This Dairy-Free Apple Crumble delivers everything this quintessential fall dessert should–delightfully sweet aromas, super crunchy topping, jammy apples–without the need for any butter.
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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.
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!
Helpful Tips for Making Dairy-Free Apple Crumble
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.
In a mixing bowl, add the oats, flour, sugars, salt, and spice, then stir with a fork to combine. Drizzle the oil over the dry ingredients, then stir using a gentle mashing motion to distribute the oil and make sure the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Incorporate the walnuts and set aside.
Peel and core the apples, then dice and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the maple syrup and cornstarch, if using, then stir to combine. Transfer the apple mixture to the prepared baking pan. Top with the crumble, spreading it evenly all over the apples.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the dairy-free apple crumble is bubbly, the apples are tender, and the topping is golden brown. Take a peek at the crumble around the 30-minute mark to make sure the topping isn’t becoming too dark. If it looks just right by then, loosely cover the pan with foil and keep baking until the apples are tender.
SERVING: Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla bean gelato or ice cream, or vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt.
STORAGE: Let the dairy-free apple crumble cool to room temperature, then cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Gently reheat portions before eating, if desired.
Cornstarch is optional. Different apple varieties release more or less juice upon baking. I don’t mind a bit of clear juice at the bottom of my crumbles, but if you like a thicker juice, mix 1 tsp (5 ml) cornstarch with the diced apples.
Substitution idea: Substitute half (or all) of the apples for pears for a tasty variation.
Did you make this?
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