Easier than Apple Pie Recipe: Enjoy Your Holiday with Apple Crisp

By Elizabeth Herman | Posted: December 23, 2019

Shy about making pie crust? This is a simple, easy version of apple pie that’s actually a lot more nutritious, with the protein from the nuts and whole grains (oats). It’s also crunchier and tangier (with the cranberries) and has more vitamin C than your typical apple pie.

I highly recommend this recipe during the busy holiday season, when cooks have lots of other dishes to prepare, errands to run, gifts to buy and wrap, and packages to ship. If you need to adapt it to what’s in your pantry, you might enjoy replacing one or two of the apples with sliced pears, to add variety in texture and flavor. I hope you’ll try this recipe and enjoy it over the holidays or any time of year. 

Sugars and health

Many people recognize that sugar is harmful to health, so this recipe is low in sugar and adds other ingredients that help our health, like the unrefined, natural sugars in honey or maple syrup. The least harmful variety of sweetener that I’ve found is Rapadura whole organic sugar, although it’s much more expensive than others.

I also use Granny Smith apples, because they don’t have the same types of sugars as other varieties of apple. Cinnamon and lemon are also good, as are cloves, which might make a nice addition to this recipe if used very sparingly. 


3 tart apples (the Granny Smith apple variety)

3 Tbs. lemon juice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbs. sweetener of choice (optional)

1 cup fresh or dried cranberries (fresh are best)

1 ½ cup oats (either rolled oats or instant oats work)

¾ cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds work well)

½ cup sweetener (maple syrup or honey work well, but use your sweetener of choice)

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. salt


Slice the apples thinly and spread them in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sweetener (if using), cinnamon, and cranberries. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the oats, nuts, sweetener of choice, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Stir to mix, then spread evenly over the apples. Bake until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife, about 35 minutes. Let stand 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

If you have children around they’ll love this desert. It’s a wonderful way to get them to love, or at least try, sour cranberries, earthy nuts, and oatmeal. Enjoy!

Elizabeth Herman writes, offers writing support to clients, teaches, and volunteers for a better world. She has a PhD in Rhetoric, Composition and Literature. Find her on Facebook or Twitter.

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