This apple crumb tart with pecans is the perfect fall dessert! It has all the flavor of a traditional apple pie but with a crunchy crumble topping and a flaky crust made of shortbread! With a cinnamon apple mixture and spiced pecan crumb topping, this crumble apple pie is sure to be your new fall favorite!
Of all the delicious desserts in the world, apple desserts have to be my favorite! Apple crumb tart, dutch apple pie, apple crumb pie, apple hand pie... give me all the variations of apple pie!
Nothing says fall like a warm apple dessert baking in the oven, making your whole home smell like fall. Well this apple crumb tart recipe is the epitome of fall!
It has a spiced apple filling with fresh lemon juice to bring out that apple flavor! The shortbread crust melts in your mouth and is perfectly sweetened. And the pecan crumble topping is just everything! It has the crunch, it has the spice, and the sweetness! Next time you are craving apple pie, try this apple crumble pie instead!
Apples: You will need 3 honey crisp apples for this apple crumb tart. You can also substitute with granny smith apples, pink lady apples, or golden delicious apples but do not use gala apples! Certain varieties of apples are better than others when it comes to baking to hold their shape & not become mush. Be sure to slice apples evenly and thinly for best results.
Sugar: ½ cup sugar is the perfect amount of sweetness for the apple filling.
Lemon juice: 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice is added to the filling for brightness and acidity.
Flour: You will need 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour in the filling as a thickening agent.
Spice: 1 teaspoon cinnamon is added for spice!
Flour: You will need 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour for the pastry crust.
Powdered sugar: You will need ⅓ cup of powdered sugar. Powdered sugar yields a more tender crust than granulated sugar, producing a really melt-in-your-mouth crust.
Kosher salt: Only ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt is needed. Adding salt in dough makes it more elastic.
Butter: You will need ½ cup of high quality unsalted butter for this recipe. I use frozen butter. Keeping the butter as cold as possible in the pie crust makes it more flaky. It separates the butter into layers rather than melting it into the dough. So I shred a frozen butter stick for this pastry dough. My favorite rich butter is Kerrygold.
Egg: You will only need the egg yolk of 1 egg. This makes the dough extra rich in taste.
Heavy cream: This recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of heavy cream. It makes the dough extra rich and bind together.
Vanilla extract: You will need ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for flavor in the crust.
Flour: You will need 1 cup flour for the crumb mixture.
Brown sugar: The pecan crumble calls for ⅓ cup of dark brown sugar. This gives the topping more of a molasses flavor.
Sugar: In addition to the brown sugar, you will need ⅓ cup of granulated white sugar.
Butter: ½ cup of butter is needed for the crumble. Unlike the crust in which you want cold butter, you will want softened room temperature butter here.
Kosher salt: Just ½ teaspoon of kosher salt is added in the crumble to intensify the other flavors.
Pecans: You will need ½ cup of finely chopped pecans. These are perfect nuts for the pecan crumble since they are so buttery and have the perfect amount of crunch! Nuts are usually a lot cheaper when you buy them in bulk, so I suggest to purchase a bulk bag of pecans and use them all throughout the season to make recipes like sweet potato crostini with candied pecans or pecan pie old fashioned!
Cinnamon: 1 whole teaspoon of cinnamon for the crumble. We want all the spice in this apple crumb tart!
Demerara sugar: Don't skimp here! I love the texture Demerara sugar adds to desserts. You can use as much as your heart desires for this apple tart!
Find the full ingredient measurements and instructions in the recipe card below!
variations & substitutions 📖
The honey crisp apples can be substituted with any baking apples. Different apples give different flavors, so use whatever apple is your favorite (as long as it is a baking apple). Use tart apples like granny smith for a more vibrant flavor apple tart or pink lady for a milder tasting tart.
Customize the crumble how you like it! This crumble can really be made into your own creation. If you don't like pecans, try substituting with walnuts or hazelnuts! If you love spice, try adding nutmeg or ground clove! You can substitute the nuts or spices to better suite your palette.
tips & tricks 👩🏻🍳
Use the right tart pan! I like to use a tart pan with a removable bottom and fluted edges. This makes it super easy to remove the tart shell from the pan. The fluted edges on the tart tin are mainly for appearance to make the tart look polished.
Have no mercy on greasing the tart pan. To ensure no sticking, grease the pan with melted butter or non-stick cooking spray. This is my favorite non-stick baking spray. If you wan't to be extra sure that your tart crust doesn't stick, line the removable bottom of your tart pan with parchment paper.
If you don't feel like making the bottom crust by hand, you can also use a large food processor. Simply add the flour, powdered sugar, salt, & butter in the food processor and pulse until pea-sized lumps form. Then add the egg yolk, heavy cream, & vanilla extract and pulse until mixture slightly comes together. The mixture should hold when pinched but not form a ball. Then turn the crumb crust onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough forms a ball.
step by step instructions 🔪
Before you start, preheat the oven to 375F. Grease the tart pan with cooking spray or butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper if desired.
Step #1 - Prepare the apple filling. In a large bowl, add the apple slices and remaining filling ingredients (image 1).
Step #2 - Mix the apple filling. Using a silicone spatula, stir the apples so they are fully coated in the spices (image 2). I like to use a silicone spatula to mix the filling to ensure the apples are thoroughly coated but do not break when mixing. Set the apple filling aside.
Step #3 - Grate the frozen butter. In a small bowl, shred the frozen butter (image 3). You can also cut the butter into small chunks. I prefer grating since it makes it easier to incorporate and create large crumbs when combined with dry ingredients.
Step #4 - Sift in the dry ingredients and combine. Sift in the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, combine until the mixture resembles large crumbs (image 4).
Step #5 - Add in the wet ingredients. Add in the egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla (image 5).
Step #6 - Mix into a shaggy dough. Mix until the dough begins to stick and gather together (image 6). You can do this step with a silicone spatula or just use your hands to bind all the ingredients together.
Step #7 - Form into a ball. Form into a 1 inch dough disc or ball (image 7). Try to have all pieces of dough tightly stuck together.
Step #8 - Wrap and chill. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes (image 8).
Step #9 - In a bowl add the crumble ingredients. In a bowl add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, butter, salt, pecans, and cinnamon (image 9).
Step #10 - Combine the crumble ingredients. Combine all crumble ingredients using a stand mixer, fork, or your fingers and mix until crumble begins to form (image #10). Set crumble topping aside.
Step #11 - Roll out the crust. Using a rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface, turn out the dough and roll to about ¼ inch thick. The dough can be crumbly and it is okay if it breaks here and there. But if you are finding that your dough is extremely dry, add a little cold water and gently work it in until the dough comes together. Ice water works best to keep the butter in the dough chilled. Once the dough is rolled out, carefully press the dough into the tart pan having the excess pastry dough hang over the edges. Then trim off the excess dough from the edges using a pizza cutter. (image 11).
Step #12 - Assemble the tart! On top of the dough, place all of the apple mixture (image 12). The filling should almost touch the top but not over flow the tart. I like to move the apple slices around so they are really compact in the dough. This makes for a full and juicy tart! Then delicately place crumble on top of the apples. I like to have a blend of big chunks of crumble and thinner crumble to get in the nooks and crannies. Don't be afraid to really load on the crumble here, there can never be too much! Lastly, generously sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar. Place the prepared tart on a baking sheet.
Step #13 - Bake the apple crumb tart. Place the sheet pan with the tart in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with a big scoop of ice cream and enjoy!
serving suggestions 🍽️
Serve this apple crumb tart warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle of caramel sauce. If you're wanting extra fall vibes, try topping this with my pumpkin cheesecake ice cream.
storage & reheating ⏲️
This apple crumb tart with pecans can be stored for up to 2 days at room temperature uncovered. They can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
This apple crumb tart does not need to be warm to be amazing, but if you're craving that warm apple filling, you can reheat in the oven or microwave. For the microwave, place on a heat safe plate, cover the tart with a damp paper towel, and heat for 20 seconds. For the oven, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes at 350F. After 10 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake for 5 minutes for a crispy top.
If you prefer to have handheld treats instead of a whole tart, try making my apple crumble tartlets! It is the same spiced apple filling with pecan crumble but made in mini tartlet pans.
If you don't have a tart pan, you can certainly press your dough into a pie pan, however the results will not be the same. One of the most important aspects of a tart is that polished easily removable crust which can not be achieved in a pie pan. It will be difficult to slice and serve. A good substitution for a tart pan would be a springform pan since it can release and easily remove the tart crust.
When it comes to finding the best apple for your tart, you will want to go with a crisp tart variety like honey crisp or granny smith. For more milder flavor, try pink lady or golden delicious. Never use gala apples or red delicious apples as they will become mushy when baked.
Yes! If you peel and slice the apples for the filling the night before making the tart, be sure to add the tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to prevent browning.
other fall dessert recipes
It warms me up to see you make my recipes! Tag me on instagram @essenceeats so I can see your remakes. If you made this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, please leave a star rating while you're there ☆