Delicious Apple Crisp made with thinly sliced and caramelized Granny Smith apples blanketed in a buttery cinnamon-spiced oatmeal topping. Learn how to make this easy apple crisp recipe and enjoy this classic fall dessert with friends, family, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
The Best Apple Crisp Recipe
So, I was shocked when I realized that I hadn’t shared my apple crisp recipe with you guys. After all, this is my all-time favorite of all apple desserts. Filled with warm, soft, cooked apples and topped with a crispy, buttery, oatmeal topping. What’s not to love, right?
All through my teens, I was so obsessed with this simple dessert that I often skipped dinner at restaurants and went straight for the dessert menu. If warm apple crisp was an option THAT was going to be my dinner.
However, this apple crisp isn’t just about the apples. It’s also about the crispy, crumbly, buttery topping. A winning combination of old fashioned rolled oats, butter, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon, this toasty topping is impossible to resist!
The best part? Compared to apple pie, this apple crisp is a breeze to throw together!
Best Apples for Apple Crisp
When it comes to choosing the best apples for apple crisp, the truth is that you can use any kind of apple. However, to get that classic sweet, tart magic combination we all love, certain apples work better than others.
You want apples that are crisp, tart, and hold up well when cooked or baked. In other words, you don’t want apples that get grainy and fall apart the moment they get a little warm.
The best type of apples for apple crisp include,
- Granny Smith (crunchy and tart)
- Honeycrisp Apples (crisp and sweet)
- Golden Delicious (crisp and sweet)
- Braeburn Apples (crisp and tangy)
- Pink Lady Apples (crunchy and sweet-tart)
- Gala Apples (crisp and sweet)
- Fuji (crunchy and super sweet)
In this particular recipe, I used Granny Smith apples. Feel free to use any of the three above or mix and match!
Ingredients in Apple Crisp
- Baking Apples – Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Golden Delicious are all fabulous choices. I purchased two (3-pound) bags of Granny Smith apples and used every single one. Don’t worry about getting exactly 6 pounds of apples. Approximate, and if you’re unsure at all, grab an extra apple or two just to be safe.
- Sugar – yes, you absolutely need sugar to make this recipe. In fact, you will need brown sugar (dark brown sugar or light brown sugar) and granulated sugar.
- Spices – I added 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon to the apple mixture. Many apple crisp recipes will include a pinch of ground nutmeg, but I prefer to keep it simple with just cinnamon. If you would like to add some ground nutmeg, a quarter teaspoon or so is all you’ll need.
- Lemon Juice + Zest – You will only need one lemon for this recipe, but the lemon needs to be fresh. Zested and juiced, lemons help keep the apples from browning and balances the sweetness.
- Butter – I use salted butter. It’s true. In fact, I basically use salted butter for everything I bake and cook unless I specify otherwise. If you prefer unsalted butter, that is absolutely fine.
- All-purpose flour – Yep, that crispy topping comes with a little bit of flour. If you prefer to make it gluten-free, swap out the regular all-purpose flour for one that is gluten-free.
- Old Fashioned Oats – Rolled oats add a ton of texture (and nutrients) to the crisp topping! If you’re gluten-free, you’re in luck! It’s super easy to find gluten-free rolled oats.
- Pecans or Walnuts (optional) – Somewhat less “traditional” so I’ll leave this one up to you guys. I’m a huge fan of pecans and walnuts so it’s a no-brainer for me, but skip the nuts if anyone in your family has nut allergies.
Should I Peel Apples for Apple Crisp?
As with most things in life, this decision is entirely up to personal preference.
However, you will have a much better crisp if you peel your apples. If you don’t, the consistency will be weird and it just won’t be the same.
So, yes. Please peel your apples. I have the easiest time peeling my apples with a sharp paring knife but you also use an apple peeler.
How to make Apple Crisp
As I mentioned previously, I have quite a history with apple crisps. In this time I have learned two very important things-
First, there is nothing worse than an apple crisp that is filled with undercooked apples. Second, apples actually taste good. Let’s not drown them in a thick sugary syrup so your forget there are actually even any apples in there.
With those two things in mind, let’s get started:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and set the oven rack to the center position. Then butter or spray an 8×8 baking dish (or 9×9-inch) with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Peel, core, and slice your apples then transfer them to a large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well to combine.
- Note: We will be sauteeing the apples before we bake them. This ensures that all the apples get fully cooked, but most importantly, it allows me to cut the apples into slightly thicker slices. Not too thick, but thick enough that I can taste when I’m biting through an apple.
- Note: You are not cooking the apples until they are completely soft and mushy. You want them to start softening and release some of their juices.
- Optional: Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the apples as they cook.
4. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, oats, ground cinnamon, salt, and chopped pecans (if using). Cut the butter into small cubes and add them to the bowl. Use your fingers to gently press the butter into the flour and oat mixture. Continue to mix and press and break into smaller pieces until the mixture resembles little crumbs the size of peas.
5. Evenly spread the crisp topping over the apples.
6. Transfer to the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with your favorite ice cream, caramel sauce, or whipped cream.
If you prefer to skip the sautéing step, that is 100 percent okay. You may, however, need to add an additional 10-15 minutes to the overall cook time. If that’s the case, keep a close eye on your crisp topping, should it start to brown too much, tent with aluminum foil as the apples continue to cook.
Difference Between Apple Crisps, Crumbles, and Cobblers
Wait, what? There’s a difference between all these delicious fruit-filled desserts? Yep!
Despite loads of very incorrect information out there, apple crisps and apple crumbles are not the same thing (although they are very similar).
Before jumping into what makes them all different, let’s cover what makes them similar. Each of these desserts is first filled with fresh fruit, topped with some kind of something, and baked. As they bake, the fruit breaks down, releases its juices, and starts to bubble up into whatever is on top of it.
But what makes them different?
- Crisps– Traditional crisps, unlike crumbles, come with rolled oats. The idea is that the oats would “crisp” as it baked.
- Crumbles– No oats.
- Cobblers – Cobblers come filled with fresh fruit and some kind of biscuit topping. Usually, the biscuits are dropped directly onto the fruit in small rounds and baked. Once the cobbler has finished baking, the biscuit topping resembles a cobbled road (hence the name). Sometimes, instead of a biscuit topping, you’ll find cobblers made with cookie dough or cake batter topping.
Makes sense, right?
Tips and Tricks
It’s pretty hard to mess up a dessert that is made with a mixture of fabulous ingredients. That said, here are a few tips and tricks to make it the very best apple crisp ever!
- Peel your apples.
- Really work the butter into the flour, sugar, and oat topping until you get a nice crumbly topping.
- Slice your apples into uniform shapes and sizes to ensure even cooking.
- If your top starts to burn before the apples are fully cooked, carefully tent with foil to shield the crisp topping.
- Take a little extra time when adding the apple crisp topping on top of your apples. What I mean is, after the flour, sugar, butter, and oats have all been combined into a nice crumbly topping, use your fingers to make little balls of dough (I often think of granola nuggets) and drop them onto the apples. You don’t need to make a million little balls of crumble topping, but definitely add some in there.
- Add the nuts. You don’t need to add a whole lot, just a little goes a long way! I am especially fond of pecans.
- Don’t forget the toppings. Nothing better than warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, mascarpone, or a little drizzle of caramel sauce.
- I highly recommend using real butter. However, if you need to use margarine or a plant-based alternative to make this recipe vegan, that’s ok, too. Just keep in mind that the overall taste will be a little different.
Can Apple Crisp be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes! To make this apple crisp recipe ahead of time:
- Follow the instructions as listed above through step 5.
- Allow your crisp to come to room temperature.
- Wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and remove all plastic wrap from the baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.
How to Freeze Apple Crisp
So you have a million apples and you want to make a few extra of this family favorite dessert to enjoy later in the year? Smart thinking!
You can easily freeze apple crisp, here’s how:
- Prepare and bake the apple crisp as instructed in the recipe card below or instructions above.
- Allow the crisp to cool completely before covering with a tightly-wrapped double layer of aluminum foil.
- Date and transfer to the freezer for up to 3 months (or so).
- To bake from frozen – remove from the freezer and remove all aluminum foil. Transfer to a preheated oven set at 350 degrees F. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the top is golden and the apples are bubbly.
- To thaw first then bake – Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and remove aluminum foil. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the apples bubbly.
More Apple Recipes,
If you try this Easy Apple Crisp Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Easy Apple Crisp Recipe
For the Apple Filling
- Preheat the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and set oven rack to the center position.
- Prepare baking dish. Butter or spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Mix apples. Transfer the peeled, cored, and sliced apples to a large mixing bowl. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well to combine.
- Saute the apples. Add the butter to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and mix well to combine in the butter. Cook the apples, stirring gently (yet often) until the apples are just starting to soften. Remove from heat and transfer to your prepared baking dish.
- Prepare the crisp topping. In a medium mixing bowl mix together the flour, oats, ground cinnamon, salt, and chopped pecans (if using). Cut the butter into small cubes and add them to the bowl. Use your fingers to gently press the butter into the flour and oat mixture. Continue to mix and press and break into smaller pieces until the mixture resembles little crumbs the size of peas.
- Spread crisp topping over the apples. Transfer the crisp topping to the baking dish with the apples. Spread evenly over the top of the apples.
- Bake. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for approximately 25-35 minutes.
- Serve. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with your favorite ice cream, caramel sauce, or whipped cream. Enjoy!
- We will be sauteeing the apples first before we bake them. It ensures that all the apples get fully cooked, but most importantly, it allows us to cut the apples into slightly thicker slices. Not crazy thick, but thick enough that, when all is said and done, we can taste that I'm actually biting through an apple.
- Note- do not cook the apples until they are completely soft and mushy. You want them to start softening and release some of their juices.
- To make this recipe gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free flour and gluten-free rolled oats.
- To make this recipe vegan replace the butter with a plant-based butter substitute or coconut oil.
- Granny Smith and Honeycrisp are the best apples for apple crisps, but any apple (or a mixture of apples) will work.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)