This easy apple crisp layers a sweet, tender, lightly spiced apple filling with thick, buttery, crisp cinnamon streusel topping, perfect for enjoying all year long! GF, sugar-free, and flavor variations!
It’s no surprise that apple crisp recipes have been around for generations, making it a true classic fall dessert. It’s warm, cozy, sweet, lightly spiced, and packed with fresh apples under a buttery, crisp, cinnamon-oat streusel topping. It also makes your house smell absolutely gorgeous, all with just a handful of simple and inexpensive ingredients and a fuss-free method!
Along with fall comes the holiday period and several opportunities to entertain guests. My vegan pumpkin pie and stuffed baked apples are my fall dessert go-to’s.
But for those days when I want something that’s super quick and easy and is going to impress, this easy apple crisp recipe with oats is my savior. It’s simpler than apple pie and as comfortable as a lazy, last-minute mid-week dessert. And it’s great at Thanksgiving, too.
As simple as it is, you can even prepare the dessert in part or whole in advance. And you can freeze the leftovers for later, making it a zero-fuss fall dessert for any occasion.
Even better, the recipe is truly adaptable, both in terms of flavor (add-ins) and diet (gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan), etc. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd. Keep reading for all my favorite variations and add-ins.
Once baked, enjoy this apple crumble with a scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce. It’s a super satisfying end to any meal, especially on chilly fall and winter evenings!
Apple Crisp Vs Apple Crumble
At one point, fruit crisps and crumbles were differentiated by using oats in the streusel topping (apple crisp) vs. no oats (apple crumble). However, at this point, the terms are used interchangeably. Both refer to a dish combining a sweet fruity filling and a buttery, crisp topping made with butter, flour, and sugar as a base.
Apple Crisp Ingredients
This easy homemade apple crisp recipe requires only simple and inexpensive ingredients to prepare, perfect for a low-budget household.
Apple Crisp Filling (Apple Pie Filling)
- Apples: Use any crisp baking apple, like Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith apples, etc.
- Sugar: I use a combination of regular granulated white sugar and brown sugar to take advantage of the molasses flavor that pairs so well with apples. Unrefined coconut sugar would also work, or make sugar-free apple crisp using a sugar alternative like erythritol, a sugar-free brown sugar, Swerve, etc.
- Water/Apple juice: (optional) Adding a small amount of liquid will make for a saucier apple crisp filling.
- Lemon Juice: This keeps the apples from browning and balances the sweetness from the sugar. It adds brightness to the simple apple crisp.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon and apple are a perfect pairing and wonderfully warming for fall/winter.
Apple Crisp Topping
- Flour: I use white all-purpose flour, though whole wheat should be fine, too. For a gluten-free apple crisp, use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Mill). Almond flour may also work.
- Butter: Use dairy or dairy-free butter, cold from the fridge. Chilled coconut oil (solid) may also work.
- Old-fashioned oats: Making apple crisp with oats is a sure way for a super crispy topping. Use gluten-free certified oats if necessary.
- Cinnamon: Because, delicious!
- Sugar: I use caster sugar, but you can use the same one you used for the filling.
- Salt: This balances and enhances the ingredients in the streusel for more flavor depth. If you’re using salted butter, omit any added salt.
What Are The Best Apples For Apple Crisp?
You can use several types of apples in this homemade apple crisp recipe as long as they are firm and crisp. While, technically, softer apples will work too, they’ll break down in the oven and form a kind of homogenous apple “fluff.” In comparison, firm, crisp apples will hold their shape within the apple dessert.
Choose the apple based on how sweet or tart you prefer the dish to be. For example, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Gala, and Jonagold apples are all sweeter. Braeburn and Granny Smith are more tart apples.
For flavor depth, I highly recommend using a combination of apples, like Granny Smith and Honeycrisp (one is tart, and one is sweet).
How To Make Apple Crisp
This simple apple crisp recipe follows just 3 steps and simple prep for a super low-fuss apple dessert!
Prepare the Apple Crisp Topping
First, cut the chilled butter into small cubes. Use one cube to butter your baking dish (8×8 inch or 9.5×6.5 inch).
Then, add the butter to a bowl with the remaining streusel ingredients (oats, brown sugar, flour, and half the cinnamon). Use a pastry cutter or fingers to work the ingredients together until they resemble a crumb consistency.
Set it aside for now (I prefer to keep it in the fridge, so the butter remains chilled and will become crispier when baked).
How to Cut Apples for Apple Crisp
At this point, you can preheat your oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
First, rinse, dry, and peel the apples.
Then, using a sharp knife or an apple slicer, slice the apples into thin, even slices around 1/5-1/4 inch wide.
First, slice one side of the apple as close to the core as possible. Then repeat that with the remaining 3 sides (around the core). You can then use a sharp knife or mandoline to slice the remaining apple pieces.
Note that if you cut thicker slices, they’ll remain firmer when baked. However, cut them too thin, and they risk losing their shape/becoming mushy.
Transfer the apple slices to a large bowl with the white sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.
Bake the Apple Crisp
Transfer the apple mixture to the buttered baking dish and pour the water or apple juice over it (if using). Then, sprinkle the streusel topping over the apple filling.
Bake the apple crumble in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 40-50 minutes, until the fruit is tender and bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
You can optionally broil the apple crisp for a few minutes right at the end for more of a caramelized topping (sprinkle extra sugar on top if preferred).
Remove the crisp from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes (for the filling to thicken) before serving. Enjoy!
How to Store Apple Crisp
Allow the apple crumble to cool, then store any leftovers, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
Allow it to cool entirely, then freeze the apple dessert together or individual portions in freezer-safe airtight containers. Freeze for up to 3 months, thawing it in the fridge overnight before reheating or reheating it from frozen, adding more time to the oven heating.
To maintain the crisp top, reheat the baked apple crisp in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC (or an air fryer for several minutes). Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1-1½ minutes.
Can You Prepare Apple Crisp Ahead?
To cut down on prep, you can prepare the filling and topping the night before. Store them separately in airtight containers in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble and bake. You may need more lemon juice over the apple slices to stop them from browning.
You can also freeze the prepared (unbaked) oat topping and fillings separately in freezer-safe Ziplock bags for up to 3 months. OR assemble the entire dish and freeze it, thawing it in the fridge before baking.
How to Serve Apple Crisp
Enjoy a portion of this homemade apple crisp alone, or make it even more of a treat with:
- A scoop of vanilla ice cream,
- A drizzle of caramel sauce (regular or healthy vegan caramel),
- Custard (warm),
- Whipped cream or dairy-free whipped coconut cream,
- A dollop of yogurt (Greek or dairy-free),
- A mug of warm apple cider or hot chocolate.
Broiling the fruit crisp at the end of the baking process can help to make the streusel topping more crunchy/crispy.
Otherwise, it comes down to the process itself. Make sure not to use too much butter and that it is chilled. Also, don’t overmix the butter and flour together.
You could also use quick oats, though the texture of the crisp topping will change slightly. Alternatively, you can omit the oats entirely. You’ll still achieve a buttery crisp topping, though not as crunchy.
If omitting the oats, add an extra ¾ cup of flour and some sugar.
First, note that any crisp/crumble requires some cooling time after being removed from the oven. As it cools, the filling should continue to thicken.
If it’s still too loose after that, it’s a bit hard to fix at that point. The best option is to add about a tablespoon of cornstarch to the apple cake filling mixture. And then baking the apple crumble recipe.
Technically, no. Apple peel is fairly soft once baked, so it’s perfectly fine to keep it on. However, if you aren’t a fan of the added texture (it’s somewhat noticeable), peel the fruit.
More Apple Dessert Recipes
- Fried Apple Recipe (Southern Style)
- Apple Pie Overnight Oats
- Dehydrated Apple Chips
- Apple Juice (With and Without Juicer)
- Homemade Applesauce
If you try this easy recipe for apple crisp (apple crumble), let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
The Best Apple Crisp Recipe (Quick & Easy)
- 34 oz apples 6 medium; Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, etc – check the notes
- 1/2 cup water or apple juice – optional, to add extra sauce
- 4 oz brown sugar 1 cup, light or dark; or coconut sugar
- 0.77 oz white sugar 2 Tbsp; OR use all brown sugar/white sugar if preferred
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice about 1/2 small lemon
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon powder divided
- 3.5 oz old-fashioned oats 1 cup
- 1.9 oz all-purpose flour 1/2 cup; regular or whole wheat; or gluten-free blend (like King Arthur's) or even almond flour
- 4 oz butter 1/2 cup, cold; dairy or dairy-free
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Prepare the apple crisp topping
- Cut the chilled butter into small cubes. Use one cube to butter your baking dish (8×8 inch or 9.5×6.5 inch).
- Add the cubed butter to a bowl with the oats, brown sugar, flour, and half the cinnamon. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to work the ingredients together until they resemble a crumb consistency.
- Set it aside for now or keep it in the fridge, so the butter remains chilled and will become crispier when baked.
Prepare the apple pie filling
- At this point, you can preheat your oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
- Rinse, dry, and peel the apples.
- Using a sharp knife or an apple slicer or even a mandoline, slice the apples into thin, even slices around a ⅕-¼ inch wide.
- Transfer the apple slices to a large bowl with the white sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.
Assemble and bake the apple crisp
- Transfer the apple mixture to the buttered baking dish and pour the water or apple juice over it (if using). Then, sprinkle the streusel topping over the apple filling.
- Bake the apple crumble in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 40-50 minutes, until the fruit is tender and bubbling and the topping is golden brown.You can optionally broil the apple crisp for a few minutes right at the end for more of a caramelized topping (sprinkle extra sugar on top if preferred).
- Remove the crisp from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes (for the filling to thicken) before serving. Enjoy!
- Store: Allow the apple crumble to cool, then store any leftovers, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.Freeze: Allow it to cool entirely, then freeze the apple dessert together or individual portions in freezer-safe airtight containers. Freeze for up to 3 months, thawing it in the fridge overnight before reheating or reheating it from frozen, adding more time to the oven heating.Reheat: To maintain the crisp top, reheat the baked apple crisp in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC (or in an air fryer for several minutes). Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1- 1 ½ minutes.
- Use cold butter: For the best streusel consistency and texture.
- Adjust the sweetness: Based on whether you use sweet vs. tart apples and how sweet you’d prefer the filling to be.
- Slice the apples evenly: This is important to ensure they’re cooking at an even pace.
- If the streusel topping is browning too quickly: Use foil to loosely tent over the top of the apple crumble while it finishes baking.
- Don’t skip the cooling period: Not only will the filling feel like molten lava right out of the oven, but allowing it to cool slightly also gives it time to thicken.
- Vanilla: add just a small amount of vanilla extract to the filling.
- Nutmeg: Just a tiny pinch in the apple filling for extra warmth.
- Ginger: Add a small amount of candied ginger to the filling OR even add some crushed ginger biscuits to the topping for extra crunch.
- Dried fruit: A handful of dried cranberries, raisins, or sultanas would add extra sweetness.
- Other fruit: One of the easiest ways to experiment with flavor variations is doubling (or even tripling) up on fruit like:
- Other berries (raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
- Nuts: Add extra texture to the apple crisp topping with the addition of chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts.
- Shredded coconut: Sprinkle some unsweetened coconut shreds into the streusel topping for extra texture and flavor.
- Chocolate chips: Sprinkle a few chocolate chips over the apple crisp topping for added sweetness.
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