This classic streusel topping can be used to top pies, muffins, cakes, and sweet breads. Streusel topping is an easy way to elevate many simple baked goods! 

Streusel topping on a cranberry coffee cake

Streusel Topping Overview

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Techniques Used in this Recipe: Cutting in Fat

This basic streusel topping can be used to top numerous baked goods such as pies, cakes, muffins, and sweet breads. A streusel creates a sweet and crumbly texture that elevates simple recipes.

The recipe, in it’s most simple form, contains very few ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter. However, spices and chopped nuts can be added if desired.

Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

There are very few basic steps to creating a streusel topping. All of the ingredients, except the butter, are stirred together.

Small pieces of cold butter are then cut into the streusel mixture using either a pastry blender or a fork. This process creates a crumbly mixture instead of one cohesive dough.

The streusel topping can be made up to three days ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready for use. Use streusel to spruce up a simple recipe, such as a topping for blueberry muffins, coffee cake,  or even on a basic banana bread.

Ingredient Functions

  • Brown Sugar adds sweetness and a rich flavor to the streusel topping due to the molasses present in it. The brown sugar also helps to add moisture to the topping. If you want more crunch and texture to your streusel topping, you can use all granulated sugar instead of the combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  • Granulated Sugar adds more sweetness and helps the streusel topping crisp up slightly once it is baked. This adds a nice texture to the top of your baked good.
  • All-Purpose Flour is used in a small amount to help bind the mixture together and give it a crumbly texture. A gluten free baking blend will work well as a replacement if you need to make a gluten free streusel.
  • Cinnamon is an optional ingredient but works well for most streusel uses. Cinnamon’s only function is flavor and can be left out completely or substituted with other spices if desired.
  • Salt rounds out and balances the sweet flavor.
  • Butter coats the mixture in fat to help create the crumbly texture by adding moisture. Without the fat, the streusel mixture would be extremely dry and unpalatable after baked. Vegan butter substitutes can be used in place of real butter.

Recipes Using Streusel Topping

A slice of Cranberry Sour Cream Crumb Cake
Yield: About 1 1/2 Cups

Classic Streusel Topping

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

This classic streusel topping can be used to top pies, muffins, cakes, and sweet breads. Streusel topping is an easy way to elevate many simple baked goods! 


  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112 gr) brown sugar, lightly packed (light or dark brown)
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 98 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2.1 oz, 60 gr) all-purpose flour (*see note for gluten free option)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional, can be left out if you do not want cinnamon flavor)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56 gr) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces (*see note for vegan option)


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon (if using), and salt.
  2. Add the pieces of cold butter into the bowl and use a pastry blender or fork to cut the butter into the mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal. You do not want it to become a cohesive dough.
  3. Use to top muffins, coffee cakes, or in place of a top crust on a pie. This streusel topping can be made in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days prior to using as a topping.


This recipe makes enough streusel to top 12 muffins, a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) cake, or a 9 inch (23 cm) pie or round cake.


  • Gluten Free Streusel: A gluten free baking blend, such as Bob's Red Mill's GF Baking Blend or Cup 4 Cup, can be used in place of the all-purpose flour to make a gluten free streusel topping.
  • Vegan Streusel: Non-dairy butter spreads, such as Earth Balance, can be used in place of the butter for a vegan option.
  • Nut Streusel: 1/3 cup of finely chopped toasted nuts (such as pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds) can be added to the streusel if desired.
  • Other Spices: Cinnamon can be omitted, replaced, or used in addition to any number of other spices. Allspice, clove, cardamom, and nutmeg would all work well in this streusel topping.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.