Everyone will love the classic flavors of this cinnamon apple crisp! It’s easy to make and packed with delicious soft baked apples, a crackly and buttery brown sugar oat topping, and the warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Old fashioned apple crisp in a bowl topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

Classic apple crisp: could there be any treat more cozy and reminiscent of good old-fashioned home cooking? This is the food equivalent of a warm hug, or of someone you love picking you up after a long day.

It’s also an ideal dessert for any occasion, especially in the fall, when fresh apples are in season. As a bonus, it has all the enticing flavors of an apple pie, with a fraction of the work.

This is a fool-proof apple crisp recipe with oatmeal topping that we’ve been making for years. Even if you think you can’t bake (we see you!), this dessert is guaranteed to have everyone hoping for seconds. Fresh, juicy apples are lightly sweetened, paired with a buttery brown sugar oat crumble, and baked to perfection – tender underneath, crispy on top.

Ingredients for the best apple crisp

You’ll need 10 ingredients to make this happen, many of which you probably already have.

  • Apples (pretty sure you saw that coming…)
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Granulated white sugar
  • Brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
  • All-purpose flour (omit or sub almond flour for gluten-free)
  • Lemon juice
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground or grated nutmeg
  • Sea salt
  • Butter (unsalted preferred)

What kind of apples to use?

This recipe comes out beautifully every time with Granny Smith apples. They’re slightly tart, crisp, and an all-around winner for baking! You can certainly sub Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, or another variety, but may need to reduce the sugar and adjust baking times slightly.

The one common variety to avoid is McIntosh. McIntosh apples make for great snacking, but are not firm enough to hold up well when baked! Epicurious has published an approachable article here covering common apple varieties and their best uses.

To peel or not to peel…

Peeling is admittedly kind of a pain, but definitely recommended for the best apple crisp! Even after baking for nearly an hour, the apple skins will still be very intact, and in my experience most people find the texture distracting or downright unpleasant. So go ahead and break out the peeler.

If it’s truly a struggle, you might need to replace or upgrade – this simple swivel peeler is less than $10 and has an average of five stars over more than 3,000 reviews, so there’s that!

All about those oats

You may also wonder what kind of oats are best for topping an apple crisp. Rolled oats, also known as “old-fashioned” oats, are the best and easiest choice. They’re available in nearly any grocery store, have fantastic texture and nutty flavor, and toast well in the oven.

Old-fashioned apple crisp: How to make it

One bowl, so easy – promise!

  • Peel and chop your apples into bite-sized pieces.
  • Toss with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
  • Spread them into a baking dish. This one is about 11 by 7-inches. Any small rectangle or square dish will work.
Bowl filled with sliced apples, then tossed with spices and spread in a small rectangular baking dish.
  • Now simply wipe the original bowl lightly with a paper towel. Or don’t even do that – it’s all going the same place! Add the topping ingredients and mix together. An inexpensive pastry blender comes in handy for cutting in the butter with no fuss, but forks or your fingers work fine.
  • Now simply scatter the topping over the apples and pop the dish into the oven for about 15 minutes.
Bowl filled with oats, brown sugar, flour, and spices, separate, mixed together, then spread on top of apples.
Baked pan of old fashioned apple crisp, with a serving spoon ready to dive in.

You ready to dig in!? 🙂 Let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then this bad boy is ready to eat. But whatever you do, don’t forget to pick up some ice cream and caramel sauce to serve on top!

Storage and make ahead tips

This apple crisp is a beautiful dessert for Thanksgiving or any fall gathering! For those serving a crowd, it’s easy to double and simply make in a larger dish. The baking time should be about the same, but test the apple filling by piercing it with a fork just to be sure. The apples should easily give way.

Does apple crisp need to be refrigerated?

Yes, store any leftover crisp in the fridge. If the topping starts to look soggy, never fear: reheat it briefly in the oven at 350 degrees F, and the topping will be crunchy and crisp once again.

Can it be made ahead?

Yes! This is perfect if you’re baking for Thanksgiving or another large meal. Simply make the apple filling as directed, but double the amount of lemon juice to prevent browning on the apples. Store the filling in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 24 hours.

Then, prepare the oat crumble topping as directed, and store that in a separate airtight container, also in the fridge. When ready to bake, simply assemble and bake as directed.

Can it be… frozen?

If you’re really thinking and planning ahead, you may be curious whether this apple crisp can be frozen. And the good news is yes! If you want to freeze the crisp, prepare and bake it just as directed, then allow it to cool completely. Wrap the crisp tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, defrost the pan overnight in the fridge, then warm it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, until heated through.

Hands holding a bowl of apple crisp with ice cream, caramel, and a spoon ready to eat!

More Sweet Apple Recipes You’ll Love:

Enjoy! If you make this Old Fashioned Apple Crisp or any other recipe from Nourish and Fete, please rate it and leave a comment below. We love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

The best and easiest old fashioned crisp with apples, a crackly and buttery brown sugar oat topping, and the warm flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients

Apple Filling

  • 6 Granny Smith apples between 1.5-2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt

Topping

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar light or dark
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or grated nutmeg
  • pinch sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

For Serving (optional)

  • Ice cream
  • Caramel sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Lightly butter the inside of a small baking dish, then set aside.
  • Peel and core the apples, then chop into bite-sized pieces. In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped apples with the granulated sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt. Toss to coat the apple pieces evenly, then transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish.
  • Lightly wipe out the mixing bowl with a paper towel, then add the rolled oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and another pinch of sea salt. Whisk or stir with a fork to blend well.
  • Cut the butter into small pieces. Using a pastry blender, two forks, or just your hands, cut and press the butter pieces into the oat-flour mixture, working until the entire mixture is crumbly and mostly pea-sized pieces of butter remain.
  • Spread the topping evenly over the apples, then transfer to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. The topping should be golden brown and the apples should give way easily when pierced with a fork.
  • Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce to seal the deal!

Notes

  • You can sub a different apple variety, if you like. Granny Smiths are reliably tart, which balances the recipe and keeps it from being too sweet overall. If you choose an apple variety known to be more sweet, you might reduce or omit the granulated sugar.
  • This can be made in either an 8×8 or a 9×9 pan, or anything else roughly equivalent. It’s very forgiving!
  • To make ahead, prepare the filling and topping separately, and store each in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake, assemble and bake as directed.
  • This can also be baked in full and frozen for up to 3 months! Bake, cool completely, wrap tightly in a double layer of foil, and freeze. When ready to bake, defrost in the fridge overnight, then bake at 350 for about 25 minute. Enjoy!

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 358kcal, Carbohydrates: 63g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 9mg, Potassium: 267mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 41g, Vitamin A: 448IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1mg
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