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It doesn't get more classic for fall desserts than the best old fashioned apple crisp recipe. It's been in our family for generations and can be yours in about an hour.
Why we love this recipe
The role of the crisp is to bring out the best in seasonal fruit and gently nudge it into party mode. Like a great dress, a crumble topping should accentuate the beauty of the wearer, not compete or overwhelm. Our apple crisp recipe is:
- Just the right amount sweet
- All about making the most of a bounty of apples
It's easy and make-ahead friendly and always makes an appearance at our Thanksgiving table.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll use to make this recipe.
For the filling
- I've pictured Granny Smith apples here, and I like to use at least some proportion of them or another very tart apple. You can use them alone or mix them with other baking apples (varieties that tend to hold their shape when cooked). Depending where you live, you'll find varying options. Good bets include Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Pink Lady.
- Our other fruit crisps use cornstarch to lightly thicken the filling, but with apples we use flour because that's what my mom does! It works great, so I've stuck with it.
- There's just enough sugar in the filling to sweeten it a little bit without tipping over into cloying territory.
For the topping
- Flour: All-purpose flour works great here, but this is a flexible recipe. If you prefer whole wheat pastry flour, that’s fine too. Or make it gluten-free with a measure-for-measure gluten free flour blend like this one.
- Oats: Use good old rolled oats — old fashioned if you have them (but quick are okay too). If you want to make the recipe gluten-free, make sure your oats are certified GF. (Oats don’t contain gluten, but sometimes they’re processed in factories where cross-contamination can happen.)
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to make the best apple crisp recipe. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get the details in the recipe card below.
- Peel, quarter, core, and slice the apples into ¼-inch-thick slices from stem end to root end.
- Toss the apple slices with the lemon juice. Then toss stir in the other filling ingredients until they coat the apple slices evenly. Pour the filling into a deep-dish pie plate or a 2-quart baking dish.
- Make the topping by stirring the dry ingredients together and then using your fingers to pinch in the cold diced butter until there's no loose flour or oats and the topping looks crumbly.
- Distribute the topping evenly over the apples. Bake on a sheet pan to catch any drips. Partway through baking time, when the topping is brown enough, you can cover it loosely with foil.
Expert tips and FAQs
"Baking apples" are apple varieties that tend to hold their shape well when cooked. There are lots of options, depending on where you live. Braeburn, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Pink Lady are all good bets.
This recipe is great warm or at room temperature. You can make it in advance and reheat, covered, in a 300°F oven before serving if you like.
I have never tried this, but all research indicates that you can make a fruit crisp in advance and freeze it before baking. Cover it well with plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for up to a few months. Uncover and bake directly from the freezer, adding extra time as necessary and covering with foil partway through baking to prevent topping from getting too brown.
You can cover the pie plate and keep leftovers at room temperature for a day or two. After that, store them tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week, and recrisp in a 300°F oven or toaster oven before serving.
You can freeze baked apple crisp leftovers for up to a few months if you like. Reheat directly from the freezer in a 300°F oven, covered for at least part of the time to prevent the already golden brown topping from scorching.
How to serve it
This simple dessert is perfect all by itself! If you like, you can pair it with vanilla ice cream and a light drizzle of bourbon caramel sauce. We also love leftovers for breakfast with yogurt.
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For the apple filling
- 3 pounds (1360 grams) baking apples
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar
- 3 tablespoons (23 grams) flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
For the topping
- ¾ cup (60 grams) rolled oats
- ⅔ cup packed (142 grams) light brown sugar
- ¾ cup (90 grams) flour
- 8 tablespoons (112 grams) butter, diced
- Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in the center.
- To make the filling, peel, quarter, core, and slice the apples into ¼-inch thick slices from stem end to tip end. Place them in a large mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Sprinkle the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt onto the apples and toss gently until the apples are evenly coated.
- To make the topping, toss together the oats, brown sugar, and flour in a small bowl. Add butter and use your fingers to pinch the butter into the flour mixture until it forms a coarse crumble with no loose bits of dry ingredients.
- Place a deep-dish pie plate or a two-quart oven-safe dish onto a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Pour the apple mixture into the dish and sprinkle evenly with the topping.
- Bake until the filling is soft and bubbly and the topping is nicely browned, about an hour, covering loosely with aluminum foil when the topping is sufficiently browned (probably around the 45 minute mark). Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
- Good choices for apples include Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Pink Lady. You can use any combination, though I always like to include some tart apples like Granny Smiths in the mix.
- To make this recipe gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats and a gluten-free flour blend such as this one.
- Leftovers keep tightly sealed at room temperature for a day or two and in the fridge for up to a week. Try it with yogurt for breakfast.
This recipe was first published in 2011 and has been updated.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 12gCarbohydrates: 61.5gFiber: 6.1gProtein: 3.4g