How to Make Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

Fruit crisps are our favorite kind of dessert: easy, adaptable and delicious with a scoop of ice cream. Here's how to make a gluten-free apple crisp, plus some easy variations.

With its crisp topping and sweet, jammy filling, fruit crisps are one of our favorite fall baking recipes. Since the topping heavily features oats, you might think all crisps are gluten-free—but they’re not! Luckily, it’s easy to make a gluten-free apple crisp, and the recipe is flexible enough to adapt to any fruit that’s in season. While you’re at it, you might like to take a look at these healthy apple recipes, too.

Key Ingredients in Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

Crisp Apples

Obvious, right? Until you get to the farmer’s market or grocery store and face a dozen types of apples.

The best type of apple for a crisp is a firm apple with a tart, or at least slightly tart, flavor which will mellow and sweeten during baking. When cooking with apples, think classic Granny Smith, Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, as well as Cortland, Empire or Northern Spy varieties. Avoid grainier, softer apples, like Gala or Red Delicious.

Certified Gluten-Free Oats

While oats are technically gluten-free, they’re often harvested, transported and processed alongside wheat. Because of the high risk of cross-contamination, whole grain oats and oat flour are often specially processed to ensure that they’re safe for those avoiding gluten. These oats will be labeled as “certified gluten-free.”

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix

The topping contains both oats and gluten-free flour mix, which makes for a finer, crispier crumb. This recipe is fairly forgiving of which flour you choose. Make a homemade gluten-free flour mix, or try a store-bought blend. You can even use the GF flour already in your pantry, such as white or brown rice, or gluten-free oat flour.

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp Recipe

This recipe was submitted by Taste of Home Community Cook Courtney Stultz.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 6 medium), cubed
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats, certified gluten-free
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream, optional

Directions

Step 1: Prep the fruit

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Apple crisp comes together quickly, so preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 13-x-9-in. baking dish. Set aside.

Peel the apples, then slice and cube them. The apple pieces should be fairly chunky, so they don’t completely dissolve during baking.

Step 2: Flavor the apples

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In a large bowl, combine the apples with sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss together until the apple slices are evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.

Step 3: Make the topping

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In a separate large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, flour and salt.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture, working with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the flour mix is moistened but not entirely homogenous. The final texture should resemble coarse crumbs or sand.

Step 4: Sprinkle the apples

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Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apples. It’s easiest to use a teaspoon or your fingers. Aim for a fairly even distribution, but it’s OK if it’s a bit rustic.

Step 5: Bake

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown and the apples are tender, about 40-45 minutes.

Serve warm. If desired, top with whipped cream or ice cream. Leftovers are delicious reheated or served straight from the fridge.

Tips for Making Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

How can I store apple crisp?

Apple crisp is a great gluten-free potluck dessert to share, as it travels well, and tastes good warm, cold or at room temperature. Store leftover apple crisp in the refrigerator, covered. It will keep for a few days, although the topping will get slightly softer over time. Reheat in the microwave or serve cold. Fruit crisp doesn’t freeze well.

Can you use other kinds of gluten-free flour?

As mentioned above, crisps are very flexible in terms of which flours to use. The most affordable option is usually making a homemade mix, but any store-bought blend will work, too. You can even add a couple tablespoons of a nut flour for added flavor and coarser texture.

What can you serve with apple crisp?

Apple crisp is delicious warm from the oven alongside a scoop of ice cream: vanilla and salted caramel are some of our favorites. You can’t go wrong with whipped cream either. One of my personal favorites, though, is to eat a bowl of cold leftover apple crisp for breakfast with a scoop of plain yogurt.

Can I add mix-ins to apple crisp?

Go ahead and mix up the recipe if you like. Chopped nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, are tasty in the topping. Dried fruits, like raisins or currants, can be mixed into the fruit filling.

Why did the apple crisp turn out not crispy?

Drat! Few things are sadder than a soggy apple crisp. You can try to boost crispiness by toasting the crisp under the broiler for a moment—watch closely, as the topping can scorch quickly.

Next time, take good care to work the butter through the flour. If large portions of the flour and oats aren’t blended with butter, they’ll either sink into the fruit filling and taste soggy, or they’ll simply taste…sandy. If your topping seems too dry, add a tablespoon of melted butter and toss again before topping the crisp.

How can you thicken the filling in gluten-free apple crisp?

If your fruit mix seems especially juicy, you can thicken it up by adding a tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix well. The starch will soak up the excess liquid and thicken it. No cornstarch? Use a tablespoon of all-purpose GF flour mix.

Can you make this gluten-free apple crisp dairy-free?

Absolutely! Simply replace the butter in the recipe with your favorite vegan butter. Our top vegan butter brands are good for both baking and spreading.

Can you use this recipe to make other fruit crisps?

Definitely! While apple desserts are among our favorite, many fruits work well in crisps. Substitute the apples in this recipe with an equal volume (8 cups) of the fruit of your choice. Use ripe (or overripe) fruits for the best results. Pears, peaches, plums and most stone fruits work beautifully. Berries make for a jammy-style filling when used alone, or combine berries with pears, peaches or apples. Avoid bananas and other tropical fruits, like pineapple, which aren’t high in moisture.

Kelsey Dimberg
A former senior digital editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Chicago. Since 2010, she’s followed a gluten-free diet, and especially enjoys the challenge of baking sourdough bread and pizza dough. As a contributing writer for Taste of Home, she covers a broad range of topics but with a special emphasis on gluten-free cooking and baking. Outside of her gluten-free experiments in the kitchen, Kelsey is also the author of the thriller novel “Girl in the Rearview Mirror.”