The Best Fruit-Sweetened Apple Crisp

The best fruit-sweetened apple crisp. This recipe is sweetened with apples and dates, plus it's made with a hearty and nutritious spelt and oat topping. It's packed with fiber and makes for a perfect fall breakfast, snack or dessert.

prep time

20 minutes

cook time

40 minutes

servings

8
apple crisp in a cast-iron skillet with 3 scoops of ice cream on top

The best fruit-sweetened apple crisp. This recipe is sweetened with apples and dates, plus it’s made with a hearty and nutritious spelt and oat topping. It’s packed with fiber and makes for a perfect fall breakfast, snack or dessert.

fruit-sweetened apple crisp in a cast-iron skillet with ice cream on top

This recipe was originally posted in 2016 and it has been a blog favorite ever since. The recipe now has new photos, extra details and a new and improved crisp!

This apple crisp is perfect for a nutritious fall breakfast, snack or dessert. It’s packed with fiber thanks to the apples, dates, oats and spelt flour, plus it’s sweetened with dates for a lower sugar option. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a classic apple crisp (I have a classic vegan apple crisp recipe here), but I love having a fruit-sweetened option as well. Both are delicious in their own way.

I hesitated to call this recipe “the best” apple crisp because first of all, I’m not that confident in myself and second of all, it’s based on my opinion. However, I couldn’t find another fruit-sweetened apple crisp out there – At least not when I first created this recipe. So, to me, this is the best (and only) fruit-sweetened apple crisp I could find.

Fruit-Sweetened Apple Crisp Ingredients:

  • Apples: Use your favorite apples for apple crisp. I have a few suggestions below.
  • Lemon juice: Added to the apples to prevent browning and to balance the sweetness with a light acidity.
  • Cinnamon: A generous amount of cinnamon for flavor. You could also add a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Spelt flour: For more flour options, check out the FAQ section.
  • Butter: I use vegan Becel instead of butter but use what you prefer.
  • Oats: Use rolled oats for the best texture.
  • Dates: Use soft Medjool dates for the best results. I did include an option for using dates that aren’t as soft.
  • Salt: I used a touch of fine grain sea salt. It helps balance the light sweetness of the recipe.
apples seen from the top
a peeled apple with the peel on the side
apple slices in a bowl
apple crisp topping in a bowl

How to Make Fruit-Sweetened Apple Crisp:

Here are the simple steps to make a delicious fruit-sweetened apple crisp at home.

  1. Prepare the Apples

    Slice and peel the apples and place them in a greased 12″ cast-iron pan. Add the lemon juice, water, flour, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Stir to evenly coat the apples.

  2. Prepare the Crisp Topping

    Add the vegan butter and chopped Medjool dates to a medium bowl and mash together until well combined. You don’t want any large pieces of dates. Add the flour, oats and salt. Stir to combine, then crumble the mixture on top of the apples.

  3. Bake

    Bake for 40 minutes or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. Serve with your favorite ice cream if desired.

Fruit-Sweetened Apple Crisp FAQ:

Can I Make this Recipe Vegan?

Yes! You can easily make this recipe vegan by using vegan butter. I always make it using vegan Becel. You can use regular butter if you’re not looking for a vegan recipe. Note that the vegan Becel is salted, so you might need to add an extra pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter.

Can I Make this Recipe Gluten-Free?

Yes! You can replace the flour with a 1:1 gluten-free flour mix. You can also use oat flour or rice flour. Make sure to use certified gluten-free oats for a 100% gluten-free recipe.

Can I Replace the Spelt Flour with Another Type of Flour?

Yes, you can use all-purpose white or whole wheat flour if preferred. You can also use a gluten-free flour mix as mentioned above.

What Are the Best Apples to Make Apple Crisp?

To make the apple crisp, make sure to use apples that keeps their shape during cooking. Braeburn, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Golden delicious are all good options. I also made the recipe with Gala and Cortland apples and it turned out well.

Do I Need to Peel the Apples to Make Apple Crisp?

No, you don’t need to. You can keep the peels if you want to save time and if you want extra fiber. Just note that it will add more texture and won’t be as soft as the apple center. The results will also depend on the type of apple that you’re using.

More Apple Recipes to Try:

And if you want to top the apple crisp with date-sweetened ice cream, you can try my Cashew Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream. Or use your favorite ice cream, it doesn’t need to be fruit-sweetened of course!

fruit-sweetened apple crisp with spoon and ice cream
fruit-sweetened apple crisp on small plates with a scoop of ice cream

Watch How to Make the Recipe:

apple crisp in a cast-iron skillet with 3 scoops of ice cream on top
Print Pin
5 from 5 votes

The Best Fruit-Sweetened Apple Crisp

The best fruit-sweetened apple crisp. This recipe is sweetened with apples and dates, plus it's made with a hearty and nutritious spelt and oat topping. It's packed with fiber and makes for a perfect fall breakfast, snack or dessert.
Course Dessert
Cuisine vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 8 medium apples, peeled (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Topping

  • 3/4 cup vegan butter (or butter/margarine of choice)
  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour, spoon and level
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12" cast-iron pan with vegan butter.
  • Slice and peel the apples and place them in the cast-iron pan. Add the lemon juice, water, flour, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Stir to evenly coat the apples.

Prepare the Topping

  • Add the vegan butter and chopped Medjool dates to a medium bowl and mash together until well combined. You don't want any large pieces of dates.
  • Add the flour, oats and salt. Stir to combine, then crumble the mixture on top of the apples.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. Serve with your favorite ice cream if desired.

Video

Notes

If your dates are too dry to mash with the butter, soak them in boiling water for 15 minutes or until soft. Remove any excess water and mash them. Let them cool before you add them to the bowl with the butter. 
If preferred, you can leave the peel on the apples.
To make the apple crisp, make sure to use apples that keeps their shape during cooking. Braeburn, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Golden delicious are all good options. I also made the recipe with Gala and Cortland apples and it turned out well.
This recipe also works with all-purpose white and whole wheat flour. To make it gluten-free, you can use brown rice flour, certified gluten-free oat flour or 1:1 gluten-free flour mix.
This recipe has been updated for better results since it was first posted in 2016. The old option had 1/2 cup of butter instead of 3/4 cup (the crisp is now much less dry). It also used 1/4 cup of dates instead of 1/2 cup and they were blended with water. You can avoid this extra step by using soft dates (the crisp also doesn’t get as dark without the added water, which is great). Finally, I added a few extra ingredients to the apples to add more flavor and for a better texture. Originally, they were only mixed with lemon juice and cinnamon. If you want to make the old version, you can do that instead. 

If you make this fruit-sweetened apple crisp, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I love to hear from you guys. And of course, if you try this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram!


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Comments

19 responses to “The Best Fruit-Sweetened Apple Crisp”

  1. Nole Avatar
    Nole

    What can be used as a date substitute? Raisins?

    1. Unsweetened Caroline Avatar

      Hi! My first choice would be 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup. If you use raisins, you wouldn’t have the same uniform sweetness, but you could certainly try it. Hope this helps!

  2. Amy Rosebrock Avatar

    This looks amazing! Using dates as a sweetener is brilliant!
    Seems to me that using dates you would still be able to get that golden brown crisp that sugar normally makes. I have found the Truvia blend does the trick, but am not a fan of using it, plus having to abide by a mainly Candida diet, Truvia still has too much sugar in it, so I have struggled finding ways to be able to enjoy holiday treats. I will be trying this one for sure though! Thank you!

    1. Unsweetened Caroline Avatar

      Thank you Amy! I hope you like it!

  3. Shaun Avatar
    Shaun

    5 stars
    My favorite fall dessert/breakfast/snack! Make it and marvel at how fast it gets eaten by the family.

  4. Dana Avatar
    Dana

    5 stars
    Thank you for this unsweetened recipe!!! I’ve spent two days browsing trying to find a proper no added any sweeteners recipe, and yours was the only one I found.

    I wonder, if we skip the dates, would it work to add extra cinnamon instead?

    1. Unsweetened Caroline Avatar

      I’m so happy you like the recipe, thank you for sharing your thoughts! And yes, it would work, however, just keep in mind that it will taste a little less sweet and more like a breakfast crumble. I would also recommend using sweet apples. Enjoy! 🙂

  5. Heidi Avatar
    Heidi

    5 stars
    I LOVE how this recipe is sweetened with fruits (and not with sugar alternatives) and I appreciate how you use the term “fruit-sweetened” and not sugar free. I made this recipe last week with my 2-year old and we both loved it!!! We used prunes instead of dates because that’s what we had on hand. My only critique is that the topping dried out a little while cooking. I’m not sure if this was due to using prunes instead of dates? We’re going to make it again today and cook it at 350 F instead of 375 F.
    I’m eager to try other fruit-sweetend recipes of yours! Thanks for sharing your delicous recipes! 🙂

    1. Nourished by Caroline Avatar

      Hi Heidi, I’m so happy you both loved it! Thank you for your feedback! You can also increase the butter a bit if you want it a little less dry. Cooking it a little less could help too. I haven’t tried it with prunes, so it’s hard to say, but every oven is a little different too. Thanks again and I hope you’ll enjoy the other recipes! 🙂

  6. HELEN Avatar
    HELEN

    This recipe is excellent – I used prunes, instead,
    I also looked for sugar free cobblers, finding only recipes using artificial sweeteners.
    With the information on artificial sweeteners not being good for you, I was discouraged.
    Fruit sweetened makes a lot of sense.
    I have found that when limiting sugars, just like when limiting salt, a little sweetener goes a long ways in tasting, and fruit sweetening is enough.
    I made a recipe of apple pumpkin pudding, with just apple for the sweener, and with the spices, it was just fine.
    I hope you will consider doing a whole section on fruit sweetened deserts.
    Maybe plant based deserts? No added sugars? Our bodies will like it.

    1. Nourished by Caroline Avatar

      Hi Helen, thank you so much for the feedback. I’m happy you enjoyed the recipe! And I agree, our taste does adjust to eating less sugar. Every dessert on the blog before 2020 was sweetened with fruit and a few in 2020 were as well. You’ll also find many plant-based desserts. Some older ones do have eggs, but all new recipes are completely vegan. I do love the idea of making a fruit-sweetened section now that there’s a bigger variety on the blog. Thank you for the suggestion and I hope you’ll enjoy the other recipes!

  7. Jennifer Mary Palmer Avatar
    Jennifer Mary Palmer

    5 stars
    I used almond flour instead of Spelt. It worked well and gave a nutty flavour.

    1. Nourished by Caroline Avatar

      I’m so happy it worked well, thank you for sharing your feedback! I’ll have to try it too. 🙂

  8. Catalin Marian Avatar
    Catalin Marian

    5 stars
    I have baked this receipe today and I can say it is delicious.
    I am from Bucharest and, although spelt flour is originally from Southern Europe, here it is expensive compared to other types of flour (even more expensive than coconut flour, crazy I know!) – probably because it’s only marketed as a ”bio-product”. Therefore, I used normal black-flour and it turned out to be just fine.
    I had to used like 8 medjool dates as it is not possible here to find big ones such as those from your clip.

    We also don’t have those all-spices used for these kinds of autumn-winter deserts, but cinnamon is common.
    Who knows, maybe I will get my hands on some spelt flour in the future.
    Overall, this is a great receipe, easy to make and very tasty, and I will surely bake it from now on.

    You have a very nice, compendious and clean website, I also like the videos! Cheers!

    1. Nourished by Caroline Avatar

      Hi Catalin, thank you for the feedback. I’m happy that you enjoyed the recipe! And it’s good to hear that it worked well with those substitutions. I’m sure it will help others as well! All the best. 🙂

  9. Erika Avatar
    Erika

    5 stars
    Delicious! Great spiciness and the flour/lemon juice combo creates a perfect, light syrup for the apples (I used Fuji). And of course the topping…YUM.
    PS: dates are amazing.

    1. Nourished by Caroline Avatar

      Thank you so much Erika! I’m happy you like it. 🙂

  10. Lisa Avatar
    Lisa

    5 stars
    Just made this tonight for dessert, exactly as you described (but with green apples) and it satisfied my sweet craving in a healthy way. Thank you so much!!

    1. Nourished by Caroline Avatar

      Thank you for taking the time to leave your review Lisa! I’m so glad that you liked it. 🙂

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