Apple Crisp (aka Apple Crumble) combines a sweet & spicy filling of apple pie with buttery streusel. It's a homey dessert sure to please!
[Side Note: a version of this post first appeared on my OutlanderCast column, November 26, 2019]
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!
Apple crisp or 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 and butter.
Over the Pond, a similar British pudding is known as an Apple Crumble, where topping made of butter, flour and brown sugar is rolled together so that it resembles breadcrumbs. Both are served warm with custard sauce or ice cream.
Easy as pie? Easier!
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 found King Arthur Flour’s Classic Apple Crisp recipe, and used a combination of sweet and tart apples. I like Honeycrisp and Granny Smiths together, but you can use any apples you’d like.
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!
Buy enough apples to yield two pounds of peeled, cored and sliced apples (about nine cups when you’re done). An apple peeler/corer/slicer makes quick work of getting the apples ready. Unfortunately, mine is in storage, so I went with a knife and melon baller.
Hey, whatever gets the job done, right?
Maximize the apple goodness
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).
Also, you can get creative with the liquid in the filling, just be sure to choose something that will complement the apples and cinnamon. Try rum, bourbon, hard or straight apple cider, or apple juice. You can even use water in a pinch.
Streusel is always welcome
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.
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!
The rest of the procedure is straightforward. Mix up the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Think pie crust before you add the water.
Finally, mix in the nuts if you’re using them. Easy peasy!
Spread the streusel over your filling, then bake until the topping is golden brown and the apple filling is bubbling.
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 went a little further though. Just for funsies, and definitely not because it was sitting in my refrigerator calling out to me, I added a drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce.
If you'd prefer individual servings, use eight 8-ounce bowls and just bake them for less time.
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!
Recipes for pie
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.
Recipes for pie crust & more
Need a base for a recipe? No problem! Here are recipes for a basic pie crust, graham cracker crusts, and a shortcrust pastry. Plus how to make a lattice pie crust!
Old Fashioned Apple Crisp (Apple Crumble)
For the filling
- 3 lbs apples, about 4 to 5 medium or large apples
- ¼ cup rum, apple cider or juice, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ to ¾ cup brown sugar, light or dark, see Recipe Notes
- 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
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 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
- 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!