This is seriously the BEST apple crisp! Is there a better way to welcome the fall season than the aroma of apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar? I don’t think so! This delicious apple crisp recipe is super simple to whip together and you can use virtually any apples you have in the house.
I love living somewhere that has all four seasons, but boy does my heart skip a beat when fall arrives! It’s such a short season in the Midwest, so we try to soak it up by doing *all* the fall things! One of which, of course, is picking apples at the local orchard.
I love to stock up on a variety of apples and then get to baking! It’s hard to choose one favorite apple-based recipe, but if I were pushed to choose, this homemade apple crisp would be it. It’s amazing because it’s not a finicky dish–you can peel the apples (or not!), choose any apples you’ve got on hand (granny smith, pink lady, Honeycrisp, tango), slice them (or dice them!), and you don’t have to worry about perfecting a crust like you would an apple pie. And let’s not forget about the mouth-watering aroma that dances through your home while it’s baking. Oh my goodness. Heavenly!
What Makes This Apple Crisp Delicious?
This apple crisp recipe calls for cinnamon and nutmeg, which complement each other so well! Nutmeg is a strong spice (a little goes a long way) but I truly believe in adding cinnamon and nutmeg together. Cinnamon is sweet and slightly spicy, while nutmeg has a warm, nutty, and slightly pungent flavor. Combining these two spices helps to strike a perfect balance between sweetness and warmth, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
Another winner here is brown sugar. I prefer tossing my apples in lemon juice (which also enhances the flavor!) and brown sugar instead of white sugar. Top with ice cream and homemade caramel sauce for the ultimate indulgence.
Why Use Brown Sugar Instead of White Sugar in Apple Crisp?
- Rich flavor: Brown sugar contains molasses, which gives it a deeper, caramel-like flavor compared to plain white sugar. When combined with the natural sweetness of the apples, it adds a more complex and rich taste to the apple crisp.
- Moisture retention: Brown sugar has a higher moisture content than white sugar due to the molasses. This extra moisture can help keep the apples juicier during baking, preventing them from becoming too dry or mealy.
- Improved texture: The molasses in brown sugar also adds a slight chewiness to the apples, creating a more satisfying texture in the finished apple crisp.
- Enhanced color: The natural caramel color of brown sugar contributes to the beautiful golden-brown appearance of the apple crisp when baked.
- Better caramelization: Brown sugar promotes better caramelization during baking, resulting in a slightly crunchy and deliciously caramelized topping on the apple crisp.
- Warm and comforting taste: The combination of brown sugar, apples, and warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg creates a comforting and familiar taste, perfect for fall and winter desserts.
Is This Apple Crisp Gluten-free?
Yes, this recipe can be modified to make it gluten-free! The oats in this apple crisp are gluten-free, but you would need to use almond flour in place of the all-purpose flour that this recipe calls for, making it an almond flour apple crisp. Yum!
Apples- 9 medium-sized apples (or 9 cups of apples). Feel free to add a variety of apples to really enhance the flavor! My personal favorites are a combination of Honeycrisp and Granny-Smith since one is tart and one is sweet. But, we don’t need to be too precious. This apple crisp will turn out lovely either way.
Flour- All-purpose flour (I prefer the King Arthur brand) works great in this recipe. You will use a little for the filling and a cup’s worth for the topping.
Old-Fashioned Oats- I prefer old-fashioned oats over quick or instant oats because they provide a great texture and add to the homemade old-fashioned feel of the dessert. In a pinch, quick oats work just fine!
Brown Sugar- Light brown sugar is what I use in this recipe, but if dark brown sugar is all you have, use it! It may give off a bit stronger of a molasses taste, but it will be delicious nonetheless.
Cinnamon- Mmmmm, cinnamon and apples! The combination is one that sings the praises of fall and makes me want to light a candle, turn on You’ve Got Mail, and snuggle up in a cardigan. Some may call it basic. I call it bliss.
Nutmeg- Cinnamon’s mature best friend. You could certainly omit this if you don’t have it on hand. But if you have it, use it! Cinnamon and nutmeg complement each other beautifully by bringing out the best in each other.
Salt- This is the most underrated ingredient in most baked goods. You need the salt to bring out enhance the sweetness!
Lemon Juice- Lots of reasons why lemon juice is important in this dish. It helps bring out the flavor by balancing the sweetness, it helps keep apples slightly firm in the baking process due to its acidity, and it keeps the apples from browning too fast. If you don’t have lemon juice but do have lemons, cut one in half and squeeze the juice from half a lemon. If you don’t have lemon juice at all, this dish will still be alright. See?! Isn’t apple crisp the best?
Butter- I use salted butter but you can also use unsalted butter. Throw an extra 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the topping mixture, though.
What Kind of Apples Should I Use in Apple Crisp?
Ideally, you will use a combination of tart and sweet apples in apple crisp. Doing so will undoubtedly give you the best flavor! However, the beauty of this dessert is that it’s going to turn out pretty darn incredible even if you use one type of apple. You’ll want apples that hold their shape during baking, don’t turn mushy, and have a good flavor profile. Here are some popular apple varieties that work well for making apple crisp:
- Granny Smith: These apples are tart and firm, making them an excellent choice for apple crisp. They hold up well during baking and provide a nice contrast to the sweetness of the topping.
- Honeycrisp: Honeycrisp apples are sweet, juicy, and have a pleasant crunch. They work well in apple crisp recipes, offering a balanced flavor and texture.
- Jonagold: Jonagold apples are a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples. They have a good balance of sweet and tart flavors and hold their shape nicely when baked.
- Braeburn: Braeburn apples are sweet with a hint of tartness and have a firm texture that works well for apple crisp.
- Fuji: Fuji apples are known for their sweetness and crispness. They add a delightful flavor to apple crisp, though they are not as tart as some other varieties.
Cortland: Cortland apples are slightly tart and have a tender texture. They work well in apple crisp, especially if you prefer a softer, smoother texture in the finished dish.
- Gala: Gala apples are sweet and mild, making them a good option if you prefer a sweeter apple crisp.
Ultimately, the choice of apple depends on your personal taste preferences and the availability of apple varieties in your region.
How to Make Apple Crisp:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter or olive oil and set aside.
Make the filling:
First, we will prepare the apples. Make sure to wash and dry them well. To peel or not to peel? That, my friend, is completely up to you! You can peel the apples if you prefer them that way. I choose to keep the skin on them.
Next, you will either dice the apples or slice them. If you choose to slice them, make sure you cut them about 1/4 inch thick. This will ensure the apples don’t get too mushy while baking!
Then you will want to add the apples, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice to a large mixing bowl. Continue stirring until the apples are completely coated with the mixture.
Pour or scoop the mixture into your greased baking dish. Set aside while you make the topping!
Make the topping:
Mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
Cube the butter (or use a cheese grater to grate the butter) and add to the mixture. Use two forks to crumble the butter into the mixture until it starts to become crumbly. I personally use my hands for this, as it seems to work best!
Once crumbled, sprinkle the mixture over your filling in the baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 6o minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble.
Enjoy! Top with a scoop of ice cream, caramel sauce, and whipped cream to take this dish to the next level!
Homemade Apple Crisp
For the filling:
- 9 medium apples or 9 cups sliced or diced
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the topping:
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold salted butter cubed or grated keep in the fridge until you are ready for it
- 1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×13 inch baking dish with butter or olive oil and set aside.
Make the filling:
- 1) Peel apples (or leave the skin on).* Slice apples, make sure to keep them about 1/4 inch thick to avoid mushy apples.**
- 2) Add apples, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice to a large mixing bowl. Continue stirring until the apples are completely coated with the mixture.
- 3) Pour or scoop the mixture into your greased baking dish. Set aside while you make the topping.
Make the topping:
- 1) Mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- 2) Cube the butter (or use a cheese grater to grate the butter) and add to the mixture. Use two forks to crumble the butter into the mixture until it starts to become crumbly. I personally use my hands for this, as it seems to work best!
- 3) Once crumbled, sprinkle the mixture over your filling in the baking dish.
- 4) Bake at 350 degrees for 6o minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble.
- 5) Enjoy! Top with a scoop of ice cream, caramel sauce, and whipped cream to take this dish to the next level!
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