Nothing screams 'it's finally fall!' like a beautiful cast iron apple crisp with luscious cinnamon-spiced caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Filled with the warm flavor of cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, it's the perfect dessert for apple season!
Y'all know what time of year it is! The cooler weather is just on the horizon, we finally had a break in the heat spell of 90+ degree weather earlier this month and I can see the tinge of orange appearing on the trees around the neighborhood.
I've already started discussing Thanksgiving menus and made plans to picnic at the apple orchard with friends and family, and the local farms are sending out flyers for fall festivals. I. Am. So. Ready.
And the perfect fall dessert? Anything that uses up those extra apples. Anyone else get too enthusiastic while apple picking? Can't just be me. But let me tell you, I sure have plenty of recipes to use them all up!
Which of course is how we come to this amazing skillet apple crisp. She's a simple girl, an easy breezy dessert that comes together in literally less than 10 minutes before hopping into a warm oven to fill your house with all the good smells.
If you were looking for something to help you bring in the beautiful coziness and simplicity of autumn, an apple crisp recipe is just the thing.
Origins of the Apple Crisp
Apple crisp doesn't have a long history, first officially showing up in cookbooks from New York in the 1920's. But once food rationing stopped people from accessing the ingredients needed for apple pies during World War II, apple crisp gained mainstream popularity in the U.S., Britain, and Canada.
Apples. There are tons of apple varieties, but there are ones you definitely shouldn't use in baking. I go further into detail below in What Types of Apples to Use, but my personal preference is a nice mix of granny smith and honeycrisp.
kosher salt. A pinch of salt is always needed in sweets, it helps bring out the other flavors within the sweets.
Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, Ground Cloves, Ground Ginger. If you have made my fall desserts before, you know that these four are my go-to spices for those warm flavors that scream 'fall is here!'
Ingredients for Streusel Topping
Old Fashioned Oats. For our topping, we need oats that will stay nice and sturdy while cooking, so old fashioned oats will do. Quick oats are made to cook faster, are cut smaller, and become mushy while cooking, so we want to avoid those.
More Brown Sugar.
More Cinnamon and Salt.
What types of Apples to Use
Why do you need to know what type of apples to use in baking? Because some apples just aren't made to take the heat. Some apples are perfect for eating fresh and crisp, like McIntosh, but will turn into flavorless mush in apple pie filling.
The best apples for baking are the kind of apples that still hold shape, texture, and have plenty of flavor. Here's what baking apples to look for in the grocery store:
Granny Smith Apples. These tart apples are a classic baking favorite in pies, cobblers, and crisps because they hold up well and add a tart flavor against all the sweet sugary goodness in the dessert.
Honeycrisp Apples. Though this popular variety can be more expensive, it also has the best flavor in baking: sweet and tart with a seriously crisp texture.
Pink Lady Apples. Also called Cripps apples, I love these for both nomming and baking. They're perfectly balanced with sweet and tart flavors and hold up well to baking
The best thing about this recipe is that it's crazy easy to make. The apple mixture can be made in the skillet, or even give the apple crisp a head start by making it a day or two before, then make the crisp topping, sprinkle it over the top, and bake until golden brown. Simplicity at it's finest!
So first, you'll want to make sure you have enough apples. For a 10-inch cast iron skillet, I used 7 large sliced apples. Nothing's worse than a dessert that's all topping and no filling, and this made a lot of apple crisp. About 6 plentiful servings.
Mix those apples up with melted butter, all those warm spices, brown sugar, and cornstarch. That cornstarch helps give the filling that ooey-gooey, thickened caramel-saucy texture.
The apple filling is all done! Now, in a large mixing bowl, make the crisp. You'll want to use cubed cold butter and mix it into the crisp ingredients either with a pastry cutter or with your fingers, if you wanna go old school.
Once the butter is in very small pieces, top the apples with the crisp. Sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top and bake until the crisp is beautifully browned and your whole house smells amazing.
Take it out, let it cool a little, and serve with a scoop of ice cream. Easy peasy!
Pro Tips for Easy Apple Crisp
To easily blend the cold butter into the flour and oats, use a pastry cutter or a food processor. Pulse the food processor until the butter is the size of peas.
An apple slicer will make slicing and peeling a breeze. They're easily found online and in some culinary-focused stores.
Get yourself fresh nutmeg, not the ground stuff but the actual nutmeg. Grate it with a microplane and get ready to change your life!
How to Store and Reheat
Unless you are going to eat the apple crisp in its entirety that day, it's best to refrigerate it overnight. Leaving it at room temperature will cause it to spoil.
Cover the skillet in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days for the best results.
To reheat it, warm the crisp in the oven at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes until it's warmed through.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make the filling up to two days ahead of time, then bake it with the crisp when ready to serve.
You want the topping to have a crisp texture, covering it can lead to steaming instead of crisping up from dry heat. We don't want a soggy crisp!
Apple crisp has a topping with oats in it, while apple crumble only has flour. They both can have nuts added to the topping, though.
You can totally make my apple crisp in a baking dish. Use a 9x9 baking dish in lieu of the cast iron skillet.
More Fall Desserts
- Deep Dish Apple Pie
- Bruléed Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie
- Southern Pecan Praline Cookies
- Southern Peach Cobbler with Canned Peaches
- Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
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Cast Iron Apple Crisp
- 7 large baking apples peeled and sliced into ½ inch slices
- ½ cup brown sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup 8 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- ⅓ cup brown sugar packed tightly
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Make the Apple Crisp Filling
- In a medium mixing bowl or in the cast iron skillet, mix together the sliced apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, melted unsalted butter, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and kosher salt together with a wooden spoon.
- Mix together cornstarch and cold water with a fork in a separate small bowl, then pour the slurry into your apple mixture. Stir the cornstarch slurry well into the apple filling. If making in a mixing bowl, pour the filling into the cast iron skillet.
- Make the Crisp Topping
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, cold butter, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Use two forks, your fingers, or a pastry cutter to break apart the cold butter and mix it into the flour and oats.
- Coat the butter in the dry ingredients and blend it down into the size of peas.
- Cover the apple filling with the crisp topping in the cast iron skillet. Sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top for some extra love.
- Set the skillet in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.