What’s better than apple pie and a whole lot easier to make? Apple crisp! This apple crisp recipe is gooey on the inside, and tender but crisp on top. It’s made with wholesome ingredients, like old-fashioned oats, almond meal, pecans, honey, and of course, lots of fresh apples.
On a cool fall day, there’s nothing better the smell of this apple crisp baking in the oven. This homemade dessert would also be the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving supper.
This is my favorite apple crisp recipe, and it just happens to be gluten free and healthier than the rest. This recipe is made with significantly less sugar than most apple crisps, but tastes just as good. In fact, I’d say it’s even better!
This crisp turned out great for me when I made it a few years ago, but I heard that it didn’t turn out as well for some of you. This stuff keeps me up at night.
I’ve retested and tweaked this recipe, and it’s now better than ever. I’m so pleased to hear that with these updates, this crisp has been turning out perfectly in your kitchens.
How to Make the Best Apple Crisp
Apples take a long time to release their moisture, so my original crisp recipe was a little dry. To remedy this, I switched from using 1-inch chunks of apple to thinly sliced, which take less time to get juicy and cook through. I also added some liquid to the filling to the get the ball rolling, and reduced the amount of starch.
To ensure that the topping doesn’t get too crisp, you’re going to bake the apples for 20 minutes and then add the topping. This is actually pretty convenient, because it means that your crisp can start baking while you are still mixing together the topping.
That’s it! You’ve just made an apple dessert that rivals apple pie in flavor and comfort-food factor, but it’s so much easier.
Watch How to Make Apple Crisp
Healthy Apple Crisp Ingredients
The recipe is flexible. You can easily make it dairy free, vegan or nut free. See the recipe notes for details.
- Granny Smith Apples: Fresh and thinly sliced. No need to peel your apples—the skin softens up so much in the oven, you’ll hardly notice it’s there. You could also use Honeycrisp apples, or a combination of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp.
- Old-Fashioned Oats: Oats form the base of the topping. Once baked, they are perfectly crisp-tender. Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats for gluten-free apple crisp.
- Almond Meal or Almond Flour: Almond meal (or flour) lends some irresistible richness and flavor. You can use regular flour in place of the almond meal, if you prefer (see nut-free recipe note).
- Pecans or Walnuts: Chopped pecans or walnuts are technically optional in the filling, but I never leave them out. I love those little bites of nutty goodness.
- Honey or Maple Syrup: We’ll use one of these natural sweeteners in the filling instead of plain sugar. As a bonus, they impart some additional flavor that tastes so nice.
- Coconut Sugar or Brown Sugar: We’ll use some sugar in the topping, since liquid sweeteners would interfere with the texture. I like to use coconut sugar since it’s less refined, but brown sugar works just as well.
- Butter: This topping calls for a reasonable amount of melted butter, and I promise, you won’t regret it.
- Greek Yogurt: We’ll use some Greek yogurt in place of some additional butter (though you can totally go all in on the butter if you’d like). I love that the yogurt imparts a subtle tang.
- Liquid (Water, Bourbon, Apple Cider, Etc.): A little bit of liquid helps the apples break down. Additional options include brandy or apple juice. I love to use equal parts water and bourbon so the bourbon flavor is subtle. I think it’s just right!
- Lemon Juice: A squeeze of lemon juice brightens up the flavor of the filling.
- Starch: You can use arrowroot starch or cornstarch. The starch helps the filling come together so it’s not watery.
- Cinnamon and Allspice: No apple crisp recipe would be complete without some warming spices.
The Best Apples for Apple Crisp
Granny Smith apples are the perfect apple for crisps. They retain their shape but become wonderfully tender in the oven, whereas other apple varieties turn to mush. Their tart flavor mellows and sweetens in the oven, but doesn’t turn overtly sweet. Some contrast is key!
Another great option, albeit more expensive, would be Honeycrisp apples. They possess similar qualities and have become widely available in recent years. You could even use a combination of the two!
More Apple Recipes to Enjoy
Craving more apple deliciousness? Check out these recipes:
- Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal
- Favorite Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas
- Gluten-Free Apple Tart
- Healthy Apple Muffins
- Homemade Bircher Muesli
Please let me know how this crisp turns out for you in the comments! I hope it’s your new favorite fall dessert.
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
This wholesome, honey-sweetened apple crisp is covered in an irresistible oat, almond meal and pecan topping. This dessert is perfect for the holidays! This recipe yields about 8 modest servings.
2 ¼ pounds Granny Smith apples (about 5 large or 7 small), cored and sliced into ¼” thick wedges
⅓ cup honey or maple syrup
¼ cup water, or bourbon or brandy, or apple cider or apple juice (I like 2 tablespoons bourbon and 2 tablespoons water)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch or 1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
Oat, almond meal and pecan topping
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats for a gluten-free crisp)
- ½ cup firmly packed almond meal or almond flour
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional but recommended)
- ⅓ cup lightly packed coconut sugar or brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular)
Don’t forget vanilla ice cream, for serving!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the sliced apples in a 9” square baking dish. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey and water until combined. Add the lemon juice, starch, cinnamon and allspice, and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the apples and toss to combine. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the oats, almond meal, pecans, coconut sugar and salt. Mix in the melted butter and the yogurt. Stir until all of the flour is incorporated and the mixture is moistened throughout.
- Once the apples have baked for 20 minutes, give them a stir and redistribute them evenly in the baker. Dollop small spoonfuls of the oat mixture evenly over the filling (see photos, no need to pack it down). Return the baker to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the top is nice and golden.
- Let the crisp rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, I insist. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 5 days.
Recipe adapted from my pear cranberry crisp.
Why buy organic? Apples are #4 on the Dirty Dozen list, meaning that conventionally grown apples are generally high in pesticide residues.
Make it nut free: To make this recipe nut free, omit the walnuts and use ¾ cup whole wheat flour and ¾ cup oats instead of the almond meal and oats specified above. It will no longer be gluten free. If you want to keep it gluten free, I suspect that you could replace the almond meal with certified gluten-free oat flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
Make it vegan: In the topping, use non-dairy yogurt and coconut oil in place of the butter. In the filling, use maple syrup instead of honey.
Make it dairy free: Use non-dairy yogurt and coconut oil in place of the butter.