Dishing Up the Dirt

Apple Fennel Crisp

Do you ever eat a food combination that someone else prepared for you and think “damn, how have I never thought of this before?”

That is exactly what happened with this crisp. A few weeks back, one of our farm crew members brought in an apple fennel crisp for us all to try. It absolutely knocked my socks off. I’ve always enjoyed apples and fennel together but never in a sweet treat. I was so obsessed with this dessert (heck, it’s healthy enough to be breakfast too!) that I had to try it myself.

This crisp is absolutely divine. The fennel is cooked down in butter and then added to a bowl with apples, spices and then topped with a simple mixture of finely ground nuts, roughly chopped nuts, and just a small touch of honey. It’s sweetness comes from the apples and very little added sweetener is needed. Serve this crisp with some homemade whipped cream or simply drizzle in a little heavy cream before diving in. We ate this crisp for breakfast a few days in a row with a side of bacon for good measure. This is a fun twist on traditional apple crisp and our dear friend (and one of the best crew member’s we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with) is the genius behind this combination. Naturally, his version was tastier than mine, but I think this was a close second!

I hope you all enjoy this crips as much as we do. I think it will make a fine Thanksgiving dessert!!

Apple Fennel Crisp

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 40 minutes    Serves: 6-8 servings

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped fennel (from about 1 large bulb)
  • 4 cups finely chopped apples (from about 3 large apples) I only roughly peeled mine.
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup walnuts (sprouted is ideal)
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (sprouted is ideal)
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • pinch of fine sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Melt the butter in an 8 inch heavy bottom cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seeds and finely chopped fennel, cook stirring occasionally, until the fennel has soften and begun to caramelize a bit, about 5-7 minutes. If the pan dries out add more butter. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a large bowl add the chopped apples, cooked fennel, cinnamon, ginger and pinch of salt. Give it a good.
  4. Put the mixture back into the cast iron pan and keep to the side.
  5. To the bowl of a food processor add HALF of the walnuts and HALF of the hazelnuts and process until a coarse meal is achieved, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add to a bowl.
  6. Roughly chopped the remaining half of the walnuts and hazelnuts and add them to the bowl. Drizzle with the melted butter and honey. Add a touch of salt and use your hands to mix together.
  7. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and fennel and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
  8. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before scooping up and serving.


*Use this recipe as a guide and adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Lightly reheat on the stovetop.

Leave a Reply

10 thoughts on “Apple Fennel Crisp

  1. Abby Kellner-Rode says:

    That toppings has no flour or oatmeal? Its just nuts, sweetener & butter? Looks from the photo like there is some sort of flour…

    1. Alix says:

      Half of the walnuts and hazelnuts are processed to a coarse meal for the topping in step 5 🙂

      1. Andrea says:

        Yes, that is correct. Half of the nut are processed into a meal and the other half are coarsely chopped. I hope that’s helpful

  2. Sharyn Dimmick says:

    What a wonderful idea! I’m making this as soon as I pick up fennel at the Farmers’ market.

  3. Paula says:

    Made this today – subbed Maple Syrup for Honey and used a plant based butter. Sooooo good! This has become one of comfort foods!

    1. Andrea says:

      Yes!!! So happy to hear! Your substitutions sound perfect!

  4. Amalia says:

    I was a little nervous about serving this to my friends — it’s 50% nuts and there’s a veggie in the fruit filling — would it even taste like dessert? I need not have worried, it was delicious! I especially loved the flavor and texture from the honey in the topping. Thanks for another great recipe!

    1. Andrea says:

      hahaha!! I love hearing this!! Yay!!

  5. Alison Nabors says:

    Just made this. My hazelnuts had gone bad, so I added a cup of oats. Blended the oats a tiny bit then added the walnuts to the blender. Gave them one quick blend that broke up some of the walnuts. Also used extra cinnamon and maple syrup instead of honey. Delicious and surprisingly sweet given that the syrup is the only added sugar. Thanks! We’ll definitely make it again.

    1. Andrea says:

      So happy this turned out for you! Love the addition of oats!

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