An easy Apple Crisp recipe with cinnamon apple filling and a crispy old-fashioned oats topping that actually stays crisp! It’s one of the best apple desserts!

homemade apple crisp in a white dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Easy Apple Crisp with Oats

Classic Apple Crisp has always had my number. I think it’s one of the very best apple desserts, especially with a winning recipe like this where the topping actually stays crispy!

The cinnamony baked apples in this dessert are obviously wonderful, especially when made with crisp, juicy, just-picked fall apples. Minnesota has so many apples to offer, I love it!

But for those of you who’ve never really fallen in love with apple crisp, this recipe with its crispy, buttery oats topping is the real apple crisp clincher. The topping is thicker than most, crispier than most – and it’s rich with real butter flavor.

This easy recipe will make anyone an apple crisp lover!

Top view of an old fashioned apple crisp in a ramekin

The Best Apple Crisp Recipe

Blake and I were married in September 1999 – so apple season was in high gear during our first month together. And I was so excited to make him my favorite apple crisp.

As I was peeling apples, I asked Blake if he liked apple crisp. It was small talk, really. Because who doesn’t like warm homemade apple crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, getting all melty and delicious?!

But his exact words were, “I’ve never been a fan.” Hmmmm…I wondered, who is this man I just married?!

So I just kept peeling apples… (Because I knew deep down that I could eat the whole thing by myself if that’s what it came down to!)

And he liked it! And it wasn’t just a polite newlywed reaction. He said it’s all about the crispy, buttery oats topping – that he’d never had an apple crisp that tasted that good!

This really IS the very best apple crisp recipe!!

Mixing bowl with sliced apples and spices

What You’ll Need

This apple crisp recipe is very straight-forward. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the apple filling:

  • Flour – This adds a little bit of thickening to the apple mixture
  • Sugar – Just a little, to sweeten the filling.
  • Cinnamon & Nutmeg – Simple, classic warm spices for apple crisp.
  • Apples – My recommendations are included below.

For the buttery oats topping:

  • Flour – Combined with the rest of the topping ingredients, this helps to add bulk and crispy texture.
  • Rolled oats – Be sure to use rolled oats, which have more texture and size than quick oats.
  • Brown sugar – For rich, sweet flavor.
  • Kosher salt – I love the saltiness in this crispy, buttery topping!
  • Baking powder – Helps to puff the topping, for a bit more bulk. Also adds crispness.
  • Unsalted butter – Gives rich flavor and crispness.
a bucket of Picked Apples

What Kinds of Apples are Best for Apple Crisp?

I insist on toothsome bites of apple in my apple crisp, and it all starts with using the right kind of apple. Use ones that are known for baking, that are firm and don’t turn to mush when cooked.

I prefer Haralson apples, no contest. They’re a Minnesota variety that’s firm and tart, and hold their shape when baked. I grew up with this late-fall variety on the farm in South Dakota; they’ve been a longtime favorite.

But when I can’t find Haralsons, I turn to Granny Smith and Honeycrisp, which are available year-round. They both work great.

To add a little more flavor and texture interest, I often use more than one apple variety when making this recipe.

Do You Need to Peel the Apples?

I recommend peeling the apples. The skin doesn’t break down during baking, so peeling your apples is the best way to get that classic apple crisp texture. (But if you’re a super fan of leaving the skin on the apple, go ahead!)

apples and a dish of apple crisp with a scoop of ice cream

The Oatmeal Topping Takes this Apple Crisp Over the Top!

Are you wondering what is so persuasive about this particular apple crisp? Blake will quickly tell you that it’s all about the topping.

A glass bowl of apple crisp topping with a pastry blender

This flavorful topping has an old fashioned kind of vibe, with oats and brown sugar and plenty of butter. And it’s heftier and crunchier than most, with a bit of baking powder to add a little bulk and lightened texture.

No flimsy topping here, I promise. It’s actually a crispy oats topping!

apple dessert in a white dish with a scoop of ice cream

If you’ve been searching for the best apple crisp recipe, I challenge you to try this one. Use one of my preferred apple varieties, and cut them big and chunky. Then make the topping, and bake just as described in the recipe card.

And once the pan is out of the oven, let it sit for about 45 minutes or so on a cooling rack. While the crisp is still nicely warm, transfer a big spoonful of it to a bowl and top it with a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. Then grab a spoon and see if you don’t enjoy it just as much as we do. I’m betting that you will!

Tips for Success

  • Apple varieties – Use apple varieties that hold their shape when baked. I also prefer a tart apple, but I know many people like to lean sweeter. I listed a few of my preferences already, plus in the recipe card.
  • Use 2 or more kinds of apples – Incorporate more than one variety of apple for more flavor and texture interest.
  • Make thick slices – Cut the apples into thick slices (about 1/2″ thick) for a more toothsome texture. If you slice the apples super thin, you’ll end up with an “apple mush” under your topping once it’s baked. That’s a no-no in my book!
  • Leave some larger topping chunks – When making the topping, be sure to cut the butter in evenly, while still allowing some larger chunks.
  • Make sure the filling is bubbling – Bake until the apple filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned.
  • Cover if topping is browning too much – If the topping is browning quicker than you like, lay a piece of foil loosely over the top of the crisp to hold back further browning.
  • Enjoy while still warm – Serve warm and freshly baked for optimum flavor and texture. Ice cream is always a wonderful bonus too!

Can Apple Crisp Be Made Ahead?

While this old fashioned crisp is at its peak when it’s still a bit warm from the oven, you can also make it ahead if you’re really in a pinch. Earlier in the day works great, but I would caution against making it any more than 24 hours in advance.

After baking the crisp, store it on the countertop, uncovered. If you cover it, the crispy topping will get softer much faster.

When serving this to company, I like to turn the oven on low – about 250° F – and heat the crisp back up again. If the topping has softened too much, I’ll also place the pan under the broiler just a bit to crisp it up. And then I serve it warm (with ice cream!).

After a day, keep the crisp in the fridge. To heat it up, just scoop out the amount of crisp you want to eat and pop it in the microwave to warm it up. For a crispier topping, place the apple crisp under the broiler in the oven for a bit. Then top it with ice cream and enjoy!

Like this apple dessert recipe? Save it to Pinterest!

Pinterest image showing an old fashioned apple crisp in a white ramekin with ice cream

A few more apple desserts for you!

Homemade apple crisp in a white ramekin with a scoop of ice cream

Apple Crisp

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

An easy apple crisp recipe with toothsome apple bites and a crispy old-fashioned buttery oats topping. My favorite apple crisp!

Ingredients

for the apple filling:

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 cups peeled apples, quartered and then sliced 1/2" thick – I like Haralson apples, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp also work well

for the topping:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup rolled oats (not quick cooking oats)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (not table salt!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (do not melt)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. For the filling: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg with the sliced apples. Spread in an even layer in a 9'' x 13'' pan.
  3. For the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the first five topping ingredients. Add butter and cut in with a fork or pastry cutter until you have large pea-size crumbs. Sprinkle over the apples.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned and some of the apple juices are bubbling through the topping.

Notes

This is best on the day it is made, especially when it is still a bit warm. The topping will be at its crispiest within the first four hours after being baked. Serve with scoops of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

Adapted slightly from one of our family cookbooks, “Cooking Cousins, A Treasury of Recipes from Braun-German Tradition”, recipe from Marlene Le Clair Brandenburger.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 239Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 151mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 4gSugar: 26gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles!

Homemade apple crisp in a white ramekin with a scoop of ice cream

Where this Recipe Came From

family cookbook
Braun-German cookbook, 1984

This recipe has been tweaked from one found in this giant family cookbook. This is where I’m from.

My dad was born of a long line of Braun-German descendants. And a good many of them live in close proximity, near my own family’s farm in South Dakota. To give you a little perspective of my own generation of this line, when our family celebrated my Great Grandpa Braun’s 90th birthday in 1985, he had 97 great-grandchildren. Isn’t that fantastic?! And mind boggling?!

family photo
Grandma Klein, Dad, Great Grandpa & Grandma Braun, 1985

One of my favorite photos, this is my dad with his mom and grandparents on the farm I grew up on.

This post was originally published in 2010. I updated photographs and text in September 2019.