easier to make than apple pie - no pie crust to make!
- You control the sweetness and spiciness of the apple filling
- Use your favorite combination of sweet and tart apples
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 pies may be the most popular apple dessert there is, especially at Thanksgiving time, followed by apple tarts. But let's not overlook the easy Apple Crisp recipe (known as Apple Crumble in the UK). It's a cinch to make and just as tasty!
An old fashioned apple crisp recipe is easier to make than apple pies — there are no pesky pie crusts to trip you up. You just make the apple filling, mix together a simple crumble topping and bake. It's as simple as that!
You'll need the following ingredients to make this apple crisp recipe:
Apples: A good combination of sweet and tart apples work best. Buy enough apples to yield two pounds of peeled, cored and sliced apples (about nine cups when you’re done). See the FAQs below for tips on the best apples to use.
Boiled apple cider: 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, but it’s really easy to make it yourself - all you need is fresh unfiltered apple cider and some time.
Apple spice mix: Making your own apple pie spice mix blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom gives this pie complex spice notes. If you prefer, you can use 1½ teaspoons of store bought apple pie spice instead.
Flavorful liquid: 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 (it's what gives Daiquiris and Grogs cocktails their distinctive flavor), and the alcohol cooks out while baking. You can also use bourbon, hard or straight apple cider, or just apple juice. You can even use water in a pinch.
Brown sugar: The amount of brown sugar you'll use in the filling will depend on the sweetness/tartness of your apples. It's also used to sweeten the streusel topping.
Streusel topping: There are many variations to streusel toppings, the most basic being a crumbly sweetened flour and butter mixture flavored with spices or extracts. I like to include pecans or walnuts in the apple crumble topping because they add texture and crunch to the soft, buttery oats and the crunchy nuts. Using nuts is optional, but are such a good addition.
See the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make an easy apple crisp
Step 1: Prepare the apples
Peel and core the apples. Cut the peeled apples into ¼-inch thick slices and place them in a large mixing bowl, stirring to separate them (photo 1).
If you have an apple peeler/corer/slicer, you can prep the apples in a single step. Otherwise, a serrated peeler will make quick work of peeling the apples, and a melon baller is a good way to scoop out the core. Using a mandolin slicer speeds up the slicing and insures uniform pieces. Just be careful with the sharp blade, and make sure you use the food guard!
Step 3: Make the streusel
Making the apple crisp oat topping is really easy, and adds a crunchy, buttery counterpoint to the rich, spicy apples.
You can use quick-cooking rolled oats or old-fashioned rolled oats for this streusel recipe. If you are using the latter, run them through a couple of pulses in a small food processor to break them up a bit (photo 3).
Stir together the flour, sugar, rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt (photo 4).
Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture is unevenly crumbly, like if you were making scones or pie crust. You might even use your hands towards the end of this process. Toss in the nuts, if using (photo 5).
Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the apple slices in the baking pan (photo 6).
Step 4: Bake the apple crisp
Set the pan on a half sheet baking pan that's been lined with a Silpat silicone mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil (to catch any drips). Bake the crisp at 350˚F for 55 to 75 minutes, or until it's bubbling and the streusel is golden brown (photo 7).
Remove the crisp from the oven, and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. If you serve the crisp hot or warm, it may be soft. If you wait until it's completely cool, it'll firm up nicely.
Storage and make-ahead instructions
Storage instructions: Store the baked apple crisp in the refrigerator, cooled completely and covered tightly, for up to 3 days. When you're ready to serve, reheat the pan at 300°F for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions briefly in the microwave.
Make-ahead instructions: Unbaked apple crisp (with the topping) can be made a day ahead, and stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly. Much longer than that and the topping will get too soggy.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
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!
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.
Sure! Just spray eight 8-ounce ramekins or oven-safe bowls with baking spray, and proceed with the recipe as directed. Bake the individual crisps for 45 to 55 minutes.
Pro Tip: Make a smaller apple crisp
If you're baking for a smaller group, you can scale the recipe down to make an apple crisp, like I did with my dairy-free Mixed Berry Crisp. For the filling, use 1 to 2 apples and half the amounts of the spices (leave the liquid the same, just let it cook down). For the topping, use 2 tablespoons each of flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, butter, and nuts; ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Bake the crisp in a 6½-inch cast-iron skillet at 350˚F for 10 to 12 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 that's sweet and spicy, contrasting 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 like to go a little further though. Just for funsies (and definitely not because it's sitting in my refrigerator calling out to me), I add a drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce for a delicious caramel apple crisp. Apple crumble with English Toffee Sauce or Butterscotch Sauce are other simple options.
Apple crisps are a comforting dessert that is great for Thanksgiving or whatever your Fall festivities may be. It's an easy way to celebrate the beautiful Autumn season!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Cooking with fruits and jams in your baking repertoire adds a natural sweetness that can't be matched by artificial means. And, there are so many ways to use them (and not just in pie). It's time to find fun ways to include fruit in your desserts! Here are some ideas to get you started:
I hope you like this recipe! Do you have any questions I can help with? Let me know! Or, if you made the recipe, I'd love for you to leave a comment and rating. Thanks!
Old Fashioned Apple Crisp (Apple Crumble)
For the filling
- 3 pounds apples, about 4 to 5 medium or large apples, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ to ¾ cup brown sugar, light or dark, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ cup rum, apple cider, or juice, see Recipe Notes
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons boiled apple cider, optional, see Recipe Notes
- 1½ teaspoons apple spice mix, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ teaspoon 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 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold, sliced
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Spray a 9- x 9-inch baking pan with baking spray.
- Make the filling: Peel and core the apples (I use a serrated peeler and a melon baller), then cut ¼-inch thick slices. Place the apple slices in a large mixing bowl and stir to separate them.
- Mix in the brown sugar, rum, flour, melted butter, boiled cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt onto the apples. Stir well, making sure all the apples are all coated with the sugar mixture. Transfer the apples to the prepared baking pan. Set aside as you prepare the streusel.
- Make the streusel: If you're using old-fashioned rolled oats, coarsely chop them in a small food processor (to mimic quick cooking oats).
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. You might even use your hands towards the end of this process. Toss in the nuts, if using.
- Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the apples slices in the baking pan.
- Set the pan on a half sheet baking pan that's been lined with a Silpat silicone mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil to catch any drips. Bake the crisp for 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 or warm, it may be soft. If you wait until it's completely cool, it'll firm up nicely.
- 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!
- Storage instructions: Store the baked apple crisp in the refrigerator, cooled completely and covered tightly, for up to 3 days. When you're ready to serve, reheat the pan at 300 °F for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions briefly in the microwave.
- Make-ahead instructions: Unbaked apple crisp (with the topping) can be made a day ahead, and stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly. Much longer than that and the topping will get too soggy.
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon allspice or cloves
- ½ teaspoon cardamom