Are you overly excited for fall and ready for apple season? Good, me too! Let’s make apple crisp together.
Wait, even better… let’s make a healthy apple crisp with a crunchy cinnamon pecan oat topping. You down?
Look, I love apple crisp for a variety of reasons. It’s cozy, comforting, a little bit nostalgic and much easier to make than homemade apple pie. Plus who doesn’t love the texture component of the perfectly sweet, crunchy topping? It’s everything you could want in a dessert.
I originally made this healthier apple crisp a few years ago and haven’t looked back since. You’d never know it was a little better for you either! I’ve lightened it up just enough for you to enjoy and still feel like it’s something really special coming out of your oven. Warm apples, delicious maple pecan flavor, what more do you need?! Get the vanilla ice cream ready it’s time to dig in.
What makes this apple crisp healthier?
Instead of using regular sugar like most apple crisp recipes call for, I used maple syrup in the filling. The recipe doesn’t call for much but when all is said and done, it ends up being the perfect amount of sweetness. We’re also adding a boost of whole grains thanks to whole wheat flour, and I’ve included simple ways to keep this recipe gluten free and dairy free (while still being delicious).
Ingredients in this healthy apple crisp recipe
If you’ve never made homemade apple crisp before, you are seriously in for a treat. It only requires a few staple ingredients & spices but the result is absolutely incredible. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Flour: I like to use whole wheat pastry flour for the lovely boost of whole grains, but you can also use regular flour, gluten free oat flour, or almond flour. Options for everyone! If you use oat flour, feel free to make your own right at home, too.
- Oats: you’ll also need some rolled oats (gluten free if desired) for that crunchy topping.
- Brown sugar: we’re sweetening that delicious topping with some dark brown sugar. You can also use coconut sugar to keep the recipe refined sugar free.
- Pecans: hello, pecan oat topping! I love the flavor that crunchy pecans add to the topping.
- Spices: for the entire crisp you’ll just need some cinnamon, salt and a little nutmeg. Fall flavors, ILYSM.
- Butter: a little cold butter helps the topping hold that crumble texture. Feel free to use vegan butter or coconut oil to keep the apple crisp vegan & dairy free.
- Apples: I love using a mix of granny smith or honeycrisp but I’m sure it will work with whatever apples you have available.
- Secret ingredient: the filling also calls for a little bourbon, but you can swap that for vanilla if you’d like. Either way, this apple crisp is going to make your belly (and heart) very, very happy.
How to make the best healthy apple crisp
- Prep your pan. Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan or a 9 inch skillet with cooking spray, an preheat you oven to 350 degrees F.
- Make the topping. You’ll then want to combine all of the ingredients for the crunchy oat topping. Pour in the butter (or coconut oil) and combine the mixture with your hands until nice crumbles form that resemble wet sand. Pop that in the fridge.
- Make the apple filling. Toss together the sliced apples, maple syrup, spices and bourbon and let the marinate in the bowl for a few minutes to soak up the flavors.
- Assemble the crisp. Add 1/3 of the topping to the bowl with the filling and toss it together. Place all of this into your prepared pan and sprinkle on the rest of the topping.
- Bake, cool & serve! Finally, bake the crisp on a baking sheet (in case the filling bubbles over) until golden brown. Let it cool and serve with vanilla ice cream for the ultimate treat!
Make it ahead of time
Yes, you can make this healthy apple crisp ahead of time! Simply prepare it as directed, cover your pan or skillet with foil, place it in the refrigerator and then bake it as directed before you’re ready to serve. Easy!
Store your leftovers
- In the fridge: store any leftover apple crisp in an airtight container in the fridge. Simply warm it up a bit in the microwave or enjoy cold straight from the fridge.
- In the freezer: yes, this healthy apple crisp is freezer-friendly! Assemble the apple crisp but do not bake it. Cover the crisp well with aluminum foil and transfer it to the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake the frozen apple crisp at 350 degrees for about an hour or until it’s golden and bubbly.
More crisps & crumbles to try
- Gluten Free Peach Crisp with Salted Coconut Milk Caramel
- Apple Pie Bars with Salted Peanut Butter Caramel
- Cinnamon Walnut Pear Crisp
- Almond Flour Blackberry Crisp for Two! (gluten free)
- Tart Cherry Pie Bars with Oatmeal Crumble (vegan + gluten free)
Get all of our delicious crisp & crumble recipes here!
I hope you all get a chance to make this healthy apple crisp recipe very soon because it’s truly one of my favorites! Put on a good playlist and bake your heart out. It’s easier to make than pie and when the time comes, would be a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving table. My favorite way to serve it is with vanilla bean ice cream because why not?!
If you make this healthy apple crisp, be sure to rate the recipe below and leave a comment below! And if you’d like you can tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram with a photo of your creation. xo!
Healthy Apple Crisp
The best healthy apple crisp recipe that's naturally sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar and topped with a crunchy oat pecan topping. Serve this delicious apple crisp warm with vanilla bean ice cream. The perfect way to use up fall apples!
- For the topping:
- 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or regular flour or gluten free oat flour or almond flour)
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, gluten free if desired
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (can also sub coconut sugar but brown sugar is best)
- 1/2 cup raw chopped pecans
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cold butter or vegan buttery stick, cut into very small cubes (can also use coconut oil)
- For the crisp:
- 5-6 medium Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (or pure vanilla extract)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease an 8x8 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
To make the topping: Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pecans in a large bowl until well-combined. Add in the pieces of butter and use your hands to squeeze and combine until the mixture becomes crumbly and resembles wet sand. (Alternatively, you can cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or place all of the topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse until just blended. My favorite method is to use my hands, as I believe you get the best crumbly topping that way.)
Once finished, place topping in the fridge and begin making the apple filling.
To make the filling: Place apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and bourbon (or vanilla) in a large bowl and toss to combine. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Take 1/3 cup of the topping mixture and toss with the apple mixture. Place the apple mixture in prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with topping.
Bake the crisp on a baking sheet (just in case the filling bubbles over!) for 45-55 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm with your favorite vanilla ice cream. Makes 9 servings.
To make gluten free: in the topping, use certified gluten free oats and almond flour or an all purpose gluten free flour or gluten free oat flour.
To make vegan: sub a buttery vegan stick for the butter or use coconut oil.
Make it ahead of time: simply prepare it as directed, cover your pan or skillet with foil, place it in the refrigerator and then bake it as directed before you're ready to serve. Easy!
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Sarah Fennel // Broma Bakery
This post was originally published on September 16, 2018, and republished on September 2, 2021.