Recipe Dupe: Dan Whalen’s Apple Tot Crisp

Apple Tot Crisp

A rainy, cold late afternoon in mid-May, what’s a fella to do? I (Gerry) can roll with a day like this in January, but this is really throwing a wrench in my machinery, so I sit in a comfy place, feet kicked up, with a delicious hot chocolate in my “Hello Gorgeous” mug. Every time I picked up the mug, the gold glittery letters, “Hello Gorgeous” were staring right at me. I looked over my shoulder as I used to do at school dances to make sure the mug wasn’t directing this comment to someone else.  Considering my back was against the wall, it appeared the comment was indeed directed at me. By the way, “Back Against The Wall” was my go-to position for the duration of many a school dance! That being said, these are different times. So now I’m feeling pretty good about things and my seasonal affective disorder typically felt on days like these is being kept squarely in check. I want to bake! The words came flowing out of my mouth with an exuberance, only rivaled by the Phillies four-game sweep of the Brewers last week.

Through a mistake on a recent grocery run, we had an abundance of tater tots in our freezer in need of some direction. Could “Tots!” by Dan Whalen, my favorite cookbook, be the answer to my troubles once again? There was only one way to find out. I was aware that Chapter 5 was dedicated entirely to desserts- “Sweet Tots For Your Sweet Tooth: Tots Do Dessert.” Could there be a dessert that was right for my particular mood on this particular cold and rainy day in May? When my eyes landed on “Apple Tot Crisp,” everything stopped. A dessert described as fitting for a chilly day in late September was what I needed to soothe my blahs on this cold and rainy spring day. We, of course, put our twist on the recipe, and decided to share it with you.

Apple Tot Crisp

Apple Tot Crisp – Arner Version

Serving Size:
1 hour
Manageable/Worth It


  • 7 apples (We use 4 Honeycrisp & 3 Granny Smith)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (Whalen uses dark brown)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (Whalen uses kosher)
  • 1 lb frozen tots (about 45 tots)
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) sweet cream, salted butter at room temp (Whalen uses unsalted)
honeycrisp and granny smith apples


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the filling: peel and core the apples and cut them into 3/4 inch cubes. Place them in a large bowl and add 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, 1 tsp of cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Toss to coat, then pour the apples into an 11 x 17 – inch baking dish.
  3. Make the topping: place the tots in a large microwave safe bowl and defrost in the microwave on high, pausing to stir and break them up, about 4 minutes. Pour the tots into a large bowl and add the oats, remaining cinnamon, and butter.
  4. Spread the tot mixture in an even layer on top of the apples in the baking dish and sprinkle the remainder of the brown sugar on top.
  5. Bake until browned and crispy on top, about 50 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool slightly, before serving. (Whalen recommends serving with vanilla ice cream on top, but we left it out.)

Apple Tot Crisp will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 2-3 days. Reheat it in a 350 degree oven before serving.

*Note- we also eliminated ground nutmeg from Whalen’s recipe. Even though nutmeg isn’t technically a tree nut, it’s a seed, due to Shannon’s anaphylactic tree nut allergy, she doesn’t even like to purchase it due to the word “nut” in the title, so we don’t keep it around. 😉

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