A healthier apple crisp with hearty oats, pecans, maple syrup and cinnamon! All made in one bowl, vegan and gluten-free!
This healthier apple crisp is an easy, healthier version of a childhood favorite of mine. We are making it healthier by using natural sweeteners and whole grains versus refined flour and sugar.
In addition, compared to more traditional recipes, there is less sugar, or in this case, natural sweetener added. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it. The natural sweetness of the honey crisp apples, paired with lemon zest and cinnamon…let’s just say, sometimes I must have seconds!
This crisp is vegan (if you use vegan butter) and is easily made gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats. It is naturally dairy-free. We love to top ours with a coconut based vanilla bean ice cream.
What kind of apples to use
A delicious apple crisp begins with sweet and tart, fresh apples. For this reason, I think honey crisp apples are the perfect candidate for the job. If you’ve never baked using honey crisp apples, give them a try! I don’t think you will be disappointed.
This topping is made with wholesome ingredients including oatmeal and almond meal and is naturally sweetened with maple syrup and coconut sugar. These two natural sweeteners and the cinnamon give the crisp a beautiful golden color when baked.
How to make Healthier Apple Crisp
First you will start by peeling and slicing the apples thinly. If you want your apples to bake through and not be too firm, more similar to stewed apples, slice them thinly. I like to slice them in all different sizes.
Once your apples are peeled and sliced, you add the zest of one lemon, lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Here you have the option of adding one tablespoon of arrowroot starch. I have found that they same apples from the same place can be more watery at different times in the season.
I don’t mind pouring out the extra moisture. If you don’t mind it either, then don’t worry about adding any arrowroot. If you use the arrowroot and your apples aren’t really juicy, you run the risk of having a filling that is more gel-like and is not like stewed apples. I prefer my filling like stewed apples; super juicy and cinnamon-y.
Next, you will pour the apples into a ceramic, deep pie dish or a 9 x 9 square ceramic or pyrex dish. If you use a metal baking dish, consider reducing the cook time. The apples will reduce significantly while baking, so you want the dish very full.
Now to make the topping!
Now it’s time to mix up the crisp topping. Using the same bowl, you will combine the oats with almond meal, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Next, you will drizzle in maple syrup. Before you add the butter, cut it up into little pieces. I use Miyoko’s vegan butter. Work the butter into the other ingredients using a pastry cutter or a large serving fork. If using a serving fork, you will have to use both hands to really work the butter into the mixture. You want to be left with little pea sized pieces of butter.
Next, add in chopped pecans and combine them into the mixture. Using a large spoon, add spoonfuls on top of the apples and spread it evenly. Finally bake the crisp in the oven at 350°F for 60 minutes or until golden and apples are bubbly.
If you love crisps and have access to fresh peaches, check out Healthier Peach Crisp. My absolute favorite crisp is this Very Berry Crisp!
Easy Healthier Apple Crisp
- 5 large honey crisp apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if needed)
- ¾ cup almond meal
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 8 tablespoons or one stick cold vegan butter (or other butter)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Peel and thinly slice the apples. Put them in a medium sized bowl.
- Add zest of one lemon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Stir to combine.
- Add the apple mixture to a ceramic or Pyrex deep dish pie container or 9 x 9 square baking dish. Save the same bowl for step 5. The apples should be to the top of the dish or even slightly over the top. The apples will cook down a lot, so you want the dish pretty full. If your apples are on the small side, you may need to slice up one additional apple and add to the mixture. Note, there is no need to grease the dish prior to adding the apples.
- In the same bowl you used for the apple mixture,, add 1 cup whole rolled oats, 3/4 cup almond meal, 1/3 cup coconut sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Stir to combine.
- To the oat mixture, add 1/3 cup maple syrup by drizzling it in. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the mixture. Using a pastry cutter or a large serving fork, work the butter into the mixture. You should be left with little pea sized pieces of the butter. Add the pecans and use a spoon to work them in. Spoon the mixture on top of the apples and spread it evenly.
- Bake in the oven for 60 minutes or until top is golden and apples are tender.
- Serve warm with your favorite ice cream or whipped topping. We love coconut based vanilla bean ice cream.
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