This Gluten Free Apple Crisp is the latest delectable pit stop on our fruity dessert road trip. A haven for anyone who loves quintessential fall flavors, it features a deep, nutty pecan crunch, a warm spike of cinnamon, and a cozy, tender apple filling, all wrapped in a big, buttery crumb topping.
Destined to be topped with ice cream, I have no doubt EVERYONE (no matter their diet) will fancy this gluten free apple dessert!
With so many past stops along the fruit crisp, cobbler, and crumble highway, I like to think of myself as a well-traveled connoisseur.
You might be thinking that after creating a scrumptious Vegan Apple Crisp (which is dairy-free and features the addictive addition of coconut) and the spectacular Everyone’s Invited Apple Crisp from my Well Plated Cookbook (which has a surprise ingredient addition that you’ll need a copy to discover!), that I’ve been-there-done-that with apple desserts.
But that’s the joy of fruity crisp and crumble delights: there’s so much room to dream up variations and play around. Each one offers its own scrumptious nuances.
Go wild with an indulgent amount of crisp topping (like in this Peach Crisp), or focus on a healthier alternative by trading out some butter for Greek yogurt (like in this Strawberry Crisp). Or use an unexpected filling (Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler).
Thus, all the more reason to cherish the adventure… and the results. Whether you follow a gluten-free diet or not, this recipe is wonderful. (If gluten isn’t an issue for you, try my Crock Pot Apple Crisp, and my Apple Turnover.) It’s one of my absolute favorite crisp recipes to date!
Like my Blackberry Crisp, this gluten free apple crisp uses no flour, instead opting for rolled oats and ground almond flour to create a perfect, rich streusel topping.
The oats add a pleasing, hearty crunch that strikes an ideal balance with the pie filling-like apples underneath.
Should You Peel Apples for Crisp?
When possible, I usually leave the peel on the apples in apple desserts, as these Baked Apple Slices and Crockpot Applesauce can attest. The texture of the peel adds a slight crunch, and much of an apple’s nutritional value is found in the peel.
But in the case of this gluten free apple crisp, I prefer to peel the apples. Since the crisp’s topping of oats and nuts brings the A+ crunch game, I find the apples’ peels detract from the crisp’s balance of texture.
I do not recommend making gluten free apple crisp with canned apples. The texture of canned apples will completely break down once the crisp bakes (we want the apples tender, but not mushy). Apples are easy to slice, so canned apples don’t save much time. Further, canning typically reduces the level of vitamins compared to fresh fruit.
The Difference Between Crisps and Crumbles
I look this one up every fall when I’m ready to bake my first apple dessert!
- Crisps. The topping layer of a crisp, like this recipe and most of my other crisp recipes, usually has a combination of oats, nuts, sugar, butter, flour, and warm spices like cinnamon. The topping is fairly evenly distributed and granola-like.
- Crumbles. The topping layer of a crumble usually omits the oats and nuts, using only butter, flour, sugar, and spices. The topping is clumpier and more streusel like.
Thus, if this were a gluten free apple crumble (i.e. without the oats and nuts) it would tend to have a subtly different texture.
Personally, I adore the dimension of the oats and nuts in the topping, which is why I usually bake what is technically a crisp.
BIG PICTURE: Crisps and crumbles are both a baked fruit dessert with a golden, crunchy topping layer. Half the time, people use the terms interchangeably anyway.
Plus, I think we can all agree…whether you call it a crisp or a crumble, it will taste pretty darn delicious!
How To Make Gluten Free Apple Crisp
Oats are key to delivering that complementing crunch atop the tender, baked apples. I don’t recommend making this gluten free apple crisp without the oats, as the topping will lose its rich texture.
- Gluten Free Rolled Oats. A star in texture, nutrition, AND the key to keeping this crisp truly GF.
- Almond Flour. I ADORE this ingredient! It’s made of finely ground almonds only and gives the crisp (and really anything you make with it) an unbelievably rich flavor. This Gluten Free Carrot Cake is another one of my favorite desserts that takes advantage of its subtle warmth. You can also use it for any of these almond flour recipes.
- Pecans. In addition to the oats, pecans add scrumptious crunch and nuttiness to the topping.
- Apples. Sweet, juicy, healthy, and 100% delicious in a crisp recipe. I recommend using Granny Smith, Macintosh, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or a combination of these varieties.
- Maple Syrup. Not only does maple syrup allow us to naturally sweeten the filling, but it also adds a scrumptious cozy flavor. Honey would also work fabulously here.
- Bourbon. Because I couldn’t resist, and because the subtle warm vanilla notes in bourbon make it an excellent addition. You could use rum instead. If you prefer to make your apple crisp without alcohol, you can swap in water.
- Lemon Juice. For a touch of brightness.
- Cinnamon. It complements all the other flavors perfectly and turns the crisp into one big bowl of comfort.
- Toppings. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, or Greek yogurt. You can’t go wrong!
- Melt the butter.
- In a big bowl, stir together the oats, flour, sugar, pecans, and salt.
- Pour the butter over the oat mixture. Stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the apple slices with the other filling ingredients.
- Transfer the apple filling mixture to a baking dish. Scatter the oat mixture over the top.
- Bake the apple crisp at 350 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes. DIG IN!
Tips for Freezing Apple Crisp
- Thankfully, gluten free apple crisp CAN be frozen, so you can always have some on hand for future cravings.
- To Freeze. Let the crisp cool completely. Tightly cover it or place it in an airtight freezer-safe storage container. Freeze the crisp for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Freeze Unbaked. Assemble right up until the point of baking. Tightly cover your apple crisp, and lay it flat in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed.
Scaling This Recipe Up or Down
- Gluten Free Apple Crisp for a Crowd. To scale up this recipe for 8 or more people, I recommend following the same recipe by using 1.5 times the ingredients and baking it in a 9”x13” pan.
- Gluten Free Apple Crisp for Two or for One. If you desire to make this recipe in a smaller quantity, I recommend cutting down the ingredients to one-third or even one-fourth of those listed in the recipe. Then, portion it into individual ramekins for baking (make sure your ramekin is oven safe).
More Favorite Apple Recipes
- Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- Apple Bread
- Apple Carrot Muffins
- Apple Oatmeal Cookies
- Gooey Caramel Apple Cake
Gluten Free Apple Crisp
For the Topping:
- 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
- 2/3 cup almond flour
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup pecan halves chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Filling:
- 2 1/2 pounds mixed apples such as Granny Smith, Macintosh, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges (about 6 medium apples)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or rum or water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- Vanilla ice cream frozen yogurt, or Greek yogurt, for serving
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×9-inch or similarly sized baking dish with non-stick spray.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, almond flour, brown sugar, pecans, and salt.
- In a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave (or a saucepan on the stove), melt the butter. Pour over the top of the oat mixture. With a fork or rubber spatula, stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the apples, maple syrup, bourbon, cinnamon, lemon juice, and cornstarch. With a big spoon, stir to combine.
- Scoop the apples and any liquid that has collected at the bottom of the bowl into the prepared baking dish into an even layer. It will be very full. Nudge the apple slices around a bit so that they lay fairly flat.
- With your hands, squeeze chunks of the crumb mixture together to create clumps of assorted sizes, and place them on top of the apples. Scatter any remaining crumb mixture over the top.
- Bake the crisp until the apples are tender (you may need to use a fork to peek down underneath that generous topping and check on the apples) and the crumb topping is crisp and deep golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes. Check the crisp halfway through, then periodically during baking; if at any point, the topping browns more quickly than you would like, tent the pan with foil to protect the crust, then continue baking as directed. Serve warm with a big scoop of ice cream.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate crisp in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: Let the crisp cool completely. Tightly cover it or place it in an airtight freezer-safe storage container. Freeze the crisp for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- TO FREEZE UNBAKED: Tightly cover your apple crisp, and lay it flat in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed.
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