Delicious and healthy apple crisp is made with a minimal amount of added sugar, yet it tastes just as decadent as sugary versions. It’s the perfect fall dessert!
Apple crisp is the ultimate fall dessert. Warm apples, vanilla and cinnamon, the crunchy topping… it’s such a wonderful comfort food.
A healthier version
I adore this dessert, but I wanted to make a healthier version, and I wanted it to be easy too. So I’ve been experimenting.
I make this delicious dessert with minimal amounts of butter and sugar, yet it tastes just as indulgent as sugary versions.
Sweet, gooey and crunchy, it’s healthy enough that I feel good about serving it to my family. In fact, it’s one of the desserts I serve most often in the fall and winter.
The ingredients you’ll need
The list of ingredients needed to make this tasty dessert is delightfully short (exact measurements are in the recipe card below):
- Fuji apples: Or any other variety suitable for baking (see discussion below).
- Coconut sugar: I only use 1/4 cup. You can use brown sugar if you’d like.
- Rolled oats: Make sure they’re not instant oats, those will turn out mushy when baked.
- Unsalted butter.
- Vanilla extract.
How to make healthy apple crisp
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Start by slicing the apples and layering them in a baking dish.
- Next, mix together the remaining ingredients and pour on top of the apples.
- Bake about 30 minutes at 375°F, stir, and serve.
What apple variety to use?
I prefer to use Fuji apples because they bake well. They soften and caramelize, but they don’t become mushy when baked.
Fuji apples are sweeter than Granny Smith apples, allowing me to use less added sugar and rely on the naturally occurring sugars in the fruit. You can also use Honeycrisp for similar results.
Healthy apple crisp topping
The traditional topping contains oats for the crunch, brown sugar for sweetness, and butter for richness and creaminess.
I keep my version healthier by simply using less of the topping. Some recipes really drown out the apples in the buttery, rich topping. My version is wonderful – but it lets the apples be the stars of the show.
If you need this recipe to be gluten-free, make sure the oats you use are labeled as “gluten-free.”
Is it paleo?
This particular recipe is not. Although you can use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar, this recipe contains oats, so it can’t be paleo.
I do have a recipe for paleo and lowish carb apple crumble. Check it out if you follow the paleo diet.
Is this really a healthy recipe?
It depends. Apples are healthy (albeit high in carbs), but this is a dessert. It is sweet and high in carbs.
This particular recipe is probably healthier than most. The less added sugar we use, the better. But I still wouldn’t necessarily classify it as “healthy,” only as “healthier.”
When people email me about this recipe, I mostly get very positive feedback. Out of those who complain, the most frequent complaint is that they want the ratio of topping to apples in this healthy apple crisp to be higher.
That’s fine of course, and if you make this dessert only occasionally, then go for it!
But if you make it often, as I do, I do suggest trying to get used to enjoying the wonderful flavor of the baked apples, enhanced by a smaller amount of the sweet, crunchy topping.
How to serve this healthy apple crisp?
In a bowl, with a spoon! You can obviously top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you wish, or perhaps homemade frozen yogurt.
But as I said before, I make this dessert fairly often for my family – it’s one of our favorite winter desserts (I also make baked pears quite often). So I prefer to keep it low-key and avoid too much indulgence.
Reviews of this recipe
Pinterest reviewers seem to really like this healthy apple crisp recipe. Here’s a link to their reviews. And here are some of their comments:
- So good! Used coconut oil instead of butter and also added lemon juice.
- Delicious! The only thing I changed was doubling the cinnamon and I used golden delicious apples because that’s what I had on hand.
- Amazing!!! Taste so good with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- AMAZING. Healthy and sweet. I would definitely make it again.
- Delicious and healthy. I’ll definitely make it again.
What about leftovers?
You can keep leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. But be aware that the topping will lose some of its crispiness. Reheat the leftovers covered, in the microwave, on 50% power.
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- 3 large Fuji apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices (7-8 oz each apple)
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup rolled oats* (not instant oats)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 375°F. Layer the apple slices in a square 9-inch baking dish, in one or two layers.
- In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, oats, butter, and vanilla. Using a spatula, pour the mixture over the apples, spreading evenly.
- Bake 30 minutes, until the topping is golden and crunchy and the apples are fork-tender. Gently stir to evenly coat the apples in the melted sugar that has accumulated in the bottom of the pan. Serve immediately.