Apple: Apple Crisp with Oats

Apple Crisp Crumble - British American

It’s apple season. It, like the turning of green leaves to golden and crimson hues, is a symbol of fall. In my house and elsewhere, that means it’s time for apple crisp.

I’m more partial to crisps, crumbles and crunches than pies and tarts – not only to make but to eat. I prefer less fuss – sprinkling a quick topping over raw fruit, rather than rolling and pinching dough, and worrying about an undercooked, soggy bottom crust.

A crisp contains flour, butter and sugar that is roughly mixed and scattered atop of fruit. It’s an American adaptation of the British crumble, which some food historians say was developed there around World War II, when food rations called for a sweet alternative to the beloved apple pie they’d been eating since the fifteenth century.

However, other food history authorities suggest that apple crisp and other non-pie variations such as cobbler were introduced in the nineteenth century by the English. Notably, the earliest print reference to apple crisp in American recipes was in 1924 in “Everybody’s Cook Book: A Comprehensive Manual of Home Cookery” by Isabel Ely Lord.

Regardless of its origins, apple crisp is a fall tradition and a good apple crisp is balanced in flavor and texture. Flavor – tart apples and a crisp that’s not overly sweet. Texture – a tender juicy apple filling and a chewy, crisp topping.

In the last few weeks, I’ve already made three apple crisps – the apples always vary but not the crisp.

The apples I use depend on what’s available – Jonathan, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Braeburn, and other tart varieties. My best crisp is a mix of apples, using some apples to hold shape and others that will melt to make a sweet, juicy filling.

This crisp is my go-to recipe for any fruit-based crisp. I adapted it many years ago from the Plum and Peach Crisp recipe at 101 Cookbooks. It calls for yogurt in lieu of some of the butter. It’s fantastic because the yogurt adds a bit of tanginess to the already tart and sweet (not overly sweet) dessert. My adaptation also calls for fresh cardamom, one of my favorite comforting spices.

Enjoy! I’m interested in hearing about which apple varieties are your favorite for baked desserts.

Tidbits on Apples:

  1. The large sweet apples that we recognize today descend from wild crabapples from the region of Caucasus in west Asia.
  2. Apples arrived in the New World with European settlers. The first documented orchard in the U.S. was planted in 1625 in Boston.
  3. Choose your apples by what you decide to do with it – eating raw versus baking. Select ones that are firm and bruise-free. The “undercast” (the background color) of ripe apples is generally a dull yellow or dull green. For example a light green Granny Smith is ripe, while a very green Granny Smith is under-ripe. Under-ripe apples will ripen quickly when left out at room temperature.
  4. Store apples in the refrigerator drawer to delay additional ripening. The optimum temperature for apple storage (depending on variety) is between 32 and 40 degrees.

Apple Oat Crisp

As a quick buying guide:  2 ½ pounds of apples is equal to about 5 large apples, 8 medium, or 10 small. For this recipe you can peel the apples or leave the skin on for ease and an extra rustic effect.


Cardamom Sugar: (optional)

Seeds from 3 green pods

1 teaspoon sugar

Apple Filling:

2 1/2 pounds apples – cored (peeled optional), cut into 1 inch pieces

1/4 cup brown sugar or natural cane sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cardamom sugar (above)


3/4 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup natural cane sugar or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Remaining cardamom sugar mixture (above) (equals about 1/2 teaspoon)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup plain yogurt


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cardamom Sugar: Grind fresh cardamom seeds with sugar using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. (Use a scant amount of pre-ground cardamom as a substitute, about 1/4 teaspoon – more or less to taste).

Filling: Core and peel apples (leave apple skins for a more rustic and easier to prepare crisp); cut the apples in half and then into 1-inch chunks. Place apples in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, corn starch and 1 teaspoon of the cardamom sugar; add to apples and toss gently to coat. Transfer to an 8×8 square baking dish or the equivalent solid-bottom tart pan.

Crisp Topping: Combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and remaining cardamom sugar together in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter, and then add the yogurt. Mix until everything comes together in a moist dough-like texture. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the apples.

Bake the apple crisp on the middle oven rack for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the apples are tender. Remove crisp from the oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature plain or with vanilla ice cream or cream.

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14 Responses to Apple: Apple Crisp with Oats

  1. Apples are my favorite fruit, and a crisp is the only way to improve them. This looks perfect and incredible!

  2. Ricky Gildon says:

    mumm mumm good….looks delics

  3. Nothing says fall like a good apple crisp! I love that you added the cardamom to this – what a great addition.

  4. Apple crisp!! Mmmm looks amazing!! I love that kind of thing for a sunday morning .. isn’t it just wonderfull the way the kitchen smells when preparing it???

  5. Great post. Love the idea of the cardamom. I just made a plum amaretti crisp on Sunday adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe.

  6. Cardamom is a wonderful addition to this classic dessert. The amount I used is modest but you can of course use more. A note of caution, however, cardamom can quickly overpower in flavor, so additional amounts should be added incrementally.

  7. It’s been 100 degrees the last couple of days in Los Angeles, but when it cools off I’m definitely making this recipe. I love a warm crisp with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Yea, fall apples!

  8. sippitysup says:

    Ahhh apples. That means the seasons are changing. GREG

  9. Lana says:

    Ah, the sweet smells of Autumn… We are experiencing record high temps here in SoCal, and I wish for a bit of chill in the air. But, this crisp of yours looks very inviting, with all the spices and crunchy oats.
    I have bought some Braeburn apples at the local market, hoping:)

  10. beatriz says:

    Fantastic recipe! It was so simple to make and really delicious, even reheated. I only had steel cut oats available, so I used those instead of the rolled. I think they made the crisp a little crunchier, but quite tasty. The colleagues I shared it with are already clamoring for more :)

  11. Kim says:

    Hey Andrea! I missed you at the latest Camp Blogaway get-together. Just wanted to drop by and see how you were?

    I too, am a huge fan of crisps. Much less fussy, but gets the job done. And my go-to recipe is also an adaptation of Heidi’s. :o)

    We have an apple tree in the backyard – full of apples right now. Might have to get on this crisp pronto!!


  12. @Beatriz: Glad to hear you liked the crisp. I, agree, it’s a quick dessert to put together and the leftovers are just as delicious as fresh – especially for breakfast.

    @Kim: Yes, I was disappointed I could not make the one-day Camp Blogaway event. I read the coverage afterward and it sounds like it was great. Heidi @101Cookbooks is a queen! Sounds like you’ll be eating plenty of apples – stay tuned, more coming your way.

  13. Thanks for reminding me to make this! I have been needing a good fall crumble this year but I haven’t quite got around to it yet. This is going on the list ASAP!

  14. Nicola Grun says:

    This was a hit for Christmas Eve dinner last night. We cleaned off the plate!

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