Food

A Crisp For All Seasons

A Crisp For All Seasons

I know what you’re thinking: Does the world need another apple crisp recipe? I am here to tell you yes, yes it does, and so do you…

This recipe is special for many reasons, but let’s just begin with the fact that it’s one for all seasons, which means it is endlessly riffable. You can make it with apples in the fall, berries in the summer, strawberry and rhubarb in the spring, and virtually any combo of fruits from your fruit bowl all year long. I begged my mother-in-law for the recipe more than two decades ago, after she served a peach-raspberry version on a warm summer night, and I haven’t stopped making it since. If there were a leaderboard for Recipes That Have Made The Most Appearances In My House, this would be right there at the top.

Its iconic status might also be due to how simple it is to assemble. You cut the fruit right into the baking dish (no mixing bowl, one less thing to wash) and toss with lemon juice; the topping is made of ingredients you most definitely have in your house right this second; and unlike a lot of crisp and cobbler recipes, it does not ask you to hand-smush a stick of room temperature butter into the sugar-flour topping. You simply melt the butter and drizzle it over the whole shebang before it goes into the oven.

If you are going down the apple road, you should try to track down tart-sweet apples that lend themselves to baking: Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Mutsu, Granny Smith. (Shown above: A mix of Mutsu, Gala, and Macoun.) But again, flexibility is the name of the game here — my feeling is whatever apple you have in the bowl is the best apple for the job. P.S. I’ll bet no one would complain if you threw some cranberries into that baking dish.

When I stay in vacation rentals, I’ve been known to pack a bag of pre-made topping (flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon), so I don’t have to buy (then waste) a bunch of dry ingredients. I just head to the local market, figure out what fruit is fresh or local, and the dessert box is checked.

The topping manages to snake down through the fruit while it bakes, so there is crispy-buttery deliciousness in every bite.

And of course, whenever possible, serve warm with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

Apple Crisp
(Again, feel free to replace the apples with any combination of fruit you have on hand: peaches, nectarines, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, pears, cranberries it’s all fair game.)

5-6 cups apples, peeled and sliced, or enough to mostly fill a 13-by-9 inch baking dish
juice from half a lemon
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, whisked
6 tablespoons butter, melted
ice cream (vanilla or cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place fruit in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle on lemon juice and toss. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add egg, tossing with fork until mixture is crumbly. (It should not be mushy.) Sprinkle flour-egg mixture over fruit (nestling it in between the apples, too), then drizzle the melted butter as evenly as possible all over the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.

P.S. A simple, delicious olive oil cake and a great baking trick. Plus, a rose apple pie and apple crumb bars.

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Lindsay Stallings says...

    I decided to try this with some apples that were a little past their prime, some pears that weren’t really ready yet, some dehydrated cranberries that needed used and didn’t measure how much fruit I had *shrugs*

    I drizzled a little honey over the whole thing before baking but it turned out AMAZING! Thanks, Jenny! and Jenny’s M-I-L!

  2. Emma says...

    Loved this recipe! I ran out of flour so I did half flour half oats and it was super yummy. This is a keeper!

  3. Samantha says...

    I made this for a work birthday treat and was easily able to adapt it to be vegan and gluten free using margarine and flaxseed egg substitute and one-for-one gf flour. It was delicious! Thanks for the easy, adaptable recipe!

  4. Ash says...

    Made this last week for my partner and I after a particularly rough day at work – and it was a hit! I’ve been looking for something to do with some apples I’ve had since the summer when I would force my nephews to eat a healthy snack (but then couldn’t bring myself to finish said healthy snack). I added crazy amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg to mine and our home smelled all buttery and warm and autumnal. Yum!

  5. Tara says...

    Tried this the same day this post went up! It was a huge hit and will replace the apple pie this Thanksgiving!

  6. ~Heather says...

    I had (past tense) a tried-and-true recipe for crumble, so I thought, until I tried this one!

    I’ve already made two double batches of this recipe, it is amazing that by pouring the melted butter over EVERYTHING the apples cook up beautifully. And adding an egg to the topping throws in some extra protein and somehow makes it easier. Some kitchen magic, can’t be explained.

    This recipe is miles better than my 20 year old recipe: the chewiness of the topping (must admit, I changed 1 cup flour = 1/2 cup spelt flour + 3/4 cup oats and use brown sugar for white sugar), the smoothness of the apples, perfect for dessert AND breakfast.

    Be warned: I’ll be expecting more game changing recipes from this column now.

  7. Kelly says...

    Made this tonight and it was seriously perfect. Made it just like the directions. The butter and sugar together gets all crispy, almost like a crusty caramel. I’m stopping myself from having seconds but not sure how long I can hold off! Thank you!!

  8. Megn says...

    Just fyi, for those of you who, like me, were curious about the egg added to the topping: I made this last night, and it turns the topping kind of muffin-y vs. crumbly. I prefer without, but it was nice to try something new, and my family (only 3!) ate more than half of the dessert. So!

  9. natasha says...

    How do you take that on the plane without getting stopped at TSA? I need to do this!

  10. Sarah says...

    I love this super easy to remember crumb topping for all my crisps – 1 stick melted butter, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of regular oats, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Just mix by hand or spoon until large crumbs start to form and sprinkle over any fruit you have for your crisp. It’s a very loose version of Sheila Lukins’ peach crisp in her USA Cookbook.

  11. Irene says...

    I always wonder why stop at just 6 TBS of butter–why not just use up the whole stick (8 TBS)? I’d probably throw in a handful of oats to the recipe above and use up the entire stick of butter.

  12. Catherine says...

    Made this tonight with peaches and must admit, Jenny, that I was skeptical this would be anything beyond the perfectly fine and delicious crisps I’ve made over the years. YUP THO. ‘Twas like you promised!! Caramelly, buttery, beyond. Thank you!

  13. Priya says...

    I actually often find myself searching for a super basic, classic crisp recipe that’s not fruit specific — mostly for the sake of the ingredient proportions — so it’s great to see this here.

  14. Caroline says...

    Is there any easy way to print recipes from here? I can’t seem to figure it out.

    • Claire says...

      I don’t think so. I usually just copy and paste into a word doc, or into google docs.

  15. Eevin says...

    This recipe is so like the one my mom passed to me – it makes me feel sweetly closer to her to read it here. :) For what it’s worth, when I make it, I often take laziness a step further by NOT melting the butter, but dotting it all over the top and letting it melt while it bakes which saves me having to wash the butter-melting pan. Call it a week-night hack. ;)

  16. I use half oats, half flour and brown sugar as well. It’s hard to go wrong with any version of a crisp though.

  17. I live in Rwanda and have been making a mango crisp here! My mom taught me that you can sub mangos for apples and unripe papaya for peaches in baking recipes :)

    • SuzieQ says...

      What a fun tip – thanks!

  18. sha says...

    I don’t eat eggs – can I skip the egg? Or replace it with something?

  19. Jeanne says...

    Yes, there is always room for super delicious recipes made easier! There are two things I hate reading in a recipe…. room temperature butter and “roll out dough on a flour covered surface”. This looks super delish and thank you for the bag of dry ingredients tip. You reminded me that I did that on a flight once. I put a huge label on the bag that said…. This is flour NOT COCAINE

  20. Maggie says...

    This is very similar to the recipe my mother used, if not the exact one! I’ve not seen another that is as good. Thank you!

  21. Thestra says...

    This is the exact same recipe I’ve used for the past 40 years. It’s also the same recipe my grandma used before me. Not news.

    • Heather says...

      This combo of ingredients is new to me! The recipe I’ve “inherited” from my boyfriend’s mother doesn’t use an egg, and includes oats. It’s always neat to see how other folks try different approaches to similar recipes. I might have to make this and my usual apple crisp this autumn for a yummy contrast and compare experiment. I bet this WOULD be delicious with cranberries – thanks for sharing Jenny!

    • Jason Henninger says...

      Jaded much… today is Thursday. There was one last week. There will be one next week. But its still news. Not everyone has the luxury of old family recipes….

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Yet another testament to its greatness.

    • Riley says...

      I made this yesterday and left the skins on the apples — MUCH less work, and I think a really lovely touch. I love the color and texture they add. I did swap in whole wheat pastry flour and added some cinnamon.

  22. Claire says...

    Crisps are the easiest and best desserts, and are such even-tempered, agreeable recipes, working well with any variety of fruit or tweak of the topping, using more or less of any ingredients. it hardly matters how one fiddles around with the receipe, it still comes out delicious, any time of year. I made an apple crisp just this past Sunday w/ a slightly different recipe for topping- using brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, butter and a fat pinch of salt. I’ve added chopped nuts sometimes and that works great too.

  23. Julie says...

    Salivating just looking at the photo. I will be making this. I live alone. Yes, I will eat the whole gorgeous thing all by myself. I won’t think twice about such gluttony. There may be an accompaniment of Prosecco, the couch and Netflix.

  24. Ingredients in a bag for traveling = brilliant! Thank you!!!

  25. Amy says...

    I’d like to try this, but will reduce the amount of sugar!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      Is it just normal white sugar? Also, if I use berries not peaches or apples or a similar size fruit, how many cups do I use? Thanks!

    • Thestra says...

      If you do that, you’re crumble will not turn out and you’ll end up with a hard floury crust and sopping butter underneath instead. The sugar is necessary.

    • Julie says...

      Do you think it would freeze well assembled? I’m think individuals in Small ramekins In the freezer for last minute treats.

  26. jen in pa says...

    this looks amazing! about how much fruit do you use if you’re using berries/peaches? do you have a guess about a number of cups?

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      It’s roughly the same amount, 5-6 cups, probably closer to 6 cups, enough to mostly fill up your baking dish. (For the record, I’ve done this in pie dishes, too using the same principle — just slice or dump the fruit right into the dish until its mostly full. You will have a little extra topping if you do this, though. The point is, the recipe is very intuitive and flexible!)

  27. Alexandra says...

    And for those who don’t like peeling/slicing apples, I can highly recommend this to get one of those cast iron apple peeler, slicer and corer thingies. It’s a very worthy $20 investment, especially if you go apple picking or have apple trees and a lot of apples to deal with. My kids used to really enjoy “helping” with this little tool.

  28. HP says...

    I make a bulk recipe of the topping occasionally and keep it in a bag in the freezer. Then when I want to make a crisp on the fly I just have to spoon/pour some out. Game changer.

    • Alex says...

      Wow. Just…. wow. So brilliant.

    • Angela says...

      oh I like that! Will pop that one in my tool box. Thanks.

  29. Kay says...

    Perfect, thanks! We planted an apple tree last year, and this year we have a LOT of apples to eat.

  30. Nathalie says...

    I love apple crisp but don’t like preparing the apples. Then we had friends for dinner and they brought dessert – apple crisp, with the apple peel still on! It tasted great! And now I find out I don’t even need to hand-smush the butter? This will be breakfast, lunch and dinner!

  31. Nicole says...

    Oh man, this is perfect timing! I love an apple crisp, and I just went apple picking. So excited to see a recipe in which the butter is melted- my least favorite part of most baking recipes is cutting the butter into the flour. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      co-sign on this one

  32. Thomas says...

    this sounds absolutely delicious!!!!

  33. Kate says...

    Wow! This is sooo close to the recipe my mom always makes except we never use egg! And use more butter! So, for those with allergies, I’d say just leave it out and bring on the buttaaaaaa!

    • DC says...

      This is so good to know for vegan baking, too–I’m sure no egg + extra melted vegan butter would still be delicious!

  34. nicole says...

    Egg allergy here. How critical is it to the recipe?

    • Sara says...

      Flax egg might work here?

    • Angela says...

      Honey or maple syrup would probably achieve the same thing too!

    • joy says...

      I have never in my life put an egg in a crisp, and I’ve made quite a few crisps. Leave it out and you’ll be fine.

  35. Hannah says...

    Any thoughts on what I can replace the egg with? My son’s allergic.

    • Annette says...

      Just leave it out. It’s help bind it but if you add a bit more butter, maybe not melted, it will be basically the same. I sometimes add oatmeal / oats to give some texture.

    • Aleshia says...

      Just use more butter and leave the egg out honey, it works just as well, and is just as yummy!

  36. Kathryn says...

    Feed us, Jenny!!!
    This! & lots of love, from a grateful & busy family xx

  37. NK says...

    Jenny, what are your thoughts on using frozen fruits for this? Obviously fresh will always taste better, but I just have such a pile up in the freezer. Would you adapt anything for frozen fruits? Thanks so much.

    • annette says...

      I have used frozen fruit before. It adds a lot of liquid. I usually thaw it a bit and pour off the juice. If you want to use the juice, you could always add a thickener to it and it could be added back.

    • Maggie says...

      I made this for my husband, who loves berry desserts but whose birthday falls in the winter, and it was incredible – the more cherries the better. It has you toss the fruit with flour, which you wouldn’t usually do for a crisp – I guess to catch the extra liquid from the frozen fruit: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/mixed-berry-crisp-101940

    • NK says...

      Thanks Annette and Maggie!

  38. Valentina says...

    This looks so good!
    Just a silly question… Do you know the amount of butter in grams?? I always get lost when is in spoons…
    Thank you so much!

    • maureen says...

      Google says it’s 85 grams

  39. Lisa says...

    Is apple crisp the same as apple crumble?
    I made one recently where I did a mixture of almond and regular flour. It was lovely, you get more crunchiness from the not flour

  40. Sasha L says...

    My preschoolers and I just made apple crisp this morning! Very similar recipe to this one. We get to have some for afternoon snack, I can’t wait.

    Apple week: apple prints, songs and stories and finger plays, picking from our tree and lots of eating!

  41. P says...

    yes! That’s how Martha Stewart does her apple crisp (with a pie shell underneath) but I’m all for less calories without the pie shell. In the fall I slice old apples into a pan with some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and my kids either eat it alone, or with their oatmeal. Bonus points-waking up to the delicious smell of baked apples/cinnamon….mmm

  42. Simone says...

    This is happening.

  43. Cheka says...

    This is the exact cobbler recipe I’ve used for decades, and it’s delicious every time, with any combo of fruit, fresh or frozen….but I usually make it in an 8×8 Pyrex (2 Qt) dish because we love a thicker crust! And yes, subbing a GF flour works perfectly!

  44. Carolyn says...

    This summer I made a berry crisp at home in a foil pan and then took it CAMPING! We put it on the grates over the fire and then ate it after dinner the first night. I think I might be a genius, haha!

    Also, Jenny, what would happen if you didn’t peel the apples? Would it be terrible?

    • Sasha L says...

      I never peel mine and everything always turns out

  45. Ahhh! I might make this for my Jewish New Year’s dinner this weekend, instead of apple pie.
    Looks amazing!

  46. jen says...

    Sounds good; dont spare the cinnamon, tho, add more.

  47. Jill says...

    Hi Jenny! YUM!!!!
    Is it brown sugar you are using?
    Thank you so much!

  48. Kirstin says...

    I just bought a half-peck of apples for a pie and was dreading the dough-making process…Cup of Jo for the win!

  49. jeannie says...

    Can’t wait to make this! Love that you can melt the butter. So easy.

  50. Jenny says...

    What a good idea to prep this for a vacation and use local fruits!! I’m going to steal that.

  51. Tania says...

    I’m curious — does the egg just bind the topping a bit more? I haven’t used eggs before in a crisp topping (which, now that I think about it, have always been very crumbly…).

  52. Susan says...

    Yum yum yum! Looks amazing. I love doing pre measures mixed bags for vacations. So genius!

    Xo

  53. becky says...

    One of my favorites things about fall! We do gluten free 1:1 flour and it workouts perfectly. Yum! Happy fall y’all!

    • s.patel says...

      do you have a brand recommendation for 1:1 flour? We just had to go gluten-free for my 7 year old, and trying to shop for all new stuff in the kitchen has been overwhelming!

  54. Chris says...

    When I stay in vacation rentals, I’ve been known to pack a bag of pre-made topping (flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon), so I don’t have to buy (then waste) a bunch of dry ingredients. Wow, what a great idea!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, SUCH a great idea!! my friend linsey once packed a similar thing for a girls’ weekend away, and it was amazing to have warm berry crumble at a rental house :)

    • J says...

      Right! We’re staying at a vacation rental next week, and now I know what I’m packing along with my novels!

    • Annie says...

      I agree! I love this. COJ and Jenny, I would love to see more tips and hacks for cooking and eating well in a vacation rental.

  55. Julie says...

    Smitten Kitchen has an apple crisp where she adds crystallized ginger to the topping and it sounds like that’d be easy to add to this recipe too, if you’re looking to mix it up. I make it for Thanksgiving dessert since we have a gluten free person in the family and crisps are easy to swap gluten free flour in!

  56. Eli says...

    The first day of fall weather feeling here in Nashville and this recipe is exactly what I need to complete it!! I already have everything just hadn’t thought to make a crisp. Now to send out the mass-text for friends to join me (because what’s better than friends and dessert)! <3

    Will definitely be putting to use many times over. I think I can get some quality late peaches at various farmer's markets as well.

    Thanks for the easy recipe and great suggestion. :)

  57. Meredith Whitehouse says...

    This might be a silly question, but I am looking for a great baking dish. Any idea where the one in the photos is from?

    • Cara Mills says...

      Hi Meredith! I love the Avery Ceramic Baking dishes dishes from Crate and Barrel. I love the bright colors and they currently retail for $25 for a set of three nesting dishes (they decrease in size and make for easy storage). I bake all the time and highly recommend!

    • shannon says...

      Second vote for Pyrex or Anchor Hocking. It’s worth it to get one with a lid! So handy for travel and leftovers. Looks like Target has some sets in the sub-$20 price range!

    • For a splurge, I love Falcon Enamelware.
      I treated myself to a bake set of theirs for my birthday a couple years ago, their trays are the workhorses of my kitchen!

      https://us.falconenamelware.com/

    • Charlotte says...

      Hi Meredith, the one in the pictures is from Dansk. The line is called Kobenstyle and it’s been around forever. They still produce them and you can buy them new (https://www.amazon.com/Dansk-844220-Kobenstyle-Teal-Baker/dp/B00DSRKC5K/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=saveur-20&linkId=61aa1a25f30ef9e1472cdce84cf40dfe) but I’ve picked up a couple of the vintage ones at thrift stores for next to nothing, so it’s a good thing to keep an eye out for on Ebay, Etsy and at thrift stores. I have a vivid blue baking dish like the one in the pics and a yellow paella dish and I love them! They’re substantial and stand up to a lot of use but aren’t as heavy and cumbersome as my Le Creuset cast iron.

    • Cheryl says...

      Beyond the clear Pyrex dishes, I think a classic white 9 x 13 inch baking dish is a must for any kitchen. I use mine all the time for any dish that will go straight from the oven to the table. You can easily find nice, inexpensive ones, especially at stores such as Home Goods, Marshalls and Target. The Threshold series and Hearth and Hand (Joanna Gaines) are a good bet at Target.

  58. Kay says...

    Have you ever replaced part of the flour with oats? Do you think that would work? I love crisps as dessert then breakfast!

    • Alexandra says...

      I use for apple crisp half flour, half oats, it’s delish; and of the flour part, I use half whole wheat pastry flour, gives a bit of a nutty taste.

    • anne says...

      I do all oats with butter and brown sugar and I love it and totally eat it for breakfast too! If you have a lot of oats, it ends up being more like a fruity baked oatmeal, but if you just keep a small amount they crisp up beautifully. Scoop some yogurt on top and I think it is totally a breakfast food.

    • Caroline says...

      My mom does this! Melts butter in the skillet, adds the sugar and then adds oats and cinnamon and cooks till…whenever you can’t wait any longer to eat. Delicious on…everything.

    • Caroline says...

      ***she uses brown sugar when making this