Butter Free Apple Crumble


Now, I realise a recipe for butter free apple crumble might not be the most captivating blog post you’ve read all month but hear me out… We are very excited to share this recipe with you, because it really is very delicious. And we love it when other people like what we do in the kitchen! I have to say that the first time we made this, the kitchen smelled wonderful. It was a mixture of cinnamon, apples and buttery pastry – must be the smell of apple crumble being baked! For us it’s comfort food at its best.

Dairy-Free Apple Crumble

This Dairy-Free (Vegan!) Apple Crumble delivers everything this quintessential fall dessert should–delightfully sweet aromas, super crunchy topping, jammy apples–without the need for any butter.

Dairy-Free Apple Crumble // FoodNouveau.com

Five years ago, I started working on what would become my first e-book, Sweet Spot. While working on the overall structure of the book, I brainstormed to jot down all the dairy-laden desserts I couldn’t fully enjoy anymore. My goal—with the e-book but also as a dessert-lover—was to find ways to substitute dairy products in my favorite sweet treats without sacrificing taste. So many dairy-free desserts I’d sampled were insipid versions of the real thing! Some lactose-intolerant people can just cross off dairy from their lives, but I’m not one of them. I love dairy and the texture and flavor it provides to dishes. Sadly, by that point, I had made myself sick several times by overindulging in butter-based pastries and cakes and cookies, so something had to give.

Though I worked hard on testing recipes for Sweet Spot, not all of my new favorite dairy-free desserts ended up in the book, which focused on special-occasion desserts. The one go-to, super-easy, dairy-free recipe I’ve been making several times a year ever since I perfected it is this dairy-free apple crumble.

Dairy-Free Apple Crumble // FoodNouveau.com

I grew up enjoying my Mom’s crumbles every fall and have a perpetual longing for those comforting aromas when fall rolls around. The dairy substitute in this dairy-free apple crumble is a really easy one: oil. Using oil instead of butter in the crumble has real nutritional benefits if you choose one that’s low in saturated fat and contains additional nutrients. See the Helpful Tips below for more information about the oils you can use in this recipe.

The crunch in this dairy-free apple crumble comes not only from the usual flour/sugar/fat combination, but from the addition of nuts, which also help to enhance the nutritional value of the dessert. I love indulgent desserts and pastries, but I’m all for making sensible choices when making them at home. In my ideal world, all desserts would taste amazing and at the same time satisfy the sweetest appetites! This dairy-free apple crumble checks all those boxes.

I like to serve this dairy-free apple crumble warm with ice cream, but the combination of oats, nuts, and a ton of apples in this makes it perfectly suitable for breakfast, too! I gladly start cool fall days with a comforting bowl of this crumble topped with vanilla yogurt. I think you should too!

Dairy-Free Apple Crumble // FoodNouveau.com


  • The secret’s in the oil: You can use a variety of oils in this crumble. Smooth-tasting extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil are two obvious candidates, and you can also go with versatile choices, such as grapeseed oil and sunflower oil. But my favorite oil to use in this recipe is walnut oil. Not only does it wonderfully emphasize the flavor of walnuts used in the crumble, but it adds good-for-you omega-3s to the dessert. What’s not to like? My favorite oil brand is La Tourangelle: they make top-quality products that enhance the flavors of dishes I use them in. (This is not a sponsored post, I simply really love the brand and I’ve been using their products for years!) 
  • Play around with apples: I like to mix apple varieties up when I make crumbles. Combining sweet and tart apples creates a more complex flavor and the best texture. Mix and match any of these well-known apple varieties for guaranteed deliciousness: Braeburn, Cortland, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Lobo, McIntosh, Melrose, Paulared, Pink Lady, Spartan. There may be even more perfect-for-crumbles apple varieties available where you live: ask your local apple growers for recommendations.
  • Vary the nuts: My favorite nut to use in this dairy-free apple crumble is the walnut, but pecans and almonds are great choices too. No need to toast the nuts before adding them to the crumble because they will get that toast during baking. If the nuts you’re using are already toasted, keep an eye on the crumble during baking to make sure the nuts don’t burn. If the crumble gets golden brown before the apples are fully cooked, loosely cover the crumble with foil to prevent it from turning too dark.

Butterless Apple Crumble Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Serves 8.


  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces, about 3/4 cup) flour (I use spelt flour)
  • 100 grams (1 cup) rolled grains of your choice (oat, spelt, wheat, rye, quinoa, rice, barley… or a mix thereof)
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) rapadura sugar
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar (you can use the combination of unrefined sugars that you prefer, or just one)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use fresh cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mango powder (at Indian markets ; substitute the spice of your choice)
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) oil (I use a bottled blend of four organic oils)
  • 1.5 kilos organic apples (3 1/3 pounds, about 8 medium), preferably a mix of varieties, some that keep their shape when cooked, some that don’t


  1. Make the crumble topping up to a day in advance: in a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients from flour to oil, and stir well with a fork to combine, making sure all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the oil. If making in advance, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge.
  2. On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Peel the apples in alternating vertical stripes so that you retain some, but not all of the peel. Quarter and core the apples, then cut into smallish chunks.
  3. Arrange the apple chunks over the bottom of a baking dish (the one I generally use is a 25-cm or 10″ square) and sprinkle evenly with the topping.
  4. Insert in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until the apples are tender and the topping golden brown, checking regularly to make sure it doesn’t darken too much (if it does, cover loosely with a piece of parchment paper).
  5. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. You can bake the crumble a few hours in advance, and reheat slightly before serving: if the oven was in use for the main course, I’ll just put the crumble in the cooling oven while we eat. The leftovers are fantastic straight out of the fridge the next day.

This vegan apple crumble is a crowd-pleasing dessert. There’s a secret ingredient for a moist and flavourful crumble topping, and two varieties of apple make a delicious filling.

I can’t think of many occasions when apple crumble and custard wouldn’t go down a treat. Sunday lunches, family suppers, fancy dinner parties… crumble is a welcome guest anywhere, any time.

This is a failsafe recipe with a few handy hints to make a really sensational crumble, just like Grandma’s, (or better!). This is quite a big crumble – it will serve 8, but it also freezes well or keeps for a few days in the fridge to keep the crumble moments happening right through the week.

*marks an affiliate link – I will earn a small commission if you order a product via this link. Many thanks for your support.



Apples I’ve always used half and half cooking apples and eating apples in crumbles and pies, and have done so here. The cooking apples are tart, and turn quite mushy as they cook. The eating apples are much sweeter and hold their shape. So when you use both, you get a mushy, apple-y sauce with beautiful chunks of firm apple, and just the right level of sweetness. I used Bramleys and Braeburns, but any good eating apples will do.

Cornflour is a secret ingredient in the apple filling to give you a glossy thickness to the apple ‘sauce’. If you don’t have any you can just leave it out but it really does add something lovely to the filling.

Apple Juice is used here to add an extra apple-y kick to the filling, (though you can just substitute with water if you don’t have any handy).

Dairy-free butter The ‘block’ butters are best for rubbing in to flour (rather than a tub of spread). I used the new Flora Plant Butter, but I also love Naturli butter if you can find it.

Dairy-free cream This is the ‘secret ingredient’ in the crumble mix I mentioned. A tip I picked up from master baker Dan Lepard in his book ‘Short and Sweet’* – rubbing some cream (or milk) through the crumble mix to stop it being too powdery, and more crumbly. 2 tablespoon is the absolute maximum though, or it will turn into a ball of dough. If you’re using a food processor instead of rubbing in by hand, go lightly and add it just splash by splash.


There are so many ways to mix up this basic crumble recipe. How about

  • Mixing some jumbo oats through the crumble mixture and sprinkling more over the top, for a flapjack-style crumble top?
  • Adding dark chocolate chips to the crumble mix and serving with chocolate custard, (melted dark chocolate stirred through your usual vegan custard of choice)?
  • Adding blackberriesraspberries or cherries to the apple mix for some variety
  • Using pears instead of (or as well as) apples?


You can freeze this crumble either before or after cooking – what a treat to find in the freezer on a cold evening!

If you freeze before cooking, you will need to defrost it fully before putting in the oven, or it will cook unevenly and the edges will burn whilst the centre is still frozen.

If you freeze after cooking, you can just microwave it to defrost and reheat. It won’t be quite as crisp and crumbly as when you first made it, but still a lovely treat.

What Are the Best Apples For Baking?

There are several types of apples that I like to bake with. When choosing a type of apple to bake with, you want to make sure that the apples don’t turn into mush. The best baking apples keep their shape.

  • Granny Smith Apples are a little tart and not overly sweet. They are popular for making apple pie. Granny Smith’s keep their shape.
  • Honey Crisp Apples are my favorite type of apples. They are crisp and sweet. They are perfect for eating or for use in baking.
  • Gala Apples are crisp and not overly sweet. They are great for baking because they are a firm apple that is also sweet.
  • Golden Delicious Apples are sweet and are softer apples. A lot of times you don’t even need to peel these apples when you use them in a recipe. Golden Delicious apples are often used in making applesauce and apple butter.

Tips For Making the Best Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

  • I always peel my apples when making an apple crisp. The skins of the apples do not break down when baking and it makes for a tougher texture.
  • I use a vegetable peeler and then an apple slicer to the core and slice the apples. Then I chop the apple slices into smaller pieces.
  • Make sure your oats are gluten-free. Not all oats are gluten-free.
  • Do not over mix the crumble topping. The crumble topping should be chunky.
  • You can add nuts, raisins, or cranberries to their apple crisp.

Can I Make the Apple Crisp Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can prep this gluten-free apple dessert ahead of time. When making the filling, add an extra teaspoon of lemon juice to help the apples not to get too brown. Store the apple filling in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

You can make the crumble ahead of time as well. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, remove everything from the refrigerator, assemble and bake as directed.

Can I Freeze The Apple Crisp?

Once the apple crisp has completely cooled, place it in a freezer-safe container. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in a microwave or in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Are Oats Gluten-Free?

This gluten-free apple crisp topping is made with certified gluten-free oatmeal. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but most oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. Cross-contamination can even happen in fields where wheat, rye, or barley are also present.

It is safest to use oats that are certified gluten-free and from purity protocol oats. Certified gluten-free oats are tested for levels of gluten. Purity protocol oats are not only tested for gluten but are also grown in a dedicated gluten-free field.

It is also important to note that not everyone following the gluten-free diet can tolerate gluten-free oats.

Gluten-Free Flour

This gluten-free apple crisp is made with Pillsbury gluten-free flour. It is a cup-for-cup all-purpose rice flour blend that already has xanthan gum.

Most gluten-free all-purpose flour blends have xanthan gum already in them. The xanthan gum helps replace the elasticity and texture of gluten.

Make sure to check to see if the brand of gluten-free flour you are using has xanthan gum in it. If it does, do not add extra xanthan gum to the recipe or you will get gummy baked goods!

I like Pillsbury gluten-free flour. Not all gluten-free flours are created equal. You may experience different baking results depending on the gluten-free flour blend you choose.

Pro Tip For Measuring Gluten-Free Flour

The best way to measure gluten-free flour is the “spoon & level” method. I use a spoon to scoop the flour out of the bag and into the measuring cup. Then I use the back of a knife to level off the top of the measuring cup.

Please do not scoop the flour out of the bag with your measuring cup. If you do, you could end up with more flour than is called for in the recipe.

Dairy-Free and Vegan Apple Crisp

I have also included a dairy-free and vegan option for this gluten-free apple crisp recipe. For the dairy-free and vegan version of this recipe, I used Smart Balance butter and unsweetened almond milk.

You can use your favorite dairy-free or vegan milk and butter to make this gluten-free and dairy-free and vegan apple crisp.

Most of my family, including me, is also dairy-free. So I always try and have a dairy-free option to my gluten-free recipes.

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