Like the best apple pie ever, but easier as a crisp.
This deep-dish easy apple crisp recipe, with a brown sugar and oatmeal topping, has all the satisfaction of a homemade apple pie, in half the time and work.
All About This Easy Apple Crisp Recipe
When it comes to fall and winter baking, a warm homemade apple crisp 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? A crisp does not require a pie crust. Instead, apples are layered right into a pie pan, topped with an easy crumb 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.
Apple Crisp vs. Crumble vs. Cobbler
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.
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
- But apple crumble has a streusel topping made without oats
- And apple cobbler has a biscuit topping
How to Make the Apple Crisp Oatmeal Topping
This is an apple crisp, and stays true to the oat streusel crumb topping. The recipe is simple:
- 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.
- Add cold, diced butter. Work it in with your hands until crumbly.
- Chill until ready to use.
Be sure to use rolled oats and not quick oats. Quick oats tend to become lost in the recipe. Rolled oats have more structure and will remain visible when baked. The oatmeal crisp texture should be like wet, crumbly sand.
Apple Crisp With Oatmeal Topping: Recipe Steps
After you make the oatmeal crisp topping, make the apple filling.
- Peel and slice the apples.
- 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.
- Pour the apples into a deep-dish pie plate. Give them a light press to settle them into the pie plate.
- Top the apples with the crisp topping.
- Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the apples are bubbly and the crisp topping is golden brown, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Cool for about 20 minutes, then serve on its own or with vanilla ice cream.
Which Apples Are Best for Baking?
All apples are not created equal, especially when it comes to baking.
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 are tart, crisp Granny Smith apples. But I also love: Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Braeburn.
Which Apples Are Worst for 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.
With the right apples and little effort, you can have an amazing fall apple dessert.
You’ll also love these favorite fall and winter desserts:
- Apple Pie With All-Butter Crust
- Pumpkin Donut Muffins Rolled in Cinnamon Sugar
- The Best Pumpkin Bread
- How to Make Perfect Pie Dough
Deep-Dish Apple Crisp With Oatmeal Topping
For the Crisp Topping (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)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Apple Crisp 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 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the Crisp Streusel Topping
- In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt. 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.
For the Apples and to Finish the Apple 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.
- Pour the apples into a deep-dish 9" pie pan, or a standard 10" pan. Press the apples lightly to settle them evenly into the pie plate and eliminate any large air pockets.
- Use a large spoon or your hand to cover the apples completely with the crisp 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.
- 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 vanilla ice cream.