At its most basic, streusel is a mixture of butter, sugar, and flour. It puffs slightly when it bakes and adds a crispy-crunchy layer of texture.
Bake raw streusel on top of pie filling. Make an apple crisp. Top a sour cream coffee cake.
Bake streusel by itself, cool and grind to make a very crunchy sand. Use baked streusel in place of nuts on a sundae. Add ground nuts. Add oatmeal. Add spices. Bake them like cookies. Use your imagination.
Streusel adds a wonderful layer of buttery Crunch to anything you bake it on or add it to.
Why Make This Recipe?
It seems a little ridiculous to say that my streusel recipe is better than anyone else’s.
At the end of the day, streusel is pretty much streusel, no matter how you slice it.
I do hope that you will come away with some more ideas for ways of using streusel, for more ways of flavoring it, and with permission to play with proportions so you get the streusel of your dreams!
At its most basic, make streusel with equal parts butter and sugar and twice as much flour, plus a healthy pinch of salt.
For example, if you’re using 4 oz each of butter and sugar, you’ll need 8 oz of flour.
This recipe scales up beautifully, so you can even make a ton of streusel mix, divide it into portions (your call how big those portions are) and pull it out when you need to top a buckle or some muffins.
Let your portion thaw, and then add desired mix-ins or use it straight up.
You will only need to bring out your mixer if you’re making a ton of streusel.
Otherwise, you just need a bowl and your fingers.
Here’s what you’ll do.
- Scale out your ingredients. In the first photo, you can see I’m using half brown sugar and half white sugar, butter, flour, and a healthy pinch of salt.
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour, sugars, and salt until completely combined and crumbly.
- For folks who prefer volume measurements, the fourth photo shows the approximate volume of streusel you’ll get from this recipe. The top measure is a 1 1/2 cup measure and the smaller, bottom one is a 1/2 cup measure. The total volume is about 1 3/4 cups, which is enough to generously top 12 blueberry muffins.
Lots of people consider streusel an afterthought, but you can pack in so much extra flavor and texture that I consider it integral to the overall flavor and texture of a recipe.
Here are some mix-in ideas you may never have considered before. I’ll also add ideas that you probably have considered before.
- Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc, or a blend like pumpkin pie spice or spiced vanilla sugar
- Cocoa nibs: for crunch and delicious chocolate flavor
- Zest: orange zest or lemon zest. Even lime zest–think of a coconut muffin with some lime zesty streusel. Mmmmm….
- Seeds, Grains, and Alternate Flours: Add chopped toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oatmeal, rolled quinoa, etc. Sub in some whole wheat flour or even rye flour for a portion of your all-purpose flour. You could even add a bit of cornmeal. Think sweet corn muffins with crumbly cornmeal streusel on top.
- Alternate sugar: Even if you’re not keto, you may not want the extra sugar in streusel, so this is a great place to sub in some Swerve or Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener. I often do that when I am kind of sugared out. And even if you don’t want to use a sugar substitute, you can also use some powdered sugar for some or all of your granulated and/or brown sugar. The little bit of cornstarch in powdered sugar can help up the crispy factor even though the crumbs themselves are more delicate
- Extracts: Feel free to add a little vanilla extract, orange oil, maple extract, or coffee extract to your streusel. Whatever flavor will complement what you’re topping with streusel is fair game
- Toasted, chopped nuts: Personally, I would chop any nuts really finely, but you can leave them in larger pieces. Again, it’s totally dependent upon what you’re topping and if you think larger nuts will add to the overall Deliciousness factor. Think pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, or peanuts
- Dried fruits: including minced crystallized ginger. Which isn’t a fruit, but still.
- Unconventional Mix-Ins: Finely chopped crisp bacon, a little preserved lemon, a tiny bit of honey, sorghum, or pomegranate molasses. Maybe some pinenuts. A little spicy spice like cayenne or ground chipotle could also work when applied very judiciously. Maybe some shredded coconut. Honestly, pretty much anything that could find its way into granola can also find its way into streusel.
Example Flavor Combinations
These are off the top of my head. Come up with your own combinations off the top of your head based on your taste, what you’re making, and what you have on hand.
Remember, basic streusel is better than no streusel, so go forth with confidence.
- Top orange muffins with streusel containing a little cardamom, orange zest, and finely chopped toasted pistachios
- Top a mocha snack cake with streusel, adding cocoa nibs, a little espresso powder, and cinnamon
- Top baked maple donuts with a Very Lot of brown sugar streusel with a touch of maple extract and chopped bacon
- Top an apple cake with streusel with toasted and chopped walnuts or pecans, apple pie spice, minced crystallized ginger, and some minced dried apple chips
Some Recipes Using Streusel
Just because the recipe you’re making doesn’t call for streusel doesn’t mean you can’t add some if it will elevate the whole recipe.
For example, if you are making a muffin recipe that just calls for a glaze–or no topping at all–bust out some streusel.
Here are some more of my recipes and my friends’ recipes that call for streusel. Know that you can use this recipe–these proportions–rather than using the specific streusel called for in each recipe.
- This caramel pumpkin mousse has a cocoa nib streusel to add extra flavor but also crunchy texture.
- Shoofly Pie has a layer of lean streusel mixed into and topping the filling. By “lean,” I mean that it has relatively little butter compared to the sugar and flour.
- My chocolate babka has a delicious streusel on top. Plus 2 glazes!
- These cherry muffins have a lovely, crisp topping of almond streusel.
- This peach crisp has lots of tasty oatmeal streusel providing the crispy goodness.
- Use my streusel recipe for a cheesecake crust like I did with my creme brulee cheesecake recipe.
I hope you’ve learned something from this post or that you’ve decided to make the recipe.
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A Note About Measurements
This is the kitchen scale that I recommend for home cooks and bakers. Using a scale will help you be more accurate and consistent in your measurements.
It is lightweight, easy to store, accurate, and very easy to use.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
- 56 grams (2 oz or 1/2 stick) butter, soft but not greasy or melted
- 28 grams (1 oz or about 2 Tablespoons) sugar
- 28 grams (1 oz or about 2 Tablespoons) brown sugar
- 112 grams (4 oz or a scant cup) all-purpose flour
- healthy pinch of salt
- In a large bowl and with clean hands, rub all the ingredients together until the butter is thoroughly blended in and the mixture is sandy and crumbly.
- Before topping anything, squeeze handfuls of the streusel together and then coarsely crumble it so you have some "pebbles" along with some "sand."
- Yes, you can use your mixer or food processor if you want to.
- Bake off as is at 375F until deep golden brown or top muffins or pies with it. See the NOTES section for more ideas.
Baking streusel, as is, will give you crunchy goodness that you can use however you wish:
- Top an ice cream sundae.
- Add some on top of a slice of whipped cream-topped cake or pie.
- Add some to cake filling for some crunch in the middle of your layer cakes.
Keep unbaked streusel mixture in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 85Total Fat 3.9gSaturated Fat 2.4gCholesterol 10mgSodium 78mgCarbohydrates 11.7gFiber 0.3gSugar 4.6gProtein 1g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
I hope you enjoy this all-purpose streusel recipe. I know you’ll find many ways to use it.
Thanks for spending some time with me today.
Take care, and have a lovely day.
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