Our oatmeal crumble topping takes 5 minutes to prepare and requires just 3 ingredients; it’s a quick and easy recipe that will add crunch and flavour to your favourite desserts. Discover the secrets to achieving the perfect streusel-style crumble topping and keeping it irresistibly crunchy!
This easy, 3 ingredient Oatmeal Crumble Topping is made from oats, brown sugar and dairy-free butter. It’s the perfect buttery, crunchy oatmeal streusel-style topping for your favourite desserts and muffins.
It takes just 5 minutes to make and 15 minutes to bake, with no special equipment, other than a blender, and no complicated steps. It’s dairy-free, vegan and can be made gluten-free. No more fretting over soggy crumbles or complicated recipes. We’re here to walk you through the simple process of making this oatmeal topping and reveal our success tips for keeping your crumble topping crunchy.
Do you want to know how to make oatmeal crumble topping? Read on and we’ll show you how!
- The written recipe
- Why you’ll love this recipe
- Step by step instructions with photos
- Recipe tips and FAQs
- Other incredible recipes like this one
Streusel vs Crumble: What is the difference and where did they originate?
The key difference between streusel and crumble is the topping texture. Streusel has a higher fat-to-flour ratio which yields crunchy, biscuit-like clusters. In contrast, a crumble uses more flour, creating a crumbly texture (like biscuit crumbs), which forms a packed layer on top of the dessert.
Streusel, originating in Germany, typically uses a butter-to-flour ratio of 1:1, while a British crumble leans towards a 1:2 ratio. Our oatmeal crumble topping mirrors traditional German streusel, maintaining nearly equal proportions of butter, flour and sugar. However, it embraces a crumble-like twist by incorporating oats – an ingredient that often features in crumble but is not traditionally used in streusel. The result is a delicious oat streusel recipe that creates little sweet nuggets of oaty crumble that are perfect for sprinkling over an apple pie filling or on top of blueberry muffins.
Why You’ll Love This Oatmeal Crumble Topping
3 Simple Ingredients. All you need to make this oat flour crumble topping is oats, vegan butter and brown sugar. Try rolled oats for optimal texture and soft light brown sugar to add a delicious caramel flavour to the topping.
Prep in 5 Minutes. It takes just 5 minutes to make the topping and 15 minutes to bake this oat streusel recipe to crispy crumble perfection.
It’s Deliciously Crunchy. We’ve created a streusel-style topping with oats, using a high butter-to-flour ratio to achieve those delicious crunchy clusters (the best thing!).
Vegan and Gluten-Free. This recipe is naturally vegan and it can be made gluten free by selecting certified gluten-free oats (be sure to check the packet of your other ingredients to make sure they’re gluten-free too).
How to make Oatmeal Crumble Topping
First up, select your ingredients (you only need 3!).
Oats. This recipe requires 240g of oats, some of which you’ll be blending into flour and some you’ll be stirring into the crumble mixture whole. We recommend using rolled oats because these hold their shape and add a chewy element to the finished oat flour crumble. We don’t recommend using steel cut oats as they can be a bit tough. You can use porridge or quick oats if you prefer, particularly for making the oat flour.
Butter. You’ll want to select a solid block butter (either salted or unsalted butter is fine), not the spreadable kind of dairy free margarine, in order to achieve the delicious clusters. Make sure to keep it cold too! If you use softened, spreadable or melted vegan butter, this will cause the ingredients to spread in the oven and likely burn. Using cold block butter in this oat streusel recipe will instead allow the ingredients to form little clusters or nuggets which crisp up in the oven. So, if you’re not planning on baking the crumble topping straight away, be sure to keep it chilled in the refrigerator.
Brown sugar. Using soft light brown sugar is one of the secrets to a good crumble topping! The molasses in the sugar adds a delicate caramel flavour as well as sweetness. If you like, you can try using dark brown sugar instead of soft light brown sugar for an even more intense caramel flavour.
You’ll need just one piece of equipment to make this recipe and that’s a blender (like this one) to blend the oats into oat flour. If you don’t have access to a blender, you can buy oat flour ready-made online (like this one or a gluten free oat flour).
Other than that, you’ll just need a bowl, a spoon and a baking tray.
Make sure to head to the recipe card below for the full recipe and instructions on how to make oatmeal crumble topping!
Measure out your ingredients and cut your cold butter into cubes. Turn on your oven to preheat at 170°C fan (190°C conventional / 375°F / gas mark 5). Add 200g of the oats to a blender cup and blend them into oat flour. It should take around 10-20 seconds for your blender to transform the whole oats into flour.
Note: The texture of the oat flour will not be as fine as regular all purpose flour – have a look at the photo below for an example of what to expect.
Add the oat flour, brown sugar and cold butter to a large or medium bowl. Rub the dry ingredients and butter between your fingers, until it’s combined and no dry sandy mixture remains. It’ll be the consistency of coarse crumbs with some larger clusters in it.
Note: If you’ve got one, you can use a pastry cutter, pastry blender or food processor at this step.
Add the remaining 40g of whole, unblended oats to the bowl and stir together with the other ingredients.
Note: If you’re still waiting for your oven to preheat, pop the mixture in the fridge whilst you wait.
To cook the crumble topping, either sprinkle it on top of some cooked fruit and bake for 25-30 minutes, or spread the mixture out into a thin layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Note: If you opt for the latter option of baking the crumble topping separately, then leave it to cool to room temperature on the tray before breaking up any larger clusters. You’ll find that some pieces of the mixture will melt and spread a little – just break these up into smaller bits (and try not to eat them all as you do, they taste like cookies!).
Here are our best tips for making this oat crumble topping:
Choose rolled oats. Old-fashioned rolled oats are the best choice as they will add a chewy texture to the topping. You can use cheaper porridge oats or instant oats if that’s all you have on hand, and particularly for making the oat flour it’s not necessary to use rolled oats.
Making it gluten-free. Use certified gluten-free oats to make this topping gluten-free. Just be sure to check the packet of your other ingredients, to make sure they’re gluten-free too.
Keep your butter cold. It’s essential to use cold vegan butter for this recipe in order to form those delicious clusters. Softened or melted butter will give completely different results, causing the mixture to spread in the oven and potentially burn (so you’ll miss out on all of those lovely clusters!).
Mix it up with flavour variations. Experiment with cinnamon, nutmeg or your favourite spice for a unique twist on the traditional streusel topping. You can also add roughly chopped nuts for added flavour.
Don’t over bake. Cooking time can vary between ovens so keep an eye on your crumble topping as it bakes – you’re looking for it to be lightly golden.
Pair it with fruit. This oatmeal crumb topping goes best with fruit and there are so many delicious options to pair it with! Try it on top of various fruity fillings such as stewed tart apples, cherries, peaches or rhubarb.
It also works well sprinkled on top of apple crumble cake and blueberry muffins, adding a delightful crunch to your baked goods. Why not try a homemade apple crisp recipe or homemade apple pie finished off with this crisp topping and a scoop of vanilla ice cream?
Keeping your crumble topping crunchy. This oat topping for crumble is designed to be crunchy and it does a pretty good job of that. If you’re going to bake it straight on top of a fruit filling, make sure the filling is not too watery – we recommend pre-cooking the fruit filling to reduce the water content.
For the crunchiest crumble, we recommend cooking the topping separately (please see the recipe card for how to do this) and sprinkling it on top of the filling on serving.
What is crumble topping made of?
Crumble topping is traditionally made with flour, butter and sugar. The type of flour and sugar, along with the ratio of ingredients, varies from recipe to recipe. We use oat flour in this recipe for simplicity and natural sweetness, and brown sugar for a delicious depth of flavour.
What is the secret to a good crumble?
For a crunchy streusel-style topping the secret to a good crumble is using cold butter to help form the ingredients into clusters that bake into biscuit-like nuggets in the oven. Also, pick brown sugar over white for a delicious, rich caramel flavour.
Are rolled oats the same as porridge oats?
Most porridge oats are rolled oats (also called ‘old-fashioned oats’). They have been rolled to reduce the cooking time and can vary from jumbo oats, which are thicker and have more texture, to quick oats which hold their form less when cooked resulting in a smoother porridge.
Can I use whole wheat flour or regular flour to make this crumble?
Yes, if you’d like to substitute the 200g of oat flour for whole wheat or regular flour you can do this.
Can I use dark brown, Demerara or white sugars in this recipe?
Yes, you can substitute the soft light brown sugar for dark brown, Demerara or white sugar, although they’ll all give slightly different results.
Do you use cold or melted butter for crumble topping?
Use cold butter for crumble topping if you want it to have a crunchier finish with biscuity clusters. Using melted butter will cause the topping to spread as it bakes, which can cause it to burn or turn soggy, depending on how you’re cooking it.
How do you keep crumble topping crunchy?
To keep your crumble topping crunchy it’s important to pre-cook your fruit filling to reduce the water content. Alternatively, bake the topping separately for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Sprinkle the cooked topping onto your stewed fruit or cooked apple mixture on serving.
If you put the crumble mix on top of fresh apples (or other fruit) it can soak up the excess water that the fruit releases during cooking, resulting in a soggy topping. To find out how to pre-cook an apple filling effectively, check out our easy Apple Crumble recipe here, which features this crunchy oat topping.
How should I store my crumble topping?
Uncooked crumble topping can be stored in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Baked crumble topping can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge. For best results, enjoy your crumble topping when it’s freshly cooked.
To store a fruit crumble that has been baked with the crumble on top, cover it in aluminium foil or eco-cling film and place it in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat you can microwave (although this will reduce the crispness of the topping) or pop in the oven until hot through.
What to serve with oatmeal crumble topping?
This versatile crumble is the perfect topping for many desserts, particularly those that contain fruit. Sprinkle it on classic desserts such as fruit pie, peach crisp, rhubarb crumble pie, cakes, muffins and yogurt parfait. Our current favorite way is on a simple apple crumble recipe (like this one), served with a big scoop of ice cream (dairy free of course!).
What’s the difference between a cobbler, crisp and crumble?
The difference between a cobbler, crisp and crumble lies in the topping, with all three traditionally featuring a fruit base. A Cobbler is distinguished by a topping of large round scones, a Crisp features crunchy biscuit-like clusters and a Crumble tends to have a packed shortbread-style layer.
The topping of a traditional British fruit cobbler dessert is like a cross between scones and dumplings, resembling the ‘cobbles’ of a cobbled stone street.
A fruit crisp is believed to be an American adaption of the English classic crumble, with the most famous arguably being the Apple Crisp. The topping of a crisp is similar to that of a streusel; with crunchy, buttery clusters, sometimes with the addition of oats. ‘Crumble’ and ‘crisp’ tend to be used interchangeably.
A crumble is a popular and nostalgic dessert in England, often enjoyed as a way to use up the glut of apples growing in the garden in Autumn. Believed to originate in the 1920s in Great Britain, a crumble topping has a buttery taste and a texture that is similar to a shortbread, albeit less densely packed and with coarser crumbs.
Which is the best dessert? All three are delicious and worth a try!
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The Written Recipe:
Easy Oatmeal Crumble Topping (Oat Streusel Recipe)
- 240 g oats (rolled or porridge oats, gluten free if required)
- 75 g soft light brown sugar
- 100 g vegan butter (the block kind, cold)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan (190°C conventional / 375°F / gas mark 5).
- Measure out the ingredients and cut the cold butter into cubes.
- Measure out 200g of the oats and add them to a blender cup. Pulse for 10-20 seconds until they are the consistency of flour.Note: The texture of the oat flour will not be as fine as regular flour - have a look at the photo for an example of what to expect.240 g oats
- Add the oat flour, brown sugar and cold butter to a bowl and rub together until the mixture is fully combined and no dry sandy mixture remains. It will be the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs with some larger clusters in it (see an example below).75 g soft light brown sugar, 100 g vegan butter
- Stir through the remaining 40g of whole, unblended oats.Note: If you’re still waiting for your oven to preheat, pop the mixture in the fridge whilst you wait.
- To cook, sprinkle the oatmeal crumble topping on top of some cooked fruit and bake it for around 25-30 minutes until the crumble topping is lightly golden. We’ve got a great recipe for apple crumble here.
- Alternatively, spread the crumble mixture out on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper, in an even, thin layer (you may need to use two trays). Bake in the preheated oven at 170°C fan (190°C conventional / 375°F / gas mark 5) for approximately 15 minutes until it’s starting to lightly colour. Leave the crumble to cool completely and then break up any larger bits. Sprinkle over the top of any dessert you like!