Recipe for Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp

The perfect combination for apple crisp, barely sweet, perfectly soft apples with an extra-crispy and flavor-rich topping.

Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp ♥, finally my perfect apple crisp, barely sweet apples firm and tart with an extra-crispy topping. It's got a secret ingredient!

The Fall Classic, Just Extra-Crispy. Budget-Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special.

The Goal: My Very Own Perfect Apple Crisp

Over the years, I've eaten (and baked) too-many so-so apple crisps. So I set out to create my very own "perfect" recipe: barely sweet apples firm and tart, topped with an extra-crispy topping. That extra-crispy topping? It's thanks to a secret ingredient!

How one makes a bad apple crisp is beyond me. What can go wrong with apples and butter, cinnamon and nuts? Trouble is, there's just so much that can go wrong with this simple classic. The culprits are:

  • The Sugar Too often, apple crisp is just way too sweet, masking the sweet seduction of the apples themselves. THE FIX Way less sugar and brown sugar for a flavor boost.

  • The Apples Some apples melt into something cousin to apple sauce. Other apples are just too sweet for apple crisp. THE FIX For both texture and tartness, apple variety matters. Start with half Granny Smith apples, then use another baking apple.

  • The Topping Ever heard of Apple Sog? That's what I call too-soft and too-sweet toppings that turn apple crisp into Apple Soggy and something more like granola (too much oatmeal) or cake (too much flour) or a layer of frosting (too much sugar). THE FIX A 1:1:1:1 mix of oats:flour:nuts plus the secret ingredient, graham cracker crumbs.
Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp ♥, finally my perfect apple crisp, barely sweet apples firm and tart with an extra-crispy topping. It's got a secret ingredient!

The Secret Ingredient? Graham Cracker Crumbs

At last, I've found what to my taste, anyway, is the perfect combination for apple crisp, barely sweet, perfectly soft apples with an extra-crispy and flavor-rich topping.

That topping is thanks to an unusual ingredient for apple crisp, graham cracker crumbs. Yeah, the same crumbs used in graham cracker crusts like My Favorite Graham Cracker Crust.

So what do you think of my secret ingredient for apple crisp, graham cracker crumbs? Will you give it a try?!

At these things go, the discovery arrived as happenstance.

The first time, graham cracker crumbs filled in for flour, just because I was short. But the sweet crumbs added such a great texture, such a nutty sweetness, that I've been adding them to apple crisp on purpose ever since!

Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp ♥, finally my perfect apple crisp, barely sweet apples firm and tart with an extra-crispy topping. It's got a secret ingredient!


Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 8 (easy to halve)
  • Juice of two lemons, about 4 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 large apples (see TIPS), peeled, quartered, "thirded" and "thirded" again
  • 1/2 cup (62g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (the secret ingredient!)
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick, not instant)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (see TIPS)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/8T/112g) butter, cold or at room temperature

Heat oven to 375F/190C.

APPLES In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients except apples. Drop in the apple pieces as they're prepped, stirring often so that each piece is lightly covered.

TOPPING In a separate bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the butter. With your hands, work in the butter until small even clumps begin to form.

ASSEMBLE Lightly butter a shallow baking dish such as a quiche pan or pie pan. Transfer apples into the dish, then top evenly with the topping. (If making ahead of time, stop here and let rest for 3 - 4 hours.)

BAKE Bake for 50 - 60 minutes, covering with foil or a baking sheet for the last 15 minutes if the topping starts to get a little dark. Let cool a bit.

SERVE Serve warm, plain or dolloped with whipped cream. Just whip a cup of heavy cream with a tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and a 1/2 teaspoon of black walnut extract or vanilla.

ALANNA's TIPS I start with half Granny Smith apples which are tart and hold their shape. For a contrasting sweetness and softness, I use another baking apple such as a Braeburn or Gala. Black walnuts are spectacular paired with apples. Too bad, however, they're not so easy to find, my best sources are Sam's Club and Walmart! If using English walnuts or pecans or even almonds, be sure to toast them first. You can do this easily by slipping them into the oven as it preheats.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 372 Calories; 16g Tot Fat; 8g Sat Fat; 30mg Cholesterol; 188mg Sodium; 54g Carb; 4g Fiber; 37g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 8 & PointsPlus 10 & SmartPoints 17 & Freestyle 13 & myWW green 17 & blue 13 & purple 12

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Read your article with interest. I've been replacing half the flour in the topping with natural bran. It gives a little texture and "nuttiness" with very few calories. Fiber is good, and save calories where you can--similiar to drinking diet soda with french fries:)

  2. This looks really good. I may have to adapt that to my gluten free and dairy free life. I even have gluten free graham crackers and gluten free oats around. Ok, now I'm drooling on my computer.

  3. You are making me hungry just looking at this picture!!!

  4. "Apple Sog" - hee hee! I know exactly what you mean. Apple Crisp sounds soooo easy to make... and yet I've had a hard time finding that just-right recipe. All the ones I've made are pretty good, but not great. This one looks VERY promising! Only one way to find out. ;) Thanks!

  5. This was some seriously good eats! I just blogged about my little baking adventure with the recipe. YUM. The key (I think) is to find fabulous apples.

    Mine were labeled "perfect for baking" at a local farm. They were huge and fairly crispy.

    Loved this recipe! And I followed all the tips, including toasting the walnuts/pecans.

  6. soggy apple crisp it the worst... but i guess many people cut down on the essentials - i like mine with a good amount of good butter, i do use a fair amount of brown sugar, but only as much as will be off-set by the tartness of the apple... a fine balance, of course. our austrian version doesn't use oatmeal, most people use just flour or breadcrumbs - homemade from my own white sourdough bread.
    i haven't made one in ages - now here's an idea for tonight's dessert!

  7. Catherine10/13/2010

    I love apple crisp and plan on making this. As I am in the UK, I will use digestive biscuits as a substitute for the graham crackers. Love the idea of the lemon juice and nutmeg mixed with the apples in the filling.

  8. Anonymous10/21/2011

    Just made this-super good and not soggy at all. Although next time I will reduce the lemon juice by one lemon.

  9. Anonymous9/08/2012

    I just baked this! My house smells amazing! My boyfriend LOVES Apple Crisp and hates when it is soggy, he has to have big crunchy crunchies on it. But I always seem to fail. I have not dug into this yet but I can tell you it looks great! I do have to confess though I have stolen a few of the crunchies off of the top and they are great! The graham crackers add a good flavor and they are actually crunchy, even the pieces touching the apples! I took him a sample of the crunchies and he said they were perfect! Next test is if I cooked it all the way through!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna