Foolproof apple crisp

This is one of family’s favorite recipes – a super simple apple crisp with tart Granny Smith apples, warm cinnamon, and a sweet, caramelized crispy topping.

I’ve been making this apple crisp since I was 9. One year, my dad came home with this recipe from a colleague. We made it for Thanksgiving, and it was a huge hit. Now, I’m tasked with making it every single year. My family always fights over the leftovers, especially the crumble topping.

This apple crisp is….

  • Just 6 ingredients
  • Easy to make ahead
  • Great for novice bakers (even kids!)
  • Super adaptable
  • Really hard to mess up

I call it foolproof because you really can’t go wrong. I especially love it for holiday dinners because when you’re trying to get a fancy meal on the table, you need at least one easy, reliably great dish you can lean on. This is it.


  • 10-12 large Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • Cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel and core the apples and slice them as thinly as you can.
  3. Arrange the apples in a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle cinnamon on top. No need to add lemon juice or cornstarch because the apples are naturally tart and have pectin, which will help thicken their juices when they bake.
  4. Unwrap and place your stick of butter in a microwave safe bowl. Melt it, then add in flour, brown sugar, and oats. Mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until you have coarse crumbs.
  5. Sprinkle crumble mixture over the apples and pat down gently. Sprinkle more cinnamon on top and bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is golden brown and juices are bubbling. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche, or whipped cream.

How to veganize:

Use a vegan butter stick in place of the regular butter and serve with coconut whipped cream or vegan vanilla ice cream.

How to make ahead:

If you want, you can assemble this the day before, keep it in the fridge covered with foil, and bake it just before serving.

Ways to make it fancier:

  • Use brown butter instead of regular butter. Heat butter in a saucepan over low heat until small specks of brown appear. Remove from heat immediately, let cool for 10 minutes, and use butter as directed in recipe.
  • Try adding different spices, like cardamom or nutmeg.
  • Add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans.
  • Serve it with creme fraiche or vanilla bean ice cream.
  • Add 1/2 cup of almond flour to the crumble topping.
  • Add frozen cranberries for even more tartness.

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