Apple Crisp Topping Without Brown Sugar


Have you ever made an apple crisp topping without brown sugar? This is my recipe for apple crisp topping without brown sugar. It’s a great way to use up apples and make a tasty dessert at the same time. People love it when I bring this over. Jazz up this already delicious dessert by eliminating sugar from the topping.

Healthy Flourless Apple Crisp Without Brown Sugar (9×13)

This delicious and easy flourless apple crisp is so healthy you can eat it for breakfast! You’ll be shocked that it’s gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free.

The homemade crumble topping is filled with oats, pecans, almond meal, maple syrup and avocado oil. Top with some dairy free ice cream or coconut whipped cream for some added creaminess. This recipe can make two 8×8 inch pans or one 9×13 inch pan.

Healthy Flourless Apple Crisp Without Brown Sugar in a square glass pan on dark wood table.

Which kitchen tools are needed?

  • mixing bowl
  • 9×13 inch baking pan or 2 8×8 inch baking pans (you should be able to make any size work it will just be thinner or thicker)
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • measuring tools (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons)

What makes this apple crisp healthy?

Everyone has different opinions on what makes something “healthy” but my personal definition includes being plant based, gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free (using natural sugars). Typically apple crisp has brown sugar, all purpose flour and butter which many would agree do not aid in optimal health so I made some swaps!

  • Replaced brown sugar with raw maple syrup – Although raw maple syrup will still raise your blood sugar levels it has a lower glycemic index than brown sugar and provides tons of minerals and antioxidants.
  • Replaced all purpose flour with almond meal / almond flour – Not everyone is sensitive to gluten like I am but if you are it’s a good idea to try and avoid it when possible. You may be sensitive to gluten if you notice symptoms like bloating, IBS, brain fog, upset stomach after eating gluten and if that’s the case you may want to avoid gluten when possible because the gluten can’t be metabolized properly.
  • Replaced butter with avocado oil – Butter and coconut oil are saturated fat (bad fat) which raise bad cholesterol levels and make us age. Avocado oil is a monounsaturated fat (good fat) which lowers the bad cholesterol levels and provides vitamin E.
  • Added pecans – Pecans have antioxidants and provide you with monounsaturated fat (a good fat), B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, vitamins E and A, zinc, iron, and folate.

What to serve with apple crisp?

  • Ice cream – I prefer dairy free vanilla ice cream – Fomu is my favorite local Boston brand!
  • Dairy free whipped cream – coconut whipped cream is my go-to it’s sweet and creamy.
  • Dairy free vanilla yogurt – a healthier alternative to ice cream.
  • For fun breakfast I like to pair it with this green smoothie!

Storage tips

Does apple crisp need to be refrigerated?

If keeping for more than 2 days cover apple crisp tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

How long can apple crisp stay out of the fridge for?

Up to 2 days.

Can you freeze apple crisp?

Yes! Cover in an air tight container for up to 3 months. To thaw let it come to room temperature then heat up in the oven (preferred) or microwave.


What type of apples should I use in apple crisp?

Honey crisp apples are a fan favorite because they are sweet and hold their shape well. Granny smith apples pair well with honey crisp because they are tart and also hold their shape. However, I like to use a variety of apples and get 1-2 of whatever is available to optimize the different flavors and textures.

Should you peel apples for apple crisp?

Yes! You don’t HAVE to… it will still be edible but the skins make the texture very chewy.

Can apple crisp be made ahead of time?

Yes! Assemble the apple crisp and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it or bake the apple crisp ahead of time and warm it in the oven and microwave right before serving.

How do I prevent my apple crisp from burning?

If the top of your apple crisp is getting too crispy add tinfoil to cover the top of the apple crisp until it’s done baking. You could also move your apple crisp onto a lower rack in your oven.

Is apple crisp gluten free?

It depends. Usually apple crisp has flour in it which would not make it gluten free. However, this recipe uses almond meal to make this recipe gluten free.

Healthy Flourless Apple Crisp Without Brown Sugar (9×13)

  •  Total Time: 1 hour
  •  Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

This delicious and easy apple crisp is so healthy you can eat it for breakfast! You’ll be shocked that it’s gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. Top with some dairy free ice cream or coconut whipped cream for some added creaminess. 



Crumble Topping

  • 2 cups rolled or old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup raw pecans, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt 
  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • ½ cup raw maple syrup 

Apple Filling

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 10-12 apples, peeled & sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons raw maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)


  1. Preheat oven: Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  2. Prep apples: Peel skin off apples, discard core and thinly slice.
  3. Crumble topping: Mix all the crumble topping ingredients in a bowl. Ensure the pecans are chopped or crushed into small pieces. 
  4. Apple Filling: Take the baking pan (one 9×13 inch pan or two 8×8 inch pans) and grease the bottom and sides with avocado oil. Then pour the rest of the apple filling ingredients into the baking pan and mix well. 
  5. Assemble and bake: On top of the apple filling in the baking dish add the crumble topping evenly. Bake at 350° F for 40 minutes or until the apples are cooked through and the crumble topping is slightly browned. 


  • avocado oil substitute – melted coconut oil, butter
  • maple syrup substitutes – coconut sugar, brown sugar
  • almond meal substitutes – almond flour, oat flour, gluten free flour, really any flour with a neutral or sweeter taste will work
  • rolled / old fashioned oats substitutes – steel cut oats, Irish oats, quick oats, instant oats, chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)

Simple Apple Crisp (5 Ingredients!)

Why do we let pumpkin have all the glory when we can hand-pick perfectly crisp apples, combine them with only four simple ingredients and end up with this 5-Simple Apple Crisp??

5-Ingredient Apple Crisp

Simple Apple Crisp (5 Ingredients!)

Seriously. Why is fall ALL about pumpkin? For me, not only do apples taste better, but I find them to infinitely more versatile and easy to work with. They don’t require you to use every muscle of your body to cut them open, scoop out the flesh and then cook the meat. And I love that they’re equally delicious raw or cooked. (Hi apples slathered with peanut butter or dipped in gooey caramel.)

Granted, I absolutely look forward to my requisite pumpkin dessert of the season, but once I’ve had one, I’m pretty much good to go.  On the other hand, I could eat an apple dessert on the regular during the cool fall months, and never tire of it.

Like most of America, we set out to go apple picking last week  some friends, and of course, came home with an obscene amount of apples. And while I was tempted to whip up something super impressive and elaborate, I decided to swing the other direction and do my best to come up with the most delicious way to let the apples shine, in the simplest way possible.

I wanted even the most novice of cooks to be able to make this, no problem, and I didn’t want a long list of ingredients to be in the mix.. So here she is: 5-Ingredient Apple Crisp.

5-Ingredient Apple Crisp

How to make apple crisp with just five ingredients

Ok, so here’s the thing about apple crisps. The topping needs to be, as stated, crisp.  Usually that requires a combination of sugar, butter and flour, and most of my crisp recipes (see here and here) are part oats (for texture), part flour (for crunch), part white sugar, and part brown sugar. But in keeping with my minimalistic approach, I wanted to find a way to pair the ingredients down. For me, the non-negtiables were apples of course, followed by butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Making a topping without the addition of oats is much easier than making one without flour, but I just can’t live without the texture oats bring to a crisp, so I set out to find a way to change up my go-to recipe.

After pondering it for a bit, I got the bright idea to MAKE my own flour using the oats. And it worked! All I did was pop a cup of oats into the food processor, and let it whirl around for a few minutes until the oats resembled flour.  Not only do they act as the flour in the crisp topping, but they also act as a thickener in the apple filling.

5-Ingredient Apple Crisp

Ingredients in Simple Apple Crisp (5 Ingredients!)

Apples, duh. The best apples for apple crisp, in my opinion are always Granny Smith. However, if you’ve gone apple picking, anything works! Honeycrisp, golden delicious, gala apple all work great. 

Brown sugar. I prefer brown sugar over white sugar because I think it has more flavor. I love the molasses taste it has, and with only five ingredients, you really want as much complex flavor as possible. 

Unsalted butter. I always use unsalted butter so I can control the salt content. 

Oats. Rolled oats are best for this, but, quick-cooking oats also work great. Whatever you’ve got works! If you have to go buy something, get rolled oats. 

Cinnamon. Always cinnamon in fall-inspired apple desserts. If I could get away with a sixth ingredient, I’d sneak in a little bit of ground nutmeg as well. 

Kosher Salt. This of course,  doesn’t count as an actual ingredient (rules of the internet). Salt is always essential in baking to balance out the sweetness in desserts. I have to love really tasting the salt, so I always use a heavy hand. 

5-Ingredient Apple Crisp

How to make this Simple Apple Crisp

How to make the filling. When five ingredients is the name of the game, that means everything is super simple and easy, and that starts with the filling.

Peeled and sliced apples are tossed with plenty of brown sugar, a little bit of salt, cinnamon and few tablespoons of the homemade oat flour to soak up all the juices.  Everything is tossed together and nestled into a small baking dish.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I also like to sneak in a couple pats of butter into the filling for extra richness. Just dice up a couple of tablespoons and toss it with the apple mixture. It helps to keep the apple filling nice and moist. Plus, a little extra butter is always a good idea.

How to make the crumble topping. The crisp topping barely requires any more effort than the filling, just a willingness to get a lit bit more dirty.

First, blend the oats in the food processor until they become similar in texture to flour.

Add the butter, oats, oat flour, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt to a mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. You know it’s completely mixed in when there’s evenly distributed clumps of butter, oats, sugar and oat flour.

Assembly and cooking. Sprinkle the topping over the apples. Pop the dish into the oven until bubbly, brown and super crispy.  Let it rest for a few minutes before scooping into bowls, divvying them out and topping them all off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Obviously the ice cream makes this go up to six ingredients, but it’s worth it!


Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes! You can assemble the entire thing the morning of, or day before. Pull it out of the fridge and straight into a pre-heated oven. You could also make either the filling or the topping ahead. I would not however, completely bake it ahead of time if you want it to be crisp. Which leads me to my next question…

How is it leftover?

So good! But, it’s definitely not as crispy, so keep that in mind. However, it DOES become soft and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Just spoon a little bit into a bowl and microwave for 25-30 seconds. Top with ice cream.

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