My healthy apple crisp recipe is lightly sweetened, full of warm spices, and has a crunchy, nutty oat topping that’s addictive on its own. I’ve scaled back the sugar and I promise you won’t miss it! You can feel good about indulging in a bowl of this apple crisp topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Apples are one of the greatest fruits to bake with (in my humble opinion). They’re available year round, in a multitude of varieties, and are inexpensive. The right apples bake down sweet, so you really don’t need a lot of added sugar.
This healthy apple crisp comes together in 30 minutes, is vegan, dairy free, and low in sugar. It can also be made gluten free. It’s the perfect fall or holiday dessert, but you’ll be making this all year round!
What Makes this Apple Crisp Healthy?
It’s low in sugar. We embrace the natural flavor and sweetness of apples, and cut the sugar back significantly. I eliminate refined sugar in the topping, replacing it with maple syrup.
No refined grains. The topping is made with rolled oats, almond flour, and Grape-Nuts cereal for a little extra crunch.
It’s full of healthy fats. Chia seeds, almond flour, chopped almonds add a boost of healthy fats.
It’s vegan. Okay, so this doesn’t necessarily make it healthier, but it’s an added bonus!
What’s in the Apple Crisp?
Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list! You can find most of these ingredients in your pantry, and this recipe is easy to customize with substitutions or modifications.
- Apples – I like to use a mix of baking apples. Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Pink Lady or Jonagold all work well! Normally I like to bake with Granny Smith, but they tend to be a bit too tart for this recipe. Go with a sweeter variety. Feel free to leave some skin on!
- Brown Sugar – I use this because it’s readily available, and has a slight caramel flavor which adds a little complexity. Light or dark works just fine.
- Cornstarch – This helps thicken the apple mixture.
- Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt – I prefer the pure taste. Morton’s is far saltier so you need to cut the salt back if you’re using that instead.
- Chia seeds – An optional, but the layer of texture they add is wonderful.
- Ground Cinnamon – Can’t have an apple crisp without it!
- Ground Nutmeg – A pinch of this spice adds a warm nutty flavor.
- Fresh Lemon Juice – I like to add this for the flavor. There’s some debate if it’s really necessary in apple crisp, but I think it brings balance to the final result.
- Vanilla Extract – The warmth of vanilla extract supplements this recipe.
- Old Fashioned Rolled Oats – DO NOT USE steal cut oats! I also don’t recommend quick cook oats for this recipe (too mushy in the end).
- Grape-Nuts – Honestly, this cereal is so crunch and weirdly addictive in this recipe. Grape-Nuts are slightly nutty and woodsy in taste. If you can’t find this cereal, skip it and use more oats or almonds in its place.
- Slice Almonds – You can also use another chopped nut like walnuts or pecans.
- Almond Flour – Lower in carbs and more nutrient dense than other flours. I love almond flour’s deliciously nutty flavor.
- Pure Maple Syrup – If you’re not vegan you could swap this out for honey. Taste-wise, I prefer maple-syrup because of it’s complex woodsy and vanilla flavor. Honey is more floral, but certainly could be used.
- Coconut Oil – This recipe is vegan so we’re using coconut oil here, but you can swap it out for melted butter in the same quantities. I don’t buy the health craze around coconut oil, but I like to use it in baking sometimes.
- Unsweetened Shredded Coconut – Don’t skip this if you can avoid it! Coconut is nutty and refreshing. If you only have sweetened shredded coconut, that’s fine too (and probably super delicious!).
How to Make Healthy Apple Crisp:
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prep your baking dish. I often use a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, but a 9 x 9-inch or 8 x 8-inch could work (just increase the baking time). I spray the dish lightly with non-stick baking spray.
- Peel, core, and slice your apples. I like to use a pairing knife, but a vegetable peeler or apple peeler work fine too. For this recipe, I cut the apple pieces approximately 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. If the slices are long, I like to cut a few into shorter, 1 inch long pieces. Personal preference!
- Make the apple filling. In a large bowl, toss the apples evenly with the cornstarch, sugar, spices, vanilla, chia seeds, and lemon juice. Using your hands, gently massage the mixture to ensure the apples are evenly coated.
- Layer the apple. mixture evenly in the baking dish. Don’t worry about pressing the apples down.
- Make the crumb topping. In a medium bowl (or the same bowl you used for the apples), mix all the topping ingredients together until well-combined. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the apples.
- Cover the apple crisp. Using tin foil, cover the apple crisp. This step helps to lock in moisture, and prevents the top from browning while the apples bake. Poke a few holes in the tin foil to allow some steam to be released. Bake for 30-40 minutes (If using a smaller pan, err on the side of 40-45 minutes).
- Uncover the apple crisp. For the last 10-15 minutes, uncover the apple crisp. This will let the crisp topping to brown a bit!
- Check for doneness. You’ll know the apple crisp is done for sure when the apples are fork tender.
- Let cool, and enjoy! Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack. Let it sit for a few minutes to firm up. Enjoy with your favorite ice cream, whipped topping, or creamy greek yogurt!
Substitutions and Modifications
I love recipes that are easy to modify. This recipe is very easy to modify according to dietary restrictions, preference, and taking into consideration what you have on hand.
- Substitute the brown sugar for coconut sugar, white sugar, or natural cane sugar.
- Substitute coconut oil for butter. Easy swap! Just use the same amount of butter.
- Amp up the spices! If you want to add even more layers of flavor, add a dash of cardamom, cloves, or allspice.
- Like a little extra texture? Add a quarter cup of raisins to the apple mixture.
- No chia seeds? Skip them! I like them for the texture but the recipe works fine without them.
- Using a smaller baking dish? This recipes uses a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. I have made this using an 8 x 8 and 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Both wok great, but you have to adjust the time. The smaller the baking dish, the more time it will take for the apples to cook. Check the doneness on the apples after
- Can I make this ahead of time? Yes and no. Make the apple filling per the instructions and put them in the baking dish. You can mix the dry ingredients together for the crumb topping, but hold off on adding the wet ingredients until you are ready to bake it. If you mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients too far in advance, they’ll lose some of the crunch (it will still taste just as good!). Allow the apples to come to room temp before baking.
- How do I reheat it? It’s just as delicious cold, but if you want to warm it up just bake it uncovered for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until warmed.
- Can I freeze this recipe? Absolutely! I will make a batch of this, eat half, and put the rest in the freezer. I like to transfer the crisp to individual small airtight containers so I can remove one serving at a time. You can also freeze the whole dish by covering it tightly with plastic wrap, then tin toil. It will last in the freezer for about 3 months. To reheat, simply allow it to defrost in the refrigerator, and then bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes until warmed through. Or eat it cold!
- Can I eat this for breakfast? Is that even a question?
Healthy Apple Crisp
- 1 9 x 13 glass baking dish,
- 6-7 cups baking apples (about 7 medium), peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, substitute raw or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds, chopped
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup, or honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (substitute butter)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (see notes)
- Preheat your oven to 375° F. While the oven is preheating, grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Peel and slice your apples. The slices should be approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- To make the apple filling: In a large bowl, toss the apple chunks with cornstarch. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds, and lemon juice. Spread the mixture into the baking dish evenly .
- To make the crisp topping: In a medium bowl, stir the oats, grape nuts, almonds, almond flour, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and salt.
- Sprinkle the crisp topping over the apple filling evenly. Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes. When the apples are fork tender, it is ready.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack for a few minutes before you cut into it. This allows the apples time to firm up. The crisp can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months (see notes).
- Baking Apples - Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Honeycrisp are a few of my favorites.
- If you use unsweetened coconut FLAKES, make sure to chop them up a bit before mixing them in.
- If you don't want to use Grape-Nuts, add another 1/4 cup of oats or chopped nuts.
- If you are using Morton's Kosher salt, halve the salt (1/8 teaspoon). Do not use iodized table salt.
- If you're using an 8 x 8-inch baking dish, increase the cooking time by approximately 10 - 15 minutes.
- Reheating Instructions: Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
- Freezing Instructions: Allow the crisp to cool completely to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container. Alternatively, you can cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and then foil before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator and then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warmed through (about 20 minutes).