This old-fashioned apple crisp smells 100 percent amazing while it’s in the oven, but that’s nothing compared to how it tastes! It’s the easy perfect apple crisp recipe for fall, redolent with cinnamon and cloves and hints of citrus, jammed with sweet-tart apples, and blanketed in a thick layer of crisp topping. And once you have the apples, you likely will have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry! for this simple dessert.
There is lots of topping…A deep, dense, non-apologetic layer of sweet oat-laced topping. We all know that’s the best part of the crisp, so let’s get in there. There almost can’t be too much of this crunchy sweet crumbly oat-centric loveliness.
Streusel lovers, this one’s for you. This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s apple crisp, and Ina is never wrong.
Getting the apples ready for the crisp is half the battle, so if you have anyone you can enlist to tackle that, you can ready the other ingredients and the topping in the meantime. If these two tasks can be accomplished simultaneously, then the whole crisp will take less than 15 minutes to get into the oven. And while you eat dinner, curling, fragrant wisps of crisp perfume will remind you that dessert is coming!
This easy apple crisp recipe is the sum of two simple parts: the streusel topping and the apple filling.
- All-purpose flour – provides structure and crumbliness for the topping. If you wanted to sub in gluten-free flour, you can.
- Brown sugar – You can use light brown or dark brown sugar, whatever is in your pantry. Either will add a hint of molasses flavor, which gives the dessert a terrific fall feel.
- Granulated sugar – I like the combo of white and brown sugars in streusel toppings, which results in an extra crunch and two levels of sweetness.
- Cinnamon – Make sure your ground cinnamon is fresh for the best results. Spices should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a year.
- Kosher salt – You want to add a bit of salt to all of your baked goods to amplify flavor, just as it does in savory dishes.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter and make sure it is chilled so it cuts into the rest of the topping, making a pebbly texture that will result in a crispy, crumbly streusel.
- Oats – use old-fashioned oats for the best texture.
- Apples – see below for the best apple choices!
- Lemon and Orange – the juice and the zest of one lemon and one orange give this crisp a hint of citrus flavor, which complements the warm spices and sweet-tart apples.
- Sugar – a bit more to bring out the natural sweetness of the apples.
- Spices – I use a combination of cinnamon and cloves, though you can use nutmeg instead of the cloves if you prefer.
Best Apples for Apple Crisp
Some people have very firm opinions (slight pun, slightly intended — stay with me) about which apples to use in pies, crisps, and other baked goods. I definitely like to use a mixture when possible to give every bite a slightly different twist. My favorite way to go is to mix some tart apples with a smaller amount of a sweeter variety. I like a bit of citrus for brightness, and a bit of cinnamon (not too much, we want to taste those apples).
Use any apples that are firm (there’s the pun) so they will stand up to baking and have a nice texture. Jonagolds (sometimes called Jonathans), Braeburns, Honeycrisps, Mitsu, Cortlands, Winesap, Pink Lady, Empire, Granny Smith, and all manner of green apples are great choices.
When you go apple picking, you will probably pick several varieties of apples, and then when you get home, be unable to remember which is which type. That’s ok. Any apple that tastes good is good for eating, and any apple that is very firm is good for cooking. At least, that’s my basic rule of thumb.
If you have the opportunity to pick fresh apples in the fall, just make it happen. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of those apple-picking days. Ok, not the time I fell out of a tree when I was 5 and my family thought I was just being a little bit dramatic, so they left me in the backseat of the car while they picked apples, and then when I was really quiet for a while, finally drove me to the doctor to find out I had a broken leg. And yet I still love apple picking! And I certainly love apple crisps.
The perfect apple crisp for fall, tender sweet-tart apples fragrant with cinnamon and cloves and hints of citrus blanketed in a thick layer of crisp streusel topping.Tweet This
Storage and Reheating
You can make the crisp topping up to three days ahead of time and store it in the fridge. And, if you wanted to prepare the apples and assemble the whole crisp in the morning, you can bake it right before dinner. Keep it in the fridge until ready to bake. Leftovers can keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you want to rewarm the crisp, just heat it for about 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
What to Serve With Apple Crisp
This apple crisp gets even better when served with either vanilla ice cream (Gary’s favorite) or sweetened whipped cream. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Other Apple Desserts and Baked Goods
- Apple Coffee Cake
- The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever
- Brown Butter Apple Streusel Muffins
- Dutch Baby Pancakes with Sauteed Apples
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Favorite Streusel Apple Crisp
For the Streusel Crisp Topping
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (chilled, cut into small pieces)
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
For the Apples
- 5 pounds apples (choose from Granny Smith, Macoun, or other apples that have good firmness and flavor, preferably a combination)
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Vanilla ice cream or Sweetened Whipped Cream (to serve, see Note)
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter a shallow 9 x 13 or 3 quart shallow baking pan.
- Make the Topping: Place the flour, brown sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and process to blend. Add the butter and pulse the mixture until it forms a nubby, pebbly texture, but not a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the oats with a spoon, so they don’t get minced up by the food processor. Hold the topping in the fridge while you prepare the apples if it’s warm in the kitchen.
- Peel and slice the apples about ½-inch thick. Toss them in a large bowl with the zest and juice of the lemon and orange, then sprinkle over the ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, tossing so that the apples are evenly coated with the mixture. Transfer the apples to the prepared pan and evenly distribute the topping over the apples.
- Bake for about 1 hour until the apples are tender (slide a knife into the middle of the pan) and the top is browned. You can give it a minute or two under the broiler if you want to get the top a bit more browned, but watch it carefully. Cool on a wire rack until warm, and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
For the Sweetened Whipped Cream:
- ¾ cup heavy or whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.