Recipe: How To Make Apple Crisp

By Charlie Colville

4 weeks ago

This crunchy crumble is a hit stateside

If the UK has apple crumble, then the US has apple crisp – but what’s the difference? Read on for all the details, plus a recipe for you to try at home.

What Is Apple Crisp?

A baked dessert originating from the US, apple crisp is a dish that features a layer of apples topped with a crunchy oat-based streusel topping. It’s thought that the first apple crisp was mentioned in writing back in 1924, appearing in Everybody’s Cook Book: A Comprehensive Manual of Home Cookery by Isabel Ely Lord, and by WWII it was a staple pudding in the States (largely thanks to food rationing, which made it an appealing alternative to apple pie).

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Fast forward 100 years and apple crisp is still thriving – especially on TikTok, where creators share their own take on the recipe and reimagine the dessert for new audiences. Think apple crisp bars, apple crisp smoothies and air fryer-friendly apple crisp iterations.

Is It Healthy?

While apple crisp can be healthy depending on the ingredients used, it’s good to remember that this is still a dessert at the end of the day. While ingredients like apples and oats are great for providing vitamins and fibre, a traditional apple crisp recipe often contains large amounts of butter, sugar and white flour in the topping, making it high in calories.

You can however make a few healthy swaps when cooking this dish:

  • Opt for whole grain flours and oats
  • Use maple syrup or honey (in moderation) as a natural sweetener instead of refined sugar
  • Add nuts like walnuts or pecans to your topping, to boost the dish with extra healthy fats, protein and antioxidants
  • Instead of butter, use heart-healthy fats like olive oil or coconut oil
  • Have a higher ratio of filling to topping
  • Switch out out the ice cream for natural yoghurt
@leaheverecipes Day 7 of healthy recipes apple crisp #healthybreakfastideas #healthyrecipes #healthybreakfast #breakfastinspo #healthycooking ♬ Oh Klahoma – Jack Stauber

Apple Crisp vs Apple Crumble: What’s The Difference?

‘Is that not just the US version of an apple crumble?’ For the most part, yes. Apple crisp and apple crumble (a UK dish dating back to 1917) are two very similar dishes, with both featuring a cooked apple bottom layer – but the thing that sets them apart is their toppings.

Apple crisp has a crunchy topping made with oats, flour, brown sugar and butter, while apple crumble has a crumbly, streusel-like topping made with just flour, sugar and butter (no oats); where crisp is considered crunchier, crumble has more of a mix of soft and crunchy textures. You’ll also find that apple crisp is typically served with ice cream, while apple crumble is usually topped with hot custard.

In the UK, Australia and New Zealand, the term ‘crumble’ typically refers to both desserts, while in the US the two have a more distinguished definition.

Which Apples Are Best To Use?

It’s recommended that you look for apples that are crisp, tart and hold their shape when baked. Some popular apple varieties used in this recipe include:

  • Granny Smith
  • Honeycrisp
  • Cortland
  • Braeburn
  • Golden Delicious

You can mix apples if you like, too – although generally try to avoid using overripe apples, as they have a tendency to break down too much during baking.

Recipe: How To Make Apple Crisp


For the filling

  • 6 to 8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For the topping

  • 120g flour
  • 90g oats
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Heat your oven to 175°C or 350°F, then grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, toss the sliced apples with the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until well coated, then spread them across the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt until crumbly. Evenly spread the mixture over the apples.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples are tender and topping a golden brown shade.
  5. Allow you apple crisp to cool as needed, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Featured image: Diliara Garifullina, Unsplash

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