Cinnamon Streusel Crumb Topping

Cinnamon streusel topping on a muffin

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
85 Calories
5g Fat
10g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 85
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 119mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 1g
Calcium 22mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This streusel topping (or crumb topping, as it's sometimes called) will really spruce up your homemade muffins, pies, coffee cakes, and quick bread. It takes only seconds in a food processor, or you can just mix it up in a bowl using a fork. Sprinkle it over your muffins or pie right before baking for a traditional, sweet, crispy, crumbly topping.

To always have the streusel on hand, you can mix up all of the ingredients except the butter and store it in the pantry. Then when the time comes, simply pour into a food processor, add the butter, and mix until crumbs form.

Butter is so important to the success of your streusel topping, so don't be tempted to skimp on it or use room temperature butter. If you don't use enough, the topping won't from those coveted crumbs—it will be too floury.

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"This recipe is so simple you can easily memorize it and whip up a crumb topping for whatever you want to make. I used this to make individual apple crisps, and it was perfect. I prefer to squeeze the topping, so it bakes up into tasty little crunchy nuggets of cinnamon sweetness." —Danielle Centoni

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Ingredients for cinnamon streusel topping
    The Spruce 
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Alternatively, you can mash the ingredients together in a bowl using a fork. Don't use your fingers, since the warmth of your fingers will soften the butter and cause the crumb texture to become mealy.

    Streusel topping ingredients in food processor
    The Spruce
  3. Sprinkle the topping over muffins, pies, or coffee cake immediately before baking. 

    Streusel topping sprinkled on top of cupcakes before baking
    The Spruce
  4. Bake muffins, pies, or coffee cake.

    Finished cupcakes with streusel topping
    The Spruce

Tips

  • This recipe is enough streusel topping for a single batch of muffins. To top a 9-inch pie, just double the recipe.
  • To create a larger crumb topping, squeeze bits of the butter/flour/sugar mixture together as you apply it to the top of your muffins, cakes, or pies to achieve desired texture.
  • Make sure you measure the brown sugar "packed," which means it fits tightly in the measuring cup. After you spoon it in, push it down and keep adding more until the sugar reaches the top of the cup. Sticky granules of the brown sugar form air pockets and packing it down helps eliminate the air so you get a proper measurement

Recipe Variations

This topping is delicious as is, but feel free to enhance the recipe by adding in other ingredients.

  • Mix in some oats.
  • Try some finely chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts are nice).
  • You can even crumble up some cookies—chocolate, vanilla, gingersnap, amaretto—and add those. Combine the ingredients in the same ratio as the recipe and mix it properly with the butter and brown sugar.
  • For a gluten-free variation, feel free to substitute rice flour or any other of your favorite gluten-free flour alternatives.
  • For a vegan alternative, substitute nondairy margarine for the butter.

How to Use Cinnamon Streusel Topping

  • For a wonderful fall treat, try pumpkin bars, a simple recipe featuring the quintessential autumn squash.
  • A sour cream apple pie with this topping offers a twist on the traditional take.
  • When blueberries are in season, a blueberry snack cake covered in a streusel topping is delicious.
  • Try a tropical twist like a peach mango pie topped with the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture.