Fact: Apple crisp is the best apple-y dessert. It’s low-effort, with a bigcrumbly, sweet, juicy reward—like pie, minus all the drama. There are no rolling pins involved, no dough scrapers, no moments where you have to stop and watch an episode of Love Island because your gluten hasn’t had time to relax yet.
Another fact: The streusel topping is far and away the best part of apple crisp, no disrespect to the apples. A good recipe will yield streusel so delicious—buttery and sweet like shortbread, with a generous dose of salt—that it’d be well-worth eating on its own. Our best-ever apple crisp recipe knows this innately, and shows up ready to introduce you to a streusel layer you won’t be able to stop thinking about. You could use the same topping on almost any fruit: peaches, plums, a berry medley, cherries, pears. In addition to the usual suspects (flour and butter, we see you), it’s got brown sugar for caramely intensity, oats for nubby texture, and ground almonds for a deep nuttiness that will have you wondering if some bites are actually a fully formed cookie.
Last fact—I promise—is this: Most apple crisps don’t have nearly enough crisp. This recipe will make sure that never happens to you again. Crisp for all! Crisp for life! (But if you do prefer a thinner layer, no judgement—you can simply add a couple extra apples to the filling, plus another tablespoon or so of lemon juice and brown sugar, and spread everything out in a 9x13-inch baking dish instead of the 8x8, and the same amount of streusel topping will form a shallower layer.)
Before we turn on the oven, let’s talk apples for a sec. We like to use a firm, juicy kind that’s already delicious raw but also holds up well when cooked. Think varieties like Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Braeburn—and do feel free to include a mix. When it comes to peeling, that’s an intensely personal choice you must make in your own home and heart. (But psst: Leaving peels on the apples lends the fruit layer a beautifully rosy hue.)
This crisp is quite balanced, if we do say so ourselves, meaning you could happily serve it plain. You could also top it with fluffy whipped cream (bonus points if you stir in some sour cream or Greek yogurt) or vanilla ice cream. —Ella Quittner
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