Classics are classic for a reason. Sweet and crumbly, Gluten Free Apple Crisp is a fall dessert mainstay worth coming back to time and again. Spiced apples bake until tender in a buttery, maple glaze under a canopy of crunchy nuts and whole-grain oats. Naturally gluten-free, it’s a dish best served warm. With vanilla ice cream. In a very large bowl.
I’ve extolled the virtues of the galette (a.k.a. lazy lady pie) many a time here at Our Salty Kitchen, but in all honesty, there’s an even lazier “pie” out there, and that, my friends, is “the crisp.” Not to be confused with the cobbler, the crumble, the buckle, the brown betty, the charlotte, the grunt, the slump, the sonker or the pandowdy. (Those are all real, by the way.)
While pies have been around for literal millennia in some form or another, from what I’ve cobbled together (pun intended), all of those desserts listed above seem to share a common origin: when the going gets tough, the tough bake <<insert buckle, grunt, crisp, or other pie variant here.>>
For example, crisps and crumbles seemed to ramp up in popularity during WWII, when both America and England had to ration baking staples like wheat (i.e. flour) and butter. So really, maybe apple crisp is a more patriotic dessert than apple pie ever was?
Think about that. And thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
But don’t let this delicious dessert’s humble – and resourceful – origins fool you. Some would argue that crisp is really just the best part of the pie – all filling and topping. And while traditional crumb topping usually only consists of butter, sugar and flour, this all-natural apple crisp incorporates oats and nuts into a sweet, hearty celebration of cozy, fall goodness that’s naturally gluten-free. What’s not to love??
As if you needed another excuse to go apple picking…
How to make the best gluten free apple crisp
Apple crisp is one the easiest dessert recipes, and I promise anyone can master it! Be sure to check the recipe card for detailed step-by-step instructions and photos.
- Make the topping. Combine oats, pecans, walnuts, and brown sugar in a food processor, and pulse until coarse. Add cold butter, and pulse until just incorporate. Place the topping in the fridge while you make the filling.
- Sauté the apples. Sauté diced apples in butter until they release their juices and soften slightly.
- Add the sweetener and thickener. Whisk maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, then pour into the apples. Simmer until the sauce thickens (it only takes a minute or two).
- Prepare the crisp. Scrape the apples into a casserole dish, then sprinkle evenly over the filling.
- Bake the crisp. Bake in a 350°F oven until the topping is golden brown and the apples are bubbling around the edges.
- Serve. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Double-check your oats and make sure they’re gluten free.
- Oat selection matters – use old-fashioned oats, not quick cooking or steel cut.
- Mind your nuts too! Don’t use salted nuts (i.e. for snacking) and no need to pre-toast.
What kind of apples should I use?
An apple is an apple is an apple? Not so fast. There is such a thing as baking apples.
Select apples that are more tart than sweet (they’ll still taste apple-y after being sweetened with brown sugar) and are firm so they hold up well to baking. We used Honeycrisp in this recipe. Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jonagold, and Braeburn are also all great baking apples.
More fall baking recipes
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Gluten Free Apple CrispPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 9x13 Casserole Dish
- Food Processor
- 1 c old-fashioned oats, gluten free
- 2 oz pecans, heaping ½ cup
- 2 oz walnuts, heaping ½ cups
- ½ c packed light brown sugar
- ¼ c butter, diced into small pieces
- 6 medium baking apples, about 3 lb, peeled, cored, and diced to ½”
- 2 tbsp butter
- ⅓ c maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Vanilla ice cream, to top
- Caramel sauce, to top
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Spray a 9x13” casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Make the topping. Combine the oats, walnuts, pecans, and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a coarsely chopped. Add the butter and pulse briefly, just until the butter is incorporated. Place the topping in the fridge to chill while the filling cooks.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and heat until it melts. Add the apples, toss to coat in the fat, and simmer until the fruit releases its juice and the apples soften, 8-10 minutes.
- Combine the maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla extract, vanilla and nutmeg in a 1-cup measuring cup or small bowl; whisk until smooth. Pour into the apples, then toss to evenly coat. Simmer 1-2 minutes more, or until the sauce thickens.
- Scrape the apples into the prepared casserole dish, then sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.
- Transfer to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream.
- Double-check your oats to ensure they're labeled "gluten free"
- Use old-fashioned oats, not steel cut or quick-cooking
- Storage: cover leftovers with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days; reheat in the microwave.
- Make-ahead: apple crisp can be made up to 1 day in advance; to reheat, cover with foil and heat in a 350°F oven until warmed through.