Apple Desserts Without Oats


Apple desserts without oats? Yes, you read that right! Oats are a staple ingredient used to make many moist and tasty treats, but they’re not necessary. In fact there are plenty of healthy substitutes out there… Of course if you’re looking to cook healthy desserts , we’ve got you covered as well!

Cinnamon Apple Crisp Without Oats

Cinnamon Apple Crisp Without Oats is one of the best desserts for fall. This easy fruit crisp recipe is simple and delicious. Made with Granny Smith apples, brown sugar and plenty of cinnamon, it’s even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce!

One of the best things about fall is that it’s apple season. Everyone in my family loves apples in just about any form, but we especially enjoy eating them when they’ve been baked to perfection in a sweet and juicy apple crisp.

It’s funny but I had never even heard of this simple fall dessert until I got married. Growing up, my favorite apple recipes were apple pies and caramel apples, and lots of applesauce. But the Hubs’ mom always made classic apple crisp after the family trip to the apple orchards.

So, a lot of apple crisps are made with oats. Actually, it seems like almost everyone else uses oats in their apple crisp recipes. The Pioneer Woman’s apple crisp is one of the few recipes for apple crisp without oats that I have seen.

This easy apple crisp recipe is made without oats, and it’s incredibly simple to make — easier than apple pie!

Anyway, like I said, this easy dessert is basically Grandma’s recipe for old fashioned apple crisp, except that I  like to add a bit more cinnamon when I make it. That’s why I call this tasty version Cinnamon Apple Crisp.

Best Apples to Use

I always use Granny Smith apples when baking or making sweet apple desserts. You get a nice balance of tart and sweet.

Plus, these tart apples are firm enough to hold up well when baked. If you want a slightly different taste, try honey crisp, golden delicious, gala or pink lady apples.


Not only is this delicious recipe easy to prepare, but it’s also made with simple ingredients. Most of these are pantry staples!

  • Granny Smith apples
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • All purpose flour
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon juice
  • Butter

How to Make Apple Crisp without Oats

First, you wash, peel, core and cut the apples into thin slices. I’m not the best apple peeler in the world, but it’s fine if there are some peels left on.

Next, place the sliced apples into a prepared baking dish. A 9 x 13-inch pan is perfect! Then, pour the lemon juice over the apples, so they don’t brown.

Mix the sugars and cinnamon together, and sprinkle them over the apples. You can do this in the baking dish! Then, dot with butter.

To make the crisp topping, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. next, cut the butter into the flour mixture with a knife, fork, pastry cutter or pastry blender.

I use room temperature butter for best results in fruit crisp toppings — not super cold butter or melted butter. It’s easier to mix but still makes a crumbly topping.

Next, lightly pat the topping over the cinnamon apple filling. Pop the apple crisp into the oven, bake it until the top is golden brown, and you’re done! Super easy.

Topping the warm apple crisp, or any fruit crisps, with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream really takes this simple dessert to the next level.

If you serve this apple dessert while it’s still warm, the scoop of ice cream melts into the crumbly topping and baked cinnamon apples, and makes it cool and creamy.

The brown sugar in the apple filling gives this delicious fall dessert a hint of caramel flavor — yum! You can also top the crisp with caramel syrup or maple syrup for one of the most comforting desserts ever!


This recipe goes a long way back in my family, and there are differing stories about how it came to be.  

One story says it originated in my Great Grandparent’s restaurant in a little Iowan town.  The second story is that my Grandma got it off of a sugar sack (yes, I said sack) many, many years ago.  As she put it, “I’m 75 years old, so you know that was a long time ago.”

Either way, I couldn’t be more thankful for family heirlooms like these.  It is the perfect apple crisp.  

It’s like a big Grandma hug that fills your soul to the very top with comfort. It’s the best old-fashioned apple crisp out there.

Over the years, my mom has evolved this recipe and it’s what I’ve grown to love. Not just me either, it’s a favorite for everyone who’s tried it (not bias at all…).

My mom doubles the amount of buttery topping, because the more crisp butter topping, the better. She tends to have a way of making desserts extra indulgent.

You’re going to love the buttery crisp topping. Since there are no oats in the topping, it melts in your mouth with each bite, melding into the sweet, juicy apples. There’s nothing like it, and once you have it, you won’t go back.

I honestly can’t eat apple crisp any other way now…as examples with Cherry Crisp, and Blueberry Almond Crisp. No-oats crisps are truly amazing.

Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours, easy, best-ever apple crisp.


Please be sure to see the full recipe card below for the complete instructions and notes.

This recipe is absolutely so easy to make! From start to finish it takes about an hour, but most of that is the time it takes to bake it. Waiting is always the hardest part. Here are the simple recipe steps:

  1. Slice the apples fairly thin. You don’t want them falling apart during the baking process because they’re too thin, or because of the apple type

2. Mix the apples with sugar and cinnamon. A little water, too, to aid in mixing. One reader recommended using apple cider in place of the water. I think that is an excellent substitution if you have it on hand already! You can mix the apples, cinnamon, and sugar in the baking dish you’ll use to save on dishes, too!

3. Make the crisp topping. Use a separate mixing bowl and a pastry cutter to blend together butter, flour, and granulated sugar until the butter is into a pea-sized mixture.

With the apple mixture in an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish (this is totally flexible!), gently press the topping on the apples and then bake until bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

The first bite of this heavenly dessert will make you fall in love. It transports me right back to being 11 years old again on those Sunday nights, snuggled in and cozy, filled with all the love of the strong women in my family. I’m excited to hear how it becomes part of your fall tradition in your family, too.

So what are you waiting for? Run to the store, apple orchard, or your neighbors to pick some fresh in-season apples and get to choppin’!  The best is yet to come!


What type of apples are best for apple crisp?

Any apples that are best for baking will work in this recipe. If you’d use it in a pie, you should use it here. You want it sturdy enough to hold up to the baking. I recommend a sweet yet tart apple for the best flavor, too. I love Jonathan’s or Honeycrisp, but a good ol’ granny smith apple will work as well.

Can I use a different-sized baking dish?

Yes, you can! This recipe is pretty customizable to the size of a baking dish. I tend to use a more oval casserole pan and a more traditional square baker. The baking time for this recipe is written for an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish, however, you can adjust it as needed. For a larger baking dish, the crisp will be thinner and require less cooking time. Adjust accordingly.

How should I store it?

For the first day, I cover the apple crisp with foil and store it at room temperature. If it lasts any longer than that, I recommend storing the pan covered in the fridge.

How should I reheat the apple crisp?

If you are reheating individual portions, I like to heat it in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until warmed through. If you are reheating an entire pan, make sure the pan is at room temperature (don’t take a cold pan and stick it in a hot oven). Then heat in a 350F oven until warmed through.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! You can prepare the apple crisp without baking, and store it in the fridge until you are ready to do so. Otherwise, you can bake the apple crisp and then reheat it when you’re ready to serve. Alternatively, you can bake it ahead of time the day you’ll be enjoying it, and serve it at room temperature.

What is the best way to enjoy the apple crisp?

I love it warm, fresh out of the oven, served with a scoop of ice cream and caramel drizzle. It’s also great at room temperature. And no one could argue with a little whipped cream on top.

Tips to Keep Apples from Browning

To keep the apples from browning, place cut apples into cool water with lemon juice. Use about 1/4 cup lemon juice per 4-6 cups of water.

If you don’t have lemon, use salt or citric acid.

  • 1 tablespoon salt per 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid per 4-6 cups water

I fill my 8 cup glass measuring cup about two-thirds full with lemon water to start. Then I place the apple slices in the lemon water as they are prepared. This makes it easy to see how many apples I have sliced.

Once I have enough apples, I drain them and move them to the baking dish. Then I use the measuring cup to mix the topping.

Cameo and Cortland apples naturally resist browning, and are favorites for baking.

Best Apples for Apple Crisp

You can use any apples for this apple crisp without oats, but the flavor and texture changes. We use wild apples from the tree on the fence line, or whatever we have available.

If you’re buying apples, some popular varieties for crisps and pies include:

  • Granny Smith
  • Golden Delicious
  • Honeycrisp
  • Braeburn
  • Cameo
  • Cortland

If you have access to heirloom apples, look for:

  • Northern Spy
  • Caroline Red June
  • Gravenstein
  • Rhode Island Greening
  • Cripp’s Pink
  • Twenty Ounce
  • Yellow Bellflower
  • Winesap
  • Arkansas Black
  • Idared

A mix of tart and sweet apples, or soft and firm apples, adds interest to the crisp. Try Pink Lady with Granny Smith, Braeburn with Golden Delicious, or Gravenstein with Greening.

Tips for a Crispier Apple Crisp

People sometimes ask, “Why didn’t my apple crisp get crispy?”, especially if they have an apple crisp without oats or nuts.

For a crispier crisp, it helps to start with room temperature butter instead of cold butter. You want the butter to cling to the other ingredients and bind everything together.

You might also want to slightly adjust the amount of flour. I use a brand of flour that is quite dry, so this flour/butter ratio works for me. With a different brand, you might want to increase to 1 cup of flour.

It’s best to use a wider baking dish, to spread the topping evenly over the fruit. This helps to make sure the topping is properly cooked an some liquid will steam off.

If you have some on hand, try demerara, maple sugar, or coconut sugar. Sugar with larger crystals adds a little more “crunch” and texture to your topping.

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