This easy apple crisp recipe with its spiced oats and brown sugar crumble streusel will take you right back to the best days of childhood.
I’ve always had an affinity for desserts with crisps or streusel toppings and my blueberry buckle and rustic apple tart never disappoint. No matter what type of fruit or berry was underneath, that crunchy crisp topping of old-fashioned oats laced with brown sugar combined with the classic warming spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, grabbed hold of my tastebuds and has yet to let go.
While it isn’t fancy or a dessert you’d generally think worthy of company, this totally easy apple crisp recipe is simply the best. It’s one of my favorite desserts to make, not just because I love to eat it hot or cold and most often straight from the pan, but because dolloped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, it brings happy childhood flashbacks to just about everyone else who eats it too.
How to Make Apple Crisp from Scratch
Over the years, I’ve tried several methods for making the perfect apple crisp that simply didn’t deliver. But this recipe…this recipe is 100% a memory maker you can have any day. With a crisped oatmeal crumble on top and velvety cooked fruit underneath, this apple crisp is incredibly easy to make from scratch.
The best apple crisp boasts perfectly cooked apples that are soft but still hold their shape. The tender apples should be coated in a caramel sauce that isn’t too watery, but not too cloying either. And the streusel crisp (the best part) should be exactly that, “crisp”, with the oatmeal clumping in just the right way.
Here’s what you’ll need for this apple crisp recipe:
- Apples: Granny Smith green apples work best in this recipe
- Kosher salt
- Old-fashioned oats
- Light brown sugar
- Baking powder
The Best Apples for Apple Crisp
An apple is an apple, right? Not when it comes to baking. With so many varieties to choose from, narrowing the field of the best apples for apple crisp may not seem that important, but if you want the perfectly cooked center that won’t either become mush or put off too much liquid, there’s only one apple that always works best.
Because they hold their shape well during cooking, Granny Smith apples are my choice for baking in this recipe. Tart and a bit sour, Granny Smith apples balance the sweetness from the added sugar in most dessert recipes.
Substitute Granny Smith apples with honeycrisp or braeburns, both of which are more firm than other varieties, or use in tandem with Granny Smiths.
How to Make the Best Apple Crisp
Always peel the apples. The part that takes the longest in making this recipe is taking the time to peel the apples—but you won’t be sorry for doing so. Baking with apple skins can turn a sweet dessert bitter, and frankly, loose apple skins just aren’t that attractive to boot. Use a sharp paring knife to core and peel the apples, or invest in an apple peeler if you bake or cook with apples more often.
Cut your apples the same thickness. So the apples cook to the same degree of doneness, cut them in consistent slices, about ¼″ thick.
Don’t bother with adding lemon juice. To help keep cut the fruit from discoloring when exposed to air, cooks often drizzle apples with citrus so it doesn’t brown. However I’ve found this step isn’t needed when using Granny Smiths, where their tartness seems to keep browning after slicing at bay.
Make the Apple Filling
Combine the apples with the granulated sugar mixture to macerate. Toss the apples with the granulated sugar, salt and spices then set aside while mixing the topping. This gives the apples time to begin to break down and soften as some of their liquid releases.
Make the Apple Crisp Topping
The “crisp” part of apple crisp is probably my favorite part, and that’s why I’ve made sure there’s plenty of it to cover the apples.
Use melted butter. One thing that differentiates this crisp from others is using melted butter. I’ve made this recipe with soft butter, chilled butter, and melted butter, and the latter created the best consistent results. I use salted butter but if you prefer unsalted, use that instead.
Baking powder gives the topping a little lift. Just like the best oatmeal cookies, adding baking powder with the flour keeps the topping light, not dense.
Combine the dry ingredients before adding the butter. Mix the dry ingredients together before pouring over the melted butter. For the best clumps, I use my fingers to mix the oats and brown sugar and butter together, gently pressing into oat clusters.
Layer the Apples and Crisp, Then Bake!
Don’t go too deep. In desserts like my favorite brownies and rice krispie treats, I like them best when they’re thick. But not my crisps. To get the maximum amount of crisp topping with every bite, instead of going deep, spread it out! Use a 9 X 13-inch baking dish so the apples aren’t too dense (which would take longer to bake) and the topping has plenty of room to brown.
Apples on bottom, crisp on top. Because they’ll be covered, there’s no need for precision when it comes to layering the apples. When adding the topping, scatter it over the apples creating a few clumps as you go, but allowing the oats to fill in the apple slice gaps. To get the best crispness, don’t pack or press the topping.
Bake this dessert uncovered. The oats crisp instead of steam when baked without a covering. If the oats begin browning too much, place a piece of foil over the dessert dish during the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
How Long Do You Bake Apple Crisp
Sure you can set your timer to know when this dessert is done, but these clues are the real truth tellers for when your crisp is done:
- The first clue that this apple crisp is almost done is the heavenly aroma that will perfume your kitchen.
- Next, look for the sauce to bubbling.
- Test the apples for doneness. They should be pliable and soft, with a golden hue.
All ovens cook differently, but at 350°F, this apple crisp takes 50-60 minutes to bake.
Let the Dessert Cool Before Serving
Once pulled from the oven, the sauce will be hot and liquefied, seeming almost watered down. As it cools, the sauce thickens and coats the apples in a lush glaze, which is why waiting 20-30 minutes before serving is best. And very likely, it will still be warm.
More Apple Recipes
- Caramel Apple Pie
- Kale Salad With Cranberries, Apple And Cheddar Cheese
- Bloody Caramel Apples
- Maple Apples, Blue Cheese And Bacon Pizza
- Apple And Oatmeal Rice Krispie Treats Recipe
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
How to Make The BEST Apple Crisp Recipe
- 6 cups Granny Smith apples (green apples) , peeled, cored, and cut into ¼" slices (about 9-10 green apples)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Topping
- 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the sliced apples with the sugar, 1 ½ tablespoon flour, salt cinnamon, and nutmeg, and set aside for the sugar to soften the apples and macerate, creating a light syrup. In a smaller mixing bowl, toss the oats, 1 ½ cups flour, brown sugar, and baking powder together, then use your fingers to mix in the melted butter, gently making small clumps where you can.
- Layer the sugared apples and their juice in a 9 X 13 baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the oatmeal mixture, but don't pack it tightly. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes until the apples are soft and tender and the sauce has thickened and is bubbly. If the crisp seems to be browning too much, cover with foil for the remaining cooking time.
- Let the apple crisp cool for 20-30 minutes before serving for the caramel sauce to thicken. Divide in bowls and top with vanilla ice cream or whip cream, and serve.
More Baked Fruit Recipes
- How to Make the BEST Peach Cobbler
- Blueberry Buckle Recipe With Lemon Glaze
- Grandma’s Peach and Blackberry Cobbler
- Mountain Fresh Peach Pie Recipe
- Rhubarb and Raspberry Pie With Oatmeal Crumble
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Absolutely amazing! My husband and I tried this recipe today as a tester for Thanksgiving desert and I have to say: THAT’S A KEEPER! The taste is incredible and I love the fact that does not have a pie crust (my least favorite part of a pie). Thanks for the amazing recipe <3
Happy to hear you and your husband liked it Bella!
This was, by far, the best apple crisp I ever had. The crunchy caramel bits are divine.
great use of apples! thank you, apple stuff may be the best thing about fall, and crisps are something I’ve always loved too
Do you have a scaled down version for an 8×8 pan. We are seniors and a 9×13 pan is too much for us. Thanks
You can freeze half of it for another time.
This came out perfect! I was already planning on baking some type of apple crumble when I saw this recipe. I had apples from the grower at the farmers’ market: they have unusual varietals and gave me a mix to bake with. Nice when the dish comes out just as pictured and described. Delicious! I’m enjoying mine in the evening with whisky!
So glad you liked it Maureen, and nice addition of the sidecar of whiskey.