Get ready for the best apple crisp of your life, and no it’s really not an exaggeration. This Gluten Free Apple Crisp is the the tastiest and best flavored apple crisp thanks to 1 simple secret; orange juice! That’s right, just a touch of orange juice takes your usual apple crisp right over the top. It’s also naturally gluten-free with a dairy-free and vegan option as well. It’s perfect for fall and always welcome on holidays.
Apple crisp has always been a homey and comforting favorite. It’s the perfect fall dessert. And in my experience, even people who don’t care for sweets much, still love a good apple crisp!
This apple crisp is extra special thanks to some added orange juice. It’s a secret trick I learned from my mother-in-law, and it makes for the best flavor. You’re not really aware of any ‘orange’ flavor, but somehow it transforms an ordinary apple crisp into a crave-worthy dessert.
Orange juice also adds a touch of natural sweetness to the apple filling. And I’ve found I don’t even add any extra sweetener if I’m using McIntosh apples. They have the perfect balance of tart to sweetness paired with a bit of orange juice.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Apples – any baking apple works here. Baking apple means a variety that doesn’t turn into ‘applesauce’ when baked and usually has a bit of tang to it. McIntosh has the best flavor, and Granny Smith apples are also great and widely available.
- Maple Syrup – is my favorite sweetener for the apples, but honey or a bit of coconut sugar works as well. I also leave out the sweetener for the apples when I have McIntosh around. But I do use it if I have Granny Smith’s because they are a bit more tangy.
- Orange Juice – is my go-to ‘secret’ ingredient for the best-tasting apple crisp. You don’t really taste a lot of orange flavor, but it really adds depth! If you don’t have orange juice, 1 tbsp lemon juice also adds depth.
- Cinnamon – is the classic spice for apple crisp both in the filling and a touch in the topping as well.
- Tapioca – just a small amount in the apple filling helps it to thicken when the apples are extra juicy.
- Oats – are classic in a crisp topping, but you’ll find how to make an apple crisp without oats in my Paleo Apple Crisp. If you’re strictly gluten-free, be sure to buy gluten-free oats.
- Butter – coconut oil, or vegan butter all work well here.
- Coconut Sugar – is my favorite choice for the crisp topping. Using coconut sugar keeps the topping crisp rather than maple syrup or honey. You can also use brown sugar here.
- Nuts – are optional and you’ll still have plenty of crunch if you can’t have nuts. I love to use pecans here because I find they have a great flavor with apples.
- Almond Flour – is what I like to use as a gluten-free flour here. However, if you can’t have nuts, try the topping from my Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp which uses oat flour, and you can leave out the nuts called for.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 2: Arrange the apple slices in a baking dish.
Then whisk together the orange juice mixture.
Step 3: Toss the apple slices together with the orange juice mixture.
Step 4: Mix together the dry ingredients for the crisp topping in a large bowl.
Then add the melted butter or coconut oil and mix to combine.
Step 5: Evenly sprinkle the crisp topping over the apples.
Step 6: Bake until the crisp topping is golden browned and the apples have softened into a buttery texture and are bubbling around the edges.
Ways to serve this
- Homemade Coconut Ice Cream or Coconut Whipped Cream for dairy-free options.
- The Best Vanilla Ice Cream or Homemade Whipped Cream for a classic combo.
- Drizzle with my Double Coconut Caramel Sauce for extra decadence.
- Or try my Homemade Maple Ice Cream for extra fall flavor.
- Serve this apple crisp for dessert after classic comfort food dinners like my Slow Cooker Pork Roast, Slow Cooker Pot Roast, Gluten Free Lasagna, Dutch Oven Beef Stew, or Roast Chicken and Vegetables.
- This apple crisp is always part of any Thanksgiving menu I make!
McIntosh or Sweet Sixteen are my go-to choices for the best flavor. Granny Smiths are widely available and the easiest choice for an apple crisp. Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Braeburn are all delicious as well.
Yes, I have a crisp topping option without oats. You can make my crisp topping from my Paleo Caramel Apple Crisp.
The common consensus is YES! definitely refrigerate your apple crisp once it’s completely cooled to room temperature.
Yes, you can freeze apple crisp after it’s been baked and fully cooled. I also make just the topping to freeze ahead to make quick and easy apple crisps. You can also assemble the apple crisp and freeze it before it’s cooked. Defrost in the fridge overnight and let the baking dish sit out on the counter for at least 1 hour before baking to be sure your baking dish doesn’t crack. I use Pyrex glass baking dishes and have never had a problem.
- To store – cool completely and then refrigerate for 3-4 days. The crisp topping will become soft over time.
- Reheating – bake the apple crisp in the oven at 300ºF until warm and the topping has become crisp again for 10-15 minutes.
- To freeze – cool completely and then freeze in a sealed container for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat to crisp up the topping a bit as directed above.
Tips & Tricks
- Make the crisp topping ahead of time and refrigerate for 2-3 days until you’re ready to bake. Or freeze the topping for up to 6 weeks so you can make apple crisp in a flash.
- Use an apple-peeler-corer-slicer to make prepping the apples super fast!
- Make this apple crisp gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. For a dairy-free version, try using coconut or avocado oil instead of butter (or use dairy free/vegan butter). If you can’t have nuts, try omitting the 1 cup nuts in the recipe and add 1/2 cup additional rolled oats.
- Make sure to buy certified gluten-free oats if needed. Oats can be processed in facilities where there is a possibility of contamination with gluten. Bob’s Red Mill has oats that are certified gluten-free and they will be labeled right on the front of the packaging.
I really hope you enjoy this easy Gluten Free Apple Crisp! This dessert brings back memories of Sunday dinners and holiday occasions all ending with apple crisp. So I hope you’ll enjoy having a healthier version too! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Gluten Free Apple Crisp
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup chopped nuts - I use pecans, see notes
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup melted butter - coconut oil, or vegan butter
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF
- Place the sliced apples into a 9″x13″ baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, tapioca starch, and cinnamon until dissolved.
- Then whisk in the vanilla and orange juice before pouring the mixture over the apple slices. Toss to combine.
- For the topping, mix together the almond flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Then stir in the nuts and rolled oats before adding the butter. Mix until the mixture clumps together.
- Using your hands, break up the crisp topping as you crumble it evenly over the surface of the apples.
- Bake the crisp until the apples are tender, the topping is golden brown, and it’s bubbling around the edges, 35-45 minutes.
- Let cool slightly before serving. Or cool completely to serve at room temperature.
This recipe was originally published in 2021 and updated in 2023 with more tips and information.