Three Cheers for Apple Crisp!
Dive into the favorite dessert of the season, with 16 easy apple crisp recipes from classic to healthy, baked to slow cooker, Instant Pot, even microwave mug. Plus, a guide to the best apples for apple crisp.
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This time of year, if you were to come to my home, you’d likely be greeted with the warm scent of cinnamon, oats, brown sugar, butter, and apples. That’s because I bake homemade apple crisps at the drop of a hat. I even have a special baking dish that I use just to create a bubbling crock of autumnal bliss. Forget apple pie. Nothing makes me happier than a bowl full of contrasts: soft filling and crunchy topping, brown sugar and tart Granny Smith apples, a warm dessert with cold vanilla ice cream.
How to make the best apple crisp
Apple crisps might be the best possible way to use up a lot of fruit. With most apple crisp recipes, you can get your baking dish into the oven in minutes. Unlike with apple pie, there’s no crust to roll out, no precision needed at all.
Start with the apple filling
First time making apple crisp? No matter which dessert recipe you use, the basics don’t change: For the apple filling, pull out a large bowl and combine some chopped or sliced apples, a sweetener like light brown sugar or granulated sugar, spices like ground cinnamon and nutmeg, and maybe some lemon juice or a thickener like all-purpose flour. That goes into the baking dish first.
Next comes the crisp topping
The simplest apple crisp topping includes all-purpose flour, cold unsalted butter, brown sugar, and often oats. But you can also get playful with that, adding chopped pecans or shredded coconut, swapping in a different flour, even using crushed gingersnap cookies. Sprinkle it on top of the apple mixture and pop the dish into the oven. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the apple juices are bubbling. Let it cool a bit. When it’s warm but not piping hot, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and maybe a drizzle of caramel sauce, and serve.
The best apples for the best apple crisp recipes
The ideal apple crisp choice holds its shape when it’s baked. You want to bite into individual pieces of apple under all that crunchy topping, not applesauce. Certain varieties do that better than others. The following are my favorites.
Granny Smith. There’s a reason these are the most popular apples for baking. Several reasons, actually. First, they don’t turn to mush when heated. And second, Granny Smith apples have a delightfully acidic flavor. Apple crisps tend to have a lot of sugar in them, so you don’t want to use an apple that’s super sweet.
Honeycrisp. With “honey” in the name, Honeycrisp apples are definitely on the sweeter side. But not overly so, and as the other half of the name suggests, they’re wonderfully crisp. I like to add a couple Honeycrisps to my Granny Smiths for a perfect balance.
Braeburn. My kid loves to eat these, and I love to keep them on hand because they work so well in baking. They have a bit of spice to them, and they stay nice and firm under heat.
Winesap. Tart, spicy, and sturdy, Winesaps make an excellent crisp. They don’t cook down much in baking, so they stand up well to a thick crumble topping.
Mutsu (aka Crispin). These are my favorite eating apples. They crunch like nobody’s business, which means they can take the heat without collapsing. And the flavor combines sweet, tangy, and tart, so they hit all the right notes for an apple crisp.
Other options: With so many apple varieties out there, there’s no need to limit yourself. Try Cortland, Gala, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious apples, or any other firm-fleshed, sweet-tart apple you like. Anything labeled as “baking apples” will work.
Ready to bake?
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Old fashioned apple crisp recipes
Picture the best apple crisp you’ve ever eaten. Odds are, it looks something like the recipes that follow. They’ll give you everything you’re looking for in an apple dessert — just add vanilla ice cream for the ultimate experience.
This has been my go-to recipe for years. Seriously, it makes the perfect apple crisp, with just the right ratio of crispy covering to apples and brown sugar. The topping includes one teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a little baking powder, which keeps it from becoming too dense and hard, and quick-cooking oats, which provide a tender oaty texture.
Not only is this one easy — you don’t even peel the apples — it’s also gluten-free. Instead of using all-purpose flour, the crisp topping gets its crunch from oats, almond meal, and chopped pecans or walnuts. Total time for this quick apple crisp: 50 minutes.
This recipe might come from a baking mix company, but there’s not a box in sight. Betty Crocker, whoever she is, knows how to make a mean apple crisp. The simple streusel topping is *chef’s kiss.* It opts for old-fashioned oats, which are thicker than quick oats, so you get more texture.
If you’re looking for an apple crisp without oats in the topping, stop right here. A buttery brown sugar pecan crumble does the trick nicely.
I’ve been known to eat leftover apple crisp for breakfast, so I’m not exactly sure why you’d want a recipe that makes just two servings. But for those times when you absolutely don’t want leftovers (or maybe you live alone, but you don’t want too many leftovers), this mini skillet apple crisp bakes just the right amount.
Healthy apple crisp recipes
Yes, they’re made with apples, but classic apple crisps also have plenty of brown sugar or white sugar and butter. These versions swap ingredients, find other ways to boost the nutritional content, or even reinvent the whole idea of an apple crisp. They’re still yummy, of course!
This tasty beauty is gluten-free, with no refined sugar. It achieves that by using just one tablespoon of maple syrup in the apple filling, plus almond flour and a little more maple syrup in the crisp topping.
Want all the luscious flavors of an apple crisp without baking? And the creamy contrast you’d get from vanilla ice cream without a ton of calories? Turn it into a parfait featuring microwave-softened, cinnamon-scented apples, Greek yogurt, and a combo of granola and chopped nuts for the topping.
Remember when I said I like to eat leftover apple crisp for breakfast? With this recipe, I don’t even need the leftovers. You simply cook up a pot of oatmeal with chopped apples, a little brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and vanilla extract, then bake it briefly under a crispy oat topping. There you go: apple crisp with oatmeal. Or is that oatmeal with apple crisp?
This option checks off so many healthy boxes, you’ll be shocked by how good it tastes. It’s vegan, plus gluten-free, plus refined sugar-free. I especially love the flaked coconut in the topping.
Tart, seasonal cranberries add a lovely pop against all those apples. The filling uses arrowroot powder instead of all-purpose flour as a thickener, and the topping calls for almond flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut sugar, ground cinnamon, and chopped pecans as the dry ingredients.
If you follow the Paleo diet, you can still enjoy apple crisp! This version gets the crispy, crunchy components from pecans, walnuts, and toasted coconut flakes in place of the traditional oat topping. To keep it sweet, it calls for maple syrup in place of regular sugar, but it keeps the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg to enhance the fall experience. To avoid butter and all-purpose flour, it goes with coconut oil and almond flour to make the crumble. If you want a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with it, make sure it's dairy-free to keep your dessert Paleo-friendly.
Creative variations on apple crisp recipes
Sometimes, even I don’t want to make yet another apple crisp. I might be pressed for time. I might just want a quick snack. Or I might want something with those flavors but put together in a completely different way. That’s when I turn to these recipes.
When you’re in a rush but you want to have dessert ready later in the day, your slow cooker will make a killer apple crisp. Crushed gingersnaps add a ton of flavor to the topping with almost no effort, and when you’re ready to serve, a clever sauce made with vanilla pudding mix and nutmeg takes this somewhere special.
I love my Instant Pot. And I especially love how versatile it is. I can even make a quick apple crisp in it! You’ll get six hearty servings in just half an hour. To get that truly crispy topping, run it under the broiler for a few minutes. (Pro tip: Get yourself a spare silicone sealing ring just for sweet recipes like this. Nobody wants a dessert that tastes like onions.)
Every once in a while I have an apple crisp emergency. I get an irresistible urge to eat apple crisp, now. That’s where the microwave comes in. In just seven minutes, I get a single serving of my favorite autumn treat, complete with a crunchy topping made with melted butter.
Most apple crisps are downright rustic. They’re craggy and crumbly and messy, and that’s why I love them. But sometimes, I want a version that offers a little more elegance. This dessert combines all the elements of an apple crisp, encased in a single-crust pie.
I’m not the best at portion control, especially where apple crisp is concerned. This very smart recipe creates individual servings by filling apple halves with a dollop of your favorite preserves, then covering each with a classic crumble topping. The baking dish filled with apple halves goes into the oven and emerges with clearly-portioned, scrumptious little apple crisps. Then the challenge is eating just one.Hungry for more?
Looking for your own best apple crisp? We have thousands more apple crisp recipes to choose from on Yummly. No matter how you make it, it's bound to be a big hit.
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