Cozy Apple Cranberry Crisp

This apple cranberry crisp with fresh or dried cranberries, apples and lemon zest is a bright and comforting dessert recipe.

Crisps are one of my favorite desserts to make at home because, to be honest, they are pretty much impossible to screw up. Take fruit that may or may not be past its prime. Mix stuff in a bowl. Dump stuff in a pan. Ta-da!

Now this crisp recipe is super festive, IMHO. It is soft and bubbly and crispy at once (hello, textures!) and all the things I celebrate about cooler months: The cozy dream duo of cinnamon and apple meets the bright, zesty tang of lemon and cranberry.

And brown sugar. And butter. Oh baby, there is butter. But if you’re dairy-free, you can swap for coconut oil.

This stuff smells like a freakin’ candle while it’s baking. Resist the urge to pull it out of the oven early and you’ll be rewarded with a crunchy, golden brown crust and apples that will just about melt in your mouth.

You only need one mixing bowl to prep this beginner-friendly apple cranberry crisp, which is just divine with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream.

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I unabashedly eat this for breakfast too. But before you come for me in the comments, this recipe is basically oatmeal if you think about it. 

The super easy 5-ingredient crisp topping includes rolled oats because I love me some crunch. But if you aren’t so big on oats, you can easily leave them out and accordingly increase the proportion of flour and fat.

The fruit layer is just 4 ingredients with an optional fifth: cornstarch. (More on that in the “ingredients” section.)

Watch Me Make This Crisp

Can’t see the video below? Watch it on Instagram.

Ingredients

For the fruit layer:

  • Apples
  • Cranberries (fresh or dried)
  • Lemon
  • Cinnamon
  • Optional: Cornstarch*

For the crisp layer:

  • Oats
  • Flour
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter
  • Sea salt

* If you happen to have it on hand, you should totally use it because it makes the fruit layer all thick and saucy and gorgeous. But if you are literally never going to touch that box of cornstarch again, skip it. I have made this recipe with and without, with great results both ways.

Choose your apples wisely

You can use whatever kinds of apples you like. I love to mix and match and embrace the naturally sweet and tart flavors of green, red and yellow apples. But mostly I mix and match because I am a sucker for the way all those pretty colors look in the crisp!

Since apples are naturally sweet, no sugar is added to the fruit layer. If you prefer a crisp that is more sweet and less tart, you might consider mixing in some sugar or avoiding sour green apples.

Make an apple cranberry crisp with dried cranberries

The crisp pictured includes fresh cranberries, but you can just as easily use dried. 

As with dried herbs, the drying process concentrates the flavor of the cranberries and causes them to shrink up. This means you’ll use a smaller amount of dried cranberries.

So while I would use 1 cup of fresh cranberries, you can swap that for ½ cup of dried cranberries. (The conversion is included in the recipe card below!)

Make a healthy (or healthy-ish) crisp

TBH, there are not many recipes taste just as good with whole wheat flour. But you cannot tell the difference at all in this recipe! In addition to the oats, you can sneak in some more grains this way.

There isn’t much added sugar in this recipe since apples bring natural sweetness — ⅔ of a cup is spread across 10 to 12 servings — but you could reduce that to ½ cup if you’re looking to lighten the recipe up even more.

I have used slightly less butter — 6 tbsp. — with good results. If you do this, you might also consider adding less flour, sugar and/or oats to balance it out.

Make an apple cranberry crisp gluten-free

This recipe does call for flour, but it can easily be swapped for a gluten-free substitute. My personal favorite is almond flour!

Oats are technically gluten-free, but be wary of gluten contamination. Look for packages labeled gluten-free oats, such as these from Quaker.

Making these changes is super easy and will not affect the overall flavor of the dish.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

This apple cranberry crisp with fresh or dried cranberries, apples and lemon zest is a bright and comforting dessert recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9 servings

Equipment

  • 13" by 9" baking dish

Ingredients
  

For the fruit layer:

  • 6 apples of any kind core removed and cubed
  • 1 c. fresh cranberries or 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 lemon zested then halved
  • 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • Optional: heaping 1 tbsp. cornstarch

For the crisp layer:

  • 1 c. oats
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat to 350°F. Grease an approx. 13" x 9” dish using the stick of butter, then set butter aside.
  • Squeeze juice of 1 lemon into a medium-sized bowl and add apples, cranberries, lemon zest, cinnamon and (optional) cornstarch. Stir together until evenly combined and spread across the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Rinse out bowl and add melted butter. Stir oats, flour, brown sugar and pinch of sea salt together until evenly combined. Spread evenly atop the fruit layer.
  • Bake for approx. 40 minutes, or until crisp is browned and the fruit layer is bubbly and has shrunk in volume. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.



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