Gluten-free baking can be a challenge, especially in the early days of transitioning to a gluten-free diet. Between comparing rice flour blends, learning new words like xanthan gum, and trying to get your desserts to turn out light and fluffy, you may wonder if it’s even possible.
It is! And with time, it will all become second nature to you. You’ll discover that some recipes are just begging to be made gluten-free. This great recipe for apple crisp is one of them!
Best of all, you and your guests will not miss the gluten!
I’ll walk you through the important gluten-free ingredients that differ from your grandma’s apple crisp (but not in taste, I promise!), give you a few tips to make the easiest and best apple crisp, along with sharing a few variations: how to make apple crisp without oats, a delicious dairy-free and vegan option, and a seasonal version with cranberries.
We will also touch on the controversial topic of oats in the gluten-free diet.
Easy as EasiER than apple pie (and better tasting), this delicious gluten-free apple crisp recipe is simple enough to make with kids and is an excellent addition to your holiday dessert table or any meal during apple season. We have a tradition in our family to make apple crisp every “Back-to-School Eve.”
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My go-to replacement flour for most recipes is King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour. It is a 1-for-1 replacement flour that is free from the Top 9 Allergens and gluten.
King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour delivers wonderful results in many of my favorite recipes that traditionally contain gluten. It also contains xanthan gum, which is important to replace the stickiness and elasticity of wheat flour.
Feel free to use your favorite gluten-free flour, as long as it contains xanthan gum.
For your apple crisp topping, the butter (or dairy-free/vegan butter) and the oats steal the show, making your choice in flour less important than if you were making muffins or a cake.
I discuss oats in detail further down this post and include a recipe variation for Gluten-Free Apple Crisp without Oats.
If oats are a part of your gluten-free diet, use your favorite gluten-free oats. I usually buy Gluten-Free Prarie Oats, which are purity protocol and certified gluten-free.
Option not to peel the apples.
I’m a skins-on gal. In my house, mashed red potatoes come with skins on, and apple crisp with unpeeled apples. Apple skins are full of vitamins.
When making apple crisp just for my family, I opt not to peel the apples.
For holidays and whenever we have guests, I go for peeled apples. Guests who aren’t used to apple skin in desserts probably won’t like them unpeeled.
Selecting the best apple varieties.
Nothing quite beats fresh apples from the orchard or farmers market!
For a tarter apple crisp, choose Pink Lady or Granny Smith apples.
For the perfect combination of tart and sweet, choose a variety of apples, mixing tart apples with sweet apples, like Fuji or Honeycrisp.
Honeycrisp apples are one of my personal favorites.
The rich butter flavor makes the topping amazing!
For the dairy-free and vegan option, use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks or your favorite non-dairy butter replacement.
Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice
The rest of this recipe’s simple ingredients are pantry staples that add delicous fall flavor to this recipe: white sugar, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar.
Lemon juice can be substituted for apple cider vinegar.
- Make ahead. You can assemble your homemade apple crisp the day before, and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it. Bake about an hour before serving guests, allowing 40 minutes to bake and 20 minutes to cool.
- Mix the topping in a bag instead of a bowl. Put all of your topping ingredients in a one-gallon reusable “ziploc” bag and simply knead them together with your fingers until the topping is a crumbly mixture. This is a wonderful way for kids to help bake this treat!
- Travel tips. When traveling and making apple crisp in an Airbnb or someone else’s kitchen, you can skip the bowls and reduce the risk of cross-contact. Simply mix the apple filling directly in a disposable foil pan, and bake the apple crisp in that same pan. The topping can be kneaded together in a one-gallon Ziploc bag.
- Toppings for your finished apple crisp. I love to “whip up” Homemade Maple Syrup Whipped Cream or top this warm dessert with a scoop of ice cream. Breyer’s vanilla ice cream says gluten-free right on the label.
Oat-Free, Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
- Omit oats.
- Increase gluten-free flour to 1 ½ cups.
Important! For the Oat-Free Apple Crisp version, the flour becomes a much more significant ingredient. Use a quality cup-for-cup replacement flour, like King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour.
Gluten in Oats?
Let’s talk about oats. Oats are complicated. Here are the basics.
Oats are naturally gluten-free, but 90% of oats are cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains in the field or during processing.
Additionally, a small percentage of celiacs react to uncontaminated oats.
The North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease (NASSCD) reports ” that most experts concur that oats uncontaminated by wheat, barley, and rye can be safely consumed by most people with celiac disease… For any oats grown as pure oats or processed to be gluten-free, there must be rigorous testing and results available for scrutiny. ” Importantly, the NASSCD also states that “The decision to include any type of oats in a patient’s gluten-free diet should be discussed with the patient’s doctor and dietitian and should include monitoring of anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG) antibody levels before and after their commencement. Persistent or recurrent symptoms should prompt an assessment that may include an intestinal biopsy.”
Bottom line: most celiacs can tolerate gluten-free, uncontaminated oats that have undergone rigorous testing; but we should consult with our doctors and request an order for blood tests to monitor our anti-tTG antibody levels.
My doctor and I have discussed oats, and we have chosen to consume gluten-free oats in our home.
While I personally use purity protocol oats most of the time, the NASSCD does not indicate purity protocol oats over mechanically sorted oats. Instead, it emphasizes “rigorous testing and results available for scrutiny” meaning certified gluten-free oats from reliable manufacturers that meet these standards are also deemed safe for most celiacs. But, again, the experts are cautioning you to make this decision with your doctor.
If you cannot tolerate oats, making the above oat-free version is a great option.
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Apple Crisp (Vegan)
The recipe card includes instructions for easily making the dairy-free, vegan version of this delicious apple dessert.
Simply, make sure that you use a non-dairy replacement butter and that your gluten-free flour is also non-dairy. Some gluten-free flour blends include milk in the ingredients.
If you’re looking for an oat-free, dairy-free apple treat-for-one, try this gluten-free apple crumble in a mug.
Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Crisp
Add a festive touch to your apple crisp for the holiday season:
- add ½ cup of cranberries to the filling mixture
- increase the two tablespoons of white sugar to ¼ cup of white sugar.
More Fall Dessert Recipes:
- Easy Gluten-Free Apple Galette Recipe
- 3-Ingredient Cream Cheese Caramel Apple Dip Recipe (for dipping apples or fall cookies)
- Chewy Gluten-Free Gingersnaps Recipe
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe with Homemade Crust
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- Homemade Maple Whipped Cream Recipe
For ideas for a hassle-free Thanksgiving, check out the Go Gluten Freely Guide to Simplify Your Gluten-Free Thanksgiving!
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp (Dairy-Free/Vegan & Oat-Free Options)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup gluten-free oats (Gluten-Free Prarie Oats are purity protocol oats)
- ¾ cup gluten-free flour (King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour is gluten-free & non-dairy)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces (for dairy-free, use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks)
- 6 apples cored and sliced (peeled or unpeeled, your choice!)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In a medium bowl, toss sliced apples with apple cider vinegar.
- Add sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the apples and stir to combine. Pour the apple mixture into an 8" square pan or 9" round pie dish.
- In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, gluten-free oats, gluten-free flour, and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
- Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the cold butter, until the topping is crumbly.
- Scoop and gently spread the topping into an even layer over the apple mixture in the baking dish.
- Bake at 350℉ for about 40 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.