There is one dessert that takes the cake in my house — Apple Crisp Pie With Graham Cracker Crust. And as you’re probably looking for desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth, I’ll tell you more about this delicious pie. It is not surprising that two of my favorite desserts are apple pie and pumpkin pie. So, when I saw a recipe for “Apple Crisp Pie” it really intrigued me. The entire pie is prepared in the slow cooker! It was awesome!
GRAHAM CRACKER APPLE CRISP | GRAHAM CRACKER APPLE BROWN BETTY
A WONDERFUL VARIATION OF A TRIED, TRUE AND FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD. YOU’LL LOVE THE SWEET CRUNCH FROM THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMBS IN THIS APPLE CRISP.
I bought over 10 pounds of apples on sale for $.29 cents a pound. Happy as happy could be with my apples, I also stumbled upon a 10 pound box of coarse graham cracker crumbs for just a few bucks. It was time to bake….
I love crumbles and crisps. They’re such simple, throw it all together desserts, but end up so delicious. Any fruit works, but apples are my favorite. I guess this version is technically considered a brown betty because there is an additional layer of crumbs. Call it what you want, I call it delicious.
I have to mention that we’re not using fine crumbs like you would use for a pie crust. You’re using a coarse crumble. The box of graham cracker crumbs I found were labeled as a topping for sundaes and such. That being said, you do not need to beat & roll the graham crackers to dusty oblivion. You’ll achieve the desired texture by smashing the crackers by hand in a ziploc bag or however else you need to get this deed done.
I love when a recipe has a story. Not all recipes do, nor should they. How many tales can really be told about buttermilk biscuits, cream cheese frosting or meatloaf? Many times, the recipe just is. Who knows where it came from and who knows where it’s gonna go – other than in my belly 🙂
So onto the origins of this recipe. I tasted a piece of this delicious apple crisp, baked from an old neighbor of mine. I was very interested in her choice of topping – graham cracker crumbs browned in butter. Simple enough, I know. I was still curious, though. My neighbor was an old order Mennonite (they’re much like the Amish) and as wonderful bakers as they are, they’re very frugal and super resourceful when it comes to cooking. Bread crumbs or oats, yes – graham cracker crumbs, really?
Turns out, it’s an old recipe that “just is”. It was simply a way of using up homemade graham crackers, gingerbread or sugar cookies that were on there way to being stale. There’s that resourcefulness I was telling you about 🙂
Alright, so that’s it. If you wanted to, you could certainly skip layering the fruit and just dump the graham cracker crumbs on top. I would probably use less crumbs, but your crumbs are your business. This is best eaten warm the day it’s made. Top with whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Mexican crema, vanilla yogurt, caramel sauce or whatever else your heart desires. Leftovers will be mushy by the next day but can be reheated in the oven to restore some of the crisp. You could also brown up and save some extra crumbs to sprinkle over and add some cruch to leftovers. Crumbles, crisps & the such are all very not fussy, so go ahead and make it your way. It will be delicious!
Graham Cracker Apple Crisp
If I had to pick one and only one fall dessert that I’d eat forever, it would be Apple Crisp, hands-down. It’s the quintessential autumnal comfort food with its warm spiced apples and crisp buttery topping. It’s my go-to dessert when having friends over, or needing a quick family dessert. Several years ago when I rounded up everything to make my favorite Apple Crisp Recipe one Sunday afternoon, I realized I was out of oats, which I usually include in my topping. But sitting there on my pantry shelf was a box of graham crackers, which made me immediately think about how much I love a good graham cracker pie crust and I wondered if I should go that route instead. One thing led to another, and I ended up mixing crushed graham cracker crumbs into the buttery, crumbly topping, and what resulted was the perfect marriage of two things I adored.
The topping is simple, and includes graham cracker crumbs, a little flour, brown sugar, and butter.
If you’re a long-time follower of this blog, you know one of my go-to kitchen hacks is using a wide-holed cheese grater to grate cold butter into crumb toppings. It makes it super easy to cut in!
And you’ll also know how much I love my apple peeler/corer/slicer
Did these all in about 3 minutes so it’s pretty much the best thing ever. Now you can use any apples you like in apple crisp. I often use a mix as you can see here. I like to throw in at least a few Granny Smith (and you can certainly use ALL green apples) to balance out all the sweetness. If I’m using all of a sweet variety of apples, then I just decrease the sugar in the apple mix (not the topping) by a bit. And if I’m using ALL green apples, I usually increase it. My recipe is written assuming you’ll be using a mix.
The apples get tossed with the aforementioned brown sugar, a little flour to thicken the juices, and spices of course. Guys you can totally adjust and improvise here, apple crisp is one of those things you can’t really mess up!
As it bakes, the apples become tender and that topping becomes crisp and crumbly on the outside and kind of soft and buttery on the side by the apples. I like to take it out when the apples still have a little bit of bite to them, so not completely turned to mush, but that’s personal preference.
However one thing that is 100% required is vanilla ice cream. Never eat apple crisp without vanilla ice cream. Ever.
I hope you guys love this one! You know what else I think you’ll love? Our beautifully and practically designed meal plans. If you haven’t checked them out yet, the results are in and the reviews are stellar. We designed this program to make your family life easier and help gather the people you care about around the table for meals. It’s doing just that and more.
Graham Cracker Apple Crisp
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8-10
Warm spiced apples are topped with a buttery, graham cracker topping and baked to perfection. The quintessential fall dessert!
FOR THE TOPPING :
- 2 full sleeves Graham Crackers, 2.5-2.75 cups crumbs
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, diced or grated
FOR THE APPLES:
- 8–10 apples, I use half green and half red
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Vanilla Ice Cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the topping: Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together. Either cut butter into chunks or use a large-hole cheese grater to grate it into the dry mixture. Use hands or pastry cutter to combine until crumbly. Set aside.
For apples, core, peel, and slice or dice apples. Toss them with flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and spread out in a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly on top.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until apples are tender and crumbly is golden brown. Cool down a little and then serve warm over vanilla ice cream.
If using all tart, green apples, increase brown sugar in filling by 4 tablespoons.
HOW TO MAKE APPLE PIE WITH A GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
Makes one 9″ or 10″ pie
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED:
For the Crust:
- 14 honey graham cracker sheets
- 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 whole egg
For The Crumble Topping:
- ½ cup of all purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
For The Apple Pie Filling:
- 2 to 2 ½ pounds of apples, about 6-8 small/medium apples (see below for recommended apples)
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter, cubed
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Lightly spray a 9″ or 10″ pie plate with cooking spray. If using a premade graham cracker crust, skip ahead to the crumble topping portion.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the graham crackers and sugar and process until the crackers are almost completely ground.
Add the melted butter and pulse until the cracker crumbs are ground fine and the mixture is evenly moistened and clumping.
Pour the crumbs into the pie plate and press into a compact and even layer. Use a glass to help tamp down the crust. Press the graham crackers up the side of the pie plate as well, packing the crumbs together as tightly and evenly as possible.
Pop the pie plate in the freezer for 10 minutes until firm. While the pie crust firms up, make the crumb topping.
TO MAKE THE CRUMB TOPPING
Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl and mix well.
Add the cubed butter and work it into the dry mixture with your fingers. You want to make sure the butter is incorporated throughout the dry ingredients and begins clumping together.
Continue to work the butter into the ingredients until large clumps begin to form. Once the topping is clumpy, pop it into the fridge until baking time.
BAKE THE CRUST
In a small dish, beat the egg.
Remove the pie crust from the freezer or simply grab your premade graham cracker crust.
Use a pastry brush to brush the beaten egg on the inside bottom of the graham cracker crust. You won’t use all of the egg, that’s ok.
Make sure the egg layer coats the bottom, but do not saturate it. You want a thin, even layer.
Bake a homemade graham cracker crust in a 350º oven for 10-12 minutes and a bake store bought crust at 350º for 5-7 minutes. You want the crust just beginning to turn brown and the egg layer cooked.
MAKE THE APPLE PIE FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
While the crust bakes, peel, core, and slice the apples into ½” thick slices and add to a large bowl.
Add the sugar, cinnamon, flour, lemon juice, and butter cubes to the apple slices. Toss until evenly coated and the cubes of butter are well distributed.
Add the apple mixture to the baked crust. Do this carefully, trying not to disturb the sides or top of the crust.
The apples will mound up higher than the pie crust and plate–that’s what you want. They’ll cook down significantly during the baking process.
Add the streusel topping to the top of the apples. Make sure that the topping and graham cracker crust meet each other in the pan. You want them to sort of fuse together while baking.
Place the overfilled pie plate on a sheet pan (in case it bubbles over) and place it in the oven.
Bake at 350º for 55-65 minutes until the pie is bubbling and the apples are tender when pierced with a knife.
Allow the pie to cool completely before serving.
WHAT APPLES SHOULD YOU USE?
Here’s a quick list of apple varieties that work well for pies:
- Golden Delicious
- Granny Smiths
- Pink Ladies
- Honey Crisps and Braeburns are great too. I’d pair these with one Granny Smith or extra lemon juice to offset the sweetness a touch
If you have soft apples on hand, like McIntosh or Galas, try pairing them with a couple of Granny Smiths for structure and tartness.
I found that two medium sized Granny Smith apples and 4-5 juicy/soft apples–such as McIntosh– are my favorite apple pie combo.
As the pie bakes, the softer apples will give off enough juice to create a lovely sauce. This not only tastes amazing, but it also helps to glue the walls of the graham cracker crust into place, allowing for easy slicing.
HOW DO YOU BIND A GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST?
We bind this graham cracker crust by using a combination of butter and granulated sugar.
The generous amount of butter will moisten the crumbs enough so that they can be packed down nice and tight in the pie dish. During the baking process, the added sugar will melt and act like glue, keeping all the graham cracker crumbs together.
As an extra precaution, we egg wash the inside of the graham cracker crust to create a moisture barrier and help prevent the bottom crust from disintegrating under the apple pie filling. This will allow for some nice slices at serving time.
STORING YOUR PIE
This apple pie can be covered and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Over time the graham cracker crust will begin to soften as the apple pie filling releases more juice. This pie is best eaten within 1-2 days after baking.
SHORTCUTS AND MAKE AHEAD
If you’re short on time, you can totally use a ready made graham cracker crust! You will still need to brush the inside of the crust with the egg wash and bake for 5-7 minutes.
If you’re going the homemade crust route, the graham cracker crust can be made days in advance and kept in the freezer until ready to use. When you’re ready to make a pie, brush the frozen crust with the egg wash and bake 10-12 minutes per the recipe.
The streusel topping can be made ahead as well! Simply prepare the streusel fully and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
You can even prep your apples 1-2 days ahead of time! That’s right, peel them up, slice them and store them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge. FYI-they will turn brown, but that’s totally fine. It has no impact on the flavor or the texture of the pie, and let’s face it…they’re going to turn brown with all the cinnamon anyway.
But if you’re just not into brown apples, you can soak them in water with a little lemon juice, and store them in the fridge. Make sure to dry your apples before baking them!
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST APPLE PIE WITH A GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
It might sound a little tricky, given the fact that apples release so much liquid, but during the testing process, the graham cracker crust held up impressively well to the juicy filling of the apples.
The warmth and nuttiness of the graham cracker flavor compliment the cinnamon apple filling beautifully. Apple pie is the perfect way to use a graham cracker crust! And let’s not forget that crumble topping…it’s a match made in Heaven.
Below are some tips I picked up along the way to make the best pie, with a crust that holds together beautifully, and a sweet and perfectly done filling:
- Peel your apples. No one wants apple peels in their pie, it throws off the whole texture
- Use a combination of crisp, tart apples and soft apples. This contrast in texture and flavor makes a delcious, bubbly sauce (without adding gobs of extra sugar) and it creates a really nice structure to the pie.
- Make sure the juices are bubbling when you take the pie out of the oven. The juices create a really lovely sauce in the pie filling that not only tastes amazing, but it also helps keep the crust from breaking when sliced!
- Mound the pie plate high. The apples cook down quite a bit, so you want to use more apples than you think you need. You don’t want the final dish to look under filled at the end.
- Brush the inside of the graham cracker crust with egg. This helps tremendously with keeping the bottom crust from getting too soggy and disintegrating after baking