This best Apple Crisp recipe is crunchy, buttery, full of brown sugar and perfectly tender cinnamon apples and is way easier than apple pie!
Everyone need the Best Apple Crisp recipe in their baking/Thanksgiving repertoire and this is it! Thinly sliced Granny Smith Apples are enveloped in a brown sugar coating and topped with a mountain of crunchy, buttery oatmeal crumb topping that mingles with cold vanilla ice cream for creamy, crunchy, hot and cold satisfaction in every bite. This easy Apple Crisp recipe requires pantry friendly ingredients and can be assembled ahead of time (the filling and topping separate), then just layered and popped in the oven for an easy stress-free dessert that will disappear in a flash!
Apple Crisp Recipe
This easy Apple Crisp recipe is my go-to Fall dessert because it’s crazy easy and crazy delicious. It’s the perfect warm comforting dessert that everyone from toddlers to grandparents adore – which means they adore you for making it.
I also love to make this Apple Crisp recipe because it’s easier and less time consuming to make than Apple Pie – the lazy baker’s Apple Pie if you will – because it doesn’t require hours of chilling pie crust, hours of cooling the pie and can all be dumped into a 9×13 pan BUT it delivers all of the warm satisfying comfort of Apple Pie – WINNING!
Best Apple Crisp Recipe
Now onto THIS Apple Crisp recipe. I think it’s the best Apple Crisp recipe for multiple reasons. I know that’s a bold claim, but this Apple Crisp recipe is boldly delicious. It always has both Patrick and I swooning every time we stuff our faces – and everyone else who has the pleasure of sinking their teeth into it. So, if you’re searching for the best Apple Crisp recipe, or even if you already have one, I can guarantee this is the only one you’ll ever want to make!
Here’s what sets this Apple Crisp recipe apart:
- The tart Granny Smith apples perfectly complement the sweet filling – no sweet on sweet here!
- Granny Smith apples also bake up flavorful and tender as opposed to many apples that bake up bland and mushy.
- The apples are thinly sliced for more layers of texture and more surface area for the caramel-y mixture to cling to.
- Flavor! Buttery (butter is used both in the apple mixture and the crunchy topping) with layers of cinnamon, a kiss of nutmeg and a splash of vanilla and lemon juice.
- The main difference – the caramel-like sauce! Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of salt, splashes of lemon juice and vanilla and a few tablespoons of flour are mixed together to create a thick mixture. The apples are coated in the mixture which melts and infuses the increasingly juicy, tender apples with flavor and mixes with the apple juices to create a sweet, creamy caramel-y sauce. Drool.
- The crowning difference – the generous Apple Crisp Topping! There is a greater amount of topping compared to most recipes but don’t worry, the proportions are perfect! It just means more crispy crunch oatmeal crumble to LOVE and you will love this topping! SO buttery crispy!
WHAT ARE THE BEST APPLES FOR APPLE CRISP?
It might sound extreme but Apple Crisps can be made or ruined by the type of apple you choose because they affect both the flavor and texture of the Apple Crisp recipe – so it is crucial to use the right apples!
Some Apple Crisp recipes let the readers choose any baking apple, meaning apples that become tender and not mushy when baked: Granny Smith Apples, Cortlands, Pink Cripps, Honeycrisps and Jonagolds. But for THIS Apple Crisp recipe, you will need to use Granny Smith Apples.
Granny Smith Apples are a sturdy baking apple that will bake up beautifully tender and not turn to applesauce. More importantly, Granny Smith apples are slightly tart which perfectly offsets the sweetness in both the filling and the crumb topping. If you use a different apple, your Apple Crisp will be too sweet, not balanced or as flavorful.
SHOULD I PEEL APPLES FOR APPLE CRISP?
There are a couple Apple Crisp recipe floating around without peeled apples, but there is a reason 99% of recipes call for peeled apple! If you don’t peel your apples first, you’re left with an unpleasant tough texture as the skin doesn’t break down enough when baking.
Apple Crisp recipe Ingredients
You probably have everything you need to make this Apple Crisp recipe in your pantry right now except for the apples! In addition to Granny Smith apples, you will need:
Apple crisp FILING:
- butter: use unsalted butter so we can control the salt. The melted butter mixes with the brown sugar to envelop the apple in a caramel-like sauce. If you only have salted butter, then omit the salt in the filling.
- flour: apples release a lot of moisture when baked so we need flour to help thicken the filling back up. I went conservative on the flour because nothing is worse than a gummy filling!
- lemon juice: the slight acidity helps balance the sweetness. The lemon juice also keeps leftover Apple Crisp (should you be so lucky) from turning brown.
- brown sugar: use light brown sugar so the molasses flavor isn’t too strong.
- vanilla extract: adds an extra oomph of flavor. Use quality extract for the best flavor.
- spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt enhances the flavors and balances out the sweetness.
apple crisp TOPPING:
- flour: helps bind the topping ingredients together and give it a crumbly texture. I use all-purpose flour but any flour will work great, including gluten free flour.
- quick-cooking oats: I LOVE the lighter texture oats add to this Apple Crisp. Make sure you use quick cooking oats otherwise the topping will be too chewy. If you only have old fashioned oats, you can create quick-cooking oats by pulsing them a few times in your food processor.
- brown sugar: adds sweetness and a hint of molasses. It also adds moisture to the topping. Use light brown sugar for best results so the molasses flavor isn’t overpowering.
- butter: helps bind the ingredients together and helps give it the crumbly texture. Cube your butter then chill it so it’s nice and cold. Use unsalted butter so we can control the salt. If you only have salted butter, reduce the salt in the topping to 1/8 teaspoon.
- salt: enhances the flavor.
- cinnamon: because even the topping needs to be seasoned!
What is the difference between apple crisp and apple crumble?
We all know we love Apple Crisp, but how is it different than a crumble? The main difference comes down to the topping. In a crisp, the topping is made with flour, sugar, butter, oats and sometimes nuts that get sprinkled over the apples before baking. As the crisp bakes, the butter melts and mixes with the flour and sugar to create a crunchy, crumbly topping.
The topping of a crumble is very similar except it doesn’t include oats or nuts so it is more like a streusel. The topping of a crisp is coarser and crunchier and perfect for this Apple Crisp recipe!
HOW TO MAKE APPLE CRISP
Apple Crisp is a beloved dessert not only because its DELICOUS but because it’s so easy to make! Here’s how:
Step 1: Make Apple Crisp Topping
- Add all of the topping ingredients to a large bowl except the butter and stir to combine.
- Top with butter then work butter into mixture with a fork, pastry blender or your fingers until it resembles small crumbs.
- I like to start with a pastry cutter when the butter is hard then finish with my fingers as it softens.
- Refrigerate topping for at least 30 minutes; meanwhile prepare the apple filling.
Step 2: Make the Filling
- Whisk together all of the brown sugar, melted butter, flour, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- Add apples; gently stir until apples are evenly coated. The mixture will be thick but will loosen as it mixes with the apples.
- Coating the apples in the flour/sugar mixture draws out the juices and eliminates the need for the extra water in the recipe.
Step 3: Assemble
- Transfer apple mixture to prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
- Evenly spread with topping (it will seem like a ton of topping, but will bake down).
Step 4: Bake
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until the filling is bubbly.
Step 5: Serve
- Let Apple Crisp stand 15 minutes before serving. This will give the sauce a chance to thicken a little more as it cools. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and optional Caramel Sauce.
Tips for best Apple Crisp recipe
- Use Granny Smith Apples. As previously discussed, Granny Smith Apples create the perfect tender apples without becoming mushy. Their hint of tartness also balances the sweet filling and topping so your Apple Crisp isn’t too sweet.
- Room temperature apples. If you’ve been keeping your apples in the refrigerator, make sure you take them out a couple hour before baking. Room temperature apples will bake more evenly.
- Kitchen gadgets. Peeling and slicing the apples take the majority of prep time in this Apple Crisp recipe but if you have an apple peeler and corer and/or food processor (with attachment) for slicing the apples, your prep time can be cut in half.
- Slice apples uniformly. Try and slice your apples about 1/8” but not any smaller. Uniform thinly sliced apples ensure you beautifully tender apples throughout without some crunchy ones mixed in. If you choose to slice your apples thicker, just make sure to keep them uniform size and increase the baking time.
- Serve warm. This Apple Crisp recipe is exponentially better warmed!
Tips for Apple Crisp Topping
- Use real butter. If you want the BEST Apple Crisp recipe, you must use real butter, margarine won’t have the same effect.
- Thoroughly cut in butter. You will want the topping mixture to look like small crumbs before you’re done cutting in the butter. A few bigger pieces are okay, but the smaller the crumbs, the more evenly distributed the butter and the crispier your topping will become.
- Use tools and your hands. I have found the best way to cut in butter is to start with a pastry cutter initially when the butter is still hard and then use my hands towards the end when the butter is soft because it’s faster and can make smaller crumbs.
- Make Topping First and Refrigerate. If you wonder why your toppings haven’t gotten as crispy as you like them on previous desserts, it’s likely your topping was not chilled. For the crispiest topping, the butter should be very cold before going into the oven so always make your topping FIRST and refrigerate.
- Use all the topping. It will seem like a lot of topping, but this is one of the best parts! In researching for this Apple Crisp recipe, I read comment after comment after comment on other sites that readers wish they would have doubled the topping – so I give you double the topping!
- Prevent burnt topping. I never have the problem of a burnt topping –but if it’s your first time making this Apple Crisp recipe, keep an eye on it to be safe. If the topping starts to brown too quickly, then lay a piece of foil over the top and bake on.
- Broil topping. For a more golden topping, move Apple Crisp to the top rack and broil for 30 seconds or so – don’t take your eyes off of it! After broiling, I like to scrape the top of the topping with a fork to loosen the crumble.
APPLE CRISP RECIPE VARIATIONS:
My favorite easy Apple Crisp is this classic recipe – but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up! Here are some Apple Crisp recipe variation ideas:
- Add pears. You can use half pears and half apples. Pears bake more quickly than apples, so you will want to slice them thicker. Pears are also sweeter than Granny Smith Apples, so reduce the sugar slightly.
- Add cranberries. Cranberries and apples are heavenly together! To make Apple Cranberry Crisp, replace 1 ½ cups sliced apples with 1 ½ cup fresh cranberries. Don’t use frozen cranberries because they will release too much moisture.
- Add caramel. You can easily make this Caramel Apple Crisp by reducing the sugar in the filling to ½ cup then drizzling the Apple Crisp all over with caramel sauce.
- Add nuts. You can add nuts to either the filling, the topping – or both! Chopped pecans are an especially delicious fit.
- Make gluten-free Apple Crisp. Swap the flour in this Apple Crisp recipe with gluten free flour and all the rest of the ingredients are gluten free BUT many oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, so make sure you purchase certified gluten free oats.
- Make vegan Apple Crisp. Replace the butter with vegan butter in both the filling and the topping.
How to serve homemade APPLE CRISP
The BEST Apple Crisp recipe is served warm, fresh from the oven. It becomes exponentially more delicious with a big, cold scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cold, silky smooth ice cream mingled with the warm, sweet, crunchy cinnamon crisp is heavenly! I also love a drizzle of caramel sauce – because caramel makes everything better – but honestly this Apple Crisp doesn’t even need it!
How long is Apple Crisp recipe Good For?
Apple Crisp is the very best fresh from the oven because the crisp is the crunchiest. You can certainly enjoy leftover Apple Crisp, but the topping will start to soften.
HOW DO I STORE Apple Crisp?
- Apple Crisp should be allowed to cool completely at room temperature.
- Once cool, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate or transfer to an airtight container.
- Refrigerated Apple Crisp is good for 3-4 days.
How to Reheat Easy Apple Crisp?
- Microwave: The microwave is convenient for smaller portions but the topping won’t get as crispy as the oven – just full disclosure – but still delish. To microwave, transfer a portion of Apple Crisp to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 30 second intervals until warmed through.
- Oven: Reheat the baking dish at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated though. You can also transfer smaller portions to a smaller baking dish or cast-iron skillet to reheat.
CAN YOU MAKE APPLE CRISP AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes and no. I do not suggest baking the Apple Crisp ahead of time for company because the topping will soften upon refrigeration. I also don’t suggest preparing the Apple Crisp and storing it completely assembled, unbaked, in the refrigerator because the topping will get soggy BUT you can prep both the filling and the topping ahead of time and keep them separate. Now, all you have to do is add the topping and bake!
To prep ahead:
- Prepare filling according to recipe directions. Transfer to lightly greased 9×13 pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day.
- Prepare topping according to directions. Cover and refrigerate.
- When ready to bake, sprinkle topping evenly over filling, breaking up clumps as needed.
- Bake according to directions, adding an extra 5-10 minutes.
CAN YOU FREEZE APPLE CRISP?
Yes! Baked Apple Crisp freezes very well.
- Bake Apple Crisp as directed.
- Let crisp cool completely, then wrap it with a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Warm crisp in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated through.
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