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Great-Grandma’s Apple Crisp

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This simple apple crisp recipe comes straight from my great-grandma, so you know it has to be good. There’s no added sugar, just the natural sweetness of the apples. So the fruit and the oat topping really shine through. It is great on its own and even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Serving of old fashioned apple crisp on plate topped with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This fabulously simple apple crisp comes straight from my great-grandma’s recipe box. It is a great way to highlight everyone’s favorite fall fruit.

It is a healthy treat that celebrates fall in a fabulous way.  So enjoy this special recipe straight from my great-grandma’s kitchen to yours!

This recipe comes from my great-grandma Peggy via my Maw-Maw and then through MiMi. We have been on a quest to preserve the recipes my grandmas and great-grandmothers made.

Ingredients: apples, flour, salt, cinnamon, oats and melted butter ready to be made into an old fashioned apple crisp.

So when my mom sent this one over, I knew I had to make it. Apple recipes are some of my favorites, especially when they come with history.

There is something extra special about making a recipe that my mom’s mom’s mom made. And who knows, maybe her mother made it before her.

This recipe came from the same great-grandma who gave us the German Chocolate Cake with Broiled Coconut Frosting that was met with such rave reviews.  She is also the one who made MiMi her special birthday cake.

I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but judging from her recipes we would have got along famously. It sounds like she might have been the dessert committee in her family as well!

What Makes This Apple Crisp Different

This recipe has no added sugar even though it was from before that was a thing.  If you are using sweet apples, you really don’t need it.

If your apples are tart or you just can’t imagine an apple crisp without a little extra sugar, feel free to add a few tablespoons of brown sugar to the oat topping. You could also drizzle a little bit of honey or maple syrup over the apples before you add the topping. 

Sliced apples in square baking dish with small bowl of oat topping nearby.

Feel free to peel your apples if you want to. Because this is a rustic dessert and many of the apple’s nutrients are in the peel, I chose to leave mine on.

It saves time and makes the recipe a little bit more healthy, so it works for me. If the skins bother you, it would only take a couple of more minutes to remove them.

You can either thinly slice your apples or chop them. Both ways make for a tasty treat.

Square baking dish filled with fresh baked apple crisp with golden oat crumbles on top.

I made mine just as it was written though and it was amazing. You can add a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you want to jazz it up a bit.

The note on my great-grandma’s recipe says “this is kind of a quick treat or an easy dessert.  Maybe it is served by scooping from pan since it won’t cut into even squares.”  I know I found it to be an excellent treat.

I served up one scoop for a picture and I couldn’t keep from picking at it once I got started.  Mmmm.  

There is just something about the warm apples and crispy oat topping that kept my hands going back for more. And if the taste wasn’t enough, the aroma of the apples and cinnamon baking is more than enough reason to whip up a batch.

Vintage serving spoon lifting sliced apples and crisp oat topping out of pan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What apples are best to use for apple crisp?

A firm apple that holds up to baking is best for apple crisp. We like using honeycrisp, Jonagold or Johnathan apples for making crisps.

What is the different between apple crisp and apple crumble?

Both are made by cooking apples with a buttery topping. Apple crisp usually includes oats in the topping whereas apple crumble usually has a buttery streusel topping without oats.

How do I store the leftovers?

Leftover apple crisp should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Plate of old fashioned apple crisp with sliced apples and buttery oats, ready to eat.

A Few More Fabulous Apple Recipes to Try:

If you really want to take this apple crisp to the next level, try drizzling it with a little bit of apple cider caramel sauce. It will add rich sweetness and even more apple flavor.

Or try making an apple cranberry crisp. It is a perfect way to celebrate two of fall’s darlings.

For a fun presentation, try making apple crisp baked apples. They are apple halves baked with a brown sugar and oat filling that is hard to resist.

Did you make this great recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

Serving of old fashioned apple crisp on plate topped with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp Without Added Sugar

Servings: 6 Servings
Author: Carlee
This simple apple crisp recipe comes straight from my great-grandma, so you know it has to be good. There's no added sugar, just the natural sweetness of the apples. So the fruit and the oat topping really shine through. It is great on its own and even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
4.94 from 15 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 5 to 6 medium cooking apples
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • cup unsalted butter melted


  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Wash apples and remove the cores. (Feel free to peel them if desired.)
    5 to 6 medium cooking apples
  • Either thinly slice or chop the apples and toss with lemon juice. Arrange in a greased square baking dish.
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Add butter and stir to coat. Distribute over the apples in the baking dish.
    ⅓ cup all purpose flour, 1 cup uncooked oats, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ⅓ cup unsalted butter
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 208kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 3gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 259mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating

Kathy S.

Monday 16th of October 2023

This looks like the recipe My Nanny made for us! I did not have her recipe, but it did not have sugar added either. Since that was one of the recipes I did not get, I am happy to have it as I am sure this is what my Nanny made too!


Monday 16th of October 2023

That makes me so happy! I am glad I could help get her recipe find its way back to you.


Thursday 2nd of September 2021

Where are the 26g of carbs and 8g of sugar coming from in just 1 serving according to the nutritional information? Wanted to make this for a Diabetic person in my family.


Thursday 2nd of September 2021

Most of the carbs and sugar come from the apples themselves. The rest of the carbs come from the flour and oatmeal. There isn't added sugar, but there is natural sugar and carbohydrates in the recipe.


Monday 7th of November 2016

Love apple crisp, and this looks like the best recipe. I love older, handed down dishes. I have pinned this and I am going to get some apples and whip it up. Love that there is no added sugar and the flour can be substituted with GF. Love apple crisp, more than apple pie. Licking my chops in anticipation!


Tuesday 8th of November 2016

Isn't a good crisp the best? I gave it a double take when there wasn't any sugar in it, but it really works. It makes it feel like an acceptable snack... or breakfast!! hee! I hope you love it!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies

Saturday 5th of November 2016

When I bake my next apple crisp, I am trying this! You know me, I don't mind sugar, but so many crisp recipes have too much sugar. I think this recipe sounds great!


Monday 7th of November 2016

It was nice to have one that wasn't quite so sweet, though I am not usually to complain about a bit of sugar! Thank you!


Friday 4th of November 2016

YUM! Totally pinned! :)


Saturday 5th of November 2016

Thank you!