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Apple Crisp

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Homemade caramel apple crisp is an easy fall dessert that pairs perfectly with a scoop of ice cream! It’s a classic apple crisp recipe filled with warm spices, creamy caramel sauce, and tender apples beneath a buttery oat topping.

Easy Homemade Caramel Apple Crisp

Making sweet and delicious homemade apple crisp isn’t hard, but it does take the perfect recipe! This caramel apple crisp is made with warm and gooey spiced apples drizzled with homemade caramel sauce, and topped with a chewy-crisp, buttery oat streusel.

A touch of real apple cider and cinnamon in caramel sauce gives this decadent fruit crisp a real leg up.

This recipe is quicker and easier to make than a classic apple pie (no messing with pie crust!), and just as satisfying! All it takes is a few basic ingredients. This is the dessert to take you from apple season to the holidays and beyond.

Why You’ll Love This Apple Crisp Recipe

  • Easier than apple pie. We love homemade apple pie in this house, but it can be a long process. Swapping a buttery oat topping for the pie crust saves the time it takes to prep and chill the dough.
  • Classic recipe. This recipe takes a classic apple crisp and sweetens things up further with delicious ooey-gooey salted caramel sauce.
  • Homemade caramel sauce. Making the caramel sauce yourself is super easy! But you can always use your favorite caramel topping from the store, too.
The ingredients for caramel apple crisp.

Ingredient Notes

It takes only a handful of ingredients to make the rich and creamy caramel sauce, apple filling, and streusel. I’ve included some ingredient notes below. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card for the full recipe amounts and details.

  • Apple Cider – Apple cider is fresh, unfiltered apple juice. A touch of cider is used for the caramel sauce.
  • Heavy Cream – Adding a touch of heavy whipping cream thins out the homemade caramel sauce and makes the consistency creamy. Be sure it’s at room temperature.
  • Butter- You can use salted or unsalted, and it should be at room temperature when added to the caramel sauce.
  • Apples – I recommend Granny Smith, Honeycrisp apples, or another good baking apple (see below). You’ll need 6 large apples (enough to make 6-7 cups when sliced).
  • Oats – I make this recipe with a variation of the oat topping I use for my apple crumble pie. Old-fashioned or rolled oats are best, quick oats will work in a pinch. Avoid using instant oats in crumble toppings as they tend to become mushy quickly. 
  • Nuts – Added to the oat topping for extra crunch. Feel free to use pecans or walnuts, or leave the nuts out altogether if you prefer to make this recipe nut-free.
Overhead view of a serving of apple crisp in a white bowl topped with scoops of ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.

What Are the Best Apples for Baking?

Just like apple pie, the best apples for apple crisp recipes are firm apples that hold up well when they’re baked. Good tart varieties are Granny Smith apples, Braeburn, and Jonagold, or you can use Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious for something sweeter. Or, use a combination of baking apples to give your apple crisp its own unique flavor.

Should I Peel My Apples?

To peel, or not to peel, that is the question. When it comes to whether or not to peel the apples for apple crisp, it’s completely up to you. I always use an apple peeler to peel and core my apples before I start. However, your dessert will turn out delicious either way. Make sure to wash the apples well if you opt to leave the skins on.

When it comes to chopping your apples, you can slice them thinly (my preferred method) or cut them into chunks, whichever you prefer.

A large spoonful of apple crisp held over a skillet.

How to Make Apple Crisp

Here’s a quick overview of the easy steps involved in making this delicious fall dessert, right down to the caramel sauce and the buttery, crispy oat topping. The caramel sauce needs some time to cool and thicken, you can even make it a day or two ahead of time.

Make the caramel sauce. First, reduce the apple cider in a pan on the stovetop until you’re left with about 1/4 cup. Stir in granulated and brown sugar and cinnamon until dissolved then cook over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce starts to thicken. The bubbles in the caramel will go from large and foamy to tighter and smaller.

Then add in the butter and stir until it’s melted. Remove the caramel from the heat, and slowly pour in the heavy cream as you stir it together. Finally, stir in the vanilla and salt. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

A pot of homemade caramel sauce with a spatula

Prep the apples. Next, thinly slice the apples, toss with a bit of flour and cinnamon, and add them to a greased oven-safe skillet or a baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce over the apples.

Sliced apples in a skillet surrounded by apple crisp ingredients.

Add the oat topping. Lastly, combine the oats with flour, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. Cut in the cubed butter until everything comes together and is clumpy, then spoon the crumble over the apples.

Bake. Bake at 350ºF for 30-40 minutes, until the apples are tender and bubbly. Allow it cool a bit before eating. The filling will also thicken as it cools.

Close up overhead view of baked apple crisp in a skillet.

Recipe Tips and Variations

The wonderful thing about homemade apple crisp is that it’s an easy dessert no matter your baking experience. That being said, there are a few things that make all the difference! Below are some final tips to keep in mind when making the best caramel apple crisp:

    • Use the right apples. See the section earlier for details on the best apples to use in baking. Granny Smith is my favorite.
    • Use rolled oats. Rolled oats are best, but you can make the topping with equal parts quick oats if that’s what you have on hand.
    • Don’t burn the cider. Keep an eye on the apple cider as it reduces, so that it doesn’t scorch.
    • Add a splash of bourbon. Stir 1-2 teaspoons of bourbon into the caramel sauce after you pull it off the stove It deepens the flavors.
    • Make the caramel sauce ahead of time: Since the caramel will thicken as it cools, you can make it up to 2 days in advance and store in the refrigerator.
    • Halve the recipe. You can halve the ingredients to make this recipe in a smaller, 9×9-inch baking dish. Although I’d recommend making a full batch of the caramel sauce and use the leftovers for ice cream.
    • Store-bought caramel. If you don’t want to make the caramel sauce yourself, you could buy a jar instead, but I recommend using the sauces that come in a glass jar and not a squeeze bottle. The ones in the squeeze bottle tend to be pretty thin.

    Overhead view of baked apple crisp in a skillet.

    Ways to Serve Caramel Apple Crisp

    Let’s talk apple crisp toppings! Whether you stick with or stray from tradition, there’s really no right or wrong way to serve this awesome apple dessert. I love servings topped with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of extra caramel sauce. Here are some more favorite topping ideas:

    A spoonful of apple crisp held over a bowl of apple crisp topped with ice cream and caramel sauce.

    How to Store Apple Crisp

    • Fridge. Store any leftover apple crisp airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
    • Reheat. Heat servings in the microwave, or in the oven at 350ºF until warmed through.
    • Freeze. I don’t prefer to freeze the finished dessert as it really loses the texture and the thawed apples make the topping soggy.

    More Easy Apple Desserts For Fall

    Print
    A serving of apple crisp in a white bowl topped with a scoop of ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.

    Apple Crisp

    • Author: Julianne Dell
    • Prep Time: 20 minutes
    • Cook Time: 35 minutes
    • Total Time: 55 minutes
    • Yield: 8-10 servings

    Description

    This caramel apple crisp recipe is an easy fall dessert filled with tender spiced apples and sweet homemade caramel sauce beneath a buttery oat topping.

    Ingredients

    For the caramel sauce:

    • 1 cup (236ml) Apple cider
    • 1/2 cup (95g) Granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup (56g) Packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons (56g) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 6 tablespoons (90ml) Heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
    • 1/2 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
    • Pinch of salt

    For the apple crisp:

    • 6 large Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 1 tablespoon (7.5g) all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup caramel sauce (as prepared above)

    For the Streusel 

    • 1 1/2 cups (144g) Old-fashioned oats
    • 2/3 cup (149g) Light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup (60g) All-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
    • 3/4 cups (143g) unsalted butter, cold and sliced

    Instructions

    Prepare the caramel sauce:

    1. Cook the apple cider in a pan over medium heat until it’s reduced to 1/4 cup, stirring occasionally.
    2. Add the sugars and cinnamon, stirring until dissolved then cook over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce starts to thicken.
    3. Then add in the butter and stir until it’s melted. Remove the caramel from the heat, slowly pour in the heavy cream as you stir it together. Finally, stir in the vanilla and salt. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

    Prepare the filling:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13 pan or a large cast-iron pan with cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl, toss the apple with 1 tablespoon of flour and cinnamon then pour into the pan. Then drizzle with 1/2 cup of the prepared caramel sauce (save leftovers for topping)

    Prepare the crumble and assemble:

    1. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, ¼ cup flour, brown sugar, and pecans together. Use your hands or a fork to mash the butter into the oats. Spoon over the apples. Bake at 350°F for about 30-40 minutes or until the apples are fork-tender.

    Notes

    • Make the caramel sauce ahead of time: Since the caramel will thicken as it cools, you can make it up to 2 days in advance and store in the refrigerator. You’ll have some leftovers that you can drizzle on top. 
    • Halve the recipe. You can halve the ingredients to make this recipe in a smaller, 9×9-inch baking dish. Although I’d recommend making a full batch of the caramel sauce and use the leftovers for ice cream
    • For a thicker crisp, consider baking in a smaller pan, but adjust the baking time as needed until the apples are fork tender. 

    Storing Instructions

    • Fridge. Store any leftover apple crisp airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
    • Reheat. Heat servings in the microwave, or in the oven at 350ºF until warmed through.

    Nutrition Information:
    1
    618
    55.7 g
    310.6 mg
    31.8 g
    80.2 g
    5.4 g
    5 g
    66 mg
    • Category: Dessert
    • Method: Oven
    • Cuisine: American

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