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This apple cranberry crisp is the perfect easy dessert for autumn gatherings, a Thanksgiving feast, or an elegant Christmas celebration. The warm filling is full of sweet and tart fruit, while the buttery oat topping is crunchy and decadent. Serve each bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a cozy dessert that you can prepare in advance with just 15 minutes of prep!

Two bowls of cranberry apple crisp on a table with vanilla ice cream
Table of Contents
  1. Cranberry Apple Crisp
  2. The Best Apple Crisp with Cranberries
  3. What is the difference between apple crisp and apple crumble? Or apple cobbler and apple pie?
  4. Ingredients
  5. How to Make Apple Cranberry Crisp
  6. Serving Suggestions
  7. Preparation and Storage Tips
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Tips for the Best Apple Cranberry Crisp Recipe
  10. Apple Cranberry Crisp Recipe

Cranberry Apple Crisp

I honestly can’t think of a more perfect dessert for your next holiday celebration or quiet Sunday supper! Sweet, tart, buttery, and decadent — it’s truly the best cranberry apple dessert that you will ever taste! A fruit crisp is also a wonderful dessert for beginning bakers, since it’s almost impossible to mess up. So much easier than a pie — and ready for the oven in about 15 minutes!

The Best Apple Crisp with Cranberries

This easy apple cranberry crisp is a simple, rustic dessert made from an apple and fresh cranberry base that’s topped with a buttery oat streusel crumb topping. While there are endless versions of this classic dish, here are a few reasons to make this your go-to recipe:

  • Not Too Sweet: Too much sugar can overpower the actual taste of the fruit itself. Instead, this recipe uses just enough to balance the tart cranberries, but still allows the natural flavor of the sweet apples to shine.
  • Plenty of Crumbly Topping (but not too much): The perfect ratio of topping-to-fruit is key for a successful crisp. Too little topping and you’ll miss out on that rich, buttery crunch. Too much topping and the dessert becomes too dense and fatty. This recipe gets it just right!
  • Juicy Filling: Since apples don’t release quite as many juices as berries, you don’t need a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch in this dish. We’re going for juicy and a little bit saucy — but not wet and soggy!
  • Warm Spices: Many apple crisp recipes just place sliced apples in the bottom of the dish without actually adding any seasoning. I see this as a missed opportunity, which results in a bland apple crisp! In my mind, the best apple dessert recipes include plenty of warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Quick and Easy: Perhaps most important of all, this is an easy apple crisp recipe! There’s no need to spend hours laboring over an intense dessert when you can enjoy something so delicious with just minutes of effort. This is really as simple as 1-2-3: stir together the filling, stir together the topping, then bake!
Square overhead shot of an apple cranberry crisp in a cast iron skillet

What is the difference between apple crisp and apple crumble? Or apple cobbler and apple pie?

There are plenty of old fashioned apple dessert recipes, so it’s easy to get confused! Crumbles and crisps are very similar, as they both include a fruit base with a streusel topping. Originally, an old fashioned crisp would contain oats in the topping, while a crumble would not. These days, the words “crumble” and “crisp” are often used interchangeably when referring to these desserts.

A cobbler, by contrast, is a fruit dessert with a biscuit or cake-like topping. And don’t forget about pie! The crisp’s filling is similar to a pie filling; however, the crisp has a crumb topping (and no bottom crust), rather than a double pastry crust that you find on a pie.

Apples and cranberries in a cast iron skillet

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for an apple cranberry crisp with oatmeal topping. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Apples: choose a firm apple that won’t break down into mush during the baking process. We like a sweet and tart apple. Good options include Granny Smith apples, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Winesap, Pink Lady, Jonagold, and Gala apples.
  • Cranberries: I recommend either fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries for this recipe (not dried cranberries). The fresh or frozen berries release juices that add great flavor and texture to the filling.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg: warm spices that give this dish its classic fall flavor.
  • Salt: balances the sweetness and enhances the other flavors in the dessert.
  • Butter: gives the topping its delicious flavor and brings the streusel together.
  • All-purpose flour: the base of the topping.
  • Oats: for extra texture and toasty flavor in the streusel topping. I like old-fashioned rolled oats for their nice chew, but you can substitute with quick oats instead. Do not use steel-cut oats here.
  • Granulated sugar and light brown sugar: to sweeten the topping and the filling.
  • Finely chopped pecans: for some toasty, nutty crunch! Feel free to substitute with almonds or walnuts, or omit the nuts altogether and replace them with extra oats.
Topping for fruit crisp in a large mixing bowl

The Best Apples for Apple Crisp

I prefer baking with apples that have a firm flesh and don’t break down into apple sauce when cooked. Try a combination of Granny Smith apples (for tartness) and a sweeter firm-fleshed apple (like Gala, Honey Crisp, or Pink Lady). Other great options include Jonagold, Winesap, and Braeburn apples. You can’t beat the mix of sweet-and-tart in an apple dessert.

Can I use dried cranberries in an apple crisp?

Yes, you could — but it’s not my preference. The fresh or frozen cranberries release juices that flavor and add texture to the filling, which you won’t get with the dried fruit. There’s nothing that you need to do to prepare the cranberries for apple crisp, either. Just toss them into the filling whole! If you’re starting with frozen cranberries, do not thaw them first.

Process shot showing how to make apple cranberry crisp

How to Make Apple Cranberry Crisp

This is comfort food at its best! The warm spices smell amazing as it bakes, and the rich, crumbly, buttery topping is the perfect balance for the light, sweet fruit on the bottom.

  1. First, combine the filling ingredients in a greased 2-quart baking dish or in a 10-inch cast iron skillet.
  2. Prepare the streusel topping by mixing together the softened butter, flour, oats, sugars, pecans, and an additional ¼ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit mixture.
  3. Bake the crisp at 350°F for about 50-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy and the fruit is soft. Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  4. Spoon the warm crisp into bowls and top with vanilla ice cream!
Overhead shot of apple cranberry crisp in a cast iron skillet with ice cream on top

Serving Suggestions

Cranberry apple crisp can be served at room temperature, but it’s always best when it’s warm from the oven. Top each serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream, or a drizzle of caramel sauce, and this old fashioned apple crisp becomes a decadent autumnal treat that will impress any family member or dinner guest at your table!

Close overhead shot of a bowl of apple cranberry crisp with a scoop of ice cream on top

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Make Ahead: You can make this dessert up to 2 days in advance. To do so, bake the crisp according to recipe instructions. Allow to cool completely, cover, and refrigerate.
  • Storage: If you plan to enjoy the crisp on the same day that it is baked, then you do not need to refrigerate it before serving. If you don’t plan to serve the crisp on the same day as baking, then the dessert needs to be refrigerated overnight.
  • The apple crisp will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 days.
  • How to Freeze: You can freeze the crisp before or after baking. To freeze this dessert after baking, allow to cool completely. Wrap tightly with a double layer of plastic wrap and foil; freeze for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat: If frozen, allow the crisp to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, warm the crisp in a 350°F oven (uncovered) for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. Individual servings can be reheated in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds.
Square overhead shot of cranberry apple crisp in a white bowl with ice cream

Recipe Variations

  • Pear Apple Cranberry Crisp: use a combination of both apples and pears, in addition to the cranberries. Just make sure that the total amount of fruit equals about 6 cups.
  • If you like more spices in your streusel topping, you can add extra cinnamon to the oat mixture.
  • I love the flavor combination of apples with pecans, but you can use any nuts that you prefer in the topping. Try walnuts or almonds! If you’d like to omit the nuts altogether, that’s fine — just substitute with an extra ⅓ cup of oats.
  • Apple Cranberry Crisp for Two: Cut all of the ingredients in half and bake the dessert in a 1-quart dish. The rest of the instructions remain the same.
  • For a zesty kick, make this crisp with crystallized ginger by adding about ¼ cup of chopped crystallized ginger to the crisp topping before baking. Alternatively, you can add a dash of ground ginger to the apple mixture.

Tips for the Best Apple Cranberry Crisp Recipe

  • Use a firm apple variety, such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Gala, or Fuji. Softer varieties are better suited for applesauce, as they break down in the oven.
  • Don’t slice the apples too thin. They will break down as they bake, so you don’t want them to completely disintegrate in the oven. Some visible slices in your filling are ideal.
  • Use fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried cranberries) for the best flavor and juicy texture in your filling.
  • This crisp can be enjoyed warm (my preference) or at room temperature.
Overhead shot of apple cranberry crisp in white bowls with vanilla ice cream on top
Square overhead shot of an apple cranberry crisp in a cast iron skillet

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 467 kcal
This apple cranberry crisp is the perfect easy dessert recipe for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other special gathering this season — with just 15 minutes of prep!

Ingredients
  

For the Filling:

  • 4 cups peeled, sliced apples (about 3 large apples or 4 medium apples)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (not thawed if using frozen)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon salt

For the Topping:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish or a 10-inch cast iron skillet, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Combine the filling ingredients (apples, cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt) in the prepared dish.
  • In a separate bowl, use a fork (or your fingers) to mix together the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, sugar, pecans, and salt until completely combined. The mixture will be lumpy and clumpy and should look like a streusel crumb topping.
  • Spread the topping evenly over the fruit.
  • Bake (uncovered) for 50-55 minutes, or until the fruit is hot and bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with vanilla ice cream!

Notes

  • Use a firm apple variety, such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Gala, or Fuji. Softer varieties are better suited for applesauce, as they break down in the oven.
  • Don’t slice the apples too thin. They will break down as they bake, so you don’t want them to completely disintegrate in the oven. Some visible slices in your filling are ideal.
  • Use fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried cranberries) for the best flavor and juicy texture in your filling.
  • This crisp can be enjoyed warm (my preference) or at room temperature.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the crispCalories: 467kcalCarbohydrates: 72gProtein: 3gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 275mgPotassium: 207mgFiber: 5gSugar: 53gVitamin A: 542IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: apple cranberry crisp, apple crisp recipe, cranberry apple crisp, easy apple dessert
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in September, 2019. It was updated in November, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Can you use dried cranberries in this recipe? If so how do
    I make this recipe? My 3-year-old grandson loves both cranberries & apples, what a joy this will be for him to eat! Thank You

    1. Hi, Linda! Yes, but if you’re using the dried cranberries, I recommend making this as an apple crisp, and then just adding a handful or two of the cranberries into the apple mixture. The dried cranberries won’t give the dish volume or juice like the fresh cranberries, so you’ll need to use about 5-6 cups of chopped apples for the filling. Hope that helps, and enjoy!

    1. Hi, Wendy! Sure! Double all of the ingredients and bake the crisp in a 3 or 4-quart dish (about 9 x 13-inches). Enjoy!