Apple-Cranberry Crisp with Walnuts

Apple-Cranberry Crisp with Walnut Crumble
Cranberries and walnuts zhoosh up traditional apple crisp into an OUTSTANDING and STRESS-FREE holiday dessert!
loose cranberries
Enjoy these seasonal vibrant red pearls supercharged with nutrients while available!

I do love cranberries – everything about them!
I love their bright red color and tart, vibrant taste. Knowing fresh cranberries are only available during this time of the year makes them even more special. Cranberries are considered a superfood due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. These gems have a multitude of uses for holiday cooking. Besides cranberry sauce, they are also delicious in stuffing, muffins, cakes, drinks, and desserts. This recipe is a perfect way to polish off a partial bag. While the recipe calls for 1 cup, less or more is fine. If I have an open bag, I use ’em up.

Kitchen Hack

bag of cranberries
Frozen cranberries will last up to a year

Freeze a bag (or 2) of fresh cranberries for future use! Cranberries will last in the fridge for up to four weeks, covering Thanksgiving to Christmas. Freezing extends that to a full year. Fun fact: Truly fresh cranberries will bounce if you drop them. (Try it!)

This easy dessert is a twist on traditional apple crisp with the addition of festive cranberries. It’s also a larger recipe, easily serving eight. This crisp bakes in a 9×13 pan and is perfect for holiday gatherings. I love using a variety of apples in this crisp, including a couple of tart green (Granny Smith) apples with sweeter apples. While some apples are better for baking, I use whatever apples are in my pantry (which means the ones on sale), and no one has ever complained!


Apple basics

Peeling and slicing the apples is the most time-consuming part of this recipe. I use a vegetable peeler with a swivel blade and make a game by challenging myself to peel the entire apple with one stroke. Unlike potatoes or carrots, it’s easiest to peel apples in a circular motion. A small paring knife works too. Once you get the hang of it on your first apple, you can make quick work of the rest.

Peeled apples on a cutting board
Peel apples using a vegetable peeler or small paring knife in a circular motion

After peeling the apples, I cut off two cheeks and the remaining sides. The four sections all have a flat side making it easy to cut the sections into thin slices.

apple slices in small bowl and on cutting board
Slice pealed apples into 1/8 thick slices

Combine the apples in a large bowl with the cranberries, flour, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and spices. If you don’t have a lemon, an orange or lime is just as good. It’s the citrus punch that counts. The specific flavor isn’t all that important. I like using a fresh lemon, as the juice is so much better than bottled; however, it’s not that big of a deal, so don’t sweat it. Likewise, while the zest adds an extra depth of flavor, it’s not crucial. If your using bottled juice, add an additional teaspoon and omit the zest. Transfer the fruit mixture to a non-stick sprayed baking pan.

Sliced apples and cranberries in mixing bowl
Mix the apples, cranberries in a large bowl with spices, flour and lemon juice/zest

Easy Topping

The topping is simple. Using a fork, mash the butter into the remaining dry ingredients until you have a moist, crumbly consistency. You can use your hands instead if you enjoy a tactile experience. Kids, especially, enjoy doing this! It’s now time to invite the walnuts to join the party. Feel free to use chopped pecans, sliced almonds, or pistachios in place of the walnuts. Evenly distribute the moist crumbles over the top of the fruit.

Small plate of butter and mixing bowl of dry ingredients
Add butter (cut in chunks) to dry ingredients and mash with a fork until moist crumbles form

This last task brings up an interesting bit of trivia. Why is this dessert called a “crisp” and not a “crumble”? Have you ever wondered if those words have a different meaning or if they are interchangeable? Probably not – but I’m going to enlighten you anyway. The technical difference between a crisp and a crumble is the addition of oats and nuts. The streusel topping is less dense in a crisp, and the oats “crisp up” during baking. A traditional crumble doesn’t contain oats or nuts, and the topping tends to be denser and cakier. So there ya go!

baking pan with fruit mixture and image of pan with fruit and topping
Add the fruit to a 9×13 baking pan sprayed with non-stick. Top with the crumble mixture.

Bake until brown & bubbly

Bake the crisp in a preheated oven for about an hour. Allow the topping to get brown and the filling to bubble and ooze. If, after an hour, it’s not there yet, continue to bake in 10-minute increments. Depending on the type and amount of apple, it may take longer. No worries – let it bake until it reaches perfection! Serve with a puff or dollop of whipped topping or scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!

baked crisp in pan
Bake until the topping is brown and the fruit bubbles and oozes.

Apple-Cranberry Crisp with Walnuts

Recipe by Jane BruceCourse: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep Time


Baking Time



The vibrant red color and pop of tartness of cranberries complement the sweetness of the apples and oatmeal walnut streusel topping in this easy, crowd-pleasing recipe.  Perfect for a cozy family dinner, a holiday potluck, or entertaining. 


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour – divided

  • 1 cup granulated sugar – divided

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon – divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg – divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt – divided

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 5 large apples (peeled, cored, cut into 1/8″ slices

  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed if frozen

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Peel and slice apples. Chop walnuts, if necessary. Zest and juice lemon. Rinse cranberries. Cut the butter in tablespoon slices and place on counter.
  • Mix ½ cup flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg in a large bowl. Add butter and use a fork to mash the butter into the dry ingredients until clumps form. Add walnuts and combine until evenly distributed.
  • Add apples, cranberries, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup flour, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg in a large bowl. Toss to combine and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Top apples with crumble.
  • Bake apple crisp until the crumble is golden brown and filling is bubbling through in the center, about 1 hour. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.


  • Apples: Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith are recommended. (I use a couple of varieties).
  • Lemon: Orange or lime juice & zest can be substituted, if you don’t have zest, use an additional ¼ teaspoon of juice
  • Walnuts: Substitute pecans, pistachios, or almonds

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