A warm bowl of this gluten-free apple crisp, topped with vanilla ice cream, is the perfect fall dessert. Grab a fork and dig into the sweet, crunchy topping, and warm apple-cinnamon filling while it’s fresh-from-the-oven, and I’ll see you on the other side!
My apple crisp recipe is gluten-free because of the almond flour, and it’s made with less sugar than a traditional apple crisp…but your friends and family will never know!
To play off line from Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet’s famous song, “It’s apple season somewhere!”.
In south Florida, where I live, you won’t be seeing apples at the farmers market – but my social media feeds have been filled with friends farther north enjoying apple picking outings.
When I lived where they do, apple picking was a fall tradition. I’d round up a group of friends and we’d head to a local orchard on a sunny afternoon. After filling our baskets, it was on to someone’s house to hang out and make a batch of warm apple crisp.
Back then I could eat wheat flour with abandon, not so much now, that’s why my apple crisp recipe is gluten-free.
I use almond flour in my apple crisp rather than wheat flour, and it still bakes up with a crunchy, sweet cinnamon topping that is freaking delicious. Your friends will never know you’re serving them gluten-free apple crisp – I promise.
Here are a couple other things that are wonderfully different about this apple crisp recipe:
I make apple crisp with melted butter rather than soft butter.
To ensure your apple crisp bakes up crispy (right?), it’s important to get that butter well integrated with all the topping. I always found this tricky when working with soft butter, there just never seemed to be enough to go around. So I experimented with melted butter and it’s much easier. I then pop the topping in the fridge while I cut my apples, and by the time I’m done the topping is cold and crumbly. Perfect for sprinkling over the apples.
I use less sugar in my apple crisp.
Most apple crisp recipes use way too much sugar IMO. First, the apple filling is sweetened substantially, then the topping is sweetened even more substantially. No wonder people feel so guilty while trying to enjoy their dessert!
My apple crisp recipe uses just 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar (that’s all!) and it’s still sweet, delicious and satisfying. But, it won’t leave you feeling a little sick inside after you’ve indulged.
I use chopped nuts in my gluten-free apple crisp.
Chopped nuts are optional for sure, but if you happen to have some on hand, nuts add a delightful crunch to apple crisp. I suggest 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts or pecans if you have some in your pantry.
My apple crisp recipe uses organic apples.
Organic is an optional choice, but hear me out.
The Environmental Working Group (aka “the EWG”) is a non-profit that publishes an annual list called the Dirty DozenTM. The list comprises the non-organic fruits and vegetables that were found to be most contaminated with pesticides.
If you’re prioritizing where it might make sense to invest in organically grown produce, this list can help. For example, apples are number 5 on the 2022 Dirty Dozen list, and avocados are at the bottom (less contaminated) in spot 46.
How to Make Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
Ingredients You’ll Need
Organic apples – You’ll need 4 cups of chopped apples which is 5 or 6 small organic apples. My favorite apples for apple crisp are Granny Smith. Granny Smith apples hold up well in the oven without becoming soggy, and their tart flavor helps balance the sweetness of the apple crisp. I’ve also used Lady Alice apples to make apple crisp and it turned out great. A two pound bag of apples is more than enough.
Almond flour – Be sure to use almond flour and not almond meal. Almond flour is made from peeled almonds and has a light and fluffy texture. On the other hand, almond meal is made from unpeeled almonds and is more coarse and grainy.
Gluten-free oats – This apple crisp recipe uses 3/4 cup of old-fashioned oats in the topping.
Brown sugar – Just 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of packed light brown sugar is all it takes to create this delicious apple crisp.
Butter – I use unsalted grass-fed butter (Kerry Gold), melted on the stove top.
Ground cinnamon -Apple crisp wouldn’t be apple crisp without cinnamon. You’ll use 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in the filling and a second teaspoon for the topping.
Cornstarch – Cornstarch helps thicken the little bit of sauce that forms on the bottom of the pan as the apples release moisture. You’ll also add 2 tablespoons of water to the apples to encourage this.
Chopped nuts – If you happen to have some walnuts or pecans in your pantry, grab a small hand full and rough chop them with your knife until you have two tablespoons. Two tablespoons of chopped nuts adds a nice crunch to your apple crisp.
Steps to Make Apple Crisp
Step 1: Mix the topping then refrigerate
Combine the dry ingredients for the topping – almond flour, oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, ground cinnamon and chopped nuts (optional) – in a medium bowl.
Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and use your hands to combine thoroughly.
Put the topping in the fridge while you prepare the apples.
Step 2: Prepare the apple filling
Peel, core and chop your apples until you have 4 cups of apples cut in half inch pieces.
Here’s how I core and cut my apples. I quarter each apple, top to bottom, then slice the core off each piece. I then lay each quarter flat on my cutting board and cut it into three wedges, top to bottom. Then I cut each wedge into three chunks. Larger apples will require more wedges and more chunks.
Toss the apple pieces gently with cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and corn starch. Then add 2 tablespoons of water.
Spread the apples over the bottom of an un-greased 9×9 cake pan, or glass baking dish.
Step 3: Top off the crisp then bake in the oven
Remove the topping from the fridge and loosely break it up with your fingers. Sprinkle the crumble over the apples.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Serving Apple Crisp
Apple crisp is best when it’s served warm fresh from the oven. Top with a scoop of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy!
The left overs can be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave or oven. Consume within a day or two – I find apple crisp starts to get a bit soggy after a couple days in the fridge.
If you like this apple crisp, be sure to check out my apple galette with sweet crisp recipe!
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
For the Topping
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbs chopped raw nuts (pecans or walnuts) optional
- 1/3 cup melted butter
For the Filling
- 4 cups organic apples (5 to 6 small apples) peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar packed
- 2 tbs water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the apple crisp topping: almond flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts.
- Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients. Use a large spoon to incorporate the butter throughout. Then use your fingers to ensure that every bit of topping is touched by the butter.
- Place the bowl of topping in the fridge so it has a chance to get cold while you prepare the apple filling.
- Peel and core the apples then cut into small 1/2 inch pieces.
- Gently toss the cut apples with the corn starch, cinnamon, brown sugar and water and place in an un-greased 9×9 cake pan or glass baking dish.
- Remove the topping mixture from the fridge and use your fingers to spread it over the apples. Do not stir and do not press the topping onto the apples.
- Bake for 35 minutes until the top is browned all over. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.