Cooking With The Old Farmer's Almanac

Fresh Fruit Crisp: My Easy Last-Minute Dessert

Catherine Boeckmann

I never plan ahead with my desserts unless it's a special occasion. So, the old-fashioned fruit crisp has become my go-to last-minute special and a family favorite—chopped up during dinner preparations and put in the oven before we sit down to eat.

I hesitate to even write a blog about such a simple recipe, but I find that I enjoy reminders about the simple things in life, so here's mine!

What's a Crisp?

Fruit crisps are simply fruit at the bottom of a glass pie plate, covered in a crumbly topping that can be as little as three ingredients: flour, butter, brown sugar.  Somehow, the way the cooked fruit blends with the browned topping in the oven is just mouthwatering. There are few desserts that I enjoy more.

You don't use piecrusts. A crisp is mostly fruit. And you can make it even healthier by making the topping with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, ground nuts, wheat germ, and/or flaxseed meal.

This spring and summer (and fall), try making crisps from any fresh fruit that's seasonal in your area: peaches, pitted cherries, tart apples, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries—or mix some fruit together! (See Related Articles above for several crisp recipes.)

Rhubarb (or, your fruit of choice)

In springtime, I make a rhubarb crisp. Apologies to my Southern friends, as rhubarb is more of a northern fruit, but you use the same recipe for any fruit.

Rhubarb growing in my garden near compost pile.

Rhubarb has a rich, tart flavor. Most people prefer it sweetened with strawberries or berries, but I crave the true, all-out unadulterated rhubarb taste. I just LOVE rhubarb! Apparently, early Americans from past centuries ate it straight as well, enjoying evening meals of “supper sauce,” bowls of warm stewed rhubarb served with homemade bread and butter. But I digress. Let's get to the recipe …

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

Four cups of rhubarb chopped into 1-inch pieces and put straight into dish.

Fresh Fruit Crisp Recipe


  • 4 cups fresh fruit (peel and core apples)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat if desired)
  • ¼ cup oats (if you leave out oats, then make it ½ cup flour above)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup salted butter (add ½ teaspoon salt if butter is unsalted)

The most basic pantry ingredients for topping. If you wish, substitute whole wheat flour and/or mix in oats, flaxseed meal, wheatgerm, and nuts.


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut up fruit into 1-inch pieces and lay in a 9-inch lightly greased dish. (Use glass, not aluminum.)
  • Add other three to four ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine with fingers until crumbly. (Don't overmix!)
  • Spread mix over fruit. Bake 30 minutes. Serve!

Some Tips:

  • If you're using apples or a fruit that turns brown, add lemon juice to the fruit before you spread the topping.
  • I tend to sprinkle some extra brown sugar over the fruit before I add the topping, too, if I'm serving this dessert to my child (age 6). He loves rhubarb crisp and enjoys a side scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • As I mentioned, feel free to mix in some wheat germ (or flaxseed meal) for health. You can also mix in a teaspoon of spice such as ground ginger or cinnamon. Make it your own!

The finished crisp, browned and warm out of the oven.

I'd love to hear if you make fruit crisps, any new tips or ideas, and your favorite type of fruit used (so that I can try it myself!).


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I love rhubarb, but I can not

I love rhubarb, but I can not find it here where I live!!! Strawberry-Rhubarb pie is delicious!!!

I had a thought while reading

I had a thought while reading the recipe. I know I could easily prepare and freeze the rhubarb in recipe-sized vacuum sealed bags, but...what of the crumble, also in recipe-sized bags? I'm thinking this could become an even easier supper :-)

Though you can freeze the

Though you can freeze the crumble topping, we would recommend making it fresh. It is easily thrown together and shouldn't hinder anyone's weeknight.

I have made my things out of

I have made my things out of rhubarb. BQ sauce, peach n rhubarb n peach glaze 4 chicken n pork, bread pudding, rhubarb dump cake, when u cook it down there r so many thing u can make out of love this stuff !

Spring rhubarb crisp - Today

Spring rhubarb crisp - Today I used a shake of Aniseed over the rhubarb and vanilla sugar (make my own). Topping consisted of flour, ground almonds, vanilla sugar and unsalted butter.

Would like to know if you can

Would like to know if you can do this with pureed fruit. I have a bunch of it stored in my freezer.

We would recommend only

We would recommend only replacing half of the fruit with pureed fruit. So use 2 cups of fresh cut up fruit and 2 cups of puree.

sounds good

sounds good

As a child in England after

As a child in England after WW2 I got a lot of stewed rhubarb for dessert...It was one of the few fruits we had in plenty each spring....I still love it that way & as a crisp or in pie but only if it is the sole fruit ingredient... Love that tart fresh spring taste

Excellent! And easy. Will

Excellent! And easy. Will try it with other fruit.

I recently tried rhubarb and

I recently tried rhubarb and banana, baked with a sprinkling of brown sugar and nutmeg, and nothing else. The recipe's topping, which I tried the first time, was like a biscuit and that was more than I wanted. The mild sweetness of the banana was a perfect complement to the tang of the rhubarb. THAT one is a keeper!

My rhubarb is growing like

My rhubarb is growing like crazy right now. This recipe looks so good and easy, I can't wait to try it. I'm sure it would be divine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!