Recipe: Healthy Apple Crisp


It is officially holiday eating season. With Thanksgiving approaching, Americans have become preoccupied with turkeys, pumpkins, and what to bring to the Friendsgiving potluck. The holidays are synonymous with food… lots and lots of food.

For most people, the best part of the holidays is dessert–the pumpkin pie after the big turkey dinner, the pecan pie at your favorite late night diner, or the gingerbread cookies at the company holiday party. With sweets and treats around every corner, it can start to become a little excessive. What’s a girl to do?  

That’s where apple crisp comes to the rescue–it is a dessert that has all the classic holiday flavors without all the “heavy” extras of traditional apple pie. Gone are the top and bottom pie crusts (saving you 220 calories and 13 grams of fat!) and in their place is a simple, crunchy topping that is big in flavor and small on calories. Plus, the apple crisp highlights the most important ingredient–the apples! This smarter swap yields a dessert that you won’t feel guilty indulging in this holiday season.

This crisp starts with some apples.











Since there is no sugar in the filling of the crisp, I recommend using a sweeter apple that is still firm, like a gala or honeycrisp apple. Firm Granny Smith apples are a little too tart for this dessert and a sweeter, yet soft-textured, Red Delicious apple will break down too much during cooking.

On top of the apples, I poured over some apple cider and some water to help the apples soften and cook.











Then I added some cornstarch (to keep the filling together), cinnamon, and nutmeg. This filling is delicious the way it is but I understand that this dessert is not as sweet as a traditional crisp. If you want to add a little sugar here (up to one tablespoon), it’s totally fine! Stir the filling thoroughly, making sure to coat the apples in the cider and spices. Then, pour the apples into a greased 10-inch pie dish and arrange them into an even layer.











All that’s left to do is make the topping! It starts with some rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.











Toss in some cold butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, quickly work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs–like this!











Sprinkle the topping over the apples, making sure that it is in an even layer.











Now we just need to pop it into a 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes until the apples are soft and the crisp is brown. If you peek at the crisp at around the 30-minute mark and the top is brown but the apples are still firm when you test them with a fork, cover the crisp loosely with foil (to prevent further browning) and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until the apples are fork-tender.











Yum! Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or a bit of ice cream.











I hope you enjoy this healthy take on a Thanksgiving classic!

Check out more of Catherine’s delicious recipes by visiting Simply A (RD) Foodie and come back here every Friday for new recipes!

Healthy Apple Crisp

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Serving Size: 1


    For the filling:
  • 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
  • For the topping:
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch pie dish with cooking spray. Place pie dish on a cookie sheet for easy removal from the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the apples, apple cider, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch. Toss thoroughly to combine, making sure apples are coated in the spices and liquid. Pour the apple mixture into the prepared pie dish and spread into an even layer.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Sprinkle the crisp topping over the apples in an even layer. Place the crisp into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, checking the topping at about 30 minutes. If the topping has become golden brown but the apples are not fork-tender (a fork cannot be easily inserted into the apple), cover the crisp with some foil and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until the apples become soft.
  5. Serve immediately with ice cream or at room temperature with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information:

232 calories | 46gm carbohydrates | 6gm fiber | 2gm protein | 6gm fat | 3gm saturated fat | 6mg sodium | 12mg cholesterol | 1mg iron | 35mg calcium

Recipe lightly adapted from the Apple Crisp recipe from the American Diabetes Association.

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Catherine is a registered dietitian, whose love of all things food and cooking started during her study abroad in Italy. She believes that all foods fit into a healthy diet (even chocolate cake), food tastes better when you cook it yourself, and that a well-stocked pantry is a lifesaver. Check her out at Simply a (RD) Foodie.

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