Apple Crisp

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Delicious and easy apple crisp recipe with buttery oat topping. For maximum flavor, saute the apples first to ensure each piece is tender and caramelized before hitting the oven.

Apple crisp in a baking dish being served with a metal spoon.

When a piping hot apple crisp comes out of the oven, your kitchen will fill with amazing aromas. This sweet treat may not be as fancy as classic apple pie, but it’s just as tasty and easier to prepare. It’s one of my favorite fall desserts, especially when served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The key to a great apple filling is ensuring the fruit is cooked thoroughly, preventing a runny sauce. I do this with my apple crumble as well. Undercooking commonly happens when raw apples are tossed with flour, then baked. The result cooks the topping faster, while the filling never softens, and the juices don’t thicken. The good news, this is easy to avoid by pre-cooking the apples.

Five Honeycrisp apples places on a table.

What kind of apples do you use?

The best kind of baking apple to use is Honeycrisp. This juicy, tart, and sweet fruit is my top pick from fall until the end of spring. They are great for cooking because they hold shape and don’t become mealy like Red Delicious apples.

You can use other types of apples, such as Fuji or McIntosh. Fuji is closest to the flavor profile with a slightly more flower blossom taste. Granny Smith apples offer a more tart flavor profile, and I recommend using them with a combination of sweeter varieties for a balanced taste.

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Pre-cook the apples

Peel and cut the apples to a uniform 1/2-inch thickness to ensure even cooking and faster softening. To quick-start flavor development, toss the apples with sugar, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and zest to balance the sweetness. 

Saute the apple mixture in melted butter until crisp-tender and coat with the sticky cinnamon sauce. The apples will reduce to about half their volume. Even though 3 pounds of apples seems like a lot, don’t forget the shrinking factor as moisture is released from their flesh. Do not overcook since the apples will still have more heat exposure when baked with the topping.

The crunchy oat topping

After experimenting with the crisp topping, I found the proper ratio of flour, brown sugar, butter, oats, and sweet spices. I use old-fashioned rolled oats because the flakes maintain their shape and stay chewy once cooked.

Cut the cold butter into dime-sized pieces before adding it to the oat-flour mixture. You can try including larger chunks for a more interesting crumble top texture.

Add the topping then bake

Evenly coat the surface of the apples with the oat mixture, then add to the prepared baking dish. Once baked, the proteins in the flour deepen in color and harden while the sugar creates a beautiful caramel flavor. Once the topping is golden brown, the outside will be brittle with a slight chew in the center.

If you can imagine tiny bites of oatmeal cookie-like crumb topping, that’s what you’ll experience. The result is a lightly sweet but crunchy texture.

Serve this with

Apple crisp out of the oven with golden brown oat topping.


What’s the difference between apple crisp and apple crumble?

They both have streusel-style toppings made of butter, sugar, and flour as the base. However, crisps have oats, and crumbles do not.

How do you make apple crisp not soggy?

Pre-cooking the apples first evaporates some internal moisture that would otherwise cause steam inside the oven and beneath the crisp topping. The result is a crunchy texture with a sauce that clings to the fruit.

Can you make it in advance?

You can saute and chill the apples 3 days before assembling and baking. You can make the topping 5 days ahead and refrigerate or freeze it for up to 30 days.

Close up of a bowl of apple crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Pre-cook the apples for better texture

Don’t be tempted to crank up the heat to cook the apples in a shorter time. In this case, patience, constant stirring, and moderate heat prevent the apples from becoming too soft and mealy. Gentle heat helps retain the structure, so it keeps its shape once baked. We want intact apples, not applesauce filling.

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Apple Crisp

Easy apple crisp recipe with a buttery oat topping, it's the perfect shareable dessert, especially when served warm with ice cream on top.
4.86 from 82 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


Apple Filling

  • 3 pounds honeycrisp apples
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Crisp Topping

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold


Apple Filling

  • Heat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the center position. Heat to 375ºF (191ºC).
  • Prepare the Apples – Peel, core, and cut the apples into ½-inch thick slices.
  • Make the Filling – In a large bowl, stir to combine sliced apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  • Cook the Apple Filling – Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the butter and the apple mixture. Saute until crisp-tender, and most of the moisture is released, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Prepare the Baking Dish – Lightly butter the bottom and sides of an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cooked apples inside the dish.

Crisp Topping

  • Mix the Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
  • Make the Topping – Cut cold butter into ¼-inch cubes and add to the flour mixture. Use fingers to break the butter into the dry ingredients, pressing together to create large pebble-shaped pieces of crumbly topping, about the size of a dime. Evenly sprinkle the topping over the apples.
  • Bake the Crisp – Bake until the topping is golden brown and crisp, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • To Serve – Serve warm with desired toppings.

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  • Apple Substitutes: Gala or McIntosh apples have a taste similar to Honeycrisp. Use Granny Smith apples for a more tart flavor.
  • Make it in a Skillet: Bake inside an 8 to 10-inch cast iron pan.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free rolled oats and gluten-free flour.
  • Make it Dairy-Free: Substitute coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Storing: Cool completely then cover with foil or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Heat individual portions in the microwave in 15 to 30-second intervals until warm. You can bake the whole dish at 350ºF (177ºC) until the top is crisp and the filling is warm.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 212kcal (11%)Carbohydrates 29g (10%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 10g (15%)Saturated Fat 6g (30%)Cholesterol 26mg (9%)Sodium 114mg (5%)Potassium 44mg (1%)Sugar 19g (21%)Vitamin A 305IU (6%)Vitamin C 0.5mg (1%)Calcium 17mg (2%)Iron 0.7mg (4%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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36 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy Caywood says

    Good Morning Jessica,

    What a nice warming dessert for this cooler weather we are having. I have printed it for our son who is coming at Christmas too. Have added Honeycrisp apples and unsalted butter to my grocery app.

    Thank you for one wonderful recipe after another.

  2. Carol Simon says

    You recipe sounds great, but how about giving the amount of apples in cups? Also, could the apples be cooked in a cast iron skillet and then the topping added and just baked in it, saving an extra pan to clean up?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Carol- Great question! It’s about 12 cups sliced apples (at 1/4-inch thick slices). Yes, you can absolutely make the apple crisp in a cast iron skillet, that’s a great idea!

  3. Judy Caywood says

    Wow a knockout recipe. As always from you Jessica. I can’t wait to make this for my husband. I made it for the family while in WA state for my sister and brother-in-laws anniversary. This is another recipe I will make again and again. Now that I am back home I was telling my husband about it and he said will you make it for me and I said of course honey. I’m going to go get the ingredients soon. I just figured out how to give stars to your recipes so I’m going to go through and make all I have tried which is quite a few. I did use the honeycrisp and love that cooking the apples on lower heat until the sauce gets to that thicker stage. Amazing.

  4. Cathy Jerome says

    Jessica I made this last night omg so good ! Usually mine is too runny . Since I pre cooked as you suggested it was perfect.

  5. Amy Dutton says

    Good morning! Can any or all components be made ahead? I was all set to make an apple pie today but really would love to make this! Btw, I also am making your sweet potato casserole recipe ?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, it would be really easy to make each component ahead of time! Just cool the filling before chilling until ready to bake. Refrigerate the crisp topping, sprinkle and bake.

      • James Tonneson says

        My wife and I made this today – exactly as you instructed. It is a five star recipe written by a number ten food scientist. Thank you so much!

  6. Brittany Roser says

    I’m going to be trying your recipe tomorrow with my kids, we love apple crisp was going to do for Thanksgiving but didn’t have room lol. Going to take pictures along the way of making recipe so we’ll share back the pics and how it turned out!!!! Super Excited!!!!

  7. ChristinaS1 says

    Sorry. I have not made your recipe because it seems like too much work to have to pre-cook the apples….I am not sure soggy topping is caused by evaporation of the water in the apples during cooking. Brown sugar is known for making Banana Bread moist for days. Maybe it is the use of brown sugar in the topping? Personally I use white sugar and I have never noticed the soggy topping….Even if it were true that evaporation causes soggy topping, couldn’t you just macerate the raw apple slices with sugar, to draw out some of the juice, rather than pre-cooking them? Or use a thickener like flour or tapioca starch?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The brown sugar in the topping will not cause it to become soggy. There are enough starches in the flour to help soak until any moisture is released from the sweetener as it bakes. You could use 1 tablespoon of flour to add to the apples if you prefer not to pre-cook them. I like the flavor of pre-cooked apples, it gives a more concentrated apple taste since you are condensing the juices and the sugars develop a nice caramelized flavor compared to adding them straight to the pan. I’ll definitely give using just granulated sugar a try. Thanks!

  8. Mama in Vermont says

    This is the exact recipe I’ve been looking for! I can’t wait to make it. Pre-cooking the apples is a great idea. I want to get that buttery caramel taste cooked into the apples. Thank you! My family will be thanking you as well 😊

  9. Deeanne says

    Have you converted this to individual ramekins? I usually do that and freeze them to bake later. Just wondering how many it would make.

  10. Dee says

    Tried this with quick cooking steel cut oats as it’s all I had at the time and it turned out to be the best apple crisp ever!
    Also I have never cooked the apples beforehand because they cook in the oven.

  11. Maria Edmond says

    I agree 💯 with precooking the apples. The apples never soften to my liking in the oven without precooking. Thanks for the recipe!

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