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 come 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, substituting almond flour, and adding cranberries and/or pecans. We will also cover the controversial topic of oats.
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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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For your apple crisp topping, the butter and the oats steal the show, making your choice in flour less important than if you were making muffins or a cake. I typically use King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour, but any gluten-free flour blend for baking will work well.
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 for my family, I opt not to peel the apples. Since most folks aren’t used to apple skin in desserts (and won’t like them), I still peel the apples for holidays or any time I am serving guests.
- Selecting the best apple varieties. You could include tart apple varieties, such as PinkLady or Granny Smith apples. Or choose a variety of apples, mixing tart apples with something sweeter, like Honeycrisp.
- 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 “ziplock” bag and simply knead them together with your fingers until the topping is a crumbly mixture.
- Travel tips. If 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 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 ziplock bag.
- Toppings for your finished apple crisp. I love to “whip up” homemade whipped cream in my stand mixer, but the rest of my family is partial to a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Breyer’s vanilla ice cream says gluten-free right on the label.
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp without Oats
To make this gluten-free apple crisp recipe without oats:
- Start with the basic gluten-free apple crisp recipe.
- Omit oats.
- Increase gluten-free flour to 1 1/2 cups.
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 Almond Flour Apple Crisp
Make an even swap of almond flour for the 3/4 cup gluten-free flour in the recipe. Your topping will have a more crumbly texture than the traditional cake-like-crumble topping.
Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Crisp
To add a festive touch to your apple crisp, simply add 1/2 cup of cranberries to the filling mixture, and increase the two tablespoons of white sugar to 1/4 cup of white sugar.
Gluten-Free Pecan Apple Crisp
To add a seasonal crunch to your apple crisp, mix 1/4 cup of chopped pecans into the topping mixture between steps 5 and 6 of the recipe.
Gluten-Free Pecan Cranberry Apple Crisp
You get the idea. Add the cranberries and extra sugar to the filling and mix pecans with the topping and this delicious recipe is ready for your holiday table.
For more ideas for a hassle-free Thanksgiving, check out the Go Gluten Freely Guide to Simplify Your Gluten-Free Thanksgiving!
Gluten-Free Apple CrispCourse: DessertDifficulty: Easy
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup gluten-free oats
3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
6 apples – peeled( optional), cored, and sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Toss sliced apples with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Add sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and stir to combine. Pour apple mixture into an 8″ square or 9″ round pan.
- In a medium bowl mix brown sugar, gluten-free oats, gluten-free flour, and 1 tsp cinnamon.
- Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in 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 for about 40 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.