Food & Drink

Smoke Two Ways: Smoked Apple Crisp Topped with Smoked Ice Cream

Now that you’ve turned your grill into a smoker, you’re ready to get smokin’. And as the weather gets chillier, what sounds better than a smoked apple crisp topped with smoky vanilla ice cream? That was rhetorical, but I hope we all mouthed “nothing” in unison at our computer screens. Scroll down for the how-tos.


Smoked Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp

YIELD: Serves 8

METHOD: Smoke-roasting

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

SMOKING TIME: 45 minutes to 1 hour

FUEL: Apple wood, of course—enough for 1 hour of smoking (see chart)

GEAR: A 10-inch cast-iron skillet

WHAT ELSE: You can cook this crisp low and slow in a traditional smoker, but you’ll get a crisper topping if you work at higher heat. This is a good dish to smoke-roast on a charcoal grill.


For the Filling

  • 2 strips artisanal bacon cut crosswise into ¼-inch slivers
  • 3 pounds crisp, sweet apples like Honeycrisps or Galas
  • ⅓ cup packed light or dark brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon

For the Topping

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and placed in the freezer until icy cold
  • ½ cup crushed gingersnap cookies or granola
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Set up your grill for indirect grilling  and preheat to 400°F.
  2. Make the filling: Fry the bacon in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring with a slotted spoon, until crisp and golden brown, 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a large bowl. Pour off and reserve the bacon fat for another use. Don’t wipe out or wash the skillet.
  3. Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the bacon. Stir in the sugar, flour, lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the bourbon. Taste the mixture for sweetness, adding sugar as needed. Spoon the filling into the skillet.
  4. Make the topping: Place the butter, cookie crumbs, flour, white and brown sugars, and salt in a food processor. Grind to a coarse mixture, running the processor in short bursts. Don’t overprocess; the mixture should remain loose and crumbly like sand. Sprinkle the topping over the apples.
  5. Place the crisp on the grill or smoker rack away from the heat. Add the wood to the coals and cover the grill. Smoke-roast the crisp until the topping is browned and bubbling, the apples are soft (they should be easy to pierce with a skewer), and the filling is thick, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Serve the crisp hot off the grill or smoker. Extra points for topping it with vanilla Smoked Ice Cream (recipe below).


Smoked Ice Cream

Place the ice cream in a shallow bowl over a large flameproof bowl of ice. Keep this in the freezer until you’re ready to smoke the ice cream.

On a charcoal grill

Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high (400°F). Place the ice cream over its bowl of ice on the grill. Add 2 cups unsoaked wood chips to the mounds of embers. Cover the grill and smoke until you see a light patina of smoke on the ice cream, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the ice cream over with a spatula and smoke the other side the same way. Remove the ice cream from the grill. If it melted too much, refreeze it.

In a smoker

Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Place the ice cream over its bowl of ice in the smoker. Add the unsoaked wood chips to the fire. Smoke as described previously. You may need a bit longer to put a patina of smoke on the ice cream.

With a handheld smoker

Place the ice cream in a large glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, leaving one edge open. Place the bowl over a pan of ice. Fill and light the smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Insert the tube of the smoker, fill the bowl with smoke, withdraw the tube, and tightly cover the bowl with the plastic wrap. Let infuse for 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice more, until the ice cream is as smoky as you like. If the ice cream starts to melt, refreeze it.

Excerpted from Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke (Workman, 2016). 

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