Bea's No-Peel Apple Crisp (Do You Have to Peel Apples for Apple Crisp?)

November 14, 2014
16 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This is your rabbit-from-a-hat when you have no time to make a "proper" pie–or if you are scared silly of making pie crust in the first place. But this is no second best; it’s a star in its own right and far better than most apple pies! I leave the skins on the apples, as my mother did, because they add flavor and body to the filling.

Choose apples from the farmers market or get the produce guy in your market to let you sample before buying. If you include some red apples, the filling will have a gorgeous rosy hue. In a hurry? Skip the dried apricots and orange zest and juice (as my daughter used to do in college). The crisp is terrific warm or at room temperature, but it is especially flavorful cold–even after two or three or four days in the fridge. I know this because I make multiple recipes the day before Thanksgiving every year, also as my mother always did, so we can eat apple crisp after as many meals as possible (and before bed for as many days as possible).

Whipped cream is always nice, but not essential. —Alice Medrich

What You'll Need
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Bea's No-Peel Apple Crisp (Do You Have to Peel Apples for Apple Crisp?)
  • For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) rolled oats
  • 1 cup (85 grams) coarsely chopped walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • For the filling:
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup (70 grams) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1/4 cups (50 to 100 grams) sugar, depending on the tartness of the apples 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 medium crisp, flavorful apples with a decent balance of sweetness and acidity (I like Pippins, Sierra Beauties, Pink Ladies, and new-crop Jonathans, or a mixture)
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F (176° C).
  2. To make the topping: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  3. To make the filling: Combine the orange zest, juice, and chopped apricots in a small bowl. Let the apricots soften while you prepare the apples.
  4. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Quarter and core the apples. Cut each quarter into 3 to 4 chunks. Toss the apples with the sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the apricots and juice.
  5. Scrape the mixture into a 2-quart baking dish about 2 inches deep and spread it evenly. Distribute the crumbly topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours until the crisp is well browned on top and the juices are bubbling and thickened when you tilt the dish. (If your apples were a bit dry, you may not see any juices towards the end of the baking time; if so, the well-browned topping is your cue to doneness.) Serve warm or cold.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ellen Guhin Vega
    Ellen Guhin Vega
  • susie1967
  • Windischgirl
  • Anna
  • Olivia Cazayoux
    Olivia Cazayoux
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

32 Reviews

kris November 16, 2023
Big hit and time saver! i added a bit of boiled cider to the apricot mixture for extra apple flavor. Also did half brown sugar, toasted the walnuts, and added spices to the topping. Large group I served it to raved.
Maribee October 6, 2022
This is absolutely delicious! I found it the first time because I had picked tiny tiny apples up in the Pyrenees and really did NOT want to peel them. (Why on earth do all recipes call for peeling?!) I add some ginger and cut down sugar, but besides that, I always make it exactly by the recipe. I think the apricots are gorgeous with the apples and the orange and, oh yum, the orange zest takes it up a level. Thanks!
smccassell October 8, 2021
Just put this in the oven. I added some orange honey vinegar to the apples. Let's see how it turns out
Bparker November 4, 2020
I made some changes:
Used half candied pecans, half toasted walnuts
Used lemon zest and juice
Variety of apples: Smitten, pink lady, granny and gala
Added cardamon
Gluten free flour
Used rum soaked raisins (no apricots)
A little less (Brown) sugar
Ellen G. April 27, 2020
Made this today, and it did not disappoint! A few adjustments I made based on what we had on hand..
-used red delicious apples (they came in our misfits market box, we don’t like them raw so this prompted the need for apple crisp!)
-added lemon juice, fresh grated ginger and chopped dates (had no OJ or apricots)
-I love brown sugar so I did half regular sugar and half brown sugar for the topping.
We will def be making again soon!
Lisa L. October 10, 2019
Decided we needed an apple crisp late one evening when energy wasn't at its peak so no-peel appealed. This recipe is our favorite crisp of all time! We ate it with vanilla bean ice cream and swooned. My daughter requests that I make it again and it's only been 2 days since we finished it! Something about the apricot and orange made this crisp sing. Can't say thanks enough for this fabulous recipe.
susie1967 December 2, 2017
Tasty and simple to make recipe (particularly because of not having to peel the apples). Definitely a keeper!

As suggested by others I added some spices to the crisp mix (cinnamon and ginger) and used a combination of brown and raw sugar. I have just a couple of other comments/suggestions:
- I didn't melt the butter, but rubbed it in with my fingers as I have always done when making what a 'crumble', and it worked beautifully
- I cut back a bit on the sugar in the topping, and used the minimum amount suggested with the apples. Even so, the finished dish was still a bit sweeter than I would prefer and next time I'll try it without adding any sugar to the fruit, especially if using dried apricots

As I said though, this is definitely a recipe to come back to.
Lindsey P. November 10, 2017
I'd like to make this a bit in advance. Would it work to cook it and freeze it, or would be better to construct it, freeze it, and then cook it later (in which case, should I put it directly from freezer into the oven, or thaw first)? Or is it unadvisable to freeze this ahead of time for later cooking/eating? Thanks!
Rose M. July 5, 2017
Could raisins or dried cranberries be substituted for the apricots?
Windischgirl November 22, 2016
I use Earth Balance oil-based spreads when cooking for my vegan and non-dairy friends. Should work fine !
Anna November 22, 2016
Perfect! Thank you! :)
Anna November 22, 2016
Can't wait to make this recipe for Thanksgiving! Anyone know a good substitute for the butter in the topping? I'm an omnivore but am cooking for a mixed crowd, with a vegan friend included.
Lynnie October 24, 2019
Had this issue and used butter flavored coconut oil in lieu of dairy butter. It is vegan and organic, and available at Whole Foods and other similar places.
Olivia C. October 20, 2016
I made this recipe with some of the suggested alterations below and it turned out perfectly! For the filling, I subbed the orange juice for 1/4 cup apple cider. I also added 1tsp vanilla extract to the filling, and it smelled delicious!

For the topping, I used brown sugar (although the recipe didn't specify the type of sugar, I assumed it called for white, granulated. I always prefer to use brown in crisp toppings). I also added 1tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp cardamom to spice things up. I used Cortland apples from our local orchard and they worked really well for this crisp.

Thanks for the great recipe! I will definitely make this again.

Thanks for the
LizCo77 December 2, 2015
This is awesome! I left out the apricots and took Drbabs suggestion of toasting the nuts and adding spices to the topping. Someone had gifted me a pile of mediocre apples that we're starting to get long in the tooth, so I ended up peeling them. Rave reviews!
Lynda S. October 5, 2015
I don't understand the line where it gives the amount of sugar for the filling.
Coffeecat October 25, 2015
There is a formatting typo in the recipe - you use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar depending on the tartness of the apples. The 1 tsp cinnamon shoiuld be a new line - it’s a separate ingredient
Lynda S. October 25, 2015
thanks very much
judy December 10, 2014
I never peel apples or potatoes (unless green). I love the skins. Red skins add a rosy tint to the applesauce or whatever. But I rarely even notice them and all the nutrients are in or just under the skin and I don't want to throw them away. I made this with lemon in place of the orange. and just about a 1/4 of a lemons
juice and zest. I learned this from a German classmate in high school and have since used leon with spiced apples of any recipe. Nice apple crisp. Thanks
Julie W. November 25, 2014
What can you substitute for the flour to make it gluten -free? Love this as I hate peeling apples & you can make it a day before . Have been looking for the right apple crisp recipe for weeks.
durun99 December 1, 2014
I just made this with brown rice flour and it was terrific, but gluten development isn't crucial in this recipe so I imagine most nonwheat flours would work well.
drbabs November 24, 2014
OK, now I've made this for the second time. And I have some suggestions. First, toast the walnuts. Then, put about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and about 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg into the topping mixture. The orange flavor profile in the original recipe is really nice, but we wanted it to taste more apple-y. So in place of the orange juice, I used 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider, and I added about 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and a pinch of kosher salt to the apple mixture. Really great--in fact, I'm thinking of updating my tried and true apple pie recipe for Thanksgiving based on this recipe.
karencooks September 27, 2015
I've made this delicious apple crisp a few times as written. Will be making it again in a few weeks and I will follow your suggestions for toasting the walnuts, adding a little more spice, and substituting apple cider for the orange juice. Sounds just about perfect to me!!!
drbabs November 19, 2014
Oh my, this is delicious. And really forgiving--I used two pears in place of the apples, sliced almonds in place of the walnuts, and I only had about two tablespoons of butter, so I stirred a little water into the topping to get rid of the raw flour. It took an extra 15 minutes or so because of the water, but it's so good! (My dish is a 12" oval, and I baked it at 350.) Thank you for a great recipe!!
drbabs November 19, 2014
Oh, and I didn't have dried apricots, but did use the orange juice and zest….so good.
Jay F. November 18, 2014
What temperature?
Kristen M. November 24, 2014
Hi Jay -- sorry about the missing info. The recipe is updated now (and it's 350F).
Windischgirl November 18, 2014
People really peel the apples for Crisp? I can't recall the last time I did that; the peels are what give the crisp its beautiful color and seem to help the apples keep their shape. Time to make one!