This healthy apple crisp recipe turns a classic favorite apple dessert into a healthier treat. Plus, it’s one that anyone can enjoy as it is low-carb, grain-free, gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, paleo-friendly, etc.
Don’t be fooled, though. This recipe tastes as good as your favorite apple crumble…or better. You don’t have to feel deprived (or guilty!) when enjoying yummy recipes like this!
I love apple desserts like apple pie, but sometimes I don’t want to deal with making pie crust. Plus, the best healthy apple crisp will taste just as good as a pie (or apple cobbler) without the extra hassle or carbs. The scrumptious crumble topping delivers flavor along with a punch of fiber.
My favorite apple crisp recipe has been in my family for years, but it’s not grain-free. That’s because, like most crisp recipes, it contains oats that are not grain-free. It also has brown sugar and butter and is usually topped with vanilla ice cream.
I decided it was time to turn the best apple crisp into an equally tasty (and easy) grain-free treat. Tweaking the original recipe took some time, but I have successfully converted it into a delicious, low-carb paleo apple crisp.
Healthy Apple Crisp: 2 Versions
The result is this delicious healthy apple crisp recipe. Let me tell you a little more. It’s:
- vegan and dairy-free
- paleo (yes, apples are paleo-approved)
- refined sugar-free (and includes a no-added-sugar option if you’re completely avoiding sugar)
- filled with a delicious apple filling
Not only did I make one (sugar-free) version, but I added a second version, too, because some readers have commented that it’s not sweet enough.
I originally created this recipe with the intention of avoiding sugar completely. I even used green apples to keep the sugar content as low as possible. Essentially, it’s a sugar-free apple crisp minus the yucky artificial sugar sweeteners.
But since many of you aren’t avoiding sugar THAT much (and I get it – I’m no longer that strict either), I heard you. As a result, I’ve tweaked the recipe so you can enjoy this low-carb apple crisp recipe too!
NOTE: If you want a more traditional apple crisp complete with an oatmeal crumble topping, check out my regular old-fashioned homemade apple crisp recipe.
Paleo Apple Crisp Ingredients
This Whole30 apple crisp recipe is just as easy to make as the classic version – and it’s healthier due to fewer calories and far less sugar. It also has the bonus of added substance by using almond flour – a much more filling, nutrient-packed option – instead of regular flour.
In other words, this guilt-free, low-carb, healthy apple crisp has all the goodness of an apple pie without the need for a crust or the use of unwanted grains, dairy, or sugar (depending on which recipe you use)!
By the way, the “secret” ingredient my family has used for years in apple crisp and pies? Vanilla extract! I’ve grown up always using vanilla in apple desserts, but over the years, I’ve run across many people who don’t, so I do recommend it!
I mentioned that I developed two different healthy apple crisp recipes, and I’m including both in this post. You can print one or both out if you scroll down to the bottom of this post.
Here’s a quick rundown of the ingredients for each version so you can decide which recipe works best for you.
Recipe #1: Regular Paleo Apple Crisp
This version is gently sweetened with non-refined sugar (coconut sugar, erythritol, &/or maple syrup.) It contains:
- lemon juice
- vanilla extract
- almond flour
- natural sweetener (coconut sugar, erythritol, or maple syrup)
- coconut oil
- coconut flakes or shredded coconut
- pecans (or your favorite chopped nuts, such as almonds or walnuts)
Recipe #2: Sugar-Free Paleo Apple Crisp
If you’re serious about avoiding sugar and sweeteners in your diet, this one is for you! It contains everything in the recipe above except for the added sugar (there aren’t even natural sweeteners). You can even use Granny Smith apples for a lower-sugar apple.
NOTE: This version is not as juicy as most other apple crisps (it’s difficult to get a very juicy granny smith), but it’s truly a guilt-free paleo dessert.
Here are a few questions I see readers ask regularly. If you have a question but don’t see it answered below, please drop it in the comments!
What type of apples is the best for making apple crisp?
If you prefer a juicier apple crisp (and who doesn’t), you can use your favorite Cortland, Macintosh, Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, Pink Lady, or Fiji apples. Really, you can use any apples you prefer for baking.
For the sugar-free version, I recommend using Granny Smith apples just because they have lower sugar content. However, they won’t be as juicy as some of the other options I listed above.
How can I make apple crisp gluten-free only?
If you find that you want a more traditional apple crisp but need it to be gluten-free, I recommend following my original apple crisp recipe.
It already uses gluten-free flour. All you would need to do is make sure you use gluten-free oats.
NOTE: Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they become cross-contaminated through the harvesting and production process, so you have to buy oats specifically labeled gluten-free.
Can I use oats in this healthy apple crisp?
One common question I’ve been asked about this recipe is, “can I use oats?” The answer is: that it depends on your dietary preferences.
If you follow the paleo diet, which is grain-free, you should not use oats because oats are grains.
However, if you’re NOT paleo or you are and are willing to “cheat” (because oat-covered apple crisp is just SO good), check out my gluten-free apple crisp recipe here that DOES use oats.
Is this paleo apple crisp crunchy?
No, it’s not. If you use enough nuts, it adds more substance to it that sort of simulates a crunchy texture. Unfortunately, I was not able to figure out a good way to keep the almond flour mixture crunchy. But it’s still yummy!
If you DO want the crunch and don’t have to avoid grains, my original apple crisp recipe does have a nice crunchy oat topping you might want to try.
The sugar-free healthy apple crisp recipe served me well when I went through a sugar detox and avoided sugar for a few months.
How To Make a Healthy Apple Crisp
This is a healthy apple crisp recipe that’s grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, and vegan. It is lightly sweetened.
(Scroll down further to the second recipe card if you want the sugar-free version)
Mix apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract.
Chop or slice your apples into small pieces, then toss them together with the cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut sugar, and vanilla.
Dump the mixture into a square baking dish.
Mix together the almond flour, pecans (or your preferred nut), shredded coconut, coconut sugar, and softened coconut oil.
Spoon the pecan coconut mixture over the chopped apples.
Bake for about 25 minutes, covered. Then uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes longer until the mixture is starting to bubble.
Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.
Easy peasy, right? Serve your delicious guilt-free paleo apple crisp with fresh whipped cream if you want (note, that’s not dairy-free.)
Whichever version of this Paleo Apple Crisp you prefer, I hope you love it as much as we do! Enjoy!
More Delicious Apple Recipes
If you can’t get enough apples, check out these other popular recipes too!
- Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake With Crumb Topping
- Gluten-Free Apple Oatmeal Muffins
- Apple Oatmeal Muffins Recipe
- Easy 6 Ingredient Apple Dumplings
Paleo Apple Pecan Crisp
This healthy delicious Paleo apple crisp recipe is naturally sweetened and perfect for the low-carb, grain-free, whole30 diet.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 45
- Yield: 9 servings 1x
- Category: dessert
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
- 4 apples
- 1/3 + 1/2 cup coconut sugar or paleo-friendly sweetener like Swerve, divided
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2/3 cup pecans, chopped*
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey, optional
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Core, peel, and thinly slice the apples. Toss the apples with 1/3 cup coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. Dump into an 8×8″ baking dish.
Mix the almond flour, chopped pecans (you can substitute other chopped nuts if you prefer, such as walnuts or almonds), 1/3 cup coconut sugar, and the coconut oil. Softened coconut oil will work the best, but you can use melted if you can’t get it softened. This almond flour mixture will clump together.
Spoon on top of the sliced apple mixture – spread it about as you can, it doesn’t have to cover the apples perfectly. Optional: drizzle 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey over the almond pecan mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes covered, then another 10-20 uncovered. The apples should be somewhat soft (not mushy) and beginning to bubble when done.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream if desired.
Keywords: paleo apple crisp, healthy apple crisp, whole30, apple dessert
How To Make Paleo Apple Crisp #2 (The Sugar-Free Version)
This version is made the same way as the recipe above, but it’s not sweetened at all.Print
Sugar-Free Paleo Apple Crisp
This is a healthy apple crisp recipe that’s grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, vegan, and sugar-free.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 45 min
- Yield: 9 servings 1x
- Category: dessert
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
- 4 apples (use Granny Smith if desired)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp + 1 tsp vanilla extract, divided
- 2 tsp + 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided (I use Saigon cinnamon)
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup almond flour – I use this
- 2–4 Tbsp swerve or erythritol, optional
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Core, peel, and thinly slice the apples. Toss the apples with the lemon juice, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp cinnamon, and nutmeg. Dump into an 8×8″ baking dish.
Melt the coconut oil, then mix in the almond flour, swerve or erythritol if desired, pecans, shredded coconut, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apples, then sprinkle the remaining 1 tsp vanilla extract over everything.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes covered, then another 10-20 uncovered. The apples should be somewhat soft and bubbling when it’s finished.
Keywords: paleo apple crisp, healthy apple dessert,
Tara Gauthier says
This looks good except for the pecans, I don’t think I would like those in it. But I might just have to give this a try as I made apple crisp this week with gluten free oats and my husband remarked that I made it different as he did not remember it having oats. I have been making it for years with oats but did use a different recipe (one that had maple syrup and brown sugar!).
Hi Tara! You can substitute another nut, like walnuts, or simply leave the nuts out and use gluten-free oats. I avoid grains, so oats are out for me. 🙂
Thank you for commenting!
Hi, I would like to use oats also, but I am not sure how much. Should I use the same amount as you recommended for the pecans – 1/2 cup? Also, would you suggest old-fashioned rolled oats or steel cut for this recipe? Thanks! I’m looking forward to trying this out!
The last paragraph in the instructions indicates to bake these for 20 minutes covered & then another 10-20 minutes covered. Is the latter 10-20 minutes meant to also be covered or no?
It’s meant to NOT be covered during the last 10-20 minutes of bake time. Thanks for catching this mistake – I’ve corrected it now.
Hi! I just found this recipe on pInterest and it sounds amazing! The only thing is my son is allergic to coconut. What would be a good substitution For the coconut oil?
I’d use grass-fed butter. I can’t do dairy, which is why I use coconut oil.
This looks so delicious. Thanks for posting!
Can I use coconut flour? My son has a nut allergy.
You can try substituting 1/4 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of almond flour, but I’m not sure how it will turn out. If you do, I’d love to know how it tastes. Thanks, Alison!
Just found you on Pinterest and I’m looking forward to trying it. My youngest has all the food restrictions you mentioned for yourself plus she’s allergic to eggs and I’ve been struggling to find a treat for her in lieu of a birthday cake. BTW which ingredient was the secret ??? 🙂
Hi Tiffany, I can’t do eggs either so I sympathize with your daughter (and you!) Vanilla is the “secret” ingredient – my mom used to add it to all her apple pies and crisps and it really makes these desserts stand out from the rest.
Have fun making this!
Do you think ghee (clarified butter) would work in place of the coconut oil? I’m doing whole30 and researching “desserts” for Thanksgiving. Paleo desserts are usually a no-no on the program, but Melissa linked to one as an exception for the holidays. This looks amazing, and completely compliant if I sub another vanilla flavoring for the extract.
Anyway, i would like to use ghee for buttery flavor but not familiar enough with these alternative things to know about substitutes
Absolutely, Crystal! Ghee would be a great alternative. I can’t do any dairy at the moment, but when my body cooperates, I’d love to try it myself. Let me know how it turns out.
Thanks for commenting and good luck!
This looks so good! May be a silly question, but if I wanted to serve for 8 people, I could just double the recipe?
Absolutely! I regularly double the recipe because there’s 6 in my family.
Just made this. It turned out really dry. What did I do wrong?
Hi Vicki, did you bake the apple crisp long enough? I’ve found that if I undercook – even just a little – the apples don’t release their juice and the crisp is drier. You could try baking for 5-10 minutes longer next time.
Another possibility is the kind of apples you used. Did you granny smith apples? I’ve found that they tend to result in a drier crisp.
Hi Katie, I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work as you had hoped. This recipe is drier than “typical” apple crisp because there is no added sugar and typically uses less-juicy apples. What kind of apples did you use?
Rebecca Gomez says
I’m going to be making this for my women’s group (6 ppl), but would prefer to bake individual ones in small mason jars. Do you think it would work? Should I cook the apples for 10 minutes first, then add the topping and cook for another 10-20 min?
Hi Rebecca! Individual servings are a great idea. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t give you any tips. Maybe you can make a test batch first?
I made this for my Bible Study tonight and to was it was well received would be a gross understatement .Everyone loved them and even took home the leftovers! I did make a couple changes and cooked them in individual ramekins.
Changes: I used a mix of Braburn and Jonahgold apples. I chopped apples into small pieces instead of slicing them. I also added 1/4 cup (per batch) coconut sugar to the topping. I did not add the vanilla to the topping because I ran out of vanilla.
Baking: each ramekin got a heaping 1/2 cup of apple mixture and approx 2 Tbsp topping. I made a double batch and it filled 13 ramekins. I baked my test one for 10 min covered and 10 min uncovered and it was done. However, because I made them the night before and knew I would be reheating, I cooked the rest of them for 10 min covered. Let cool, cover and refrigerate. Then today, just before we served them, I baked them uncovered for about 20 min. They went into the oven cold so it took longer to reheat them and toast the topping the second time.
Like I said, they got rave reviews and everyone asked for the recipe. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing a truly healthy delicious dessert!
Yay! I’m so glad to hear everyone loved them. Amazing job, Rebecca! Thanks for taking the time to share what you did; I know others will find this info helpful!
I have a lemon(all citrus fruits) allergy. Do you know of another way to substitute the lemon juice?or would it be okay to not use it at all?
Hi Kaeli, I’m not familiar with a lemon replacement, but you could definitely try the recipe without it and see how it tastes. It’s just a small amount anyways. Good luck!
The Lemon juice is an acid to brighten the flavor…..try vinegar as a sub.
Francesca Fernandez says
Try Apple cider vinegar!
Hi! This recipe looks great, thanks for sharing. Which apples do you recommend that’d work best?
Sounds good! Can you use applesauce? I love apple crisp and turnovers but don’t like the whole apple texture (I’m weird). If so, how much? Thanks!
Hi Jen, I’m not sure how replacing the apples with applesauce would work with this recipe. You could try it as I’m sure the spices would still taste good with it, but the texture would definitely be different! I’m not sure about measurements. You could experiment and see what works? You’d also want to decrease the baking time. Good luck!
This recipe looks good. I’d really love to incorporate oats and coconut flakes to the topping. Any idea on quantities to make it work? Thanks!
tastes great! just a little dry…but its very nice with rice milk and honey drizzled on top
I just made this right now and it’s so delicious. I was afraid I would miss the sugar but it really doesn’t need it.
Also I didn’t have lemon and it still turned out great!
Thanks for sharing!!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Janicke!
Mildred R. Larson says
This is delicious. I love apple pie and this is a guilt free and satisfying delight. Thank you for sharing.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Mildred!
I’m not sure how to leave a direct comment. I am on a very restricted diet and was craving something ‘sweet’. This is absolutely delicious. I love it, and it did the trick -and there is no sugar in it! I’m now browsing for some more recipes, but this one is an A+ for me!
I’m glad you loved the recipe, Elizabeth. Thanks for your feedback!
What kind of apples did you use?
I tried this today. SO GOOD! I did increase the crumble by half and added 1/4C Erythritol. Served with a scoop of vanilla carb smart ice cream. Blackberries are on sale this week… might use those next week.
Mmm.. I love the idea of using Blackberries with this. Glad you enjoyed the recipe, Kate!
Irene Froese says
it would be nice to have the nuritional breakdown. i made it , and sprinkles some swerve on top AFTER cooking to sweeten. oh, and added some apple juicce bcuz the apples were rather dry.
This recipe looks amazing, but could you possibly include a nutrition breakdown that lists carbs, sugar, fat, protein etc.?
This recipe is great!! I tried what you suggested for switching out the almond flour to coconut flour, my son also has a nut allergy, and it tasted delicious!
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it, Ella. 🙂
georgie @ georgieeats says
What a simple but brilliant idea!! Thank you so much for the inspo! I have pinned the recipe so I can make it soon! x
This looks so good! Apples are so sweet that you can just enhance them with the things in this recipe!
I liked the concept…but the Almond Flour gave it a soft texture. I really wanted it to come out a bit crispier, crunchier. You would think the pecans would have helped with that, but no.
I had the same problem. The apples were delicious- tasted as if sugar had been added. But the almond flour was just soft and a bit mushy. Would love to know if can fix it or that is the correct result
Great recipe! Do you have nutrition info?
Hi Danielle, we are working on adding nutritional info to our recipes. I will mark this at the top of the list. 🙂
Thank you Erika! This was a truly devine find. I have been looking for a gluten free apple something and I made this tonight. I absolutely loved it as did my family. I just altered it a smidge and added allspice with the cinnamon and nutmeg (the 3 together make up some peoples “apple pie spice” in baking). I also used 1/8c coconut sugar and 1/16 brown sugar just to sweeten it a little. This will be a recipe I pass on to others…for sure! Thanks again for sharing!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Stacey!
I made this after going apple picking with my friends and it came out great! THANK YOU!!!
It is also very easy and fast to prep so I can easily make it if I am in the mood for a healthy treat.
I use a stevia/erythritol combo for sweetener, btw…
This came out really well. Thank you so much! I made the sweetener free version, but with a few changes. I added a pinch of sea salt to the apples and the topping, but really just a pinch. I didn’t have pecans, so to give the topping a little crunch, I added pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and a little ground flax. I used 3 Granny Smiths and 1&1/2 Pink Lady apples. It’s delicious!
I’m excited to try this! I’m breaking up with sugar as well. Your website looks amazing! 💕
This looks so good! Is it good with any other kind of nut?
I’ve used walnuts and pecans for this, but haven’t tried any others. Possibly cashews?
Thanks for sharing! Does it keep long?
Hi Vanessa, I would eat this within 3-4 days for the best taste. Whenever I make a batch though, it never lasts that long around here! 🙂
Could you make this ahead of time and freeze before cooking? Looking to prepare this for the holidays for a friend, and need to give it to her a couple of days beforehand.
Yes, you can absolutely freeze it. I’ve heard it’s best to bake it first, cool completely, cover with 2 layers of foil and then you can freeze it up for a couple months.
Hannah Flack says
I made this yummy apple crisp for dinner tonight and my oh my! This recipe is a keeper!!!
HI there, Going to give this a whirl today. I noticed that the description and video both refer to shredded coconut in the topping, but I couldn’t find a quantity in the body of the recipe itself. I opted to just eyeball the amount of coconut… fingers crossed. Thanks!
Thanks for catching that. I’ve updated the recipe – it’s 1/2 cup.
This looks so good! What a great way to still enjoy this fall treat while sticking to the good stuff!
Thanks for sharing! How far ahead of time can I make it?
I recommend enjoying it warm out of the oven, but you can make it the day before, store it in the fridge, and heat for a warm apple crisp. Enjoy!