Vegan Life > Recipes > Desserts & Sweets > Perfect Vegan Apple Crisp (With Gluten-Free Option)

Perfect Vegan Apple Crisp (With Gluten-Free Option) A Classic Fall Dessert Made Vegan

September 28, 2020

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A skillet of apple crisp with vegan vanilla ice cream on top, surrounded by apples and cinnamon sticks, and a plate of apple crisp.

Apple crisp is one of my favorite desserts of all time. The tangy apples, sweet brown sugar and cinnamon, combined with a crumbly, crunchy oat topping make the perfect companion to my non-dairy vanilla ice cream.

Today I live in Miami, where it's warm year-round. But when the calendar reads October, I start daydreaming of picking apples at the apple orchard and taking hayrides in the crisp fall air. And, of course, making the perfect fall dessert: apple crisp.

I made eight versions of this vegan apple crisp recipe before I got it just right. Some methods called for melting the vegan butter in the crumbly topping. But that resulted in a gritty, sand-like texture, instead of the classic crunchy, crumbly topping. So I stuck with the classic method of cutting in cold butter. This produced the best topping, even with vegan butter.

Pouring caramel sauce on top of a skillet of apple crisp with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream.
Vegan vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce are delicious with this apple crisp. This caramel sauce is a simple homemade one with equal parts coconut cream and brown sugar, and a little cornstarch, heated in a saucepan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of apple should I use? The best apples for this recipe are tart apples like Granny Smith. You could also use a slightly sweeter apple like Pink Lady apples, Honeycrisp apples, Ambrosia Apples, or Gala Apples. If you use sweet apples, I recommend cutting the amount of sugar in the filling to 1/4 cup instead of 1/3 cup.

Can I use cold coconut oil instead of vegan butter? You technically could, but it won't produce the same flavorful crisp topping as vegan butter.

How can I make this recipe gluten-free? For a gluten-free apple crisp, use gluten-free oats and oat flour instead of regular oats and all-purpose flour. You'll need to increase the amount of oat flour (as noted in the recipe), because the oat flour doesn't absorb as much moisture as the all-purpose flour does. If you use a lower amount of oat flour, your topping will be more like a crunchy, chewy caramel than a traditional apple crisp. (But if that's what you want, go for it!) The gluten-free version does have a very slightly different texture than the regular version. But you probably wouldn't notice unless you tasted them side by side.

Perfect Vegan Apple Crisp (With Gluten-Free Option)

Yield8-10 Servings

Prep Time70 minutes

Cook Time40 minutes

Total Time110 minutes

Ingredients

  • 7 cup apples, peeled and chopped (I recommend Granny Smith apples)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegan brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or 1 cup / 90 g. oat flour for gluten-free option)
  • 3/4 cup vegan brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup cold vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Then spray a baking dish (large size, about 12 x 8 or 13 x 9) with oil (or grease with vegan butter).

  2. Cut apples into 3/4” wide slices, then cut slices in half. Place the chopped apples in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Add the lemon juice and vanilla to the apples, and toss to coat the apples.

  4. In a small bowl, mix the 1/3 cup of brown sugar, cornstarch, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. salt until well combined. Slowly sprinkle the dry mixture over the apples, occasionally stopping to toss the apples to coat them evenly. Pour the apple mix into the greased baking dish.

    Apples in a baking dish with wooden spoon
    Make sure your apples are coated evenly
  5. In a large mixing bowl (you can use the apple bowl, but dry it first), combine the remaining dry ingredients (oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt), and mix well. Cut the butter into thin slices and cut it into the dry mix using a fork. Once the butter is about half-combined with the dry ingredients, mix using your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Don’t overmix it or allow the butter to soften too much.

    Crumble topping mixed in a bowl
    Your oat topping should be chunky or crumbly before you put it on the apples.
  6. Sprinkle the oat crumble topping over the apple mixture evenly, and place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until apples are fork-tender and the crispy topping has turned slightly golden brown (your baking time may vary, depending on the apples you use and whether you use a glass or metal dish).

  7. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve in a bowl with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla ice cream.

Notes & Hints

Be sure to use cold butter. If your butter is too soft, or if you melt the butter, your topping may have a gritty or sandy texture.

If you're using apples that are less tart than Granny Smith, you may want to reduce the brown sugar that gets mixed into the apples from 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup.

Leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes.

Nutrition Data

Serving Size: 1/10 of recipe; Calories: 311Fat: 14 g.; Saturated Fat: 4 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 240 mg.; Carbohydrates: 46 g.; Fiber: 3 g.; Sugar: 29 g.; Protein: 2 g.; Vitamin A: 0 mcg. RAE; Vitamin B12: 0 mcg.; Vitamin C: 1 mg.; Vitamin D: 0 mcg.; Calcium: 4 mg.; Iron: 1 mg.; Potassium: 124 mg.; Zinc: 0 mg.

Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.

Four vegan dishes: Creme Brulee, Detroit-style pizza, General Tso's Tofu, and Lemon Tart

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A close view of vegan apple crisp in a skillet with a scoop taken out.
StephSunshine

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