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This gluten free apple crisp is made with tender spiced apples, a crunchy pecan oat topping, and absolutely zero flour. Add optional goat cheese for built in creaminess and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream!
If there’s a dish that encompasses fall and helps me kick off pumpkin/apple/cinnamon/chai season for me every year, it’s this apple crisp recipe. This easy recipe has lived on my website since 2017, and it is my favorite way to kick off the fall baking season every September.
Over the years, I have baked this fall fruit crisp with and without the optional goat cheese, and while I totally get if you don’t like, can’t have, or don’t want goat cheese in your apple crisp, that added tanginess and creaminess is such a fun surprise in each bite.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s talk about what’s happening in this naturally gluten-free apple crisp so you can get it in your oven ASAP.
The ingredient list for this apple crisp recipe without flour might look a little long, but I know you likely have most of the simple ingredients needed in your pantry and refrigerator already.
While many traditional apple crisp recipes use a streusel topping, this easy apple crisp uses an oatmeal crumble topping. Instead of all-purpose flour or even a gluten free flour, the “dry” portion of this crisp is old-fashioned oats.
We’ll also use some brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, salt, and unsalted butter.
The best baking apples for most apple desserts is typically Granny Smith, as they have a tender flesh, bake nicely without falling apart, and have that tart apple bite that goes so nicely with spices and sweetness, but feel free to use any kind of apple varieties you’d like (I like to use a large variety in my apple pie!).
You’ll need 5 of those Granny Smith apples, more brown sugar, some pure maple syrup, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt, more unsalted butter, and goat cheese if you’re using it.
HOW TO MAKE THIS APPLE CRISP
To start, you’ll make the crunchy topping, cook the apples, then bring it all together to bake.
For the crisp topping, simply add all of the ingredients except the butter to a small bowl. Mix them together until everything is evenly dispersed.
Then, drizzle in the melted butter and mix again until everything is coated in butter. While this sits, the oats will start to absorb the butter and other ingredients and be ready to get nice and toasty and crunchy on top of the apples.
Next, you’ll prepare the sweet apples.
PREPARE THE APPLES
For this gluten free apple crisp, I like to use my apple corer/peeler for 3 of the apples, then peel and cut the other 2 by hand for varying sizes of apple chunks. You may use whichever method you prefer.
Next, you’ll add the brown sugar, maple syrup, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt to the apples. Stir it all together. There will be a lot of liquid at the bottom of the bowl, but that’s totally fine. It will come in handy shortly when you cook the apples.
COOK THE APPLES
My favorite part about this homemade apple crisp is that using a cast iron skillet makes it so we don’t have to dirty a saucepan and then a baking dish. By cooking and baking this apple crisp recipe in a skillet, we get all the other benefits of a skillet recipe— skillets are naturally non-stick and provide an even baking temperature.
You’ll want to work with a cast iron skillet that is at least 9″ in diameter. This is the one I own and love.
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Don’t forget to put a hot mitt over the handle, as the entire thing will get very hot.
Once the skillet is nice and hot, add the sweetened, spiced apples, then stir to cook. The juices will be bubbly and start to get thick, and you’ll only need to cook them for about 5 minutes before getting to the good stuff.
ASSEMBLE THE CRISP
Remove the skillet from the stove, then distribute the slices of butter evenly over the cooked sliced apples. If you’re using the goat cheese, add it at this point, too.
Lastly, add the oat crumble right on top of everything, making sure it covers all of the apples, butter, and goat cheese pieces.
BAKE THE APPLE CRISP
The most important thing to remember about baking this gluten free apple crumble is that you’ll want to put a baking sheet under it in the oven to catch any drippings. This crisp will get nice and bubbly when it’s hot and can make a little mess in the oven.
You’ll bake it initially covered with foil for 15 minutes, which will help seal in the moisture and make those crisp apples nice and tender. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, which will continue to bake the apples but also crisp up that deliciously crunchy topping.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH APPLE CRISP
When the apple crisp is finished, you have a few ways you can serve it.
My favorite way is a generous scoop of warm apple crisp and a scoop of vanilla ice cream right on top.
I’ve also enjoyed it straight up without ice cream, with homemade whipped cream, or at room temperature in a bowl with some milk.
Whatever way you choose to eat this old fashioned apple crisp, you must know that the very first time I made this apple crisp recipe without flour, I got a marriage proposal.
Ok, but it wasn’t Matt. It was one of our best friends and it was a total joke. But he said it was the best apple crisp he’d ever had, and he just didn’t know how else to express his love for the dish. He had many people agree with him and folks were asking me for the recipe before it was even up on my site.
Lucky for you, that was so long ago that this recipe is now here, waiting for you to make it, and sure to be one of the easiest desserts you can make this fall with all of the best apples you can find.
Each bite of this skillet apple crisp has something the one before it didn’t. Not only do we have a mixture of perfectly softened apples, you’ve also got a ton of crisp pecans, crunchy oats, and of course, all kinds of gooey brown sugar situations happening.
And those bites with the goat cheese? That added tang just take this dessert to a whole new level. A lovely cheesy level (the good kind of cheesy).
If you’re looking for a fun twist on a classic fall crisp, this is it. Use your favorite apples if you prefer not to use Granny Smith, chunk some, slice others, keep the texture interesting. Whatever you do, share this with some of your favorite people. They will love you even more for it!
And maybe you’ll get a marriage proposal, too… If you’re looking for that sort of thing!
Gluten Free Apple Crisp
- ¾ cup (60g) old fashioned oats1
- ½ cup (100g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup (60g) chopped pecans
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter melted
- 5 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and sliced/cut into chunks2
- ⅓ cup (67g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (60mL) pure maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter cut into 6-8 slices
- 4 ounces (113g) goat cheese crumbled; optional3
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Position a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Place an empty baking sheet on the lower rack to catch bubbling drippings.
- In a small bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and salt until completely combined.
- Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and stir until butter is evenly dispersed and all of the oats are moist. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir together until everything is evenly dispersed. There will be a lot of liquid at the bottom– this is ok. Set aside.
- Heat a 9" cast iron skillet4 over medium-high heat. When skillet is adequately heated, pour apple mixture evenly into it. When apples begin to steam, begin stirring to evenly distribute the brown sugar sauce. It will start to thicken. Cook the apples while stirring until sauce is thick and evenly coats all of the apples, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Place the butter and goat cheese crumbles (if using) over the top of the cooked apples, trying your best to evenly distribute them. Top everything with the oat topping.
- Cover the crisp with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until crisp and brown on top, an additional 20-25 minutes. After that time, turn off the oven and allow crisp to sit in the oven with the door cracked until the sugar stops bubbling and you can safely handle it. Serve warm. Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Unbaked apple crisp does freezes well. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then bake as directed.
- Oats: if you need this to be gluten free for celiac disease or someone with a strict gluten-free diet, be sure to use gluten-free oats.
- Apples: I like to use my apple corer/peeler for 3 of the apples, then peel and cut the other 2 by hand for varying sizes of apple chunks. You may use whichever method you prefer.
- Goat cheese: I love this gluten free apple crisp with goat cheese, but it is a totally optional addition. You can also use cream cheese or omit it completely.
- Skillet: if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can cook the apples in a traditional saucepan and transfer to a baking dish before baking in the oven.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.