The Best Apple Crisp You’ll Ever Have

In honor of Thanksgiving, we have another best recipe today—apple crisp! The lovely Monique from Ambitious Kitchen shares her incredible version, including a secret ingredient…

The Best Apple Crisp You’ll Ever Have
By Monique Volz of Ambitious Kitchen

When I was a little girl, I loved to spend time in the kitchen. Of course, my favorite thing to make was dessert. I remember always attempting to make my sweets different and unique. Today isn’t any different; I can’t help but put a spin on this classic dessert.

The addition of brown butter, vanilla bean, and a splash of bourbon takes this classic to another level. I can’t seem to put into words how fantastic this apple crisp is. Just know that it’s extraordinary.

Everyone always asks me for this recipe, and I’m sure they’ll ask you, too! It’s best served straight out of the oven, warm, with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Enjoy!

The Best Apple Crisp

You’ll need:
For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup chopped almonds
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

For the filling:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 medium-sized Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. bourbon

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease an 8×8 baking pan.

To make the topping: Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and almonds in a large bowl until well-combined. Add in the pieces of butter and use your hands to squeeze and combine until the mixture becomes crumbly and resembles wet sand. (Alternatively, you can cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or place all of the topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse until just blended. My favorite method is to use my hands, as I believe you get the best crumbly topping that way.)

Once finished, place topping in the fridge and begin making the apple filling.

To make the filling: Place butter and seeds from the vanilla bean in a medium saucepan, and turn heat on medium. After a couple of minutes the butter will begin to crackle and foam—make sure you whisk consistently during this process! Another minute or two, and you will notice the butter turning a slight brown (caramel) color on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent it from burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

While the butter is cooling, place apples, 1/3 cup brown sugar, cinnamon and bourbon in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the brown butter to this apple mixture and toss again to combine.

Take a heaping ½ cup of the topping mixture and toss with the apple mixture. Place the apple mixture in prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with topping. It may seem like a lot of topping, but the apples will cook down and the topping will provide an excellent crunchy exterior.

Bake the crisp on a baking sheet (just in case the filling bubbles over!) for 55-60 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

Notes: Feel free to use different nuts instead of almonds—or leave out nuts completely. If you don’t have bourbon on hand, you can use whiskey, or replace with ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
Delicious! Thank you so much, Monique.

P.S. More best recipes, including caramel apple pie and chocolate-chunk cookies.

(Photos by Monique from Ambitious Kitchen. Thanks to Shoko for help with this series)

  1. Beth says...

    I’ve made this recipe again and again, and it’s the most delicious apple crisp! So, I’m wondering if I could use this recipe with more summery fruit like berries and it would be as delicious. What do you think??

  2. Jacy says...

    Hello. How many servings does this recipe yield? I’d like to make a single portion. Thanks.

  3. Blanche says...

    I have apple crunch recipe that i have done for 46 years and the only difference is i don’t use oatmeal. I would like to share

  4. I just made this – actually I doubled the recipe and it tasted amazing before I even put it in the oven! Yum!

  5. Super delicious!! I’m going to make and freeze bags of the apple filling part before apple season ends!

    A few people have said it lacks “umph”. My fix for that was adding a dash of salt to the topping,and using salted butter for both the topping and the filling. As I once learned from a cooking show, “Salt makes food taste like what it is, so salt your food!” Had I not used salt, I think I would have found this recipe to be a bit bland as well.

    Overall, definitely worth the extra effort that goes into this apple crisp!

  6. This recipe is delicious! The brown butter adds a rich and nutty depth of flavour with delicious hints of caramel… especially around the edges of the pan. Fabulous. I’ll cut down the sugar a bit next time, but I’m a weirdo. Overall it was rich, buttery, caramely, and crispy. Delicious.

  7. Made this tonight. Good. But I think I’m missing something. Still good though. I’m thinking ill add a 1/4 cup of coconut to top before I bake it next time around. Or a finish with dulce de leche ice cream would give it the extra ump it needs rather than the vanilla

  8. Too much effort for me gonna make it less royalty and more basic

  9. Too much effort for me gonna make it less royalty and more basic

  10. I made this for Thanksgiving and my guests agreed, it was the best they’ve ever had. Win! Thank you for posting :)

  11. Merci Jo and Monique!! this is smelling VERY good right now and cannot wait to taste it soon!!

  12. Eaters appetite shows where creativity

  13. ahh Jo, i needed a desert recipe for this evening and now i’ve found it! thank you thank you!! and have a wonderful thanksgiving :) xx

  14. Oh my that looks rich and delicious!! I love that there’s bourbon in it!

  15. oh yum, i am DEFINITELY going to give this a go, my crumbles are always quite slap-dash, so it’ll be nice to have a better recipe up my sleeve!

  16. D2 says...

    I cannot wait to try this! I have made the apple pie (w/ caramel) twice so far to rave reviews!

  17. I have to make this!! So yummy, I can’t wait to try it.

  18. This looks divine! I’ll definitely be sure to try it sometime

  19. This is my absolute favourite pudding, but as an English ‘bird’ I know it as apple crumble. Here is my own, foolproof recipe for it-

    I dare anyone to find it difficult or anything less than delicious. 

    Apple crisp means, to me, thinly sliced, baked or dried apple slices, named because of their similarity to crisps – which you call chips – but to me, chips are what you call fries, but to me, fries are a SPECIFIC (skinny, crispy) type of chip (French fries). 

    Who said we speak the same language?! 

    Time to re-read that lovely post you linked to a while back, in which your husband gets to grips with our dialect…. Cheers!

  20. Ohhhhhh My. This just look too good for words def trying it! Yummmmm


  21. I have never used nuts on my apple crisp – that sounds amazing!! and looks delicious too!

  22. I am loving all your food posts lately! My only complaint is that now I want to change my Thanksgiving Day menu to include all of them!

  23. I had never heard of apple crisp before but it sounds very similar to apple crumble. Do you have crumble in the US or is it a British thing?

  24. thanks for some last minute recipes—i still have yet to make cooking plans for tomorrow, so i’ll definitely have to keep this yummy looking recipe in mind.

  25. Oh this looks to good to be true! Love the vanilla ice cream with it :)

  26. Looks like the perfect recipe for the pounds of apples still laying around from apple picking! Can’t wait to try.

  27. I love your blog and have read you since your days. It’s nice to post recipes but it reads a touch big headed to say you’re th e curator of the list of “best ever” recipes. Haven’t you said yourself that you don’t cook?

    • I think it’s a testament to Joanna’s generous positive attitude. I think it’s so sweet and sunny when people say, “This is the BEST (whatever) that I’ve ever had!”

  28. Apple Crisp is my favorite! So glad you posted this recipe!

    Have a great Thanksgiving!!

    -Sarah {}

  29. Yummy , Looks almost as good as tarte tatin!

  30. And…YUM! Must pin for future reference.

  31. Looks tasty! I started putting caramel in my apple pie for a change up- it’s been a big hit so far.

  32. Looks tasty! I started putting caramel in my apple pie for a change up- it’s been a big hit so far.