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Warm Apple Crisp With Oat Topping

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Like the best apple pie ever, but easier as a crisp.

This deep-dish easy apple crisp recipe with oat streusel topping, has all the satisfaction of a homemade apple pie, in half the time and work. 

apple crisp recipe oats streusel topping
Finished apple crisp with brown sugar oatmeal crumble topping.

All About This Easy Apple Crisp Recipe With Oats Streusel

When it comes to fall and winter baking, a warm homemade apple crisp with oatmeal streusel topping hits all the right marks: sweet, cinnamon-kissed apples generously topped with a brown sugar and oat streusel, baked to golden-brown perfection.

Best of all? This crisp recipe does not require a pie crust. Instead, apples are layered right into a pie pan or baking dish, topped with an easy crumb streusel topping, and baked.

This gives you all the satisfaction of apple pie, with a lot less work. Now read on for all the details, and the recipe.

And be sure to check out this roundup of the Best Apple and Pear Dessert Recipes

apples for apple crisp with oatmeal
Honeycrisp apples are a great option for this crisp, due to its crunchy, sweet characteristics. I also like Granny Smith and Jonagold for baking.

Apple Crisp vs. Crumble vs. Cobbler vs. Pie

The terms apple crisp and apple crumble are often used interchangeably. And the general idea is the same: sliced apples tossed with sugar and cinnamon on the bottom, topped with a streusel made from some combination of butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and perhaps nuts or oats.

apple crisp apples with streusel crumb topping
After slicing the apples, toss with sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and a bit of lemon juice.

But for those who sometimes like to get technical (and I count myself among those people), here’s the difference between apple crumble and apple crisp:

  • An apple crisp has a streusel topping made with oats
  • Apple crumble has a streusel topping made without oats
  • Apple cobbler has a biscuit topping
  • Apple pie has a pie dough shell
oatmeal crisp streusel for apple crisp
The homemade oat crisp topping should have the texture of wet sand, with buttery crumbles mixed throughout.

How to Make the Apple Crisp Topping With Oat Streusel

This is an apple crisp, and stays true to the oat streusel crumb topping. The recipe is simple:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of brown sugar with 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup oatmeal, cinnamon, and salt. Mix.
  2. Add cold, diced butter. Work it in with your hands until crumbly.
  3. Chill until ready to use.

Be sure to use rolled oats and not quick oats. Quick oats tend to become lost in the recipe and make the finished streusel somewhat bready. Rolled oats have more structure and remain visible and more textural when baked. The oatmeal crisp texture should be like wet, crumbly sand.

unbaked apple crisp with oatmeal topping streusel
Apple crisp ready to get baked in the oven. Look at that nice oat topping!

Apple Crisp and Oatmeal Topping: Recipe Steps

After you make the apple oatmeal crisp topping, make the apple filling.

  1. Peel and slice the apples.
  2. Toss the apples with sugar, flour, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, and a squirt of lemon juice. Lemon juice brightens the flavor of the apples.
  3. Pour the apples into a deep-dish pie plate or similarly-sized baking dish. Give them a light press to settle them into the pie plate.
  4. Top the apples with the crisp topping.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the apples are bubbly and the crisp topping is golden brown, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the topping starts to look too brown, loosely tent it with aluminum foil.
  6. Cool for about 20 minutes, then serve on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or maybe some caramel sauce.

easy apple crisp with oatmeal streusel topping

Which Apples Are Best for Baking Apple Crisps and Pies?

All apples are not created equal, especially when it comes to baking them.

The best baking apples for pies, tarts, crisps, and crumbles are apples that keep their structure and don’t turn to applesauce when baked. The key is to find a very crisp apple with some note of tartness, not overly sweet.

My favorite baking apples for pie and crisps are tart apples that don’t turn mushy when baked. The best apples for baking are:

  • Tart, crisp Granny Smith apples. But I also love:
  • Honeycrisp
  • Pink Lady,
  • Jonagold, and
  • Braeburn
easy apple crisp with oatmeal streusel topping
Finished crisp, with golden-brown topping and soft, caramelized apples.

Which Apples Are Worst for Baking Apple Pie, Crisps, and Cobblers?

Not to hate on this widely-available apple, but if you have an option, avoid Red Delicious apples. I think this is true in general, but especially for baking.

The pale color and often mealy texture of Red Delicious, combined with a blandly sweet flavor, will not make an apple dessert with the flavor or texture you deserve. Also avoid Fuji and Gala, which are too sweet with a high water content — a recipe for mushy filling.

With the right apples and little effort, you can have this amazing fall apple dessert.

easy apple crisp with oatmeal topping and vanilla ice cream
Serve your warm apple crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream for the perfect fall and winter dessert.

You’ll also love these favorite fall and winter desserts:

easy apple crisp recipe with oat topping

Apple Crisp With Oat Streusel Topping

This sweet and easy apple crisp recipe with oat streusel topping laced with sugar and cinnamon has all the deliciousness of apple pie -- with a lot less work thanks to this sweet and simple topping; no pie crust necessary.
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Course: brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: American, english
Keywords:: apple crisp, apple crisp oatmeal, apple crumble, apple pie, easy desserts, fall desserts, how to make streusel, oat topping, thanksgiving, winter desserts
Servings: 1 deep-dish 9" apple crisp
Print

Ingredients

For the Apple Crisp Oat Topping (a.k.a. Crumble or Streusel)

  • 1 cup light brown or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup; 1/4 pound) cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (not quick oats; they're too bready)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal brand)

For the Apple Crisp Filling and to Finish

  • 7 or 8 medium apples, such as Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
  • 3/4 cup sugar (maybe more depending on the tartness of the apples)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F, and lightly grease a deep-dish 9" or standard 10" pie plate.

For the Apple Crisp Oat Topping

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir to mix.
  • Add the diced, cold butter. Work the butter into the sugar-flour mixture with your fingers until the texture resembles coarse, damp sand. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    oat crumble streusel for pie

For the Apple Filling and to Finish the Apple Oat Crisp

  • Peel the apples and cut them into wedges. Put the apple slices in a large mixing bowl as you go.
    PRO TIP: Here's how to cut apples for apple pie or crisp. Using a sharp knife on a cutting board, place each apple right-side up so that the stem faces upward. Slice the apple on either side of the core, creating two halves. Place the remaining apple on the cutting board, and cut the remaining flesh on either side of the core. Discard the core. Cut the two apple halves into thirds or so, creating wedges. It doesn't have to be perfect.
  • Combine the sliced apples with the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice.
    PRO TIP: Almost a secret ingredient, lemon juice subtly enhances and brightens the flavor of fruit, much like how coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate.
  • Pour the apples into the deep-dish 9" pie pan, or a standard 10" pan, or similarly sized baking dish. Press the apples lightly to settle them evenly into the pie plate and eliminate any large air pockets.
    apple crisp apples in pie plate before baking
  • Use a large spoon or your hand to cover the apples completely with the apple crisp oat topping. Use it all up; you want it to be a substantial layer. Do not worry if some of the crumble falls into gaps in the apples.
    unbaked oat topping on apple crisp.
  • Bake the apple crisp for 45 minutes to 1 hour on the center rack of the oven, until the apples are bubbly and the crisp is a golden brown.
    PRO TIP: Many apple pies are baked at 425°F. But this bakes at 400°F to slow browning, due to the high sugar content of the oatmeal topping. If your crisp starts too brown too much before the apples are cooked, lightly tent the top of the crisp with foil.
    PRO TIP #2: Place a rimmed baking sheet or aluminum foil beneath the crisp as it bakes to catch any juices that bubble over.
  • Let the finished apple crisp cool, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or generous dollop of fresh whipped cream.
    easy apple crisp with oat streusel topping

Notes

This lovely apple crisp recipe with oatmeal streusel topping is apple pie's easier, sweeter cousin. You can make the oat topping several days in advance if you'd like; it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.
The best apples for baking apple crisp, pie, and so on are Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Golden Delicious. Granny Smith and Braeburn are my favorites because I like a crisp, tart apple.
Serve warm but not hot, ideally with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of fresh whipped cream. 
This apple crisp can be baked up to two days in advance, and stored (covered with aluminum foil or plastic wrap) in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature or warm in a 325 degree F oven until warmed through.
I do not recommend freezing, which will change the consistency of the apples.

32 comments

  • Susan Garman

    5 stars
    Made this for Thanksgiving. It was a huge hit. Everyone was raving about it. The filling was perfection and it was also a very uncomplicated recipe. I am going to make this again for Christmas.

  • Alana R.

    5 stars
    One of the best recipes I’ve made on the website–and I love this website, I must say! Streusel is very easy and good texture/sweetness. I prefer a mix of honey crisp and granny smith apples.

  • 5 stars
    Five stars. Came out great.

  • 5 stars
    I made this yesterday with a variety of apples and we loved it! The amount of crunchy oatmeal topping is more than most recipes. I may add some toasted pecans to it next time. I added more cinnamon and a healthy grating of nutmeg. Enjoying with coffee for breakfast, too! Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Unpeeled

      Wonderful! I am so glad you liked it. Much appreciated and happy baking 🙂 (PS–I love a little extra cinnamon myself!)

  • Had to ask, given your blog name, why peel these apples? I personally don’t mind the peel texture and there’s good fiber there. Seriously, I don’t mean to be snarky, do you have a comment on peel vs not? I’m making this later today (with peels), maybe I’ll find my own answer.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Gigi! Haha, great question. I am definitely a fan of NOT peeling fruit when appropriate (see my peach cobbler recipe and recipe for homemade applesauce, for example). In the case of apple desserts, such as pies and crisps, I personally do tend to peel the fruit. Here’s why: many baking apple varietals such as Granny Smith tend to have somewhat thick skin relative to the interior flesh. When baked, the apples tend to become very soft, but the skin can stay relatively tough. This isn’t necessarily a problem if the apples have been cut into small pieces, but if you use large chunks or long slices of apple — common for pies and crisps — the resulting final texture of the can be tricky. You are right about the peel being full of nutrients, and I do think that leaving the peel on can be fine in some circumstances, but this is my personal baking preference, and what I recommend to my readers. (I often eat the peels as a snack!) Thanks for this great question!

  • I’d like to make this as one of my Thanksgiving desserts and am wondering if I can also add dried cranberries? If so, what quantity would you suggest? Thank you and happy Thanksgiving!

    • Unpeeled

      You can! Soak them in warm water first, for about 15 minutes. I’d go with about 1/2 cup. Great idea, and you’ll get a nice pop of color, too.

  • Can I assemble early in the day and then bake before dinner?

    • Unpeeled

      Yes, but hold the crumble separately in the fridge until you’re about to bake it, so it doesn’t absorb the juices and become less crisp than it should be when baked!

  • 5 stars
    After going a bit overboard apple-picking (Galas, Honeycrisps, and Johnagolds) I ended up making three of these. Mine was in a deep-dish pie pan, the others were in foil 8×8 pans. The friends I gave them to were absolutely rhapsodic about how delicious the crisp was, and I completely agree. I learned one thing, though: under no circumstances do I want to be a professional baker!

    • Unpeeled

      Hahah! Yes, that was a LOT of apple baking. But I am so glad you and your loved ones enjoyed the results. (And let’s be honest: It’s impossible not to go overboard with apple picking — it’s so much fun!) Thanks for writing.

  • 5 stars
    great recipe for both streusel and the apple crisp

  • Peter J.

    5 stars
    Love this streusel. I use it for all of my crumbles. Did a blueberry crisp over the summer with it and everyone loved it.

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