Recipe: Healthy Apple Crisp

Dessert Recipes

By: Deborah Murphy, MS, RD, LDN


Is there anything more crave-worthy on a chilly fall day than a bowl of warm apple crisp? This healthy apple crisp recipe has a lot less added sugar than most traditional apple crisp recipes, but is still just as delicious!

Homemade apple crisp is one of my all time favorite desserts.  Every year as a little girl growing up, I used to ask for an apple crisp instead of a regular birthday cake. It has always been my signature dessert!

This Thanksgiving, I wanted to try a new extra delicious apple crisp to serve my family that also wasn’t loaded with sugar. This classic fall dessert recipe uses a little bit of maple syrup in the filling to add natural sweetness. It might just be the best healthy apple crisp you will ever have!

Ingredients You’ll Need

healthy apple crisp ingredients in small bowls on a white background.
  • Apples: for best results, try to use a firm variety of apple with tart-sweet flavor. Some of our favorite apple varieties include: honeycrisp apples, jonagold, braeburn, golden delicious or fuji.
  • Maple Syrup: instead of granulated white sugar, we use pure maple syrup to sweeten the filling for this healthier apple crisp. The subtle flavor of the maple is delicious when paired with the apple and cinnamon.
  • Cinnamon: ground cinnamon is the quintessential spice for all kinds of fall dessert recipes like apple crisp. You’ll use a bit in both the filling and the crisp topping for plenty of cinnamon flavor. 
  • Rolled Oats: we used old-fashioned oats to make the classic crisp topping for this fall dessert. You can also use quick oats in a pinch. 
  • Almond Flour: instead of all purpose flour, we used almond flour in the crisp topping because it makes for a crisp-tender, melt in your mouth crumbles. 
  • Walnuts: add a bit of crunch as well as heart healthy fats by adding some chopped walnuts to your crisp topping. If you don’t like walnuts, you can also use chopped walnuts or slivered almonds.

See recipe card below for full ingredient list and directions. 

Variations

  • Make it Vegan: use a vegan butter or solid coconut oil for the crisp topping instead of butter to make a vegan apple crisp. 
  • Make it Gluten Free: use cornstarch or tapioca flour instead of the flour in the filling and gluten free rolled oats for a gluten free apple crisp.
  • Make it Nut Free: skip the walnuts and use all purpose flour instead of the almond flour in the crisp topping.
baked healthy apple crisp in skillet topped with 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream.

What are the Best Apples for Apple Crisp?

We think the best apples for crisp are those with a firm texture and a sweet-tart flavor. Some varieties of tender apples fall apart too much when baking. You can also use a combination of two varieties of apples for crisp; 3-4 sweet apples and 3-4 tart apples.

Here are the best apples for apple crisp in our opinion: honeycrisp, braeburn, jonagold, golden delicious, fuji, or pink lady.

How to Cut Apples for Crisp

  • Peel your apples: we have tried making this easy apple crisp without peeling the apples, but the texture of the filling is so much better with peeled apples that we recommend taking the extra step to peel them. 
  • Slice the flesh from the core: after your apples are all peeled, stand them up and cut them into 4 large pieces around the core. (You can also use this handy appliance which peels and cores your apples!)
  • Thinly slice: thinly slice your apples and then cut in half to make bite sized pieces for your apple crisp.

How to Make Apple Crisp

collage of 3 images for making the apple crisp: one with apples and spices in a bowl, second with topping mixed in a bowl, third with assembled crisp in a skillet.
  • Make the Filling: peel and slice your apples and then toss with the maple syrup, lemon juice, flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Transfer apple filling to a skillet or 8”x 8” glass baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. 
  • Make the Crumble Topping: while the apples are in the oven, make the crumb topping by mixing together the oats, almond flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, walnuts, and salt in a medium bowl. Use a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers to distribute the butter through the topping and form pea sized pieces/crumbs. Spread the mixture over the partially cooked apple mixture. 
  • Bake and Serve: Bake for another 35-40 minutes or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. Cover with foil halfway through to make sure the topping doesn’t get too brown. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Can you substitute steel cut oats for rolled oats in apple crisp?

No, you can’t substitute regular steel cut oats for rolled oats in apple crisp because they do not soften enough to be used as a topping for crisp. However, if you can find quick cooking steel cut oats, these can be used in place of rolled oats since they have been partially cooked. 

healthy apple crisp dished into a low bowl and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Storage and Make Ahead

  • Fridge: store any leftover apple crisp in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Enjoy the leftovers cold or reheat for a few seconds in the microwave.
  • Freezer: allow leftovers to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze the whole baked crisp, wrap the whole baking pan in plastic wrap before freezing. To prepare from frozen, thaw overnight before baking (covered) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Make Ahead: assemble the crisp and then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking. You can also freeze the whole unbaked crisp for up to 3 months then bake according to the recipe directions.

More Fall-Inspired Recipes You’ll Love

Make This Recipe

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 8 serving(s)

Ingredients

  • 6 apples, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (or cornstarch if gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Dash of sea salt
  • For the Crumble Topping
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut oil or vegan butter
  • ⅓ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the apple ingredients and toss to coat. Transfer to an 8”x8” baking dish. Shake pan to spread apples into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. While the apples start to bake, make the topping by combining all of the crumb topping ingredients in a bowl. Use your fingers to break up the coconut oil/butter and spread through the mixture until crumbly. Evenly pour topping over the top of the apples.
  3. Bake for another 35-40 minutes or until the topping is browned and you can easily poke through the apple filling with a knife. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 284

Protein: 3 gram(s)

Fat: 11 gram(s)

Carbohydrates: 48 gram(s)

Fiber: 5 gram(s)

Sugar: 29 gram(s)

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