Apple Crisp: What Is It And Where Did It Come From?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 5, 2022

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The Apple Crisp is a delicious dessert made with apples, topped with a crumble topping. It’s a very old dish, originating in Britain in the 16th century. It’s very popular in the USA and Canada today, but it’s not very well known in the UK.

Let’s look at the history and the deliciousness of this treat.

What is apple crisp

A Brief History of Apple Crisp

The Origin Story

Apple crisp is a relatively modern dish, but it’s already become a beloved tradition in the US, UK, and Canada. It’s a dish that’s been around for less than a century, but it’s already become a classic.

So, how did it all start? Well, it’s surprisingly absent from the first edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1896), which is a comprehensive collection of American recipes. The earliest reference to apple crisp in print is from 1924, when it appeared in the Everybody’s Cook Book: A Comprehensive Manual of Home Cookery.

During World War II, food rationing limited access to pastry ingredients used for making apple pies, and that’s when apple crisp really started to take off.

Variations of the Dish

Though apple crisp is a relatively new dish, there are some variations that are much older. For example, a recipe for apple pandowdy is in Miss Corson’s Practical American Cookery, which was published in 1886.

The Legacy of Apple Crisp

Apple crisp has become a beloved tradition, especially during the autumn when apples are plentiful. It’s a dish that’s been around for less than a century, but it’s already become a classic. So, if you’re looking for a tasty treat to enjoy during the fall season, you can’t go wrong with a classic apple crisp.

Tantalizingly Tasty Apple Crisp

What is Apple Crisp?

Apple Crisp is a dessert that’ll make your taste buds tingle! It’s a baked apple filling topped with a crispy crumb topping. It’s like a cobbler, except with a biscuit-like or cake-like topping.

How to Serve Apple Crisp

  • Serve it up in a bowl with a scoop of chocolate ice cream for a real treat!
  • Enjoy it with a glass of full cream milk for a delicious snack.
  • Cool room temperature is the key to getting that perfect crisp topping.

Cook Time

It only takes 35 minutes to whip up this delicious dessert!

Making the Perfect Apple Crisp

Gathering the Ingredients

Gather up your ingredients – you’ll need flour, brown sugar, wholemeal, butter or margarine, and some apples. For the apples, try to find something that won’t brown quickly – red lady apples are a great choice. Avoid red delicious apples, though – they turn to mush!

Preparing the Apples

Once you’ve got your apples, it’s time to get prepping. Peel and core them, then pop them into a 9-inch square baking dish – tin is best.

Making the Topping

Mix together your flour, brown sugar, and wholemeal in a medium bowl. If the room temperature is a bit warm, you should cool this mixture. Once that’s done, it’s time to add the butter or margarine. Mix it up with a slicing action, so that it forms tiny little chunks and doesn’t melt or smear. A pair of butter knives, used like scissors, is great for this. Work quickly!

Baking the Apple Crisp

Sprinkle the topping onto the apples and pat it down a bit. Bake for about 20 minutes in a 215°F oven. Don’t take it out until the top is dark brown – black spots indicate burning. It’s better to burn a few small spots and remove them than to risk undercooking the topping.

What’s the Difference Between Apple Crisp and Apple Crumble?

Apple Crisp

If you’re in the US, you might be familiar with the classic Apple Crisp: a delicious dessert made of sweet and tart apples, topped with a crumbly, buttery oat topping. It’s like an apple pie, but without the crust!

Apple Crumble

Across the pond, the Brits have their own version of this classic dessert: Apple Crumble. This one’s got the same sweet and tart apples, but the topping is made of butter, flour, and brown sugar rolled together to look like breadcrumbs.

The Verdict

So, which one’s better? Well, that’s up to you! Both desserts are served warm, with a dollop of custard sauce or a scoop of ice cream. But if you’re looking for a classic, comforting dessert, you can’t go wrong with either Apple Crisp or Apple Crumble.

Unlock the Deliciousness of Apple Crisp

The Filling

If you want to take your apple crisp to the next level, you need to get yourself some boiled apple cider. It’s like a flavor explosion in your mouth! You can buy it from King Arthur Flour, or you can make it yourself at home. It’s not hard, just takes a bit of time.

When it comes to the liquid in the filling, you have plenty of options. Try rum, bourbon, hard cider, apple juice, or even water. I used a fruity white wine with notes of green apple and it was delicious.

The Topping

The topping is super easy to make. Just mix together the dry ingredients, cut in the butter, and stir in the nuts (if you’re using them).

Baking the Goodness

Once you’ve got your filling and topping ready, it’s time to bake! Spread the topping over the filling and pop it in the oven. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Then, get ready to enjoy the deliciousness!

A Brief History of Apple Crisp

From Rationing to Rave Reviews

Apple Crisp has been around for quite a while, but it wasn’t until 1924 that it made its first appearance in print. That’s when Isabel Ely Lord’s Everybody’s Cook Book: A Comprehensive Manual of Home Cookery featured a recipe for the dessert. It was also mentioned in a newspaper article in the Appleton Post Crescent on December 9th of the same year.

WWII: A Sweet Time for Apple Crisp

During WWII, when food rationing was a reality, Apple Crisp became a popular dessert. With limited access to pastry ingredients, people had to get creative and Apple Crisp was a great way to make something sweet without breaking the bank.

A Sweet Success

Fast forward to today and Apple Crisp is still a hit! People love it for its simplicity and its deliciousness. It’s a classic dessert that can be enjoyed by everyone and it’s sure to be around for many years to come.

Treat Yourself to an Apple Crisp

The Easiest Pie Alternative

Forget about pesky pie crusts and complicated recipes – apple crisps are the way to go! They’re simple to make and oh-so-tasty. All you need is a filling, a streusel topping and a hot oven. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs of peeled, cored and sliced apples (about 9 cups)
  • An apple peeler/corer/slicer (or a knife and melon baller if you don’t have one)
  • Optional: pecans for the streusel topping

The Easiest Way to Peel, Core and Slice Apples

If you’re lucky enough to have an apple peeler/corer/slicer, you’re in for a treat! This handy kitchen tool makes quick work of prepping your apples. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry – a knife and melon baller will do the trick.

Bake Away

Once you’ve got your apples prepped and ready, it’s time to get baking! Mix together the filling and streusel topping, pop it in the oven and wait for the delicious smell of apple crisp to fill your kitchen. In no time, you’ll be enjoying a warm, comforting treat.


Apple Crisp is a delicious and unique dessert that has been around for almost a century. It’s a great way to enjoy the fall season and all the delicious apples that come with it. So, if you’re looking for something new and exciting to try, why not give Apple Crisp a go?

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.