Add this easy 4 ingredient crumb topping recipe to any muffin, bread, cake or pie! Our streusel topping is sweet, crunchy, and makes large crumb clumps that everyone loves!

crumb topping in glass bowl on wood background

Coffee cakes are known for their crumb topping, but streusel topping can be added to any bread or muffin recipe. Our banana bread, blueberry muffins, or lemon cake would be amazing with crumb topping. 

What is the difference between crumble and streusel?

Crumble, streusel and crumb topping are essentially the same thing. It’s a topping made from flour, sugar, and butter that you can add to muffins, cakes and pies.

A crumble and crisp are very similar, both are baked fruit desserts. A crisp is typically made with the addition of oats. 

flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in glass bowl on wood background

Ingredients

  • all purpose flour – gluten free all purpose flour works great as well!
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • unsalted butter

How to make crumb topping

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Use a spatula to mix the crumb. The mixture will be thick and you must stir well (elbow grease!) to combine all the dry ingredients. Continue to combine until the mixture looks wet.

It’s okay if the mixture is “sandy” in texture. Use your hands to squeeze clumps together, forcing the mixture together.

Set the crumb aside until ready to use. The streusel topping can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. 

melted butter being poured into glass bowl with crumb topping mixture on wood background
crumb topping in glass bowl on wood background

Generously pile the crumb topping on muffins, bread, cake or pie. I found it easiest to squeeze some of the crumb in my hands, forming a ball, then break off smaller pieces, lightly pressing the crumb into the batter. Ideally you want substantial pieces of crumb. 

Sugar is a critical ingredient in streusel topping. Below I’ll talk about the granulated sugar versus brown sugar debate. 

crumble topping being added to cake in glass 9x13 inch pan

Granulated sugar vs. brown sugar

Using granulated sugar in crumble topping will produce a paler and crunchier topping because it lacks the rich brown color of brown sugar and the extra moisture that brown sugar has. 

Hear me, crumb topping with granulated sugar is not bad. It’s great and lots of recipes turn out awesome using it! 

I discovered that I personally liked using brown sugar in my crumb topping because I was looking for a color definition between the muffin and the crumb. 

Brown sugar based crumb topping will turn out richer in color. Dark brown sugar based topping will be even darker in color. 

Brown sugar crumb topping holds it shape well without being too crunchy, like granulated sugar streusel topping can be. 

There’s no right or wrong sugar to use, it just depends on personal preference. 

coffee cake muffin with streusel topping on white plate

Troubleshooting streusel topping

The amount of butter is important. 

  • Too much butter will result in a crumb topping that melts and spreads during the baking process.
  • Too little butter will result in a dry and “flour-y” crumb. 

The amount of flour is important.

  • Too much flour causes the crumb to be dry and overly crumbly. 
  • Too little flour causes the topping to not have enough stability and structure. 
crumb topping piled high in metal muffin pan

How to use crumb topping

Add crumb topping to any muffin, cake or pie recipe before baking. 

When adding to muffins, be sure there is enough space in the muffin liner to “hold” the crumb topping. Meaning, add slightly less batter to each muffin liner.

When adding to cakes, be sure to add it to thick, dense batters. Thin, liquidy batters will cause the crumble topping to sink instead of staying on top of the cake.

When adding to pie, think fruit pies, tent the crumb topping if it becomes too brown during the baking process. 

Crumb pairs well with

How To Make Crumb Topping

Add this easy 4 ingredient crumb topping recipe to any muffin or cake! Our streusel topping is sweet, crunchy, and makes large crumb clumps that everyone loves!
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Beth

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour or gluten free all purpose flour
  • cup brown sugar
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter melted

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Use a spatula to mix the crumb. The mixture will be thick and you must stir well (elbow grease!) to combine all the dry ingredients. Continue to combine until the mixture looks wet. It’s okay if the mixture is “sandy” in texture. Use your hands to squeeze clumps together, forcing the mixture together.
  • Set the crumb aside until ready to use. The streusel topping can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. 
  • Generously pile the crumb topping on muffins, bread, cake or pie before baking. Follow the baking instructions of your base recipe. I found it easiest to squeeze some of the crumb in my hands, forming a ball, then break off smaller pieces, lightly pressing the crumb into the batter. Ideally you want substantial pieces of crumb. 

Notes

How to use crumb topping
Add crumb topping to any muffin, cake or pie recipe before baking. 
When adding to muffins, be sure there is enough space in the muffin liner to “hold” the crumb topping. Meaning, add slightly less batter to each muffin liner.
When adding to cakes, be sure to add it to thick, dense batters. Thin, liquidy batters will cause the crumble topping to sink instead of staying on top of the cake.
When adding to pie, think fruit pies, tent the crumb topping if it becomes too brown during the baking process. 
Make in advance
The streusel topping can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. 

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 53mg | Potassium: 36mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 236IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg
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