Easy Real Food Apple Crisp
Simple, nourishing apple crisp that is healthy enough for breakfast! Made with fresh apples, whole grains, healthy fats, and just a touch of sweetener. No weird ingredients, with gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan variations!
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The first time I tried to save money by buying apples in bulk was almost a fail. Maybe the better word is sabotage. I purchased a giant box from the Farmer’s Market, parked it on the kitchen floor, and left the room.
Turns out my toddler loved fresh apples as much as I do.
But only the first bite.
When I returned a few minutes later, I was horrified. Apples dotted the dining room floor. They parked beside chair legs where they had stopped rolling after he took one bite and dropped it, chubby fingers grasping the next unbroken apple.
I handled it with all the grace you can imagine from a young mom strapped for cash and obsessed with food waste.
Thankfully, applesauce and apple crisp are the perfect end to a bushel of apples – regardless of whether they were pillaged by a toddler or sat in the kitchen waiting for destiny.
That year I began experimenting with the sugar levels in our apple crisp. Because inevitably, whenever a big pan of apple crisp was whisked out of the oven at my house, crisp became the food of choice for nearly every meal.
Breakfast? Apple crisp with vanilla yogurt.
Snack? Apple crisp – I’ll just take one bite or twelve.
Lunch? Sure. Whatever.
Dinner? Maybe we should eat some protein. More yogurt?
Dessert? Finally – Apple crisp with ice cream. This is what we were really waiting for.
I wholeheartedly embrace this practice, especially after discovering that apple crisp hardly needs any processed sugar to satisfy that fruity crisp craving.
This Apple Crisp Is For You If:
- You want something with very little sweetener – we’re talking the perfect breakfast-and-snack crisp
- You need a recipe that is easy, inexpensive and uses no weird ingredients
- Allergies are in play – dairy-free and gluten-free options are a must
This Apple Crisp Recipe is:
- Real food
- Easy (if you can use a knife and spoon, you can make this)
- Gluten-free variation
- Dairy-free variation
- Vegan variation
- Extremely flexible – want it to taste more like apple pie? Use more sweetener! Out of Flour? Grind some oats in the blender and use that.
If you like to watch a recipe made before trying it, I demonstrated how to mix up this crisp in this video. And in this version, we used pears – because it’s that flexible!
Apple Crisp Tips
Nearly everyone has special diets and food allergies these days. Here are some budget-friendly tips to make this recipe work for you:
Use a combination of oat flour and cassava flour, or a gluten-free flour blend instead of the flour.
To make a small batch of oat flour, just toss some oats in a food processor, a clean coffee grinder, or Nutribullet dry blade. A blender might work in a pinch, but it won’t be great.
Dairy-Free & Vegan
You really need that rich, buttery taste for this recipe to hit the spot. I use a combination of coconut oil and a big scoop of vegan butter spread for flavor. Both of these ingredients are expensive, but when you’re dairy-free, you gotta use what you can.
I have not personally tried this, but a good Keto Monkfruit sweetener might do the trick. Let me know if you try it!
Apple Crisp Tools
For 10 years, I sliced apples the normal way. So I will never tell you that you need anything other than a knife and a cutting board.
However, last year, I found this apple peeler/slicer/corer. I found mine at Aldi, but here is something similar. We buy bushels of apples every fall, and I always end up processing them somehow. We make apple crisp, apple butter, or applesauce. In order to save time and let my kids safely help me, I decided to try this contraption.
GAME CHANGER. What took me an hour before now takes 10 minutes. Actually, it takes my kids 10 minutes, because this guy is so fun to use they want to do it. My favorite part is that you can choose whether it peels the apples or simply slices and cores them. People say that a lot of the apple’s nutrition is in or just below the skin. So for apple crisp, I leave the peels on.
If you buy or process lots of apples, I highly recommend a tool like this. It will save you time, which means you can eat real food without spending all day in the kitchen and you are less likely to let those apples go to waste.
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag a photo #cheapskatecook and @cheapskatecookon Instagram.
- 6-8 apples, (enough to fill the pan – remember they will cook down)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup, (optional - see notes)
- 1 cup rolled oats, (quick and old-fashioned work here)
- 1 cup flour, (white, whole wheat, spelt, oat, or almond)
- 3 tbsp sugar, (white, brown sugar, turbinado, or coconut sugar)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup cold butter
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Wash and slice the apples, leaving the skins intact. Place them in a 9x13-inch pan and toss with lemon juice, cinnamon, and honey (if using).
- In a small bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the crumbs are the size of peas. (TIP: a food processor makes this a snap!)
- Evenly sprinkle the topping over the apples in the pan. Bake 40-50 minutes until topping is brown and apples are bubbly.
- Ice cream
- Vanilla yogurt
- Whipped cream (try homemade!)
- Or just eat plain - it is awesome.
Honestly, when I make this for my family, I leave out the honey in the apple filling.
This means the entire pan only has 3 tbsp of added sweetener. It saves us money (honey is expensive!), makes it perfect for breakfast, and when you add vanilla ice cream for dessert, the crisp is still delicious.
However, most people I know prefer it with sweetener in the apples. If you are used to using more sweetener or are trying to wean yourself off of heavily-processed food, you might appreciate the natural sweetness of the honey here.
Feel free to add up to 1/3 cup sugar to the topping as well - make it work for you!
Add fresh or frozen cranberries to the apple mixture
Coconut oil, palm shortening, and vegan butter substitutes all work great in this recipe!
I have made this recipe with both oat flour and almond flour, and it's great! Remember to use gluten-free oats in order to avoid cross-contamination.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1 square
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 258Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 100mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 3gSugar: 23gProtein: 2g
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