This easy-to-make gluten free apple crisp is completely irresistible! It has about half the amount of butter and sugar as traditional versions, but you’d never know it.
2018 Update: I recently revisited this gluten free apple crisp, and it was like a warm, delicious hug. It’s a must-make once the weather starts to cool. Scroll down for my crisp-making tips and for a new step-by-step video!
I love a good crisp. It’s a humble dessert—all brown and bumpy and crunchy—but it’s as uplifting as my soft
sheep’s-wool sweater, especially with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream on top. It’s a dessert that’s as welcome on a Tuesday as it is at a weekend dinner with friends.
Last week I hadn’t been thinking much about crisps, my thoughts being all pumpkin pie and crème brulée in preparation for the holidays, but then I ran across a crisp recipe in Martha Stewart Living that called for pulsing oats in a food processor and using the resulting “oat flour” in place of regular flour. I was intrigued. It was cloudy and gray outside, and I decided to whip up my own rendition to brighten our moods.
I added plenty of pecans for crunch, warming spices and maple sugar for flavor, and I increased the topping-to-filling ratio (the topping is the best part, after all). Just the smells alone were therapy. We nearly devoured the whole thing in one sitting, but luckily this recipe has about half the amount of sugar and butter than regular crisp recipes. Not that we noticed (or much cared).
Why not make a crisp for the holidays? I’ve yet to find anybody who can resist its cinnamon-scented embrace (I’m sure those people exist, but I don’t care to meet them). With the craziness of the season about to hit us when we’ll have a million other things to do, an easy-to-make, make-ahead dessert can be a lifesaver (not to mention one that won’t bust the buttons on your jeans after a day of feasting).
If apples aren’t your thing, check out these Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, another one of my favorite fall desserts!
Gluten free apple crisp tips:
- Instead of using white flour to bind the crisp topping, this recipe has you grind whole oats in a mini food processor (a Vitamix also works!) to make oat four. You could use 1/2 cup of store-bought oat flour instead, if you wish.
- You can use either brown sugar or maple sugar in this recipe. Maple sugar is made by boiling down maple syrup until it crystalizes, and has a wonderful maple flavor. I buy it online and use it as a natural sweetener in cookies, pancakes and as a sweetener for tea and coffee.
- This crisp can easily be made vegan! Simply swap out the butter for virgin coconut oil, and serve the crisp with dairy-free coconut ice cream.
- My two secret ingredients in this crisp are cardamom and vanilla paste, which lend sweet, aromatic warmth. If you haven’t tried vanilla paste before, it’s much more flavorful than extract, but it’s a lot cheaper than vanilla beans (but feel free to use the scraped beans from half of a vanilla pod instead!).
- Feel free to swap out the pecans for other nuts, such as walnuts, hazelnuts or slivered almonds.
- You can cook this crisp in an 8×8-inch baking dish, but you can also use single serving baking dishes. I can’t wait to try it in these mini cast iron skillets.
- Covering the dish with parchment before aluminum foil prevents the crisp topping from sticking. (these pre-cut parchment sheets have changed my life!)
Watch the video!
Get the recipe!
The Best Gluten Free Apple Crisp (Lightened Up!)
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, divided
- 1/3 cup pecans
- ¼ cup packed maple sugar or light brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 5 Granny Smith apples (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons packed maple sugar or light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
- Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving (optional)
Make the crisp topping
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Process ½ cup of the oats in a mini food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Add the pecans to the processor (no need to wash it) and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer the pecans to the bowl with the oat flour, and add the remaining whole oats, maple sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and melted butter. Stir until combined.
Make the filling & assemble
In a large bowl, toss the apples with the maple sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla paste (if using).
Transfer the apples to an 8x8-inch or similar sized baking dish (or you can use individual baking dishes, ramekins or mini cast iron skillets!), and dot with the butter. Sprinkle the crisp topping over the apples and spread it in an even layer, pressing lightly to adhere. Cover the dish (or dishes) with parchment paper then aluminum foil. Place the baking dish (or dishes) on a baking sheet (this is to catch any juices that might bubble over).
- Bake the crisp for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment and increase the oven temperature to 400˚F. Bake 15-20 minutes longer, or until the topping is golden brown and the apples are tender and bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, if you wish. Swoon!
- The crisp can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat it in a warm oven, if desired. (I think it totally counts as a balanced breakfast!)
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