This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

We’re singing all the praises of apple crisp because it’s THE dessert of the season. Featuring warm gooey cinnamon apples and a brown sugar oat topping, this comfort food classic takes half the time and effort that traditional apple pie requires. You just need a handful of basic ingredients to get started including baking apples such as Granny Smith and Honeycrisp.

apple crisp in white baking dish

How many ways can we bake with apples? Hopefully you’ve been enjoying sweet and simple baked apples or even dove headfirst into apple cinnamon bread and caramel apple upside down cake. There’s apple cinnamon babka and so many more apple recipes. But today, let’s get down to the basics. This is pure and simple apple crisp, a timeless dessert highlighting the natural flavor of apples. This apple dessert is an end-of-the-meal treat that delivers BIG flavor for very little work. Let’s be honest– if you can chop apples, you can make apple crisp.


Here’s Why You’ll Love This Apple Crisp

  1. Easier Than Pie: It’s easy to adore apple pie, but there’s no doubt that homemade pie is a labor of love. In this fruit crisp, we’re swapping pie crust for oat streusel topping. Skip all the pie dough chilling and leave your rolling pin in the cabinet.
  2. Basic Ingredients: Crisps are pretty unfussy and there’s no strange ingredients required. Most of the ingredients you need are repeated in both layers, too.
  3. No Eggs: Many bakers have been asking for egg-free baking recipes like this.
  4. Short Cooling Time: As much as we all love homemade pie, it requires a long cooling time to properly set up. Sometimes we need a crowd-pleasing dessert that’s a little quicker, but just as seasonal and impressive.
  5. And It’s Delicious: What’s better than warm cinnamon apples and chewy-crisp oat topping? This is a cold weather must.

And above all else– if you have little ones, this dessert is convenient and manageable. You don’t have to wait for anything to come to room temperature, chill, or cool down. Kids have a ball spreading the apples into the dish and sprinkling the oat crumble on top.

apple crisp in white baking dish

Overview of Apple Crisp Ingredients

There are 2 components in apple crisp: the apple layer and the oat topping. The topping is the same recipe we use for blueberry crumble pie and bourbon cherry crisp, only slightly increased for a larger 9×13 inch dish.

  1. Apples: See below for the best apples to use. You need about 8 medium apples, peeled and chopped into chunks.
  2. Brown Sugar: We use brown sugar to sweeten and bring flavor to the entire dish. You need it for both the apple layer and topping.
  3. Flour: All-purpose flour thickens the apple filling and is the base of the topping. Do you need a gluten free version? Here’s my super flavorful gluten free apple crisp.
  4. Vanilla & Salt: I’ve made a lot of apple crisp recipes and nothing compares to the way I make it now (recipe below). Vanilla complements these warm flavors and salt balances out all the sweetness. Trust me, you don’t want to skip either– the dessert tastes flat otherwise.
  5. Cinnamon & Nutmeg: Use cinnamon and nutmeg in the apple layer and cinnamon again in the topping.
  6. Butter: To prevent it from melting too soon and losing texture, use very cold butter. Take it right from the refrigerator and cut it into cubes. Then use a pastry cutter or fork to mix it into the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Don’t overcomplicate this step, let the mixture be messy, crumbly, and coarse. Less is more. (Music to our ears!)
  7. Oats: Some oats get a little crispy, some stay soft and chewy. Use whole oats for the best texture. Stir the oats into the topping mixture *after* you cut in the butter. We do this with strawberry crisp as well– you just don’t want the oats to break down too much.
What Are the Best Apples to Use for Baking?

Firmer apples are ideal for baking. Avoid soft, mealy, and mushy apples. For depth of flavor, it’s best to bake with a mix of tart and sweet apples. For apple crisp, I usually use 4 tart and 4 sweet.

  • Tart apples I love to bake with: Granny Smith (in my opinion, this is the best overall apple for baking), Braeburn, Jonathan, and Pacific Rose
  • Sweet apples I love to bake with: Jazz, Pazazz (sometimes harder to find but delicious!), Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Fuji
granny smith and pazazz apples

Peel & Slice Apples into Chunks

You can skip peeling the apples if you’d like, but many prefer peeled apples in desserts. I use and love (affiliate link) this OXO peeler. A lot of apple crisp recipes use apple slices, but I prefer chunks because chunks easily fit onto a spoon or fork. It’s also difficult to get perfectly uniform slices, so some pieces can be much thinner than others– and that means mushy apples. 1-inch chunks that are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick are ideal for this apple crisp.

Toss them with the rest of the apple layer ingredients and then top with the oat topping.

chopped cinnamon apples for baking
topping for fruit crisp
apple crisp shown before and after baking in white baking dish

Apple Crisp Toppings!

Of course you can serve apple crisp plain, but this warm dessert truly shines with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s just an apple crisp non-negotiable! Add a drizzle of salted caramel for good measure. This is the best fall dessert around.

apple crisp serving with vanilla ice cream and caramel topping

Can I Make Apple Crisp Without Oats?

Yes, absolutely. To make apple crisp without oats, use the topping from apple crumble pie, only slightly increased. Use 3/4 cup (150g) brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour, and 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together. Using a fork, stir in the cooled melted butter until the mixture is thick and crumbly. Don’t over-mix– it will become a paste if you over-mix. Use the same oven temperature and bake time as below. I prefer melted butter to keep the crumble topping on the softer side. If you want a crispy crumble topping, use cold butter and cut it into the mixture just as you do in the recipe below.

Or you can turn this into an apple cobbler. Cobblers are usually topped with a biscuit or cake-like topping instead of an oat topping. Use the same apple filling and oven temperature in the recipe below, but use the topping and bake time from my berry cobbler instead.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
apple crisp serving with vanilla ice cream and caramel topping

Classic Apple Crisp

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Yield: serves 810 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This classic apple crisp combines warm gooey cinnamon apples with a buttery brown sugar oat topping. See recipe notes for make ahead & freezing instructions.


Ingredients

Scale

Filling

  • 8 medium peeled apples, cut into 1-inch chunks that are 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick (about 10 cups chunks)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 3/4 cup (94g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 cup (80g) old-fashioned whole oats
  • optional: salted caramel and vanilla ice cream for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Any 4 quart baking dish works.
  2. Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a large bowl, then spread into the baking pan.
  3. Make the topping: Whisk the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture becomes super crumbly. Stir in the oats. Sprinkle over filling.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold– plain or with salted caramel and/or vanilla ice cream.
  5. Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Baked and cooled crisp freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake (covered) in a 350°F (177°C) for 30 minutes or until heated through. You can prepare the crisp through step 3, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day before baking. You can also freeze the unbaked crisp for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then continue with step 4. Bake time will be a little longer since the crisp will be cold.
  2. Apples: See blog post above for the best apples to use. An equal mix of Granny Smith and Jazz or Pink Lady is my favorite for apple crisp.
  3. Oats: Whole oats are best, but you can use quick oats if needed. The crumble topping will just be a little more powdery. (Don’t be tempted to reduce the flour, though– the topping may turn out greasy.) Use a 1:1 swap from whole oats to quick oats. For an oat-less topping, see blog post above.
  4. Nuts: Feel free to add 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts to the crisp topping. Stir into the mixture when you add the oats.
  5. Half Recipe: You can easily halve this recipe by halving all of the ingredients and baking in a 9-inch square or round baking dish. Reduce bake time to about 30-35 minutes.

Keywords: apple crisp

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. This apple crisp is absolutely delicious! The spices are just perfect. I made this for my family and it was a huge hit. Another amazing recipe from Sally and the team.

  2. Made this for the first time yesterday; it was delicious! I would not change a thing!!! My husband LOVES the recipe, so I will be making this quite frequently!

  3. OMG YESSSSSS!! I have been waiting for this dessert to come out and it finally has!!!!! Thank You Sally!!!!!! (i can already feel my mouth watering as i’m typing this)

  4. Sally,
    Looks like another winner. My favorite apple is MacIntosh. In my humble opinion, it has a much better “classic apple flavor” than Granny Smith. They, also, don’t remain as firm, which is a plus in my house. Difficult to find all year round….in the South, they are difficult to find, but they are in season in the North, of course. Even though it is an “eating apple,” I let them sit a week or two, they get sweeter then I make my pies. Rave reviews…Just a suggestion.

  5. I have made so many of your recipes! I trust you and so I ask what do you suggest I use instead of butter for the topping? I have a friend who cannot have dairy.
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Carin! Try coconut oil– make sure it’s cold and solid before cutting into the dry ingredients.

  6. My neighbor gave a lot of pears, do you think pears would be acceptable? Would you change anything if using pears instead of apples?

  7. Hi Sally, can I just substitute the all purpose flour with a pre-mixed gluten free flour?

      1. Hi Sally, I did make the apple crisp & substituted the all purpose flour with the pre-mixed gluten-free flour & gluten-free oats . It turned out perfectly & tasted amazing ! You are unable to taste that it is any different from the original recipe. Thank you for all of your delicious recipes!

  8. I just made this. It smelled heavenly by the end of the 45 min cooking time. I don’t know if it’s my oven, but I noticed a raw flour section in the topping, so I bake 5 min more. It was still there. So I put it under the broiler for 3 min, and unfortunately burnt the topping. I scraped off what I could, but unfortunately the topping didn’t seem to cook. I suspect it needs more butter, OR next time, I’ll melt the butter & stir it in

    1. Hi Patricia, I wonder if the cold butter wasn’t cut into the dry ingredients enough. You shouldn’t have excess flour in the topping– it should be moistened in that step. (You’ll have loose oats, of course.) Thank you for trying the recipe!

  9. Apple crisp is a favorite of my husband and I have a good recipe. However, it doesn’t use vanilla. After reading your comments, I can’t wait to try your recipe.

  10. We’ve made this twice in the past month and love it!!! Can’t wait to try with other fruits!

  11. Hi! Im cooking in large quantities and planning to use that 9×13! I assume I just double the recipe? How does the cooking time/temp change? Thank you!

  12. Hi Sally – just wondering what dish you used for this apple crisp since it’s soooo pretty! It has a nice handle that would be easy to grab.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s from Crate & Barrel. “Marin White Large Baker with Handles” It’s beautiful in real life and you can buy it as a set with smaller ones!

  13. Very good and so easy. I used granny smith apples. I hate cutting in butter so for crumble topping I always melt the butter and mix the the other ingredients in. Then put in fridge for 5 – 10 minutes to harden it. Take it out and break it up with a fork and sprinkle on top before baking.

  14. This crisp was a big hit. Easy and delicious! It is on the sweeter side, but I’m sure you could cut back on the sugar in the apples or crisp topping if you want it less sweet. Good work!

  15. Thank you so much made this yesterday and it was wonderful thank you again

  16. Hi Sally, how are you doing?
    Thank you for this yummy recipe and so easy to prepare… we were invited for lunch yesterday and i bake it and took it with me along with vanilla ice cream, my friends loved it and my husband also did.
    Thank you

  17. Delicious recipe! I made this for two separate households so I made the entire recipe and divided it between two separate 9-1/2”- 10” deep pie plates. Baked for about the same time in my oven.

  18. Omg this was insanely good, seriously one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten ! I would cut back on the sugar amounts for both the filling and topping by a small amount if I were to make it again just to make it a lil healthier. Also want to try using cool browned butter for the topping. Thanks Sally! Every recipe you put out is one of my favorites.

  19. Just made this & it is absolutely delicious! Only thing I would change in the future is a bit less sugar as it’s quite sweet for my taste. Very easy to make & So good.

  20. Super delicious! My go-to apple crisp recipe (I used Fuji Apples ).

  21. I love your Peach Pecan Crisp and was thinking of trying an apple crisp with the pecan topping from your other recipe. Now I see this recipe with no nuts and slightly ratios of sugar/flour/oats. Do you think pecans would work with the flavor of the apples? If so would you suggest using the topping from the peach crisp recipe, or simply adding some pecans in this recipe? Thanks!

    1. Hi Care! Feel free to add 1 cup of chopped pecans to the crisp topping. Stir into the mixture when you add the oats. Enjoy!

  22. Hi! How would you recommend making this recipe in advance? Hoping to make it for Thanksgiving and just be able to put it in the oven when I arrive at the host’s house. Should I bake completely in advance and just stick in the oven to heat it up?

    1. Hi Emily! See Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions in the recipe notes. Hope it’s a hit!

      1. This is delicious. When freezing do I bake with the topping then freeze or put the topping on after thawing? Pretty much the same question freezing unbaked

  23. sally-
    iwould it be ok if i skipped the flour in the filling as im halving the recipe and theres barely gonna be any anyway. also in school, were ment to be adapting this recipe for school so there’s the least possibvle amount of sugar possible. any way i can reduce sugar in filling. thanks

  24. So easy!! I also thought it looked ‘not done’ on the top but it was perfect! Oh my goodness, I whipped some heavy cream, put a dollop on & it was PERFECT for mid-November. Thank you once again for a delicious recipe

  25. Hello,
    I’m new here I came across this recipe on a Google search and it looks AMAZING!
    I just have a question. I know my dad let’s his apple filling rest in the refrigerator to let it sit in the juices & let’s the apples tenderize, I was just curious if it was something I could do with this recipe? Perpare the apple layer ahead of time and then proceed the rest of the recipe a couple hours later? Or would you not suggest that with this recipe or apple crisp in general? <— new to baking ( I've tried the recipe before and the apples seemed a little harder than the apple crisp I've had elsewhere) maybe I didn't cook it long enough. But either way is it something I can do or would you not suggest it?

    1. Hi Sierra, see the make ahead instructions in the recipe notes — you can prepare the crisp through step 3, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day before baking. That will give the filling time to sit in the refrigerator before baking. Enjoy!

  26. Hi Sally,
    Today I met a nice young lady who is new to the neighborhood. We both
    started talking about baking, and she gave me your name stating you have
    Shared many ‘Unbelievable cookie recipes”. I just finished the batter to the chocolate chip recipe and put in the fridge for 3 days as told to do. I’m
    Following you from now on. Thanks again!

  27. Hi Sally,

    I am making this the morning of Thanksgiving. Should I prepare, bake and then reheat for dessert or prepare and wait to bake before serving?

    1. Hi Andrea, you can really do either — whichever you prefer and better fits your Thanksgiving schedule. See recipe notes for make ahead details.

Leave a Review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.