When fall rolls around, there’s nothing better than an easy apple crisp for dessert. Apples are in season, and the weather’s getting cool, so what could be more perfect than a warm, delicious apple crisp?
Apple crisp is one of my favorite desserts. I love the apple filling, but the part I really love is the topping. Crispy and golden, it’s just so delicious. But the great part about apple crisp is that no matter what part you prefer, you can make an easy apple crisp that suits you.
If you like the crust, you can make it with a thicker topping. But if you like lots of filling, you can just pile a few more layers of apples in there to get it just the way you like it.
And the best part is, apple crisp is a really easy dessert to make. The longest part is slicing the apples! In this article, we’ll talk about how to make an easy apple crisp just the way you like it. We’ll start with what goes into the filling. Then, we’ll talk about making the topping. And finally, we’ll put it all together and talk about how to make apple crisp.
The first part of easy apple crisp is the filling. I’m calling it a filling because it’s a lot like a pie filling — but really in an apple crisp, it’s more of a bottom layer than a filling.
The filling is the apple part of the apple crisp. But to get the best possible apple crisp, you need more than just apples.
In this section, we’ll go over the different ingredients you want to include in your apple crisp filling:
- Other fruit
- Lemon juice
- Other seasonings
No surprises here: apples are the main ingredient in an easy apple crisp! But there are a few extra things to know.
First of all, there are lots of different types of apples. And each type has its own particular characteristics:
- Sweetness vs. tartness. Some apples are sweet, and others are tart. A mix of sweet and tart apples gives a flavor balance, but you can try out different combinations to see what you like best.
- Keep in mind, though, that baking makes the apples sweeter. A tart apple will bake up sweet, but it’ll have a wider range of flavors. A sweet apple will become even sweeter.
- Firmess vs. mushiness. Some apples stay pretty firm and keep their shape when they bake, and others can get really mushy. You can use a mix of both if you want both textures, or you can just stick to one type. Just think about what you like best, and pick an apple that suits your tastes.
Once you’ve picked which types of apples you want to use, you need to cut them up. There are a few different ways to do it. Just pick whichever method you like best!
- If you like, you can peel the apple. I always prefer a peeled apple for an apple crisp, but you can also try it with the peel on for little textured bits.
- You should always core the apple. At the very least you’ll want to remove the seeds, which are very mildly poisonous. But the seed casings and other parts of the core can have an odd taste and texture, too, so you’ll probably want to remove those as well.
- Once your apple is peeled (if at all) and cored, you’ll want to slice it up into small parts that’ll cook up more easily.
- You can cut the apple in quarters and then cut each quarter into 1/8 or 1/4 inch slices. The thicker the slice, the firmer it’ll stay.
- You can also cut the apple into little half-inch or so chunks. It’ll give a slightly different texture — you’ll be able to really bite into each apple piece when you eat your apple crisp.
I prefer peeled apple slices myself, but the only way to know what you’ll like best is to experiment and see what works best for you.
Even though it’s a nice, easy apple crisp, that doesn’t mean that it has to only have apples in it. Adding some other fruit to the filling can make a nice change of pace, and give your apple crisp a distinctive flavor.
Here are a few fruits that go really well in an apple crisp.
- Cranberries. Cranberries add a nice tartness to the sweet apples. You can add a little extra sugar to the filling if you’re afraid of it being too tart.
- Peaches or pears. Just slice them the same way you do your apples. It’ll add some sweetness and some different flavors. Yum!
- Dried fruit. You can also add different dried fruit to the filling, for some extra flavor and texture.
- Berries. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or other berries are great in an apple crisp.
- You can add any fruit you like! Just be sure to cut it into pieces that’ll cook at about the same speed as your apples.
How much other fruit should you add if you use any? That’s entirely up to you. You might want to have mostly apples, with just a hint of other flavors, or you can have an even blend. Just try out different combinations and see what works for you.
Apples are naturally sweet. Even the tart apples will get nice and sweet as they bake. So there’s no need to add a whole ton of sugar to the filling. Still, a little sugar has other advantages than just sweetness.
- Sugar helps draw out the juices from the apples. That’ll help the apple pieces keep their shape better as they cook up. It also adds some moisture to the filling.
- The water, juices and sugar in the filling will boil as the easy apple crisp cooks. And thanks to the sugar, it’ll get thick and syrupy, which will give your filling a wonderful texture.
Since apples are nice and sweet already, there’s no need to add a ton of sugar. A teaspoon or so per cup of chopped apple is usually enough, although you can definitely adjust that higher or lower depending on how sweet the apples you’re using are, and how sweet you like your apple crisp!
A little bit of water added to the filling, along with a bit of sugar, helps create a syrupy sauce for the apples as they cook, almost like a light caramel. You don’t need much — a teaspoon or two per cup of chopped apple.
How much you need depends on two things.
- Some apples are juicier than others. If your apple has high water content, it’ll release more juices, so you don’t need as much water.
- How syrupy you want your filling. More water will give you more syrup, but it’ll be a bit lighter. Less will give you a drier filling, although what syrup there is might be a bit thicker.
I usually add just enough water to moisten the apples, but not enough for it to start pooling in the bottom of the dish. It gives me an apple crisp that has a thick syrup, but not too much of it — the filling is still made up mostly of apple slices that keep their shape.
Adding a bit of lemon juice to your easy apple crisp filling adds a tiny bit of flavor, but mostly it’s there to keep the apples from oxidizing and turning brown while you prepare your other ingredients, or while you let the sugar draw out the juices.
You don’t need much — just enough to coat the apples. A teaspoon or two per cup of apple slices should be plenty. Just be sure to toss the apples in the lemon juice so they’re all coated.
With just some apples, water, sugar and lemon juice, you can make an amazing and easy apple crisp. But sometimes it’s nice to change things up a little bit and add some extra flavors.
Adding some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, allspice, or ginger can add a nice touch to the apple crisp. And like the rest of the apple crisp, there’s no need for exact measurements. Just sprinkle a bit of spices until it feels right. You can toss the apples in the spice mixture and taste one before cooking it — the flavors will intensify as they cook, so don’t overdo it!
One of the best things about apple crisp is that you can make your own easy apple crisp recipes so easily, with just a little bit of creativity. You can add almost any seasoning you like that you think would go well with apples. And if it doesn’t turn out delicious, then just remember it for next time, and keep experimenting.
Some other seasonings you can add to your apple filling are citrus zest, a bit of vanilla, or whatever you like. You can even soak your apples in a bit of red wine before baking them. Just try out different things, and you’ll discover some wonderful apple crisp recipes of your own.
And now that you know all the ingredients you need for the filling, we can move on to the next layer — the topping.
The topping is my favorite part of apple crisp. It’s crispy, it’s crumbly, it’s buttery and delicious, and adds just the right amount of crunch to the soft, warm apple filling.
So what goes into an easy apple crisp topping?
A little bit of flour in the topping helps the topping get nice and crisp, if you mix it in with a little butter. Some apple crisp recipes don’t call for flour at all — instead, you just use oatmeal. But a little bit of flour gives nice, flaky, crispy clusters that you won’t really get with just oatmeal.
You could make an apple crisp with just flour and no oatmeal. But I find an oatmeal topping much more appealing. The oats cook up nicely, and have a wondeful flavor.
You can use quick-cooking oats or old-fashioned oats — both will cook without a problem. The main different is that old-fashioned oats are slightly thicker, so it’ll give a different texture. Which texture you prefer is up to you!
Butter is an essential part of the apple crisp topping, although you could use a substitute if you wanted. The butter is what holds the topping together, and creates little crispy clusters.
The best way to use butter in an easy apple crisp topping is to cut the amount you need into little quarter of inch cubes. Use unsalted butter, and make sure it’s well chilled. Then, cut the butter into the rest of the topping ingredients, until the whole thing looks like coarse crumbs. The cold butter crumbs will expand in the oven, and make your topping beautifully crispy.
The topping needs a little bit of sweetness to really be delicious. I like to use brown sugar in the topping, but you could also use white sugar if you prefer, or another sweetener. The sugar will help the topping become a nice golden brown.
The last ingredient in an easy apple crisp topping is optional, but it’s what makes the difference between all the different apple crisp recipes: the seasonings. Here are a few seasonings you can add to the topping.
- Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom.
- Chopped nuts, like pecans, almonds or hazelnuts.
- A pinch of salt can enhance other flavors. But don’t use any more than a tiny pinch — the goal is to enhance flavors, but you don’t actually want to taste the saltiness!
So when you’re making your easy apple crisp topping, how much flour should you use? How much oatmeal? And how much sugar, butter, and spices? The truth is, it’s super versatile. You can really adjust the proportions to suit how you like your topping.
But here’s some starter amounts. For a 9″x9″ apple crisp, you can use:
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup oatmeal
- 1/4 cup butter
- a pinch of salt
You can easily adjust those measurements to suit your tastes. If you like a topping with more oatmeal, you can add more. If you prefer a slightly more doughy topping, there’s nothing wrong with a bit more flour. And if you like things sweeter, you can always add more sugar. But that’s a great topping to start with!
How To Make Easy Apple Crisp
Alright, now that we’ve gone over what goes into an easy apple crisp, let’s go over the steps to actually make it. It’s super easy!
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Mix all the ingredients for your filling in a large bowl, or right in the baking dish. I use about 4 apples for a 9”x9” apple crisp, but you can increase or decrease that amount based on how thick a filling you like.
- Remember, the filling consists of sliced or cubed apples, a bit of sugar and water, lemon juice to prevent oxidation, and whatever other fruit or seasonings you want.
- In a small bowl, mix the flour, oatmeal, sugar, spices, and nuts for your topping. Basically all the dry ingredients.
- Cut your chilled butter into little 1/4 of inch cubes, and mix into the dry topping ingredients until the mixture looks like a coarse meal.
- Spread the filling at the bottom of the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.
- Bake the easy apple crisp in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and crisp.
- Unlike a lot of baked goods, the oven temperature isn’t too important. You can easily cook an apple crisp at 350F or 400F if you happen to need the oven at that temperature. You’ll just need to cook it for a bit more or less time until it’s golden brown.
And that’s all there is to it! You can be eating a wonderful and easy apple crisp in no time. The only part I find takes time is preparing the apples, so it can be nice to have a helper for that. Then it really takes no time at all, and it’s twice the fun!