Saturday, November 21

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Pear and Apple Crisp

Easy Autumn Baking with Less Fuss, More Flavor

Does dessert get any more comforting than this?

My next recipe post was supposed to be for the quick roasted brussels sprouts I've been eating by the pound lately—and which would be perfect for Thanksgiving. But all fresh vegetable goodness aside, sometimes you just have to eat dessert first. Stay tuned for the sprouts recipe, which I'll hopefully have up in the next few days is up! In the meantime, enjoy this easy autumn treat!

I love fruit pies, but many people find them intimidating. A fresh fruit crisp, on the other hand, mixes up in no time flat and involves none of that pie crust panic.

While fruit crisp isn't health food, it's definitely better for you than sugary cereals or donuts, and makes a wonderful breakfast treat when served with an ice cold glass of milk, although some mornings definitely require a side of vanilla ice cream instead.

I've made this crisp with Bartlett and D'Anjou pears, but other varieties should also work. You can use soft or firm ripe pears; it's up to you. Overripe pears are perfectly tasty too, but the chunks won't hold their shape as well.

I like to use sweet apples like Gala and Fuji, but my hunky farmguy Joe prefers the tarter Granny Smiths. Use a softer apple if your pears are very soft.

Leaving some or all of the pears and apples unpeeled will give your crisp a nice rustic look, especially if the apples have some red on them.

If you prefer, you can make the topping with either just whole wheat pastry flour or just all-purpose flour. When you're assembling the crisp, it may seem like there's too much topping. There isn't, though a couple of stolen nibbles will never be missed.

If you prefer, you can make the topping with either just whole wheat pastry flour or just all-purpose flour. When you're assembling the crisp, it may seem like there's too much topping; there isn't.

Thick oats give a nuttier texture to the topping than regular old-fashioned oats, but if you can't find thick just use the regular (but not the quick) kind.

This recipe fills my 8-inch square white baking dish right up to the rim, so if the sides of yours aren't very tall, you'll want to use a 9-inch square dish instead.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference. Unfortunately both apples and pears are high on the Environmental Working Group's list of Most Contaminated Produce (apples are #1!), but organic options are readily available in many areas, especially this time of year. When using citrus zest, organic is the way to go.

Look for organic flours and oats in the bulk bins at natural food stores. Organic sugars are thankfully becoming mainstream, and organic butter is often on sale for the holidays; it'll keep for many months in the freezer. Local Harvest is a great source for finding all kinds of healthy food close to home.

Farmgirl Susan's Old-Fashioned Pear and Apple Crisp
Makes one 8-inch or 9-inch square crisp

**Click here to print this recipe**

1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed, preferably organic
1 cup thick old-fashioned (not quick) organic oats
3/4 cup (1½ sticks/6 ounces) organic butter, cut into small chunks

2 pounds organic pears (about 4 large), peeled if desired, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1¼ pounds organic apples (about 3 medium), peeled if desired, cored, and cut into 3/4" to 1" chunks
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated organic lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated organic orange zest
3 Tablespoons all-purpose organic flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 teaspoon pre-ground)

Heat the oven to 375°.

For the topping:
Combine the flours, brown sugar, and oats in a medium bowl. Blend in the butter using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Some larger chunks of butter are fine.

For the filling:
Place the pears and apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon and orange juices using a large spoon. Add the lemon zest, orange zest, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Pour the fruit into an 8-inch or 9-inch square dish and cover evenly with the topping.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the topping is brown and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature, with scoops of vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream if desired.

This crisp will keep for 3 to 4 days in a cool pantry or the fridge. It also freezes beautifully. I've frozen one or two servings in glass Pyrex containers with plastic lids, but you could probably freeze the whole crisp; either leave it right in the pan (if it's freezer safe), or line the pan with heavy foil before baking, freeze the crisp in the pan, then lift the whole thing out of the pan in one big piece and transfer to a container or zipper freezer bag. Set it back in the pan when you defrost it.

Craving more sweet treats? Try these other Farmgirl Fare recipes:

Cookies and Bars

Muffins and Scones
Cranberry Christmas Scones (tasty any time of year)
100% Whole Grain Bran Muffins (four different flavors)

Cakes, Tarts, and More
Easy Old-Fashioned Blackberry Crisp (and life in a very small town)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the crustless foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and crisp, crumble, and cobbler are some of our favorite words in the English language.


  1. I agree..."life is short, eat desert first!"...The recipe looks so very good thanks for sharing it! Happy Thanksgiving! Come say hi :D

  2. I love all your recipes. They always seem to be easy and tasty.

  3. The crisp looks delicious, but I just bought a big bag of Brussels sprouts, so I'm excited to see that recipe soon!

  4. Yum! I love the combo of pears and apples, and I do enjoy making fruit crisps.Thanks for your recipe!

  5. I love fruit crisp with vanilla ice cream or just plain.

    Apples and pears, what a great combination.


  6. Oh my mouth is watering!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Thank you for such a delicious recipe - I can't wait to try it out. I'm looking forward to the brussel sprout recipe too - I need a yummy way to fix them.

    p.s. I am so so sorry about Delores' baby - what a sweetheart! Blessings to all of you and a big hug!

  8. It's actually healthier to eat desert first! Farmgirl, I have to tell you all your recipes are delicious. I could close my eyes and just pick one. They all fit into the category of comfort food. In fact, visiting your webpage is like comfort food. Thanks so much for doing it.

  9. I love crisps! Actually have never tried one with pears, but I need to!
    A while back I saw your post about the shortbread cookies with toffee and chocolate chips. I just made them this week. Love them!
    Just wanted you to know I posted about them on my blog and linked your post.
    Thanks. Where are you in MO? I just live in Lawrence, KS.

  10. Thanks for posting this recipe. I'm going to try it over Thanksgiving!

  11. I just ordered a box of apples and pears from the high school choir dept. I'm holding on to this recipe!

  12. I love making crisps, mainly because the topping can be made with much less butter than pie crust, but also it's much faster. I usually put walnuts or pecans in the crisp part -- adds a nice crunch and flavor, so you can cut the butter a bit.

    My favs are apple crisp (just made some over the weekend with apples I picked several weeks ago) and strawberry/rhubarb crisp.

    A suggested healthier topping: non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt. In my opinion even better than ice cream or frozen yogurt. The tangyness is really nice with fruit of all types. And no guilt!

    Great blog -- this is my first time posting. I've really enjoyed the stories, fantastic photos and the recipes too.

  13. Hello,
    Should I freeze before baking? I'm going to make this for Thanksgiving but would love to do it ahead of time, freeze it and then bake. Will it keep if I do that? Thanks, Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I'm not sure if this would freeze well before baking (I've never frozen uncooked apples or pears), but I do know that once baked, it freezes and defrosts nicely. You could reheat it in the oven before serving.


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

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