Warm cinnamon-spiced gluten-free apple crisp with an easy almond oat topping that tastes like cookie crumbs. Serve this classic fall dessert warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
It's rather bizarre to observe the shifting of seasons without trips to the grocery store marking the entrance of fall produce. (Hi, we're still over here in the Bay Area only ordering grocery delivery and, thanks to wildfire smoke, hardly ever leaving our house at all).
I'm assuming apples, pears, and pumpkins have replaced summer's stone fruit on the entrance display, but I don't actually know. It's been months since I stepped foot in a grocery store. And I miss it. I miss the glee at seeing a new season's fruit varietals come in, like I'm greeting an old friend who moved far away.
The calendar tells me it's fall though, which means it's time to start baking apples (followed by pumpkin, probably). Even if it's sweltering hot inside our house right now and we can't open any windows, the time is here for cinnamon to waft through the house every damn day.
Easy Gluten-Free Apple Crisp Recipe
That's where this gluten-free apple crisp recipe swoops in! It's the world's easiest gluten-free apple crisp. So if you're currently riddled with stress, anxiety, or general malaise, and/or are too busy facilitating distance-learning with no energy or free time to bake something more time-intensive like gluten-free cinnamon rolls and vegan gluten-free caramel apple pie, I've got you. This crisp comes together super quickly.
(Also, what's "free time" anymore?)
Top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you've got yourself a classic fall dessert to mark the transition of seasons. Low-stress, high pay-off.
(And if you're even shorter on time, use my quick stovetop gluten-free berry crisp recipe and sub in apples and cinnamon! The apples will take about 10 minutes longer to cook than berries, but speed it up by chopping the apples into ½-inch to 1-inch chunks.)
Gluten-Free Apple Crumble
I minorly adapted this gluten-free apple crisp recipe from my gluten-free brown sugar peach crumble recipe from a couple of summers ago.
So which is it - apple crumble or apple crisp? I share my research on this distinction over here, but the bottom line is: the jury's still out on the difference between the two, so call it whatever you want.
I'll call it my favorite quick topping for any cooked fruit and a permanent recipe in my autumnal rotation.
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp Topping with Almond Flour
The buttery crisp topping is made with a combination of almond flour, oat flour, sweet rice flour, and corn starch folded up with rolled oats. The result is a crisp cookie-like crumbly topping with the comforting flavor of oats.
Oat Flour: if you're sensitive to gluten or serving someone with Celiac, make sure you use gluten-free rolled oats and oat flour. If you don't have oat flour, you can easily grind up rolled oats in a high-speed blender or food processor.
If you prefer a finer crispy topping on top, crumble the topping between your fingers more while sprinkling it over the apples. If, like me, you prefer larger chunks that resemble cookie crumbles, clump the topping between your fingers while sprinkling it over the apples.
What Apples are Best for Apple Crisp?
My favorite apples for gluten-free apple crisp are honeycrisp (and no, not just because it has "crisp" in the name). They're a crisp firm apple that beautifully balances sweet and tart. I could eat honey crisp apples with a sprinkling of cinnamon for dessert, so it's no wonder I love them in apple crisp!
Granny smith apples are also a great choice, as their natural tartness balances a dessert nicely.
Alternatively, you can use pink ladies or golden delicious or any other tart or sweet apple, just as long as it's a crisp apple that will hold up against the heat of baking.
Do you need to peel apples for apple crisp?
Whether or not you peel apples for apple crisp is a matter of personal preference. I opt to peel the apples because I prefer the soft melt-in-your-mouth texture of baked apples when peeled. If you don't mind the texture of the peel, by all means, keep it on!
How to Make Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
Let's go over the basics. First, toss peeled sliced apples with brown sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. You may be wondering why we added lemon juice to the filling. Besides keeping the apples from oxidizing while you wait, the lemon juice actually helps draw out and thicken the juices from the apple - science!
Dump the spiced apples into a baking dish, dot with butter, and give them a 5-minute head start in the oven.
Next, combine the crumble ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor, until it clumps together (note: if using a food processor, wait to add the oats).
Sprinkle the clumps over the warm apples and then bake 40-45 minutes longer.
I'm not sure there's a quintessential fall dessert that's much simpler than that!
Make-Ahead Apple Crisp
If you want to save even more time, you can make the crumbles entirely in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. You can use them straight from the fridge, but if storing them in the freezer, be sure to defrost them on the counter first.
You can also slice your apples up to a day in advance, tossing them in the lemon juice. Wait to add the sugar corn starch, and spices until you're ready to assemble to prevent the apples from releasing too much liquid.
When you're ready, toss the apples with remaining ingredients, top with crumbles, and bake!
More Gluten-Free Apple Recipes
Here are a few of our favorite gluten-free apple desserts to get you in the fall mood.
- Gluten-Free German Apple Cake
- Vegan Gluten-Free Caramel Apple Pie with Crisp Topping
- Vanilla Bean Pear, Apple, Persimmon Pie
- Arugula Apple Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
- Apple, Cheddar, and Caramelized Onion Galettes with Gluten-free Buckweat Crust
- Sparkling Ginger Apple Punch with Muddled Cranberries
- 2¾lbs whole baking apples, such as honeycrisp or granny smith (about 7 apples)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed
Gluten-Free Almond Oat Crisp Topping
- 75g (¾ cup) gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
- 56g (½ cup) super-fine blanched almond flour
- 30g (3 tablespoons) sweet rice flour (different from "white rice flour" or "brown rice flour"
- 27g (¼ cup) gluten-free oat flour (see note)
- 12g (1½ tablespoon) corn starch
- 76g (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, prepare the apple filling. Peel the apples then cut them from the core (see note about peeling below). Slice them ¼ to ½ inch thick and place them in a large bowl. You should have about 2¼lbs peeled and sliced apples.
- Add the brown sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt, and toss well to combine. Pour the apples into a 2-quart baking dish, pan, or pie pan (I used a 7x10 baking dish). Evenly place butter chunks over the top. Place pan on a large baking sheet to catch leaks, and bake the apples for 5 minutes, until the butter melts.
- Meanwhile, combine rolled oats, almond flour, sweet rice flour, oat flour, corn starch, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cold butter and vanilla extract and beat or mix on medium-low speed until the dough clumps together when pinched. If working by hand, cut in the butter by hand or with a pastry cutter and mix until the butter incorporates and the dough clumps together when pinched. Note: You may also use a food processor for this step, and if doing so, wait to add the rolled oats until the end. Once the dough clumps together, work in the oats by hand, pinching the dough into clumps.
- Top warm apples with crumbles of the dough and bake for 40-45 more minutes, until the apple filling is bubbling and the crumbles are golden brown.
- Serve warm topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Apples: Whether or not you peel your apples is a matter of personal preference. If you don't mind the texture of the skin when baked, then by all means, leave it on. I personally recommend peeling it to get the most melt-in-your-mouth texture of your apple filling.
Oat flour: If you don't have oat flour, you can make your own by blending gluten-free rolled oats in a food processor or high-speed blender until finely ground.
Storing: Store any leftovers in an airtight contanier in the fridge for up to 2 days.