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November 11, 2020

Grandma Elsie’s Cast Iron Apple Crisp - #ThanksgivingRecipe

Grandma Elsie's Cast Iron Apple Crisp - The Grossman Group

When a pumpkin pie isn’t enough for your Thanksgiving spread, delight your friends or family with this warm, comforting caramel-apple crisp. Serve it right out of the cast-iron skillet just like Grandma Elsie used to do. We used local Gravenstein apples, but you can use your favorite firm, tart variety (Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Mutsu, etc.) that is perfect for baking.


For the caramel sauce:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks), diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 3 pounds firm, tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 6 medium apples)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Elsie’s Spice Mix
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the crispy topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened


Making the caramel sauce

Put sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to combine. Add the diced butter and put over medium heat. Cook without stirring until the butter and sugar have melted completely and are starting to bubble (4-5 minutes).

When the mixture starts to brown at the edges, use a spatula to stir occasionally, scraping the sides and the bottom of the saucepan. When the mixture is a deep golden brown and just beginning to smoke slightly (4-5 minutes), remove from heat. Watch carefully because the caramel can go from golden brown to burned if you turn your back.

Carefully whisk in the heavy cream to make a smooth sauce. Add the vanilla and salt. If you discover lumps, put the pan back on low heat and whisk until smooth. Pour the caramel sauce into a heat-safe container to cool.

Preparing the filling

Put a rack in the center of your oven and pre-heat to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, add the sliced apples, lemon juice, spices and salt and stir to combine. Drizzle ½ cup of caramel sauce over the mixture and stir again. Scrape the apple mixture into a 9- or 10-inch cast iron (or other oven-safe) skillet.


Making the topping

In your now-empty bowl, combine the flour, oats, nuts, sugar and salt. Stir until well combined then add the softened butter. Use your hands to mash the dry ingredients with the butter until you form crumbs. Distribute the crumb topping evenly over the apple filling in your skillet. Put in the oven for 40-50 minutes until the topping is golden and the juices are bubbling.

Serving the crisp

Slice into individual wedges (serves 8-10) and put on individual plates or bowls. Serve warm with more warm caramel sauce and ice cream. You can keep any leftover caramel sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week. You can rewarm the caramel sauce in a saucepan over low heat.

A Special Thanks

Brad Whitworth and Peg ChampionWe’d also like to extend a special thanks to our Food Partners, Brad Whitworth and Peg Champion from Grandma Elsie’s West Coast Test Kitchen, for sharing this recipe with us.

Will you be making Grandma Elsie’s Cast Iron Apple Crisp this holiday? Tag us in your photos on Twitter @ThoughtPartner if you do!

David Grossman 

This is an adapted recipe by food photographer and stylist, Yossy Arefi. Check out her award-winning blog Apt. 2B Baking Co.

If you’re interested in having all of Grandma Elsie’s recipes in one place, click on the image below to download (for free!) the official recipe cookbook:

Grandma Elsie Recipe Book


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