Vegan Life > Recipes > Desserts & Sweets > Perfect Vegan Apple Crisp

Perfect Vegan Apple Crisp

Published: September 28, 2020

Modified: July 15, 2024

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Tender cinnamon-caramel apples paired with a sweet and crunchy oat streusel topping create the best apple crisp ever! It's 100% vegan, and can be made gluten-free with one substitution.

Vegan apple crisp, topped with ice cream, and with caramel being drizzled on top.

Apple crisp is the dessert I find myself making all fall and winter long. It has all the flavors I love in apple pie, but is so much easier to prepare! Plus, it's great for sharing and bringing along to holiday parties and gatherings.

I made eight versions of this apple crisp before I got it just right. I've tested it with multiple methods and ingredients, so I'm 100% sure that any apple crisp fan is going to absolutely love this recipe. No one will ever know it's vegan if you don't tell them!

The Best Apples for Vegan Apple Crisp

I've heard people say you can use any apples for apple crisp. Seriously, please don't do that! Flavor aside, some apples (Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious) don't hold up to baking, and they will turn to complete mush in the oven.

The next factor you want to consider is flavor. While many apples can hold up to being baked, apples with a bold flavor are best for balancing the cinnamon and brown sugar in an apple crisp.

My personal favorite apples for apple crisp are Granny Smith and Pink Lady. These apples are more tart than sweet (with Granny Smith being the most tart), and they create a delicious contrast with the sweetness of brown sugar.

Sweeter apples like Honeycrisp or Braeburn are great too, but if you use those, I'd recommend reducing the brown sugar to 1/4 cup. A combination of multiple types of apples can also work well in apple crisp.

A close-up of vegan apple crisp in a bowl, topped with non-dairy ice cream and caramel.

Making it Gluten-Free

This recipe is really easy to make gluten-free, and it's not easy to tell the difference between the regular and gluten-free versions. This is one of my favorite recipes to make for gluten-free guests, because the texture is so close to the original. Here's all you need to do:

Replace the flour with 1 cup (90 grams) of oat flour.

Seriously, that's it! Just pay attention to the amount you're adding, because oat flour doesn't absorb as much moisture as all-purpose flour does, so you need to add a bit more by volume. And if you have an allergy, check that all your other ingredients, especially the oats, are gluten-free and not at risk of cross-contamination.

Oat flour is available as its own product in the store, but you can also make it more affordably at home by adding rolled oats to a blender and blending until you have a fine powder.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

If you have a question about why I used a specific ingredient, or whether you can substitute it with something else, this section is for you. If your question isn't answered here, please leave me a comment, and I'll do my best to get you an answer!

The ingredients for vegan apple crisp, labeled.

apples: Peel these and cut them into 3/4-inch (2-cm) slices, and cut each slice in half. I don't recommend thinner slices, because that takes away from the texture of the apples. Thicker apple slices will get just as tender in the oven as thin slices! For recommendations on apple varieties, see the section above: "The Best Apples for Vegan Apple Crisp."

lemon juice: this adds tangy flavor to your filling. I recommend using freshly-squeezed for the best flavor, but if bottled is more convenient, you can use that too.

vanilla extract: adds flavor to your caramel filling. I always use real vanilla extract for the best flavor, because it has so many more flavor notes than artificial vanilla. Plus, I like to keep it all-natural. Costco has affordable real vanilla in a large bottle that typically lasts me over a year.

brown sugar: it's what makes your filling sweet and gives it a caramel-like texture. If you're outside the US, I'm using American brown sugar: white sugar mixed with molasses. And if you're in the US, you should be aware that some sugars are processed using animal bone char. Buying organic brown sugar is a good way to ensure that it's definitely vegan.

cornstarch: thickens the filling and creates a gooey texture.

cinnamon: adds an earthy, sweet flavor to the topping and filling.

salt: enhances all the flavors and balances the sweetness of the apple crisp.

rolled oats: part of the streusel topping, adds flavor and texture.

all-purpose flour: adds structure to the streusel topping. For gluten-free, replace with 1 cup or 90 grams of oat flour.

vegan butter: I've used both Earth Balance vegan butter and my homemade vegan butter in this recipe with success. It's very important to use cold vegan butter, otherwise you could end up with a gritty topping. Cold coconut oil would also work, but the flavor won't be as rich and buttery.

Vegan apple crisp in a bowl, topped with non-dairy ice cream. Another bowl and two apples are behind it.

Apple Crumble vs. Apple Crisp: What's the Difference?

I often hear "apple crumble" and "apple crisp" used interchangeably, but are they? Yes and no. In everyday usage, most people don't differentiate between the two. They're both baked apple casseroles with streusel toppings. Technically speaking, the term "apple crumble" originally referred to dishes without oats in the topping, while "apple crisp" contains oats. So while this dish is an apple crisp by definition, I also don't mind if you want to call it an apple crumble (or whatever else makes you happy).

How to Serve Vegan Apple Crisp

In my opinion, apple crisp isn't apple crisp without at least one scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream. My favorite brands to pair with this recipe are So Delicious Wondermilk and Oatly. If you'd like more suggestions, feel free to check out the results of my 12-brand vegan vanilla ice cream taste test.

Apple crisp is even better with a drizzle of caramel on top. While many caramel toppings aren't vegan, it's easy to make your own. Just add 1 cup of coconut cream, 1 cup of vegan brown sugar, and a pinch of salt to a pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved and your caramel has thickened. Then put in the refrigerator to chill.

Leftovers and Reheating

If you have leftovers of this recipe, you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You could also cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and store it that way. The apple crisp will last for about 5 days in the refrigerator.

You could also freeze the apple crisp if you prefer; the best way is to divide it into individual servings and freeze them on a parchment-lined baking tray, then add them to a freezer-safe bag or container. You can keep your apple crisp for up to 3 months in the freezer.

To reheat, you'll want to defrost your apple crisp in the refrigerator overnight if it's frozen. Then, place the apple crisp on a piece of aluminum foil and wrap it to make a packet that can keep the sauce from dripping out. Put your packet on a baking tray or in a small baking dish, then reheat in the oven at 350°F (180°C) until warmed through.

Vegan apple crisp in a casserole dish, with a wooden spoon serving some of the apple crisp.

More Vegan Dessert Recipes

If you love this apple crisp recipe, you might also like these amazing vegan dessert recipes:

Perfect Vegan Apple Crisp

Yield8-10 Servings

Prep Time70 minutes

Cook Time40 minutes

Total Time110 minutes

Ingredients

Filling

  • 7 cups apples, peeled and chopped (I recommend Granny Smith or Pink Lady 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

Oat Streusel Topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Then spray a large baking dish (12 x 8 or 13 x 9 inches) with oil, or grease with vegan butter. You can also use two small (7- to 9-inch) cast-iron pans.

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

    Chopped apples in a large glass mixing bowl.
  3. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract to the apples, then toss to coat the apples.

  4. In a small bowl, mix 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, then toss the apples to coat them evenly. Pour the apple mix into your greased baking dish.

    Three steps to making apple crisp filling: Left, Mixing dry ingredients; center, adding dry ingredients to apples; right, spreading in a baking dish.
  5. In a large mixing bowl (you can use the apple bowl, but dry it first), combine the dry topping ingredients (oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt), and mix well. Cut the butter into thin slices, then 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.

    Mixed oat streusel topping
  6. Sprinkle the oat crumble topping over the apple mixture evenly, then place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until apples are fork-tender and the crispy topping has turned golden brown. Your baking time may vary slightly, depending on the type of apples and baking dish you use.

    Apple crisp in a casserole dish, ready to be baked.
  7. Allow the apple crisp to cool on a wire rack or hot pads for 15 minutes before serving. Serve in a bowl with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel.

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 or Pink Lady, 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 for up to 5 days. 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: 10 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 139 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: 135 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 top-down view of a bowl of apple crisp, with another bowl and the casserole dish off to the sides.
StephSunshine

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