Easy Paleo Apple Crisp Recipe With Crumble Topping

As fall arrives, juicy apples are perfect for baking into an old-fashioned apple crisp. This beloved fall dessert brings together tender apples baked under a crunchy, crumbly topping for a perfect balance of textures and flavors. Made paleo by using coconut oil, nuts, and grain-free and gluten-free ingredients, this apple crisp recipe allows you to enjoy a cozy, comforting classic without derailing your healthy eating goals. This is a family favorite! 

Our whole family absolutely adores this grain-free and gluten-free apple crumble recipe – it’s one of our favorite apple desserts that we make several times throughout the fall season. With its streusel pecan topping and tender chunks of cinnamon-kissed apple filling, this classic fall dessert is so delicious it can even double as a weekend breakfast thanks to the clean ingredients!

We love indulging in this cozy, nourishing crisp on an autumn weekend morning paired with some sausage or eggs on the side. The kids can’t resist diving into the maple-sweetened layers of apples and crunchy nut crumble and it’s one of their favorite crumble recipes, this wholesome treat stands out as one of my kids’ most-requested for enjoying apple goodness at its finest. We just can’t get enough of the perfect balance of flavors and textures in this easy bake. It has become a beloved seasonal tradition in our home that we look forward to making together every year when the weather turns crisp.

Star Ingredient

The star ingredient is fresh apples. For best results, use a combination of sweet and slightly tart apple varieties. Granny Smith apples offers nice acidity while Gala, Fuji or Honeycrisp apples contribute sweetness. The mixed flavors and textures from an assortment of apples prevents a one-note filling. Peel, core and slice apples about 1/4 inch thick. Heaping mounds of raw apple slices may seem excessive, but they cook down into a fruit-packed filling.  A touch of lemon brightens the flavor while maple syrup lends a subtle caramel note to balance the tartness. Pumpkin pie spice imparts warmth ideal for fall while arrowroot starch gently thickens the filling. After a twenty-minute head start in the oven, the apples transform from raw fruit into a bubbling, aromatic apple sauce-like base. 

Apple Varieties

One of the best aspects of apple crisp is flexibility. Sweet apples and tart apples are the best apples to use, but almost any variety of apple works well. So feel free to use what looks best at the grocery store during peak apple season. Granny Smiths are a great choice for their tart flavor and ability to maintain shape during baking. But also mix in some sweeter apples like Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala or Pink Lady. Blind baking the apples first allows you to highlight their flavor before a crumb topping hides the fruit. While it tastes like the traditional apple pie there is the sweet and crunchy additions of the crisp topping that makes this dish stand out! 

Perfect for Breakfast or Dessert

This recipe makes enough for a crowd, perfect for gathering friends and family together during the fall. Serve warm from the oven and let guests dish up second helpings of fruit and crumble topping. Leftovers also store well for a few days and reheat nicely. The next day, enjoy a slice warmed in the oven or microwave along with a scoop of ice cream for an easy autumn treat.

Paleo Apple Crisp celebrates seasonal ingredients at their best. As part of the Paleo diet, this dessert skips inflammatory refined flour and dairy products. There is no refined sugar like brown sugar.  Coconut oil offers a vegan butter alternative with health benefits of lauric acid. Pecans, walnuts and almonds provide crunchy plant-based protein and healthy fats to keep you satisfied. So while this tastes like a splurge, this healthy apple crisp actually provides balanced nutrition.  

Because of the clean ingredients list and lack of refined sugar, we also love enjoying this gluten-free apple crisp for weekend breakfasts on cool autumn mornings. I’ll often whip up this easy recipe with just a few simple ingredients and bake while we prep other breakfast foods like eggs or sausage. It’s become a favorite tradition to sit down as a family over hearty plates of homemade apple crisp paired with breakfast meats and juices. The kids love diving into the tender apples and crunchy nut crumble sweetened only with natural maple syrup – such a tasty way to start a fall day! Paired with protein, this fruit crisp makes for a balanced, nutrient-packed breakfast the whole family enjoys.

What You Need to Make Paleo Apple Crisp

  • Granny Smith apples (about 5 large or 7 small) – Granny Smith apples are the perfect choice for apple crisp recipes for a few reasons. First, they hold their shape beautifully during baking, yielding tender yet intact fruit chunks in the finished crisp. This creates delightful forkfuls mixing warm filling and crumb topping. Grannies also lend the perfect balance of sweet yet tart flavor to contrast the crumb’s sweetness. Their bright acidity cuts through richness beautifully. Plus they yield a saucy filling thanks to their natural juices without being waterlogged.
  • Maple syrup – You can use honey as a substitute, but I personally like the warm sweetness that comes from maple syrup.
  • Apple cider or apple juice – These ingredients add that extra apple flavor and help create the sauce for the crisp.
  • Fresh lemon juice – A splash of acid from fresh lemon juice or even fresh orange juice helps cut through the sweetness and creates a more balanced flavor profile.
  • Arrowroot starch – To keep this recipe paleo and in lieu of corn starch, arrowroot is used.  The only substitution I would recommend is tapioca starch.
  • Pumpkin pie spice – You can also use apple pie spice.  I just happened to have pumpkin pie spice on hand when I wrote the recipe down and find most people have pumpkin pie spice but may not have apple spice. No need to add another spice to your collection. The flavor profiles are very similar.  

Crumble Topping

  • Organic coconut oil – If tolerated, butter works well too.  You can use a pastry cutter to cut the cold butter into the remaining crumble ingredients.
  • Pecans or walnuts – Really any nuts work well for the crunch factor.  I typically used pecans or walnuts as these are excellent fall varieties.
  • Blanched almond flour – Almond meal is a great substitute and will help create that crunchy texture of the crumble.
  • Pure maple syrup – Honey also works, or you could also try coconut sugar.  If using coconut sugar, you may need to add a little extra coconut oil or butter for added moisture.
  • Pure vanilla extract – There’s not replacement here!  Vanilla extract is essential int this delicious apple crisp.
  • Pumpkin pie spice – Again apple spice may be used.
  • Sea salt – Just a pinch is all you need to enhance the flavors.
apple crisp

How to Make Paleo Apple Crisp

Prepare the apple crisp filling:

  • Prepare the crisp apple filling: Peel, core, and slice 2 1/4 lbs Granny Smith apples (about 5 large) into 1/4-inch thick wedge pieces to yield enough fruit to heap the baking vessel. Place raw apple wedges into a spacious mixing bowl.
  • Sprinkle the apple slices liberally with 2 tsp pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice blend along with 2 tsp arrowroot starch. Toss everything together with your hands, ensuring apple pieces get fully coated in spices and starch. This adds lots of fall flavor while thickening released juices.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, 1/4 cup apple cider (or juice), and juice of 1 lemon. Pour the sweet maple liquid over the coated apple slices. Toss again until the maple mixture evenly moistens all apples. This adds sweetness and prevents oxidation while baking.

Prepare Crumble Topping:

  • Chop pecans or walnuts finely in food processor for crunchy texture and nuttiness.
  • Add blanched almond flour to bind crumbs together into base.
  • Mix in maple syrup to sweeten without overpowering nuts and spices.
  • Add pumpkin pie spice to complement apple filling.
  • Include pinch of sea salt to enhance flavors.

Once Apples Are Pre-Baked:  

  • Give apple filling a stir to create even layer.
  • Scoop crumble mixture; crumble evenly over apples.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until deep golden brown and filling bubbles at edges.

Before Serving:

  • Allow crisp to cool a few minutes so juices thicken. 
  • Dish into bowls and add toppings of your choice: homemade caramel sauce, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
  • Fruit and crumble interplay creates indulgent flavor.
  • Offers balanced nutrition unlike versions with white flour and butter.

Enjoy the nostalgic flavors of cinnamon sugar apples baked under a crisp, buttery crumb topping – all gluten free, grain free, dairy free and refined sugar free. This Paleo Apple Crisp proves you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or comfort to stick to a healthy diet, even when indulging your sweet tooth. As the weather cools down, heat up your kitchen and treat yourself to this nutritious take on a beloved fall classic.

How to Store

Follow these storage tips to enjoy scrumptious gluten-free apple crisp throughout the autumn season!

  • Refrigerator: Allow apple crisp to cool completely before covering tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. The crisp will last fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days stored in an airtight container.
  • Freezer: Divide leftover apple crisp into individual serving sizes on a sheet tray or plate lined with parchment paper. Once flash frozen, transfer portions into freezer bags or airtight freezer containers separated by parchment paper. Press out excess air before sealing bags/containers. Properly frozen and sealed, the apple crisp will keep beautifully for 2-3 months.

To reheat refrigerated or frozen portions, bake pre-portioned apple crisp in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. Microwave single servings about 60 seconds as well, checking frequently to prevent overheating frozen or chilled crisp. Serve rewarmed crisp à la mode or with whipped cream if desired!

apple crisp

Easy Paleo Apple Crisp Recipe With Crumble Topping

Sarah Erickson
This apple crisp is made with clean ingredients and is perfect for dessert a special breakfast.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 2 ¼ pounds Granny Smith apples about 5 large or 7 small, cored and sliced into ¼” thick wedges
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ apple cider or apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Crumble Topping

  • 1/3 cup organic coconut oil softened
  • 1 cup pecan or walnut pieces
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Generously grease 9×13 baking dish. Place the sliced apples in a large bowl.
  • Sprinkle arrowroot and pumpkin pie spice all over apples. Stir to evenly combine over apples.
  • Whisk together the maple syrup, apple cider (or juice), lemon juice. Pour over apple mixture.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile mix together coconut oil, pecan or walnut pieces, almond flour, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
  • Once the apples have baked for 20 minutes, give them a good stir and redistribute them evenly in the prepared baking dish.
  • Drop small spoonfuls of the crumble mixture evenly over the apple filling.
  • Return apple crisp to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the top is nice and golden.
  • Let the crisp rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream, or paleo whipped cream.


Allow to cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container or use plastic wrap to cover the dish 
Keyword apple, apple crisp, crumble topping, dessert, fall, fall treat, gluten free, grain free, granny smith, paleo

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