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Butterscotch Apple Crisp

4.8 stars (31 ratings)

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Butterscotch apple crisp brings together the tangy crunch of granny smith apples with the sweetness of bourbon butterscotch sauce. Top it off with a buttery streusel oatmeal topping for all the flavors of a classic apple pie, but with much less time and effort. As they say: It’s easier than apple pie! Read on for my tips and check out the video on making the bourbon butterscotch sauce, or skip on down to the recipe and get cooking!

Butterscotch apple crumble with butterscotch sauce drizzled on top on a white plate.

Apples are one of my favorite foods of fall. You can eat them straight off the tree or turn them into so many delicious dishes. Apple date mini pies, apple butterapple cinnamon rolls, and creamy butternut squash apple soup are always on my list, but this butterscotch apple crisp is sitting at the top.

It’s laced with the most decadent bourbon butterscotch sauce, with a sweet buttery texture and just a hint of spice. Can you just imagine the aroma of apples and cinnamon wafting through the air as you pull this out of the oven? There is something so cozy about that smell that evokes all the comforts of fall.

The best part about this decadent treat is that it is easy. Yep, today we aren’t just making a decadently gourmet treat, but we are doing it with a fraction of the effort that it takes to make an apple pie.

An overhead shot of butterscotch apple crumble in a cast iron pan on a dark blue background. Cinnamon sticks, sliced granny smith apples, and oats are sprinkled around the scene.

The Apples

I chose granny smith apples the first time I made this crisp because I picked up a whole bushel of them while apple picking. Even after testing this cobbler with honey crisp, gala, and macintosh apples, granny smith will always be my go to for this butterscotch apple crisp recipe.

First, I love how the tart tanginess of the granny smith plays against the sweetness of the butterscotch sauce. The honeycrisp and gala apples made for a dessert that was way too sweet for my tastes.

Also, when I’m eating a crumble, crisp, or cobbler I like when I can identify the chunks of fruit. The granny smith does a much better job of keeping it’s structure when it’s baked, as it doesn’t easily turn into mush.

A bowl of apples covered in butterscotch sauce being mixed together.

Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce

What makes this recipe truly special is the bourbon butterscotch sauce. Similar to a caramel sauce (and why at one point this recipe was called a Caramel Apple Crumble) a butterscotch sauce is made from sugar, butter, and heavy cream. Caramel uses white granulated sugar, while butterscotch uses brown sugar.

For this crisp we are going back to my roots and taking the flavor profiles up a notch by swapping out the vanilla for old fashioned Kentucky bourbon. Check out the video below for the step by step process or go here for more details: Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce.

Crumble vs. Crisp

When it comes to the world of crumbles and crisps the terms both describe fruit based desserts with a buttery, streusel like topping. For the longest time I thought the names were a regional difference instead of a culinary difference. Still many people use the terms interchangeably, but there is an actual difference between the two.

For a crumble that topping typically consists of butter, sugar, and flour. A crisp goes one step farther and adds a dried cereal, like oats, to the mixture. The oats toast up in the oven, making the topping a little less dense and giving its namesake crispy crunch.

I have always preferred the crispiness that is a crisp without knowing the difference. Hence, my apple crumble recipe is now properly names an apple crisp recipe.

Macerated butterscotch apple filling being dished into a cast iron skillet. The oatmeal streusel topping is to the side.

Tips for a Perfect Crisp

  1. After the apples macerate in the caramel sauce, scoop them into the pan using a slotted spoon. Adding the macerated liquid into baking dish will leave you with a watery mess instead of a crispy crisp.
  2. You can use a pie pan, casserole dish, or (my choice) cast iron skillet for this crisp. If your apples go all the way to the top, place a sheet pan on the lower rack in the oven to catch any drips in case it bubbles over.
  3. Spread the crisp topping as evenly as possible over the fruit.
  4. You’ll know it’s done when the filling is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown.

When I first set out to make this I thought I was making a bourbon apple crumble. With the latest update, I’ve changed the name to reflect that it uses a butterscotch sauce instead of caramel and that it is in fact a crisp and not a crumble. In fact, you may have found this recipe through pinterest with the label Bourbon Apple Crumble or Caramel Apple Crumble. The truth is, it’s still the same recipe, but by a different name.

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A serving of butterscotch apple crumble on a white plate being drizzled with butterscotch sauce. In the background slices of apple, a serving dish, and a jar of butterscotch sauce.

Butterscotch Apple Crisp Recipe

Tart granny smith apples wrapped up in sweet bourbon butterscotch sauce and layered with a crispy, crumbly, buttery topping. Best enjoyed warm from the oven with extra sauce drizzled on top. For an extra decadent treat add sweet cream ice cream and maple bourbon whipped cream.

If you happen to have leftovers, they will keep for 2 days at room temperature or 3 – 5 days in the fridge. While it does work to cover it with foil or plastic wrap, a reusable pie sized storage container works best.

For more delicious dessert ideas see all of my recipes for desserts, treats, and snacks.

If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE-STAR rating, leave a comment, and share it on your favorite social channel!

Butterscotch apple crumble with butterscotch sauce drizzled on top on a white plate.

Butterscotch Apple Crisp

This butterscotch apple crisp is easier than apple pie! Granny smith apples, tossed in a sweet bourbon butterscotch sauce, and finished with a buttery streusel topping.
4.8 stars (31 ratings)
prep: 20 minutes
cook: 35 minutes
total: 55 minutes
servings: 10 servings


Butterscotch Apple Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon or vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 – 5 apples*

Apple Crisp Topping

  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butterscotch Apple Filling

  • In a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup of butter until foamy. Stir in 1 cup of brown sugar and continue to cook stirring occasionally for 3 – 5 minutes, until it's the consistency of molten lava.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup cream, 2 teaspoons bourbon or vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and continue to cook over medium heat.
  • Mixture will bubble up and expand. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once the mixture has tripled in size remove from heat and allow to cool slightly in the pan.
  • Wash and peel 4 – 5 apples, enough to fill the pie pan*. Slice them into bite sized pieces.
  • Toss the sliced apples with 1/2 cup of the warm butterscotch sauce. Set aside and allow to sit.

Apple Crisp Topping

  • Chop 1/2 cup cold butter into small chunks. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, stir to combine. Crumble chopped butter into the rest of the ingredients, working it until the butter is in small pea sized chunks.

Assemble and Bake

  • Pour 1/4 cup of butterscotch sauce into the bottom of a 10" pie pan. Spoon the butterscotch covered apples on top, being careful not to add the leftover liquid from the bottom of the bowl. Top with the oat and flour mixture.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Serve warm with remaining butterscotch sauce drizzled on top.

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4 – 5 medium apples should be enough to evenly fill the pie pan. I measure by placing the apples into the pie pan as I chop them, adding an extra apple if needed.


Serving: 1Calories: 512kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 3gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 416mgFiber: 3gSugar: 43g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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27 Comments on “Butterscotch Apple Crisp”

  1. made this tonight. absolutely delicious. only thing is I needed to figure out how to thin out the leftover sauce to pour on at the end. of course it thickened up alot from sitting. but very tasty!

    • Hi Deb! To thin the sauce back out, just reheat it. Often I’ll leave it in the pan and heat it as needed, but if you’ve refrigerated it you can scoop a bit into a ramekin (or other microwave safe dish) and put it in the microwave for 10 second bursts on high until is smooth enough to drizzle again. A word of warning: if you heat it too much too quickly, it will harden like a rock when cools again.

    • @Renee N Gardner,

      thank you so much! sooooo yummy. I actually used macouns that we picked a few weeks back. Don’t think you can go wrong with any type of apple 🙂

    • Nope! To macerate means to “to soften or separate into parts by steeping in a liquid.” Marinate is similar, in that it means to soak food in a marinade. While marinate is usually applied to meats and vegetables, macerate is usually applied to fruit that you want to soften while soaking. Marinate would not be an incorrect choice, but macerate applies better to the situation.

  2. Just in time when I was looking for apple recipes. I want to use less butter. Will it still come out delicious if I use half the amount? Can I sub it with anything else? Thanks 🙂

    • I cannot guarantee the quality if you change the recipe. If you cut the butter in the caramel sauce, you will change the consistency of the sauce, however you could reduce the amount of caramel that you use. If you don’t want extra caramel left over for topping the crumble, you can make half the sauce.

      Reducing the butter in the topping will may work, but I haven’t tested it so I don’t know for sure. I have used coconut oil as a butter substitute in the past, but I find that adjustments elsewhere are needed when you do that.

4.75 from 31 votes (26 ratings without comment)

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