This incredibly easy apple crisp recipe features a cinnamon and nutmeg spiced apple filling topped with a brown sugar and melted butter oat topping (with nuts optional). There’s no need to peel the apples for this cozy and quick apple dessert. You’ll need 4 apples and an 8×8″ or 2-quart baking dish for this recipe.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Apple crisp is the easier, faster, healthier, equally satisfying version of apple pie (in my opinion, anyway). I would like to shake the hand of the person who invented apple crisp.
Take all the best parts of apple pie (thick, luscious and spiced apple filling, buttery crisp crust) but TAKE OUT ALL THE WORK. A Paul Hollywood-style handshake is needed for this nameless inventor. This is one of my favorite desserts to make during fall apple season!
Here are the great things about this easy apple crisp recipe:
- No need to peel the apples (unless you really want to)
- The apple filling is mixed IN the baking dish – my favorite way to use less dishes
- The oatmeal crumble topping is made in one bowl using melted butter, with no mixer needed (this means no planning ahead – last minute apple crisp here we come). No eggs either!
- You can customize the spices in the filling and the crisp topping however you like – I used cinnamon and nutmeg here but I bet allspice or pumpkin spice would be great as well
- This recipe makes 6-8 servings of apple crisp in a 2-quart baking dish, aka enough for a small dinner party but not enough to overwhelm you
- Crispy, buttery, crunchy topping on gooey cinnamon spiced apples, all topped with cold vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt – need I say more? This is a fall dessert dream and we barely even had to work for it.
Ingredients for apple crisp filling
Only a few simple ingredients needed for this incredibly easy apple crisp, and you can substitute or customize as noted below to make it your own! See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full ingredient list and measurements.
- Fresh Apples – you’ll need 1.5 pounds of apples, aka about 4 of them (6 cups sliced) for this recipe, and there’s no need to peel them unless you really want to. I like leaving the skins on for more texture and nutrients. See below for the types of apples I use in my apple crisp.
- Brown sugar – you could use granulated or coconut sugar if needed
- Cinnamon and nutmeg – cozy warm spices for that apple pie flavor
- Lemon juice and vanilla extract – both of these are for complexity of flavor in your apple filling. You could leave them out if you don’t have them, but they make a noticeable difference in the final product.
- Cornstarch or arrowroot starch – this is how we get a thick and not watery apple crisp!
Ingredients for the oatmeal crumble topping
The great thing about this brown sugar oatmeal crumble topping is that it’s versatile and can be used to top a wide variety of fruit crisps. You’ve seen this crunchy oat topping before on my stone fruit crisp and blueberry crisp, and even on my apple crumble slab pie. This is truly a chameleon-type recipe that you can adjust up or down and change the spices as needed or desired for any crisp or crumble.
- Unsalted butter – many crisp recipes use cold butter for the oat topping, but we’re using melted butter for the easiest apple crisp ever – and the fastest one to prepare. Trust me, the topping will still be crispy crumbly just the way we like it.
- Brown sugar
- All-purpose flour – substitute gluten-free all purpose flour mix if needed
- Rolled old-fashioned oats – you can use quick oats instead in a pinch but do not use steel cut oats, they won’t cook!
- Chopped nuts – totally optional, but pecans, walnuts, almonds, or peanuts would all work well here
Best apples for apple crisp
A bazillion recipes out there will tell you that the best apples for apple crisp are Granny Smith apples or Pink Lady, but frankly I say use whatever type of apple you like to eat! I love Honeycrisp apples so that’s what I use.
As long as the apple is crisp and not bruised or mushy (looking at you, Red Delicious), you’ll be just fine. Whether you like sweet apples or tart apples, any and all of them will work in this easy recipe. It’s a classic dessert to make with all those fresh fall apples from apple picking!
- Any 2-quart baking dish (I used an 8×8″ square ceramic baking dish in the photos)
- Glass or other microwave-safe mixing bowl – this is a one bowl recipe, hooray!
- Whisk (or fork) and rubber spatula
- Kitchen scale – I highly recommend weighing your ingredients for most accurate results, especially the flour! This is the primary way I bake these days as it is much more precise than using measuring cups (and there are less dishes to clean).
How to make this easy apple crisp: step by step
Like many of my recipes, the method here is streamlined and simple. No mixer and only one bowl needed! See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions.
- Slice the apples: cut them into quarters, cut out of the core bits, then slice thinly or chop. No need to peel the apples unless you really want to! You should have about 6 cups (1400 ml) of sliced apples from 1.5 lbs (680g) of apples, or about 4 medium apples.
- Toss the apples with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, vanilla extract and cornstarch in a 2-quart baking dish. No need to grease the dish, hooray!
- Make the oat topping: melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove, then whisk in brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the flour, oats, and nuts (if using) until the mixture is well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle the oat topping evenly over top of the apple mixture.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. The apples may or may not be bubbling underneath or up the sides of the baking dish – either way is ok.
- Serve apple crisp warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream. or yogurt.
How to avoid watery apple crisp
The best way to prevent a watery apple crisp is to use a thickener in the filling – some recipes use flour, but I’ve chosen to use cornstarch in this recipe (or arrowroot starch, which can be substituted 1:1 for cornstarch) because I think it provides superior thickening power.
You should also use an apple variety that isn’t mushy and will keep its shape when baked; see my favorite kind of apples to use above. Technically, you could also cook the apple filling on the stove before using it in the crisp, but…I’m not likely to do that, and this recipe yields a thick enough filling without pre-cooking it.
Frankly, the recipes that turn out watery most often are the ones that just dump raw apples in the baking dish with nothing else in the filling, sprinkle the topping over them and call it a day. Is that the easiest option? Yes. But is it the optimal one, when you could take 30 seconds to add just a couple more thickening and flavor-boosting ingredients to the filling and make it infinitely better? I think you know my answer.
How to store leftover apple crisp
Once the apple crisp is FULLY cooled, you can store it at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer, as explained fully below. Cooling fully is an important step for best results in storing leftover apple crisp. If you cover the crisp before it has fully cooled, the residual heat and resulting condensation will make the topping soggy, and no one wants that!
- Room temperature: my recommended option is storing in the fridge, but apple crisp has a shelf life of a couple of days at room temperature. Cover the crisp with a lid, or with foil or plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for up to two days. If you’ll be storing the crisp longer than that, refrigerate or freeze per the below.
- Refrigerator: cover the crisp with a lid, foil, or plastic wrap, or store in a separate airtight container, and keep in the fridge for up to five days. For extra insurance against condensation (and avoiding soggy apple crisp) you can place a couple paper towels on top of the crispy topping as well. If you’ll be storing the crisp longer than that, freeze per the below.
- Freezer: wrap the baked crisp tightly in foil or plastic wrap in the pan you baked it in, or store in a separate airtight container, and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating it in the oven, or bake directly from frozen (instructions below).
How to reheat apple crisp
Individual servings of apple crisp can be reheated in the microwave for 30 seconds, or in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
A larger portion of baked, refrigerated apple crisp can be reheated in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until heated through.
Frozen baked apple crisp can be reheated in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, covered with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes at the end to re-crisp the topping. You can also bake an unbaked apple crisp from frozen using the same method, for 55-60 minutes or until topping is browned and apple filling is bubbling.
Additions and Substitutions
How to make apple crisp dairy-free
Apple crisp is super easy to make dairy free. Use coconut oil or plant-based vegan butter (like Earth Balance or Miyoko’s) instead of the dairy butter in the oat topping. That’s it!
How to make apple crisp gluten-free
Make sure to use certified gluten-free oats in the oatmeal topping, and use oat flour OR an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix in place of the all-purpose flour.
make the recipe your own
Double the recipe: bake it in a 9×13″ or 3-quart baking dish for 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Individual servings: split the apple filling and oat crumble mixture among 6 8-oz ramekins, arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Apple crisp for two: make a quarter (1/4) batch of the recipe (so using 1 apple), and I sometimes use maple syrup instead of the brown sugar because it’s easier and faster to measure. Either bake in 2 8-oz ramekins for 30-35 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or microwave in 2 microwave-safe ramekins or large mugs for about 3 minutes each or until apples are bubbling.
Single serving apple crisp: either make 1/8 of the recipe per the same instructions as the apple crisp for two above, or make the apple crisp for two and keep the second serving in the fridge for later!
Change things up: Use different spices like allspice or pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg. Use whatever nuts you like in the oat topping or omit them entirely and add shredded coconut or other mix-ins to the topping.
More Apple Recipes:
- Salted Caramel Apple Galette
- Apple Crumble Slab Pie
- Apple Cider Donut Bars
- Apple Cider Donut Muffins
Easy Apple Crisp with Oat Topping
- 1 8×8" or 2-quart baking dish
For the apple filling:
- 1 and 1/2 pounds (680g) apples (about 6 cups sliced or chopped apples, which was 4 apples for me)
- 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar (packed)
- 1 Tbsp (7g) cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
For the oat topping:
- 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter (4 Tbsp)
- 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (62g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (45g) rolled (old-fashioned) oats
- 1/2 cup (57g) chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts (optional)
For the apple filling:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Quarter the apples, then slice off the core parts and either chop apples into 1 inch pieces or slice thinly. You don't need to bother peeling them unless you want to.
- Place the sliced or chopped apples in an 8×8 inch or 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the apples. Gently toss it all together until evenly combined.
For the oat topping:
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Whisk in brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the flour, oats, and nuts (if using) until the mixture is well combined and crumbly.
- Scatter the oat topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. The apples may or may not be bubbling underneath or up the sides of the baking dish – either way is ok.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes minutes before serving warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt.
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