This is the ultimate healthy apple crisp recipe! It is easy and made from simple, real food ingredients with an option for gluten free and dairy free. Warm tender apples, cinnamon, and a crisp oat topping…the ultimate fall comfort food.
It's apple season! Fall is in the air, kids are back at school, and the leaves are starting to change. And with this comes an abundance of apples. One of my favorite things to make this time of year is this healthy apple crisp. Baked apples with a sweet crisp oat topping… delish! Perfect for fall, but let's be honest... apple crisp should make an appearance all year long.
And if you're looking for more clean eating recipes to make with apples, you need to try my air fryer apples, cashew chicken salad with apples, apple cinnamon oat muffins, and apple kiwi kale smoothie.
What to Love About This Recipe
REAL FOOD - This healthy apple crisp is made with whole grain oats, whole grain oat flour, and coconut sugar. It's free of both refined sugars and refined flours.
LOW ADDED SUGARS - Not only is this apple crisp naturally sweetened, but it's also lower in added sugars compared to most traditional apple crisp recipes.
GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE FRIENDLY - This recipe as written is gluten free and dairy free, but can be customized as needed.
EASY - A few simple steps and only 10 minutes of prep to get this apple crisp ready and in the oven!
A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below. Here are some specific notes and substitutions.
APPLES - The combo of tart and sweet apples is a must when making an apple crisp. I prefer Granny Smith and Honey Crisp, but you could really use any combination of tart and sweet.
COCONUT OIL - Coconut oil is used in the oat topping. Butter can be used as a substitute if you're not needing this to be dairy free. I recommend grass-fed better, such as Kerrygold.
Looking for a good coconut oil? Try Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil; it's my favorite!
OATS - Even though oats are naturally gluten free, they can become contaminated with gluten during processing. If you can't tolerate traces of gluten, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats. One Degree, GF Harvest, and Bob's Red Mill are all great options.
OAT FLOUR - You can make your own oat flour or buy it pre-made. Same as with oats, if you can't tolerate traces of gluten, be sure to use certified gluten free. You can also replace the oat flour with all-purpose flour if not needing this to be gluten free (white whole wheat is recommended).
STARCH - I use arrowroot starch, but tapioca starch or corn starch can be used.
Clean food tip: Apples are on the EWG’s dirty dozen list (meaning they contain the highest amounts of pesticides), so I recommend organic.
Clean food tip: The FDA does not require spice manufacturers to label spices with added ingredients like sugar, salt, colors, or preservatives… so you can’t really be sure what you’re getting with conventional spices. Certified organic spices have more standards. They don’t have anything added, so what you see is what you get. With organic, you can also be sure no chemicals were used in the growing process of the spices.
Clean food tip: Like with most grains, oats are sprayed with glyphosate (an herbicide that’s been linked to increase cancer risk) prior to being harvested. Because of this, organic is best to ensure this herbicide does not make its way onto your oats.
1. In a large bowl, mix the sliced apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, starch, and coconut sugar. Pour apple mixture into a large oven-safe skillet or medium baking dish (9x9 or 9x13).
2. In a small bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, coconut sugar, and cinnamon. Next, add the coconut oil in 1 tsp. sized pieces. Using a pastry cutter, cut the coconut oil into the oats until you have a slight coarse/crumbly mixture (the oil should remain in little clumps). Alternatively, you can use a fork to cut the oil into the mixture. Pour mixture evenly over the apples in the baking dish. Gently pat down to even out the mixture.
3. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the edges are nice and bubble and the topping is golden brown and crisp, it's ready. You can also check the apples to ensure they can easily be pierced with a fork. Make sure apples are nice and tender before removing from the oven.
4. Serve and enjoy!
Expert Tips & Tricks
Chopped walnuts or pecans would be a delicious addition to the topping! Simple mix in with the oats mixture before spreading over the apples.
Slice apples into like sized pieces so they cook evenly. The thinner the better; I recommend between ¼" and ⅓" slices.
Don't use quick cooking oats - your topping will end up on the mushy side. Use rolled oats/old-fashioned oats.
That is totally up to you, but no, you don't need to peel them. Most of the nutrients in apples are found in the skin, so keeping the skin on does add some nutrients to the finished dish. But if you prefer them peeled, go ahead and peel them.
They are both baked fruit desserts, but a "crisp" is typically made with an oat and flour mix for the topping, where a "crumble" is made with just flour and ends up a little clumpier.
Yes, all ingredients are gluten free. However, oats (and oat flour) can become contaminated with gluten during processing, so if gluten is an issue for you, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats and oat flour.
Firm and crisp apples are best as these hold up better while baking. I like to use a mix of sweet and tart apples, like Granny Smith and Honeycrisp. Fuji, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, and Gala are other great choices.
Storage & Reheating Guidelines
Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and will stay good for up to 5 days. This can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
To reheat, you can heat in the microwave until just heated through or you can throw back in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.
The topping will soften when stored after baking, so it is best to eat this fresh.
What Makes This Apple Crisp Healthy?
This healthy apple crisp is made using whole unrefined ingredients. The crisp topping uses both rolled oats and oat flour, which are whole grains, compared to traditional apple crisp which is made with refined white flour.
In addition, it's minimally sweetened with coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is considered a natural sweetener as it does not go through as much processing as white sugar does, thus retaining more nutrients. Note that this does not mean it's a health food - it's still sugar and should still be consumed in moderation.
Coconut sugar is also low on the glycemic index, meaning it has a lower effect on your blood sugar levels. Food Science & Nutrition suggests coconut sugar has a GI of 35, while white sugar can range from 58-82 (out of 100).
More Better-for-You Dessert Recipes
If you make this healthy apple crisp recipe, please let me know what you think! Leave a comment below and/or share a photo on Instagram and mention @CleanPlateMama!
Healthy Apple Crisp
- 1 oven safe skillet or baking dish
- 2 mixing bowls
Ingredients for Apple Filling
- 5 Granny Smith apples, cut into ¼" slices (4 if they are on the large side)
- 3 Honey Crisp apples, cut into ¼" slices (2 if they are on the large side)
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. arrowroot starch
- ¼ cup coconut sugar (also called coconut palm sugar)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a large oven safe skillet or baking dish. If not using cast iron, lightly grease the baking dish.
- In a large bowl, mix the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, starch, and coconut sugar. Pour apple mixture into prepared baking dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, coconut sugar, and cinnamon. Next, add the coconut oil (or butter) in 1 tsp. sized pieces. Using a pastry cutter, cut the coconut oil into the oats until you have a slight coarse/crumbly mixture (the oil should remain in little clumps). Alternatively, you can use a fork to cut the oil into the mixture. Pour mixture evenly over the apples in the baking dish. Gently pat down to even out the mixture.
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Edges should be nice and bubbly and topping should be golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly. Best if served warm.
- I use a 12" cast iron skillet when making this recipe. You can use any medium sized baking dish (9x9 or 9x13 are good sizes).
- I like using honey crisp apples for the sweet apples, but you could use Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, or any other sweet crisp apple.
- You can peel the apples or leave the skin on - totally your preference. Most people like them peeled.
- Slice apples into like sized pieces so they cook evenly.
- Use rolled oats for the topping, not quick cooking oats.
- I use arrowroot starch in this recipe, but tapioca starch or corn starch could be used in it's place.
- Check that apples can be easily pierced with a fork before removing from the oven.