Recipe Review

I Tried Ina Garten’s Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp (It Has Hundreds of 5-Star Reviews)

published Nov 19, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Getty Images

I have written quite a few celebrity recipe showdown articles for Kitchn, and I was starting to feel like every time I do one, it’s really an excuse to write a love letter to Ina Garten. Here’s the thing: Her recipes really work.

That’s not to say she always wins the showdowns, but her recipes consistently deliver fantastic outcomes. I love that they’re approachable but also have a few unique ingredients or techniques that really make them stand out. In this case, Ina’s apple crisp calls for adding zest and juice from both oranges and lemons to the filling for a quadruple dose of citrus. And while most crisp recipes use only brown sugar in the topping, Ina calls for both brown and white. I was curious to find out if these tweaks really makes a difference in the filling and topping. 

Get the recipe: Ina Garten’s Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Getty Images

How to Make Ina Garten’s Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and butter a 9×14-inch baking dish. Peel, core, and slice the apples into wedges and transfer to a bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Pour the apples into the prepared baking dish.

Add the flour, sugars, oatmeal, and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low until the mixture is crumbly. Spread the topping in an even layer over the apples. Bake until the apples are bubbling and top is golden-brown. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

It pains me to say it, but this is the first Ina recipe that’s let me down. Usually her recipes are really buttoned up, but during testing I found that the amount of topping was way too much for the size of pan called for in the recipe. I had half a mixing bowl of topping left over, which felt like a real bummer to throw away, but I had already piled it on so high that the dessert was veering out of crisp territory. Because there was so much topping, the baking time was also off. At the hour mark the topping was still pale, and I had to bake it an extra 15 minutes to get that classic golden look. 

Still, although I had been skeptical of the topping during the baking process, it turned out to be the real star of the show. I loved how thick it was, with just the right amount of crispiness.

My real issue with this crisp was the flavor of the filling. Topping aside, the first flavor I tasted was orange. And it wasn’t just a hint of orange — I felt like I was getting hit in the face with the flavor of orange. After the orange subsided, there was a very strong taste of cinnamon, and then somewhere behind that a faint taste of apples. To me, the joy of apple crisp is really getting to celebrate the flavor of apples, and this recipe almost completely masked that flavor. I would keep the topping part of the recipe (after halving it, of course) and use another filling recipe if I were to make it again. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Ina Garten’s Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp, a Few Tips

  1. Skip the orange: I think this recipe could have been a winner if the orange was omitted. If you want some of that flavor, I’d recommend using just the zest of the orange but no orange juice. But do keep the lemon juice for some acidity and to prevent discoloration. 
  2. Halve the topping: The topping was delicious, but it made way too much to match the filling. You could easily halve the topping portion of the recipe and have enough for a thick topping without running the risk of waste. 
  3. Go easy on the cinnamon: After orange, the flavor you taste in the filling is cinnamon. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, and I found that it was too heavily spiced. I would recommend using 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg for a crisp that’s more apple-forward. 

Rating: 6/10