Cranberry Apple Crumble – A warm dessert made with seasonal flavors of cranberry and apple and topped with crunchy brown sugar crumbles. The only thing that can make this dessert even better is a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream!
And here we are in fall and, again, apple pies are steeling the show. Almost every Thanksgiving we’ve ever had required an apple pie. Which explains why apple pie was the first pie I ever made.
Now, 15 years after my first pie attempt, and I’ve become so annoyed with making pie. There are soooo many steps: make dough, chill dough, roll out dough, make filling, make pretty top crust, bake. It’s just too much, especially during this busy time of year. But the stress doesn’t end there…now you gotta slice it.
The first slice I cut NEVER comes out pretty. I usually keep the first slice for myself to save the embarrassment when I hand over a gloop of apple pie filling with the crust in shambles. This is also the exact reason why I love making hand pies like this one and this one.
All of this leads me to today’s discussion. Today I want to talk about one of my favorite alternatives to traditional apple pie: apple crumbles. What is an apple crumble? It’s just like an apple crisp, but the topping is just buttery, cinnamon brown sugar and contains no nuts or oats. I don’t need all that extra healthy stuff distracting me.
It’s the same balance of carbs and fruit that you crave in a pie but with so much less effort since it takes 1/2 the time to make and is scoopable, thus no messy slicing! Hallelujah!
The version I’m sharing today is a cranberry apple crumble. Yummm. I have been embracing cranberries a lot more this year. And I am so glad I did! They pair so beautifully with apples so adding them to this crumble was a no-brainer. Plus, the festive flavors (and colors!) make this crumble the perfect dessert for all your holidays meals.
The apples and cranberries release tons of juices when cooking. When those juices mix with the sugars and flour, they thicken up to make a creamy, custard-like filling that can only be made better with the crispy, crunchy topping of brown sugar and cinnamon. Oh and don’t forget the ice cream on top!
Before you get to baking, here are a few tips that will help you along the way:
- Make sure to slice the apples, not dice them. I think it makes for a better balance of the apple to cranberry ratio when you serve it.
- You can use either frozen or fresh cranberries. Do not use dried cranberries. You won’t get any juices from those and thus no thick, custard-like filling. It will be dry and boring. Yuck!
- Let the crumb mixture chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes so it can harden up. I like to do this step before I core and peel the apples so it has plenty of time to chill. If the crumb mixture doesn’t get a chance to chill, it will melt into one big crust when it’s baked.
- I recommend granny smith apples for this crumble since they hold their texture very well. Other apples with too much water will get mushy and won’t taste so great. So do your research if you want to use another kind of apple to make sure they will hold up well when cooked.
I hope you consider this new treat for your Thanksgiving table this week! If not, I will also accept consideration for your holiday meals later this season 😉
What other alternatives to pie do you love during this time of year? Let me know in the comments below!
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Cranberry Apple Crumble
For the crumb topping:
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter unsalted, melted
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
For the filling:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- 3 lbs granny smith apples cored, peeled, and sliced
- 2 cups whole cranberries fresh or frozen
- vanilla ice cream (optional, for serving)
For crumble topping:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish (or equivalent capacity) with butter or cooking spray.
- Mix sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl with a spoon or spatula. Add melted butter and combine. Add flour, 1/3 cup at a time until all combined. The mixture will resemble a paste. Don't worry, we will make it look like crumbs after it chills. Place in refrigerator to chill until you need it.
For the filling and assembly:
- Add flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest to a large bowl. Stir or whisk so the mixture is combined. Add apples and cranberries. Toss with a large spoon so that they are evenly coated in the mixture. Place into greased baking dish.
- Grab chilled crumb mixture from the refrigerator. Scoop a handful of the mixture from the bowl. Using both hands, crumble mixture evenly over the apple-cranberry mixture. Crumbs should be the size of peas but don't worry if they are some bigger and smaller than that. The topping actually looks better when the size of the crumbs are uneven. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
- Place crumble into a preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. You'll know it's done when the apples and cranberries are bubbling through the crumbs and the topping is deep, golden brown.
- Let mixture cool for 10 minutes. Scoop into dessert bowls or small plates and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (if desired). Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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