The Best Apple Crisp Recipe without Oats – a Simple Classic from Grandma’s Kitchen

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The Best Apple Crisp Recipe without Oats – a Simple Classic from Grandma’s Kitchen

Here in the Midwest, it’s early fall in October, making it time for one of my favorite desserts, apple crisp! I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for an easy apple crisp recipe. And no one makes delicious apple crisp as my grandma did.

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My grandma passed when I was only 13, so I can only imagine how much I loved her homemade apple crisp when I was little. I wish I had stronger memories of making it with her, but since I don’t, I can look forward to passing grandma’s apple crisp recipe along to my grandkids.

Her old-fashioned recipe is so simple and easy with only five ingredients. Can you believe none of those ingredients are apple pie filling or brown sugar!? This easy recipe is genuinely made from scratch with simple pantry staples ingredients!

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a glass bowl with apple crisp and a scoop of ice cream with it
The finished product! And, of course, it’s even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Step 1 – Pick Your Apples

It all starts for me with a trip to the apple orchard. We live in the country just a few minutes away from Crane’s U-Pick Orchard, one of our area’s biggest and most popular apple orchards. On this sunny day in early autumn, my adult daughter, my 13-year-old son, and I headed over to Crane’s to pick some apples right from the tree. They don’t get much fresher than that! Yum!  Fresh apples are the best for all of your favorite apple recipes.

a boy picks an apple from the tree in an apple orchard
Tucker picking this double apple
two apples conjoined at the step being held up in front of a boy's face while standing in an apple orchard
They were conjoined at the stem! Cool!
apple closeup for grandma's apple crisp
Lexi declared this the perfect photo-worthy apple.

If you’re not lucky enough to be near a real, live apple orchard like me, you can use any ole apple from your local grocery store for this apple crisp recipe. Click HERE for a handy guide to all the apples available!

Many people use granny smith apples for their apple crisp recipes, but we usually prefer Honeycrisp for grandma’s apple crisp. That is ironic because Honeycrisp apples didn’t even exist back when my grandma was making this for me to enjoy!

Unfortunately, when we went to the orchard this time, Honeycrisp apples weren’t ready to pick, so we chose to pick Jonagold and Cortland varieties after sampling a taste of all of our options. Here’s some info about these two choices from Crane’s.

jonagold apple on the branch

Jonagold Apple

This apple is a large fruit striped red over bright yellow.  It has a firm, crackling, juicy, slightly tart flesh and a superb, rich, full flavor.  The Jonagold apple is of the finest dessert and eating quality with good cooking properties and will store in the refrigerator for three months.

Cortland apple

Cortland Apple

The Cortland apple has crisp white flesh.  One of the best salad apples because it doesn’t brown quickly. Side note – if you are worried about your apple browning, sprinkle freshly cut sliced apples with lemon juice to keep them looking fresh longer!

After we picked our delicious apples (and one 33.5 lb pumpkin for carving later), we headed home for the real fun, putting grandma’s apple crisp together with just five ingredients.

a boy carries a giant pumpkin across the apple orchard
When you’re 13, nothing keeps you from getting your giant pumpkin – even carrying it ½ mile through the orchard to the cashier station.

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Step 2 – Admire your beautiful apples

One of the best advantages of picking your apples is that the fresh apples from the orchard are much bigger, plumper, and juicier than the apples from the local grocery store. The best apples are freshly picked, for sure! Just look at these beauties!

As we picked our apples, we kept them in separate bags so we’d know the difference when we got home.

a pile of freshly picked apples ready to be made into grandma's apple crisp
These apples are the Cortland variety.

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Step 3 – Gather Your Tools

Apple Corer Peeler Slicer

Once we’re back home, and in the kitchen, the first step is to gather the tools you need to make grandma’s apple crisp recipe. My first and favorite tool is my Pampered Chef Apple Corer Peeler Slicer.

If you don’t have one of these beauties, you NEED one! I have had mine for almost 30 years, and although it has a bazillion uses, and I could probably use it weekly, it earns its space in my kitchen for this job alone.

apple corer peeler slicer used in grandma's apple crisp

Side note – I have used the apple corer peeler slicer on potatoes. Whirl them through the tool and spread your potatoes out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with some olive oil and your favorite seasoning, and these curly taters bake up beautifully – and they’re so much more fun than plain ole French fries.

I’m getting inspired to try these curly fries in my air fryer.  I bet they’ll be even better!

Now back to Grandma’s Apple Crisp Recipe

This tool makes the prep work take less than 5 minutes for an entire crisp! I have recently updated my 30-year-old Apple Corer Peeler Slicer with a new blade for just a couple of bucks, and it works just like new!

A bonus here is that it’s easy for kids to use, so put those grandkids to work helping you! You’ll have a dish full of half-moon apple slices ready to top in no time at all!

I like to put a plastic bag at the end of my tool to collect the peels and core from the apple, which makes cleanup fast and straightforward! You can get your very own Apple Corer Peeler Slicer HERE.

a pile of apple peels for grandma's apple crisp

Once you’ve whizzed the apple through the slicer, give each apple a cut down both sides, and you’ll have a pile of half-moon-shaped slices.

an apple being sliced in prep for grandma's apple crisp recipe

Using the apple corer peeler slicer will take your apples from this:

a baking pan holding fresh apples getting ready to prep for grandma's apple crisp

To this:

half moon shaped apples used in grandma's apple crisp recipe

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The Baking Dish

As you cut your apples, you’ll want to place them directly into the baking pan you’ll use. You may have to follow instructions for a prepared baking dish if you are using glass, but I throw the apples right on it with my stoneware dish. No prep necessary!

I use my ancient Pampered Chef Round Baking Stone with sides. I’ve tried different kinds of baking dishes over the years, and this one is my favorite.

I’m not sure what Pampered Chef used to call this pan. Mine is ancient and doesn’t NEED replacing, but I hear that the newest version of this fantastic stone is dishwasher safe! Perhaps I should consider replacing mine after all?

Anything that makes kitchen work faster and easier is a win for me, especially when it comes to cleanup. You can get the updated White Large Round Stone from my incredible Pampered Chef Consultant HERE.

After you’ve cut up all of your apples and layered them in your pan, sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top of the apples.  I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon between some of the layers, too.  Can you ever have too much cinnamon?

a baking pan with half moon shaped apples sprinkled with cinnamon for grandma's apple crisp

Cut up enough apples to fill your pan to the top.  It will look like this:

a baking pan filled with cut up apples sprinkled with cinammon

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Step 4 – Gather Your Ingredients for the Apple Crisp Topping

ingredients needed for grandma's apple crisp recipe

Grandma may not have had the apple corer peeler slicer, but she did have these easy ingredients to make the crispy topping! All you need is 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of sugar, and one stick of cold butter. That’s it!!!

Here is a special note for my friends who follow a gluten-free diet.  You can easily substitute the all-purpose flour in this recipe with a cup of King Arthur’s gluten-free flour.

I highly recommend this flour as it is tried and true and can be substituted cup for cup.  If you try it this way or have another gluten-free flour, please let me know how it turns out!  Some of my g/f friends prefer almond flour for substitutions.  I would love to hear what works for you!

The Batter Bowl & Pastry Blender

a glass mixing bowl with butter, sugar, and flour being mixed for grandma's apple crisp recipe

You can use any bowl, but I love this glass batter bowl because I can see the bottom and how my blending is going while I work. Of course, just like everything else, mine is ancient, but it still works! The newer version looks a little different, but I’m betting it will still do the same trick.

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Side Note

By now, I bet you’re not surprised to hear that all of my favorite kitchen tools come from the Pampered Chef. My excellent Pampered Consultant’s name is Lisa Lokken.  I love to help strong and entrepreneurial women in their business ventures.  You can connect with Lisa HERE for any of your Pampered Chef needs.

Back to Grandma’s Apple Crisp Recipe

The Crumble Topping

Place the slightly chilled butter in a mixing bowl, add the flour and sugar, and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour and sugar. It takes just a couple of minutes. You are looking for a coarse texture for your crumble topping.

a pastry cutter in a glass bowl for mixing butter, flour, and sugar

When you get your butter all cut in and the mixture looks like a crumble, pour it on top of your apple mixture. Spread it out so it covers the whole thing. If you love cinnamon, go ahead and sprinkle some over the top. One of the best things about this apple dessert is that it is so forgiving!

a crumble mix being poured over cut up apples

When your crisp looks like this, you can throw it in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees. I use my nose to tell me when it’s done baking. You will indeed smell the crispy apple goodness as it bakes!

a fully prepped apple crisp ready to be baked

Time to Serve!

You’ll know the apple crisp is done baking when the top turns golden brown, and you see liquid bubbling up around the edges.

a fully baked apple crisp in the oven

Once it cools enough to eat, I serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum! Nothing quite like it! My family can polish off this whole pan in just a couple of sittings between me, my husband, and my son. Eeek! But since it’s so easy to make, I can whip up another batch tomorrow. Good thing I bought enough apples!

If you have the unusual circumstance of leftover apple crisp, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  It’s just as delicious the next day, either heated up or cold and straight from the fridge!  The crumb topping is a bit less crunchy on day 2, but the flavor is delicious!

Some people like to drizzle a little caramel sauce over the top. My favorite way to eat it is this: with just as much vanilla ice cream as apple crumble. Yum!

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A little bonus story

When I was first married many, many years ago, I asked my mom to write down some of my favorite recipes that she made when I was growing up. This delicious recipe is just one in the little book that my mom put together for me. I love that my mom’s handwriting fills the book.

I also love that not all of the recipes are initially from my mom, but it also has some recipes that I know come straight from my maternal grandma, and it even has a great recipe for Christmas fruitcake that came from my paternal grandma.

A hand written recipe for grandma's apple crisp from the author's mother

Thank you for joining me on a walk down memory lane today and creating an old family favorite recipe.  I hope you and your grandkids will have fun making this apple crisp for your family!

PIN image for Grandma's apple crisp withred background with a hand picking an apple out of the tree

8 thoughts on “The Best Apple Crisp Recipe without Oats – a Simple Classic from Grandma’s Kitchen”

  1. Love this!! I think I may make this on one of my Tuesday night live demos! It looks delish!! Thank you for sharing the recipe! (and the tools 😉 )

    Reply
  2. You are so right about King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour … it’s my favorite and is so easy to directly substitute and tastes great and has great texture!

    Reply
  3. It is definitely the time of year to enjoy Grandma’s apple crisp. I think she started making this after the depression when not a lot of ingredients were readily available. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Boy, my hand writing has changed as I have aged! Another great blog!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, mom! I hadn’t thought about the small number of ingredients available. Over the years we’ve made apple crisp in a number of different ways and always go back to this one. Not to mention I always have these ingredients in the house. And I am always still amazed at how much our writing looks alike.

      Reply
      • Veronica
        Your hand writing looks like your Mom’s but so do you!
        My grandmother I grew up with made apple crumble just like this one.
        I don’t remember ever eating one with rolled oats as an ingredient.
        Keep your Blogs coming
        I love them 💗

        Reply

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