For a warm, cozy recipe that’s the perfect fall dessert to serve at your next gathering, look no further than this classic apple oat crisp. Tart apples are combined with just-right cinnamon spices and sprinkled generously with rolled oats, brown sugar and butter for an extra layer of goodness.
If you’re looking for a simple and delicious apple dessert recipe that is sure to delight your family and friends, then you’ve come to the right place.
This easy apple crisp with oat topping has been a staple at my holiday dinner parties for years.
It’s like a crustless apple pie with a crunchy topping made of oats, brown sugar, butter and spices.
Not only is it incredibly simple to put together, but its combination of tart and sweet flavors is the perfect end to any meal.
Especially when served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream topped with a little caramel sauce.
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This recipe makes about 12 servings.
Here is your shopping list:
- Apples – 1 lemon, 12 medium-sized apples. I like to use half Granny Smith apples and half McIntosh apples. That way you get tart flavor and firm texture from the Granny Smith apples. And a sweeter, softer texture from the McIntosh apples. But you can use whatever variety of apples you like best.
- Lemon – 1 medium-sized lemon. This keeps the apples from turning brown and helps to balance out the sweetness of the sugar.
- Sugar – 2 cups brown sugar. This will be divided between the filling and the oat topping.
- Baking supplies – 1 cup flour, 1 cup rolled oats. You want the old-fashioned rolled oats, not steel-cut or instant oats. They will get too mushy in the cooking process. Quick oats will work but I prefer the texture of the old-fashioned variety.
- Spices – 2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg. The cinnamon will be used for both the filling and the streusel topping.
- Dairy – 1 cup (or 2 sticks) butter. It’s easier to use if it’s cold, so don’t take it out of the refrigerator until you are ready to make the recipe.
- To make gluten-free apple crisp, substitute measure-for-measure gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour. King Arthur Measure For Measure Gluten Free Flour* works very well. Also make sure the variety of rolled oats is certified to be gluten-free.
- Substitute ½ cup granulated sugar for ½ cup brown sugar in the filling if you like it a bit sweeter.
- Eliminate the ½ cup brown sugar from the filling for a less sweet version.
- You can add ¼ teaspoon ground cloves and a pinch of allspice to the rolled oats mixture if you like more of an apple pie flavor.
- For a crunchier topping, add 1 cup chopped nuts such as walnuts or pecans. You can use these in addition to the oats. Or to make apple crisp without oats, omit them.
How to make apple oat crisp
Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
Cut the butter into ¼-inch slices.
Zest the lemon to get 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
Juice half the lemon to get 2 Tablespoons of juice.
Slice the apples
Peel, core and chop the apples.
This part of the process goes much faster if you use kitchen gadgets that are made for the job.
An apple peeler* makes peeling the apples so much faster and easier.
This one isn’t very expensive and it works!
For coring and slicing the apples, I use one of these gadgets*.
However, the slices it makes are a little too thick to use in the filling.
If you like the apples to have a firmer texture after they are baked, keep the slices larger by cutting each of these in half. (So you’ll have 16 slices per apple.)
If you like a softer texture, make the slices thinner by cutting each of these in thirds. (So you’ll end up with 24 slices per apple).
Make the apple filling
Add the apple slices to a large mixing bowl.
Toss with ½ cup brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon so that the apples are coated.
Pour the apples into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
Make the crumb topping
Add 1½ cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup oats, 1 cup chopped butter, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg in a mixing bowl.
Now we’ll need to cut the butter into pea-sized pieces while combining it into the rest of the ingredients.
To do this, you can use a pastry knife to cut the butter into the rolled oats mixture.
Or use two knives in a cross pattern to cut the butter.
Keep cutting until the butter is chopped into pea-sized pieces.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over top of the apple mixture.
Bake and serve
Bake at 375ºF for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the apple crisp is bubbling around the edges, the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.
Serve warm or cold.
The topping is crispiest if it is served fairly soon after baking.
Otherwise, the oats start to soak up the juice from the apples. (But it still tastes delicious).
Just like apple pie, this dessert tastes great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some caramel sauce.
After it is baked and cooled completely, apple crisp can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 350℉ for 15 to 20 minutes. The crumb topping will not be as crispy, but it still tastes delicious.
You can also put it in an airtight container and freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it thaw before re-heating it in the oven as above.
I don’t recommend re-heating in the microwave because it makes the topping even more soggy.
Tart apples like Granny Smith add the best flavor to apple crisp. Other crisp apples such as Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious also work well because of their texture.
Baked apple crisp can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. However the longer it is stored, the less crispy the topping will be as it soaks up some of the juice from the apples.
Yes. I like to prepare and store the apple filling and the oat topping separately. (Keep the apples in an airtight container in the refrigerator.) Then put the apple crisp together and bake it as directed when you need it (it may need a few extra minutes in the oven if the apples are cold). This way the topping will still be crispy when you serve it.
Yes, but the topping won’t be quite as crispy. To do this, prepare the apple crisp as directed. Wait until it has completely cooled and then freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When you are ready to serve it, let it thaw before baking it at 350ºF for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is warm all the way through.
The main difference between the two is that apple crisp has oats in the topping where apple crumble doesn’t.
Other dessert recipes you might like
- Pumpkin spice cake with ginger cream cheese icing
- Mini raspberry cheesecakes
- Frozen lemon mousse with raspberry sauce
- Classic carrot cake with cream cheese icing
- Cherry mini cheesecakes
Apple Oat Crisp
- apple peeler
- apple corer and slicer (or a sharp knife)
- 9" x 13" baking dish
- measuring cups and spoons
- pastry knife or 2 butter knives
- 12 medium apples peeled, cored and sliced
- ½ cup brown sugar or granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup cold butter chopped into ¼-inch slices
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Heat the oven to 375°F.
Make the apple filling
- Combine the sliced apples, ½ cup brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Pour them into a 9" x 13" baking dish so they cover the bottom evenly.
Make the oat topping
- Add 1½ cups brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup chopped butter, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg to another mixing bowl.
- Use a pastry knife or two knives to cut the butter into pea-sized pieces while combining it into the rolled oats mixture.
- Sprinkle the rolled oats over the apples in the baking dish.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until it is bubbling around the edges, the apples are soft, and the topping is golden brown.
- Serve warm (or cold) with vanilla ice cream if desired.
- Using half tart crisp apples (such as Granny Smith) and half softer, sweeter apples (such as McIntosh) results in a nice combination or texture and flavor.
- For even baking, cut the apples into thin, evenly-sized pieces.
- For firmer apples after baking, use larger slices (about 16 per apple). For softer apples, cut thinner slices (about 24 per apple)
- For a less sweet filling, omit the sugar from the apple mixture.
- For a crunchier topping, add 1 cup chopped nuts (such as walnuts or pecans). These can be used in addition to the rolled oats or in place of them.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
Have comments or questions about our easy apple crisp recipe? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on April 21, 2016 but was updated with new content on December 17, 2023.