The Best 5-Minute Streusel Topping Recipe (Easy)

The best 5-Minute Streusel Topping for all of your cakes, bundt cakes, muffins, pies and more! Using four basic ingredients (plus some optional spices) this buttery, crunchy streusel will be ready in less than 5 minutes (tops!). This foolproof recipe comes out perfect every time!
*Half-batch recipe for muffins included in the recipe card NOTES.
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Several pieces of askew coffee cake on white background

This is The Best 5-Minute Streusel topping, my favorite go to for The Best Pumpkin Streusel Muffins, Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins, Classic Sour Cream Coffee Cake and more!

It comes together in less than five minutes and uses four simple ingredients: flour, brown sugar, salt and butter. I have added spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, for additional flavor (these are optional).

Spices are a great way to customize your streusel, see additional customization notes below in the How to Customize Your Streusel section.

What is Streusel?

This simple streusel is a heavenly baking topping that is comprised of: flour, sugar and butter. The unbaked streusel is added to baked goods pre-bake and yields a buttery, crunchy top with a crumbly texture to whatever it is baked with.

Spices, salt and nuts are often added for additional flavor and texture.

This streusel mixture can be added to the top or even the middle of cakes (again, before baking). Think coffee cakes, loaf cakes, sheet cakes and bundt cakes. Streusel works best with thicker cake batters; placing streusel on a thin cake batter may allow the streusel to sink to the bottom of the cake or muffins.

Streusel is primarily used on cakes, pies and over the top of muffins for amazing crunchy texture.

The Baker’s Guide to Measuring Flour

One of the biggest (and most common) mistakes in baking is how we measure flour. If you find yourself without a scale, see my top tips on how to properly measure flour for the perfect amount every time!

An overhead view of a cake with streusel topping.

How to Customize Your Streusel

There are several ways to customize your streusel…

Adding Nuts to Streusel

I love adding sliced almonds or pecans to streusel, such as in this Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake.

When using nuts in your easy streusel topping, add them after you’ve mixed in the butter and the streusel mixture clumps together when squeezed.

Adding Spices to Streusel

This classic streusel recipe uses both cinnamon and nutmeg. Feel free to omit or substitute in other cozy warm spices, such as cardamom, all-spice or pumpkin pie spice.

Light or Dark Brown Sugar

You can use either light or dark brown sugar in this recipe. Using dark brown sugar will make the molasses, caramel flavors more pronounced.

Using Brown Butter for Streusel

You can easily use brown butter in place of the regular butter in this recipe. Follow my How to Make Perfect Brown Butter tutorial and start with 10 tablespoons (141 g) unsalted butter (you’ll lose 1 to 2 tbsp (14 to 28 g) butter whilst browning).

Allow the brown butter to cool before proceeding with making the streusel.

Homemade banana muffins with streusel on top of the muffins.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Make 
Perfect Streusel Every Time

Below are step-by-step photos (with captions) to make The Best Streusel Topping perfect every time! My biggest tips are:

  • Make Sure Flour, Sugar & Spices are Well Blended. Use a whisk to make sure that the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices (optional) and salt) are thoroughly blended before moving onto the next step.
  • Use Room Temperature Butter. Do not use cold butter. You’ll know your butter is the correct temperature when you gently press it and it yields to the pressure (and leaves a fingerprint). This will make it easiest to blend with the dry ingredients.
  • The Streusel Mixture Clumps Together. Make sure that the dry mixture is coated in the butter. You’ll know you have the perfect consistency when you squeeze the mixture in your hand and it forms a large clump (see below). It should feel like wet sand.
  • Chill the Streusel Mixture. For best results, chill the streusel topping before adding to your baking recipes. That’s why I always like to mix my streusel first and then chill it while I assemble whatever I’m baking it with. Just 10 to 15 minutes in the fridge is sufficient.

Let’s make some foolproof streusel topping!

Ingredients needed to make the perfect streusel topping.
STEP ONE: Gather your ingredients: all-purpose flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and unsalted butter.
Butter about to be mixed into dry ingredients in a glass bowl.
STEP TWO: Thoroughly whisk together the dry ingredients and then drop the room temperature butter over the top of the mixture.
Perfectly mixed streusel topping in a glass bowl.
STEP THREE: Using your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles wet sand.
A hand holding streusel that is holding  a clump of streusel.
STEP THREE: You’ll know you have the correct consistency when it clumps together like this…
A hand holding streusel that is showing the crumbly wet sand texture.
STEP THREE: It should also be able to hold small clumps; again, think wet sand. Chill prior to use.
Unbaked streusel over a coffee cake.
Here’s an example of it sprinkled over my Sour Cream Coffee Cake pre-bake.
Golden bronzed streusel over a cake.
And here is what it looks like once it’s all baked up. It will hold its shape (and not melt) and be a nice bronzed golden brown.
A side view of coffee cake showing a thick, crunchy layer of streusel.

5-Minute Streusel Equipment

You really don’t need much to make a beautiful streusel topping. Frankly, if you don’t have a proper whisk, use a fork (I did for years in college). And if you don’t have a pastry blender, use your hands!

My absolute favorite whisk

Pastry blender (really great for working with scones, biscuits and pie dough)

Glass bowls (for everything)

A coffee cake getting vanilla bean drizzle over the streusel top.

My Favorite Buttery Streusel Recipes

Adding streusel to your favorite cakes, bundts, muffins and coffee cakes is such a great way to add jazz hands to your favorite sweets and desserts.

Some of my favorite streusel treats include: Classic Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Raspberry Jam Muffins, Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake, Pumpkin Streusel Muffins or on top of these Blueberry Muffins (or any favorite muffins!).

It’s also great to use on apple pie, loaf cakes, banana bread and more.

Enjoy this classic streusel topping! 

Rebecca Firth

The Best 5-Minute Streusel Topping Recipe (Easy)

The best 5-Minute Streusel Topping for all of your cakes, bundt cakes, muffins, pies and more! Using four basic ingredients (plus some optional spices) this buttery, crunchy streusel will be ready in less than 5 minutes (tops!). This foolproof recipe comes out perfect every time!
*Half-batch recipe for muffins included in the recipe card NOTES.
5 from 2 reviews
Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Cakes, Muffins
Keyword: Bundt Cakes, Coffee Cakes, Muffins, Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Baking
Servings: 1 Batch

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup (169 g) all-purpose flour (how to measure flour)
  • 3/4 cup (165 g) light brown sugar (packed (dark brown sugar can be used as well))
  • 2 teaspoons (4 g) cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons (113 g or 4 oz) unsalted butter (room temperature and cut into 16 small pieces)

Instructions

  • For the streusel, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, work the butter into the mixture until it resembles wet sand and when pinched together it holds into clumps.
  • Store in the fridge, covered, until ready to use. 

Notes

Spices

This is my classic spiced streusel topping. Some recipes call for omitting cinnamon altogether. Feel free to omit the spices and/or add in different spices. Cardamom is delicious in streusel!

Storing

Streusel can be made up to several days ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Half Batch Cinnamon Streusel Topping

For most muffin recipes, a half batch of streusel topping is ideal.
Use these quantities:
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (85 g) all-purpose flour (how to measure flour)
  • 1/3 cup (73 g) light or dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g or 1/4 cup) unsalted butter (room temperature and cut into 4 pieces)

 

As a Simple Dessert

Bake the streusel on a lined baked sheet at 350°F (177°C) for about 10 minutes or until lightly bronzed. Let cool completely before adding to the top of vanilla ice cream for the perfect crunchy topping (and easy, delicious dessert).
Thanks for baking with me! Please rate + comment this recipe and tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo

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