Baking Basics:
Streusel Topping (Crisp or Crumble)

July 19, 2022

Baking Basics is a series on Slumber & Scones all about some of my favorite repeat ingredients that can easily be made at home. See all Baking Basics posts under Guides

A good streusel is so versatile, perfect to use on top of muffins, coffee cakes, apple crisp, blueberry crumble – you name it. So you definitely need to have a good foundational recipe for it to build your own delicious desserts.

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What You Need to Get Started

You can easily find all of the ingredients for a simple homemade streusel at your grocery store:

How to Make Crisp or Crumble Streusel Topping

I’m such a sucker for any type of baked good with a good crumbly streusel on top. Give me a Dutch apple pie, a pear crisp, a peach crumble, some coffee cake muffins, or really anything topped with that crumbly goodness. There is so much you can do with streusel once you have this recipe locked down.

There are two main streusel types, crisp and crumble, which also correspond with the fruit bakes of the same names. These names tend to be used interchangeably, but if you want to get technical, there is a difference.

Crisp streusel includes oats, while crumble streusel does not. It’s pretty easy to remember this because the oats crisp up when baked, giving a little bit of that extra toothsome quality to your treat. However, it’s all up to you, the baker, which one you want to use.

To get started with either type of streusel, you’ll first combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk them together. This always includes flour, brown sugar, and salt. It’s also where you’d add the oats for a crisp streusel.

When it comes to flour, any type will work. Generally, I use the same type of flour that’s in the baked good, which is generally all-purpose flour. Sometimes, that means I’ll make a streusel with white whole wheat or almond flour instead, and it’s still delicious.

For oats, I prefer using quick oats. These are the second thinnest variety you can find, which makes them bake up just perfectly. Instant oats tend to get a bit overdone, and steel cut oats are too thick to work well in a streusel. Old fashioned oats will work, but the end result will be slightly chewier than using quick.

If you want to experiment with any optional add-ins, this is the place to do that as well. There are so many options, and streusel tends to be pretty forgiving and flexible. Whenever you are working with add-ins, just keep in mind that you will need to either use more butter or cut down on the flour or oats, to keep the ratio correct.

One idea is to add spices for extra flavor, like cinnamon, apple or pumpkin pie spice, or any of the individual spices you find in those: nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, or cardamom. You can also include finely chopped nuts, like pecans, almonds, or walnuts.

I suggest experimenting on your own to see what kinds of fun streusels you can make!

Once the dry ingredients are all combined together, it’s time to add the butter. If you’re using salted butter, be sure to omit the salt that’s included in the recipe. In most cases, I suggest using unsalted butter, so you have more control over the flavor.

You’ll want the butter to be fully melted, but then let it cool slightly so that you can handle it. I always end up using my hands when working with streusel, so giving that butter plenty of time to cool (but not solidify) can save you trouble when mixing.

Mix the butter into the dry ingredients. You can use a spoon for this, especially at the beginning. But you’ll get better results if you switch to your hands. You’ll be able to feel the texture, and ensure that everything is thoroughly and evenly coated.

Since streusel includes flour, you’ll need to bake it for at least ten minutes. You can bake the streusel on its own by spreading it on a foil-lined baking sheet, or on top of your breakfast or dessert dish. It’s okay to cook the streusel for longer, such as if you are using it in a fruit bake, which can sometimes take nearly an hour in the oven.

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Let’s get back to the basics when it comes to baking and desserts: learn to make a crisp or crumble streusel topping!

How to Use Streusel Topping

There are so many uses for streusel. If you keep a jar on hand, either premixed or prebaked, you’ll be able to make so many delicious dishes:

  • Sprinkle a spoonful as a topping for ice cream.
  • Layer with fresh fruit and yogurt for a fun breakfast parfait.
  • Add flavors along with the butter, like vanilla extract or bourbon.
  • Top a bowl of oatmeal with whipped cream and a crumble streusel.
  • Bake on its own and then crumble on top of a no-bake cheesecake.
  • Replace the filling of cinnamon rolls with a fun streusel.
  • Add an egg to a crisp streusel and bake it up into quick oatmeal cookies.
  • Replace the top crust of your favorite fruit pie with streusel instead.
  • Mix streusel with jam and top with whipped cream for the fastest crumble ever.
  • Add to the top of your banana bread before baking for a fun extra crunch.

Or use your streusel as an ingredient in one of these decadent dessert or brunch recipes:

Baking Basics: Streusel Topping (Crisp or Crumble)

A simple and quick recipe for a crisp (with oats) or crumble (without oats) streusel topping that you can use on your favorite muffins, cakes, and fruit bakes.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Basics, Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 34kcal


Crumble Streusel Topping

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Butter melted and cooled slightly

Crisp Streusel Topping

  • Cups Flour
  • Cups Quick Oats
  • Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Butter melted and cooled slightly

Optional Add-Ins

  • ¼ Cup Chopped Nuts
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ Cup Fresh or Dried Berries chopped if larger than blueberries
  • 1-3 tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼-½ tsp Nutmeg, Cardamom, Allspice, and/or Ground Ginger
  • 1-2 tsp Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie Spice


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, oats (if using), and any optional add-ins (if using) until thoroughly combined.
  • Add in the butter and mix with a spoon or your hands until uniform and somewhat crumbly.


  • Make Ahead Tips: 
    • You can premix and store any dry ingredients without adding the butter in a sealed container at room temperature until the earliest expiration date of the ingredients. Then simply add melted butter as needed for a fast streusel on demand.
    • Baked streusel can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for 3-4 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in the oven until warmed through.
  • Optional Add-Ins:
    • When using the add-ins, you can either replace some of the flour/oats from the original recipes or increase the amount of butter to keep the balance the same.
    • Use none or up to as many as you'd like, experimenting with different combinations. 

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