Apple Crisp, Again

It was at an apple orchard in upstate New York. That it hit me. My children are growing up, and running away from me. See them in the picture? I … more »

Gluten Free Apple Crisp
It was at an apple orchard in upstate New York. That it hit me.
Gluten Free Apple Crisp
My children are growing up, and running away from me. See them in the picture?

I know. You hardly can. Me either. On account of all the running away going on.

What is it they say – the days go slowly, but the years fly by? I don’t know. It might be the other way around. It all makes my brain hurt. Like turning the clocks here and turning the clocks there. Fall back. Spring ahead. What does it all mean? I do not know. I do not want to know. Just wake me up before you go-go.

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

I suddenly want to bind their feet. And leave out the most important ingredient in a few of my son’s favorite recipes so that his future wife can’t make it just-like-mom. And other stuff that is not a source of personal pride for me.

There’s only one reasonable thing to do. I shall bake for them. I shall bake early, and I shall bake often. It shall be fragrant, and comforting. Warm and cozy. Get-in-my-belly. Like apple desserts. Like Apple Crisp.

My children prefer what I cook and bake to almost anything else, almost every single time. Would it be wrong to delight in that?  ‘Cause I totally don’t do that. Since I suspect it would be wrong. Except that I do. But I’ll deny it. Since it’s not right.

I took these 3 children of mine apple picking. With my husband. And my dear friend, and her two adorable & younger-than-mine children. So young are her children that they still smell like flowers. And honey. Flowers and honey. That’s what they smell like. Forget the apples, I’ll stick with the flowers and the honey. Then we came home, and I made pizza for everyone. And apple crisp. They ooooh’d and ahhhhh’d. They thank-you-mom’d.  It was so soft and warm, and smelled like love.

If you want to live in your family’s hearts forever, I suggest apple crisp. It comes together in a flash, since it’s nearly as easy as making apple sauce, and the active time is even less.

Gluten Free Apple Crisp
Peel, core, and slice the apples, then toss them with cinnamon-sugar. Mix up the topping (no electric mixer needed at all), smooth it on top with wet hands, and bake it. That’s it.
Gluten Free Apple Crisp
This recipe for apple crisp was on the blog before quite a long time ago. It even made its way into the cookbook. But the picture on the blog recipe was terrible. And the recipe isn’t printer-friendly. I finally got around to taking some proper pictures, so I thought I’d share it again here.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Apple Crisp, Again
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 to 8
Gluten-free apple crisp
  • 5 to 6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (Empire are my favorite, but any baking apple will work)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar divided, plus more for dusting
  • 2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • ½ cup gluten-free oats (can be replaced by an additional ¼ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or slivered toasted almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with unsalted butter and set it aside.
  2. To make the filling, combine the apples, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla in a medium-sized bowl, and stir the combine well. Place the apple mixture in the prepared pie plate, piled toward the middle of the plate.
  3. To make the topping, in a large bowl, blend the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla and blend well. Add the flour, xanthan gum, and oats, and beat the batter well until it becomes thicker and a bit more elastic. Add the (optional) nuts, and stir to distribute them evenly through the dough. The mixture should be very thick. Cover the apples with the topping, spreading it evenly with wet hands. Cover the pie plate with foil, place it in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the topping is lightly golden brown. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and sugar while still hot from the oven.
  4. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving. Serve warm.
Bean flour blends are not true all-purpose gluten-free flours, and should be avoided. Pamela's baking mix and Pamela's bread mix are multi-ingredient blends, and not intended to be all-purpose gluten-free flours. They are not appropriate for this recipe, or any other recipe that calls for all-purpose gluten-free flour. If you bake this for your family, they will love you. Like I love you.

What is your favorite way to use apples during apple season?



  • Karen Langley on Facebook

    Camping this weekend – this will be perfect to take along for desert on Friday night! Thanks Nicole!

  • Sarah D

    I LOVE to make applesauce and I was hoping to can some for the winter, but apples aren’t so cheap around here and we don’t have any local orchards. I miss living up north where I could get bushels of apples CHEAP!

    I totally agree about the kiddos. They grow up so quick, don’t they? It’s like you blink, and they’re grown up and you’re left wondering where all the time went. It’s hard to see them gain that independance, but so very important. I like the idea of leaving one key ingredient out of the recipe. There’s nothing like Mom’s cooking, right? :)

    • Nicole

      Hi, Sarah!
      I have lived in the Northeast all my life, so I never thought of not having an “apple season.” People talk about the change of seasons a lot around here, how they couldn’t move to the South or out West. I still feel like I could move and be just fine, but I would miss apple season. ;)
      Until this year, I was always so perfectly happy and fine to have them grow up. The natural order and all that. I wasn’t really allowed to be my own person. I had to fight for that. I want my children to be independent. I guess I reached the limits of my comfort with it, though, because 10 sounds a bit too old! I am going to have to come up with another way to keep ‘em hooked on my cooking, though. The blog and book(s) kinda ruined everything!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Elaine Finlay

    Fall is a time for nostalgia isn’t it? Crisp mornings. The smell of baking cinnamon. Piles of leaves to throw in the air and the sound of children’s laughter. I am so lucky to have grands nearby so I can relive the sounds and smells of fall.
    It matters what kind of apples you use to make your pies and crisps. The Gravensteins come first here in Nova Scotia: they are the perfect cooking apple. Next come the MacIntosh; sweet and crisp, but they go to mush when cooked. My all winter favourite (forgive me, I’m Canadian and I have to have the ‘U” in those words) and go-to cooking apple is the Cortland.
    Enjoy your fall as much as I enjoy mine!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Elaine,
      Now that you mention it, I agree. Fall is rather nostalgic. It is rife with ritual. That must be why. The relief from the heat of summer also doesn’t hurt.
      I have never had a Gravenstein apple. They sound wonderful, though. I love apple names. Even the hybrids, like Jonagold. I love Macintosh for eating, but yes, they are not for baking. Especially not in an apple crisp!
      Thank you for celebrating Fall with me. It’s by far my favorite time of year. Cheers!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Shauna Wagner on Facebook

    I got your book yesterday. Shopping today to stock my pantry. I LOVE the cook for a week and month section. Thank you. Thank you.
    And the kid thing is oh so hard. My baby boy is turning 11 this week. Thank you God that friends are having babies. Gotta get my fix somewhere. ;)

  • Saints and Spinners

    It’s apple season here in Washington State! We have a little apple tree that sometimes bears fruit, and this year it did. The apple crisp recipe is timely.

    A thought for the future: if you have any interest in developing a gf recipe for St. Lucia saffron buns (also known as “Lucia cats”) in time for December 13, I’d love to see it and try to make it. I laughed out loud when I first read about the oldest daughter bringing “a tray of cats” to her parents on St. Lucia Day.

    • Nicole

      Hey, there, Farida,
      It’s so nice to hear from you.
      I don’t think I realized that you live in Washington State. I’m almost embarrassed to have tried to teach you anything at all about apples, then. It’s so kind of you to pretend for me.
      I’ve never heard of St. Lucia saffron buns, but I will definitely look them up. I can’t wait to see if they are made with saffron! An assignment with a deadline. *yikes*
      xoxo Nicole
      UPDATE: I just googled, and they’re amazing! I have a Swedish aunt, and these sound vaguely familiar. I must make them. Great idea, Farida!

      • Saints and Spinners

        Yay! I love to hear “Great idea, Farida.” It makes me glow. But you knew that.

        • Nicole

          So happy to oblige, Farida. But then again, you knew that. ;)
          xoxo Nicole

  • Peggy

    Pictures makes one’s mouth water! Thanks for the recipe…again!
    Speaking from a grandmother’s point of view! As sad as it was to see my little ones grow into adults, getting to spend time with my granddaughter made it all so worth it! Enjoy them now so you can enjoy those grandkids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so proud of my son…the adult he has become! Yep, it was so worth it to see him grown!!! Nicole, your kids will come home to visit often when they are grown!!! The delights they will bring you will be worth it!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Peggy,
      Thank you for the perspective. I think this is what happened: my nostalgia surprised me! I had always been so focused on encouraging them to grow up, to be independent (since I know that that is how they develop confidence and can become content in their lives). Each year of their lives, I celebrated with and for them that they were doing it. Learn to ride a bike! Go to school! Learn to swim! Stand up for yourself! Be not afraid! Suddenly, with my oldest halfway through her 10th year, nostalgia hit me. I didn’t expect it. It helps to hear from you, on the other side of it all. It definitely helps. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Torey

    Another gorgeous recipe! My daughter (just 8 years old) has been baking non-stop for the past 2 days using your recipes. She has made the chocolate scones, the donut muffins and your thin chocolate chip cookies. (We need to order more Better Batter to keep up with her!). Your recipes are so great that she has been able to make them all by herself and everything has turned out perfectly (and she is very excited to be able to bake gf as she is the one who has celiac in our gf household). Thanks again!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Torey!
      That’s amazing that your 8 year old is baking! Maybe she’ll grow up to be a famous foodie, and she’ll tell people all about how her fabulous mom let her bake and bake to her heart’s content, and she rode that wave all the way into unparalleled success as an adult. How empowering for her, though, to be the one celiac and to take care of business. Love it! Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me about all of that, Torey. I feel like I can picture it all. :)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Peggy

        Torey, I love to hear of children wanting to learn to cook! Way to go with your 8 year old!!! My almost 3 year old granddaughter is always helping her other grandmother & I cook when we get together & we encourage her every chance we get. She loves to bake with her mother as well! Now if I can get her interested in quilting when she is a bit older, I’ll be dancing on the table top…well maybe not “on” the table top! lol

  • Gluten-Free Diet: A Shopping Guide on Facebook

    We love this time of the year because of the variety of apples available and the wonderful recipes everyone posts!! Apple Crisp is an all time favorite :)

  • Darlene

    Oh Nicole, you know I love you.. :fidgets uncomfortably in her seat: but I gotta say that I miss the pictures in the Recipe selection. I liked looking at the food, I’d pick something that looked the bestest of all the goodies, and then I’d click on it. The new list of recipes isn’t as appetizing and enticing as the old way. Am I no longer your bestie? I do love the new layout. I just miss the preview pics. :/ Sorry. Don’t hate me.
    Big hug,

    • Darlene

      Oh! I went to “Archives” and the pictures are there. Yay! You think of everything you Miss Smarty you!

      • Nicole

        Hi, Darlene,
        Glad you found the thumbnail pics in the archives. It’s not the same, I know, since it’s not by category. It’s something, though. :) Just so you know, I always want to hear what you think about how the site is set up. So few readers are willing to speak up about that sort of thing. It’s so valuable to me.
        xoxo Nicole

    • Nicole

      Hi, Darlene,
      We are besties. The thumbnails were just too cumbersome in the categories! I love that you spoke up, though, and told me that you were missing something. I wish I could keep them, but people weren’t really spending any time in the categories and couldn’t see the whole lot of recipes at a glance. Now that they’ve been switched, there is a lot more time being spent in the categories, and people are going deeper into the site. Much better overall. Except for you. Oh, just come over. I’ll make you whatever you like. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Darlene

        On my way!

  • Peggy

    I live in Sacramento, CA and we have an area just up Highway 50 in the Sierra Mountains called “Apple Hill”. We visit each year for the fresh picked apples. My son loves the apple donuts, pumpkin & apple pies! Love the fresh apple cider! We also have several pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms & a couple of wineries mixed in with the apple orchards! It’s a fun place to visit between September & Thanksgiving! Lotsa of art & craft items that make great Christmas gifts or for your own home! Nicole, fall is also my favorite time of the year with spring close behind!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Peggy,
      That sounds so idyllic. I wish I lived closer to mountains. I find that mountains provide a sense of perspective for me like nothing else really can. I do love fall, and I’m with you — spring is a close second. But in recent years we’re lucky if we get a few days of spring. Fall tends to be a bit more reliable. But just a bit.
      I keep thinking about Blueberry Hill, since you said Apple Hill. As in I found my thrill. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Peggy

        Nicole, I so agree with you about the mountains providing a sense of perspective. I lived in Colorado just north of Denver from 1995 to 2010 & spent every spare moment I could up in the Rocky Mountains (my favorite mountain range). Moved back to the Sacramento area in July 2010 when I retired to be close to my granddaughter. Very thankful the Sierra Mountains are as close to me as the Rocky Mountains were in Colorado. Some people are beach people…I’m a mountain person! Had to relearn how to cook at sea level again! Will not say how much food I burned/ruined the first month I was back here. lol I enjoy cooking/baking so much more now…don’t have to make adjustments to my recipes for the high altitude. :)

        • Nicole

          I always wondered why I never really loved the beach. It’s because a mountain person! The only problem is that I’m nowhere near mountains. The closest would be the Catskills, and they barely count — and aren’t very close at all. *sigh*
          xoxo Nicole

  • abby

    In the oven now!!! I had to use a butter sub (Organic Spectrum Shortening) for my dairy free kiddo. Hope it works!

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  • kathie

    Made it this weekend for a party. It was the dessert everyone ate first. I was lucky to even get a taste of it. Oh so yummy (and no one knew it was GF).

    • Nicole

      Hi, Kathie,
      That is so bittersweet! It must feel wonderful to make the most-wanted-dessert. But it would be nice to have a fat slice all your own, too! So glad it went over so well. You’re a natural!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Lee Bernstein

    What a wonderful recipe! Thank you for sharing. My husband loves apple crisp — I hope to make this over the weekend.

    • Nicole

      You bet, Lee. My pleasure!
      xoxo Nicole

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  • Jegilfix

    I am thinking of doubling this recipe and putting it in a 9×13 pyrex pan.  Do you think that would work?  Also want to use Earth Balance sticks instead of butter to make it non dairy.

  • Murmaid

    Can you use maple syrup instead of the sugar? Or another sweetener like raw agave nectar? I love the recipe but I can only have the two sweeteners above. I am totally new to this gluten free lifestyle.
    Thank you

    • gfshoestring

      Maple syrup or other liquid sweeteners cannot be substituted for granulated sugar without altering the moisture balance of the recipe, and often the level of sweetness, significantly. You’ll have to experiment!

  • Jmdowdellclawson

    My family and I love simple baked apples. Core and peel firm baking apples (Granny Smith are great, Macintosh’s will NOT work), fill the hollowed core with a mix of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and any other spices you happen to like (nutmeg, Chinese 5 Spice Powder, etc.). Sometimes I will roll the apples in the same mixture to coat the exterior as well. Place them in a greased glass baking dish and bake at 350 until soft (usually around 30 minutes). They’re great to serve very warm with GF vanilla bean ice cream (and sometimes caramel sauce, or homemade granola!)

  • kclark

    Miss Nicole, sometimes I just freak out at your timing. Russ’ family is coming over for dinner on Saturday to celebrate is birthday and there are a few of us gee effers.  Russ’ fav desserts are lemon bars (check!) and apple crisp (now I can check that one off too).  I am going to make both I think! 

This recipe was brought to you by Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring:
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