Pie toppings come in many forms, but my favorite style of pie is a crumble-topped one. There’s something about the buttery, crisp streusel on top of baked fruit that wins over even the most skeptical fruit-eater. You can add a crumble topping to just about any pie — so this basic recipe is a must-try.
This pie crumble topping is very easy to make.
It starts with a blend of flour, sugar and salt. Then you’ll pour melted butter into the dry ingredient mixture, and stir it all up until the mixture begins to resemble wet sand.
Once it comes together, you can shape it into large clumps by grabbing handfuls of it and squeezing it in your fist. If you prefer a less clumpy streusel, you can simply sprinkle it on as-is and skip the clumping step.
The topping can then be sprinkled onto any fruit pie filling, from apple to blueberry, and baked.
The streusel itself doesn’t require much time in the oven to be “done,” so simply follow the directions for whatever filling you’re using when it comes to the baking time.
For fruit pies, the doneness of the filling and the bottom crust are paramount. If the crumble starts to get too brown, you can simply lay a small sheet of aluminum foil over the top to prevent it from browning further while the pie continues to bake.
Basic crumb topping for pie
Makes enough for one 9″ or 10″ pie
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
In a medium bowl, whisk together all topping ingredients until mixture resembles wet sand.
Grab handfuls of the mixture and squeeze them in your fist to create larger clumps, if desired.
Sprinkle topping on pie and bake as directed by your filling recipe, as the filling has the biggest impact on baking time. If the topping starts to brown too much as it bakes (possible for fillings that require a longer baking time), simply place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top to stop the browning while the pie finishes baking.
Creative flavor variations of this pie crumble
The other great thing about this crumble topping is that it’s extremely easy to put your own twist on it! You can add spices, nuts and even oatmeal to give the mixture a different flavor and texture. Mix and match with your favorite fillings.
For instance, the brown sugar and cinnamon options work very well with apples, while I like almonds with my cherry pie fillings. The oatmeal option goes well with everything.
- Vanilla — Add 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract in along with the melted butter.
- Cinnamon — Add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in with the dry ingredients.
- Brown sugar – Replace white sugar with more brown sugar (use dark brown for a stronger flavor)
Oats and nuts:
- Oatmeal – Reduce flour to ¾ cup and add ¾ cup oatmeal to the mixture. The crumble may be a little more crumbly with oatmeal, but it will have a wonderfully nutty flavor
- Walnuts, pecans or almonds – Add ½ cup chopped, untoasted nuts to the crumble mixture below and bake as directed by your pie recipe.
- Shredded coconut – Add ½ cup shredded coconut to the crumble mixture below and bake as directed by your pie recipe. Replace brown sugar with white sugar for a paler, more “coconut-colored” option
- Chocolate – Add 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder to topping mixture