Cast-iron skillet apple crisp is the perfect fall dessert! Apples are briefly caramelized on the stovetop and then topped with a brown sugar-cinnamon and oat topping. It is so easy to make that you will find yourself wanting it again and again!
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I met my husband Matt while he was a manager of a Chili's restaurant. He lived in Tulsa, and I lived in Oklahoma City, but I regularly traveled to Tulsa for work. Unbeknownst to me, he had a tradition where he would randomly make apple crisp as a reward for his staff. Apple crisp wasn't on the Chili's menu, but he made it using their staple ingredients. One night, I was eating dinner at his restaurant while he was working, and he surprised me with an individual apple crisp for dessert. It was so good! From that moment on, apple crisp has kind of become a "thing" for us. It uses ingredients that I always have on hand, so we often make it when one of us gets a craving for a comforting dessert.
Why Make Apple Crisp in a Skillet?
The first time I made apple crisp in a cast-iron skillet I knew I had just upleveled in the apple crisp making game! This method caramelizes the apples, giving them a depth of flavor without changing the sweetness. And the way that cast-iron retains heat helps the topping to get perfectly crispy, just like apple crisp should be.
Helpful Ingredient Information
What are the best apples for making apple crisp?
For the perfect apple crisp, use a combination of apples. This adds amazing dimension to the flavor of your crisp! During honeycrisp apple season, a mix of honeycrisp apples and Granny Smith apples are my preferred go-to. But pick any combination that suits you!
Some apples that are great for baking include:
- Granny Smith
- Pink Lady
Can I make apple crisp without oats?
If you do not have oats on hand, or for some other reason you do not wish to use oats in your apple crisp, you can certainly make this recipe without them! Simply increase the flour to 1 ⅓ cups, and follow the rest of the recipe as normal.
It is important to note that standard old-fashioned oats work best for this recipe! While you could use quick oats, your crisp will have a mushier texture. Avoid steel cut oats, as they are too firm and do not work well for apple crisp.
How to Make Cast-Iron Skillet Apple Crisp
Step One: Mix Topping Ingredients
- Add oats, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon into a medium-sized bowl and mix together well.
- Cut butter into small pieces and mix into the flour mixture. This can be done with a pastry cutter, but I'll be honest, I just use my hands! Work the butter into the other ingredients until it is well-incorporated and you have a whole bunch of coarse crumbs.
Step Two: Peel, Core, and Slice Apples
- When baking with a firm apple like Granny Smith, I love to use my apple peeler, corer, slicer. I've linked a comparable one here (see affiliate disclosure) because everyone should have one. It makes peeling, coring, and slicing apples so easy!
- Unfortunately, they don't work well for soft apples like honeycrisp. For those I just peel them, cut them with an apple wedger, then slice them about a quarter-inch thick.
Step Three: Melt Butter and Add Filling Ingredients to Skillet
- One of the things that makes this apple crisp so simple is that it only uses one bowl and one pan!
- Melt your butter over medium-low heat. Then add in your apples.
- Sprinkle all of the filling ingredients over the top of the apples. Then stir the apples around until they are pretty evenly coated.
- Cook the apples for about 3 minutes. They will fully cook and get soft in the oven, but this little step adds a scrumptious flavor to the apples.
Step Four: Sprinkle Oat Topping Over Apples
- Pile on the topping, and spread it evenly over the apples.
Step Five: Bake in the Oven
- Slide the skillet into a 350 degree oven, and bake for about 30 minutes. The total bake time will depend on how thick you cut your apples. Bigger apple chunks take longer to cook.
- The crisp is ready when the top has started to brown, and the apples are soft. I pierce an apple with a table knife to test doneness. It should slide in with little resistance.
Tips and FAQs
There are a few factors that could result in a mushy apple crisp. The first is your apple selection. The apples listed above hold up well, but apples like Macintosh and Golden Delicious will turn mushy, so avoid using those.
The next factor is your butter. The butter in your crisp topping should be cold. Melted butter will create a softer topping that may not crisp up.
Nuts can be a delicious addition to apple crisp. Stir 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans into the oat mixture before sprinkling over the apples.
This is a matter of personal preference. The peel does break down some during cooking, but I still find the texture too chewy for my preference. Because of this I always peel my apples. But if you like that texture then it is just fine to skip the peeling step.
If you do not have a cast iron skillet, this can be cooked in any oven-proof skillet. You could also bake it in a large baking dish. If you are cooking in a baking dish, toss the apples in a large bowl with melted butter and the remaining filling ingredients.
Apple crisp can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. To serve apple crisp once frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Apple crisp can be reheated in the microwave, but it is even better reheated in the oven! In the oven the topping will crisp back up nicely. To reheat in the oven, bake it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Try One of These Other Delicious Fall Desserts
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Skillet Apple Crisp
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 10 tablespoons cold salted butter
- 6-7 medium apples
- 4 tablespoons salted butter If using unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ice cream, to serve
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon.Cut butter into small pieces and mix into the oat mixture until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the oats. Set the crumb mixture aside.
- Peel and core apples. Slice into ¼-inch thin slices.
- Heat butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add apples to the butter. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the top of the apples, then toss to coat. Cook apples over medium heat for about 3 minutes to caramelize.
- Spoon the crumb topping over the apples. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until apples are soft and the top has started to brown.Let rest for 10 minutes, then serve with ice cream.