Grandma Schroeder's Apple Crisp


When I was in medical school, my friends and I had “Family Dinner” almost every Sunday together. It was a nice finish to a weekend usually spent almost completely in the library studying. After eating together, we would study a little longer and then all watch Grey’s Anatomy. I have such fond memories of this bonding time.

One Sunday, I called my Grandma Schroeder to get her recipe for Apple Crisp in preparation for my turn to host Family Dinner. Thinking back to that phone call makes me laugh, because she was so imprecise. She said, “Add just a little pinch of salt and a bit of cinnamon” and, my favorite, “Just bake it until it’s done . . . you’ll know when.”

No, Grandma – I don’t know when! This sometimes left-brained girl wants measurements! That’s why I’m calling you! She ultimately gave me some measurements, but my apple crisp never tastes quite as good!

I came back to this recipe recently to make it again for a gathering with some friends, and I was astounded by how much sugar the original recipe called for. I decreased the sugar BY TWO THIRDS in this version, and it’s still delicious.


My point in telling you all of this is that most recipes can be altered to use less sugar, and most times you won’t notice the difference. Try it the next time you make cookies or pancakes or whatever you make that has a type of sugar in it. Our palates can be adjusted down so that we don’t need that hyper-flavored, overly-sweet taste. Less sweet desserts are the new little black dress of your culinary wardrobe!

Serves 12



Ingredients for apple base

12 McIntosh apples, chopped in ½” cubes  

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ cup sugar (I like coconut sugar)



Ingredients for oatmeal crumble topping

¼ cup brown sugar (I like dark brown)

1 cup rolled/old-fashioned or instant oatmeal 

¼ tsp salt

3 Tbsp organic butter or coconut oil

¼ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground ginger


¼ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped



1.    Greast 9x13” baking dish with a little butter or coconut oil to prevent sticking.

2.    Chop apples into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a glass microwave-safe bowl. (To make this easy, see picture above. Simply cut around the core with a straight edge. The core will look like a long rectangle with square ends. No peeling necessary - that’s where the fiber is!)

3.    Add cinnamon, ginger, salt and sugar to the chopped apples and stir.

4.    Microwave the apple mixture on high for 3 minutes. Stir. Then microwave an additional 3 minutes.


5.    While the apples are softening, mix the ingredients for the topping. I used a pastry blender tool, but a food processor or fork + elbow grease will work too. Mix until crumbly.

6.    Place warmed apples in the prepared 9x13” baking dish. Top with the oatmeal crumble.

7.    Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.