This apple crisp recipe is so easy - you don't even need to peel the apples! The crunchy oat pecan topping makes this crisp extra delicious.
Apple season is here!
To me, nothing says fall like the cozy smell of warm apples and cinnamon. I mean sure, there's the whole pumpkin spice thing (and I do enjoy an occasional PSL), but apple cinnamon is my favourite flavour combination for this time of year.
Give me all of the apple desserts!
If so, then this apple crisp with oats and pecans just might be your perfect fall dessert.
The combination of juicy apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a touch of nutmeg is pretty tasty on its own, but once you add that buttery layer of crisp oats and crunchy pecans on top, it's heaven!
This is my THIRD revision of this recipe, and honestly, it just keeps getting better and better. I can officially say this is my best apple crisp recipe to date!
The previous iteration used quick oats, but I've come to realize that old fashioned oats are the way to go if you want a really nice topping on any fruit crisp.
I've also made adjustments to the amount of sugar I used, and a few other small things.
So, if you had printed the old version of this recipe, you may want to print a new copy of this updated recipe now. There's a print button in the recipe card below!
OK, before I get into the details for the crisp topping, let's talk about the apples. The apples are really what can make or break this apple crisp recipe.
Granny Smith apples seem to be a classic choice for apple crisp, but I personally don't like them in this dish. The green of the apple peel doesn't look very appetizing (I mean sure, you can peel them but I'd rather not), and I find that I need a lot more sugar to offset the sourness of the Granny Smith apples.
I have used Honeycrisp apples, and they are a good option, but I find them almost a little too sweet for me.
Personally, I think that the best apples for apple crisp are something a bit juicier like Cortland apples or something with a bit of tang like Cripps Pink (a cultivar of Pink Lady apples) or SweeTango apples.
When I photographed this recipe, I used a mix of Cortland and Cripps Pink, and the results were very tasty!
There are so many apple varieties out there, and I know not all apples are available in all regions, so my best advice is to use something that has a nice sweet and tangy balance, that is suitable for baking/cooking/pie.
Once you get your apples home, give them a good wash. We're keeping the skins on in this recipe, so you want to make sure they're clean before you get to chopping!
I have recently started washing my apples with a fruit and vegetable wash, which is completely optional, but it gives me peace of mind. You definitely don't need to use any kind of soap to wash your apples, but if you're interested I like the Attitude brand fruit wash because it's cheap ($3.99 CDN), a Canadian brand, and doesn't leave a soapy taste behind.
Once your fruit is clean, you can remove the cores and start chopping them up.
Previously, before I finished my culinary arts courses, I would use an apple corer to remove the cores. If you have one and it makes your life easier, then definitely use it.
If you don't have one, you absolutely do not need to go out and buy one. Just cut the apples into quarters around the core, and then dice those pieces up.
This is one recipe where your dice doesn't really need to be uniform either, so don't worry if your apple pieces aren't all the same size. You'll get nice tender apples with the smaller pieces, but the larger bits will add texture to the finished dish.
Once you're done chopping, all you have to do is toss the apple pieces in a large bowl with lemon juice, sugar, ground cinnamon and nutmeg, then pour the apple mixture into a prepared 8x8 baking dish.
Greasing the pan is helpful, but I have been known to skip this step once in a while, and honestly, it's been fine.
Also, save yourself an extra dish to wash and make your topping in the same large bowl that you used for the apples. I don't even bother to rinse it out or anything - I just add my oats and the rest of the topping ingredients and mix everything together.
My logic is that the topping is going to sit on top of the filling anyhow, so if it picks up a bit of the juice and spices, it's no big deal.
Alright, let's talk about that crisp topping now.
First, I know some of you are wondering if you can use quick oats in the topping. Technically, yes, you can use them. I have definitely made apple crisp with quick oats several times, and it's does work.
Is it great? No... but it will work in a pinch!
The reason why quick oats don't create a really awesome crisp topping is that the pieces are too small and too thin, so they don't lend much texture to the topping.
Whereas old-fashioned oats (a.k.a. rolled oats) are larger and have more surface area, which creates a satisfying thick crunchy layer of topping. You can read more about the differences between quick oats and old-fashioned oats here.
The pecans are totally optional, but I love the nutty flavour and extra bit of crunch that they add to the topping.
If you want to really maximize the flavour of the pecans, you can toast them first, then let them cool down and add them to the topping mixture. They will warm through in the oven, so adding them in raw is fine, but if you've got the time to toast them first it's worth it for the extra flavour.
The rest of the topping ingredients are just all purpose flour, more sugar (I like to use brown sugar), a pinch of salt and unsalted butter.
The butter is another area that I've changed in this updated apple crisp recipe.
I used to rub in cold butter to make the crisp topping, and it does work, but I like shortcuts! So now I just stir in melted butter until the topping looks moist, which is takes less time and isn't as fussy.
This little switch-up means this crisp goes from bowl to oven to my belly that much faster! Hopefully, you'll enjoy making the topping this way too.
Also, I know that some people like to make their apple crisp topping in a food processor. You absolutely can, and then you won't have to pre-chop your nuts since the food processor will do the chopping for you.
I don't use a food processor for this recipe, largely because I can't be bothered to wash it.
Are you seeing a trend here? I HATE washing dishes. If I can avoid creating an extra dish to wash, I will!
Anyhow, that's the basics of my homemade apple crisp with oats and pecans recipe. There are other flavour boosters that you can add to this recipe if you'd like to.
My mom likes to add a dash or two of Angostura bitters to the filling, which adds a little something-something to the overall flavour of the crisp. A little vanilla extract would be nice in there, too (just a teaspoon), or a splash of pure maple syrup.
I've been known to grate fresh orange zest into the oat pecan topping before popping the apple crisp into the oven. It gives a nice bright flavour and the flecks of orange are really pretty.
You could use almonds in the topping if you don't like pecans etc. Or swap out the teaspoon ground cinnamon and the quarter-teaspoon nutmeg for a teaspoon of ground allspice instead. There are many ways to make this dish your own.
I usually add lemon juice to my apples to add some acidity and prevent browning, but if you're using tart apples you might want to either reduce or omit the lemon juice, or your apple crisp could turn out too sour.
Once you've got your filling in the baking dish, and you top it with your oat pecan topping, all you need to do is chuck it in the oven for 45-50 minutes so the apples can cook down, and the oats can crisp up. The juices should bubble up a bit on the sides, and the topping should take on a nice golden brown colour.
And did I mention, your kitchen will smell AMAZING? You're welcome 😉
By the way, I used an old Le Creuset 8x8 enamelled stoneware baking dish for this recipe. It's 1.5 inches in depth and has a volume of about 1.4 litres. These days, most 8x8 pans have a depth of about 2 inches which, of course, increases the overall volume of the vessel.
If your 8x8 baking dish is 2 inches in depth, the filling won't fill up the pan as much as mine did in my photos, which is fine. You can always use a slightly larger baking dish (but I'd avoid using a smaller one).
I bake my crisp in the middle of the oven, but if you find the oats are browning too quickly, you can move the crisp down to your bottom rack to finish cooking.
I like to let everything cool down a bit once it's out of the oven, so the crisp can firm up. Then I serve the warm apple crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This crisp can also be a great Thanksgiving dessert if you make the crisp ahead of time. That way you can leave your oven free for your turkey.
By the way, the leftovers are great the next day served at room temperature with Greek yogurt for breakfast or warmed in the microwave and with ice cream (or whipped cream) again for another round of dessert (or a really great breakfast - no judgement here!).
I hope you enjoy making this recipe! If you do try it out, let me know how it turned out in the comments below!
Apple Crisp with Oats and Pecans
- 8x8 (1.4 L) Baking Dish
Apple Cinnamon Filling
- 1.5 pounds apples, cored and diced (about 4-5 apples)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, (omit if apples are tangy)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Oat Pecan Topping:
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats, (rolled oats)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup pecans, chopped
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish.
Make the Apple Cinnamon Filling:
- In a large bowl, combine chopped apples with lemon juice and stir to coat.
- Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch over the apples. Stir well to evenly distribute the cornstarch, then pour into prepared baking dish. Smooth into an even layer.
Make the Oat Pecan Topping:
- In the same bowl, combine the oats, flour, pecans, brown sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Pour in melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Spoon oat mixture on top of the apples. Do not break large clumps or press the topping onto the apples.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until apples are cooked through, juices are bubbling up the sides, and the topping has become golden brown in colour.
- Allow the crisp to cool for 10-15 minutes, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or at room temperature with Greek yogurt.
- Pink Lady
Please read the blog post for detailed tips and explanations.
Nutrition Disclaimer: please note that the nutritional information for this recipe is only an estimate, and has been calculated using a plugin.