Let's talk about how to make sugar free apple crisp with Swerve (a 1:1 sugar substitute)! This healthier apple crisp is a good option if you're looking for a lower calorie and lower carb fruit dessert. My family all loved this lighter version of classic apple crisp... unfortunately, this sugar free dessert did not love me. ☹ Read on to learn why!
My favorite apple crisp recipe makes its appearance in my household once or twice per year. I got the original recipe from a newspaper years ago and (after making a few tweaks) have been using it ever since.
The recipe, on a torn page of yellowed newsprint, lives taped into a binder. Old fashioned binders (filled with plastic page protectors) are where I keep the directions for some of my most treasured culinary creations. I'm just an old lady like that.
I guess I'm really stepping it up into modern times with this website. However, I don't think I'll be disposing of the binders anytime soon.
Technically, this apple crisp recipe isn't the same as the one I usually make. I wanted to see how it would turn out with Swerve, a substitute for sugar. The results were AH-MAZING!
Seriously, it turned out just like the original in terms of taste. My family gobbled it up! Unfortunately, I won't be enjoying this one again.
Why I WON'T Be Making My Apple Crisp Sugar Free
Like I said, even though we LOVE this recipe, I'll be sticking to making my regular apple crisp recipe from now on. Though sugar substitutes can be helpful for some, they also come with some potential disadvantages. I think it is important to be aware of them.
Some commonly used ingredients in 1:1 sugar substitutes (including Swerve) can cause GI distress in certain individuals. A few potential offenders include erythritol (and other sugar alcohols), prebiotic oligosaccharides, and vegetable glycerin.
I've tried and enjoyed Swerve granular in the past with no problems. Unfortunately, the "brown sugar" Swerve does not agree with me.
The only difference between Swerve brown and other Swerve products is vegetable glycerin and fruit juice for color. I've pinpointed the vegetable glycerin as the cause of my difficulties.
I've had similar troubles digesting a certain low calorie ice cream in the past, and the culprit was also vegetable glycerin. (I won't mention the ice cream brand, as they are no longer in business anyway.) Please note that I am the only one in my family who had a terrible reaction; everyone else was fine.
One of the reasons I tend to be a fan of whole foods is that you don't have to worry about unwanted food additives disagreeing with you. Sometimes, ingredients like gluten and dairy get blamed for GI distress when it is really a certain additive causing the troubles. It's unfortunate because whole foods containing gluten and (especially) dairy can be important nutrient sources in the diet.
In short, I'll be sticking to my refined sugar apple crisp from now on (and only enjoying it on rare occasions). If you do well with sugar free dessert recipes, I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!
Benefits of Making Sugar Free Apple Crisp
One of the easiest ways to make lighter desserts (without sacrificing flavor) is to make them sugar free! Here are some other reasons you'll want to make this healthy apple crisp:
- Much lower carb than typical apple crisp: Swapping out sugar for Swerve in this recipe reduces the net carbs by over 50%. This may help if you follow a lower carb diet for weight loss or better blood sugar control in diabetes.
- Helps increase your fruit intake: Hey, this dessert is definitely NOT the healthiest way to eat your fruit. However, if you're picky and aren't eating a lot of fruit anyway, every little bit helps!
- Both easier to make and lower calorie than apple pie: There's no need to fuss with homemade pie crust for this easy recipe! In addition, this apple crisp is lower calorie than most pies because crisps have no bottom crust.
- Uses whole grains: This sugar free apple crisp recipe skips the white flour and uses rolled oats and whole grain spelt flour instead. These ingredients give this dessert a little boost of fiber.
- A delicious way to use seasonal fruit: Since my 70-lb weight loss, I'm no longer much of a dessert person. However, making this apple crisp every year after we go apple picking is non-negotiable. It's a family tradition!
Sugar Free Apple Crisp Ingredients
This easy dessert has a simple ingredients list to really allow the fruit to shine. Here's what you need to make the best sugar free apple crisp I've tried:
- Peeled, cored, and sliced apples
- Swerve granular
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
- Cooking oil spray
- Whole grain spelt flour
- Rolled oatmeal (dry)
- Swerve brown
- Butter, cut into small chunks
- Optional accompaniments (added sugar free ice cream and/or sugar free caramel syrup, if desired)
The downside of Swerve is that it is far more expensive than regular brown or white sugar. However, unlike table sugar, Swerve has zero net carbs and zero calories. Also, I noticed that brown Swerve does not clump up as brown sugar does.
Clumpy brown sugar is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I've probably had a few too many frustrating instances of trying to salvage old brown sugar in the past. My technique typically involves sprinkling the sugar with a bit of water, microwaving until soft, and breaking it up with a food processor or butter knife.
With the brown Swerve, your "sugar" will maintain its fresh, clump-free appearance. That is a huge plus in my book!
The downside (as discussed in the previous section) is that a few individuals may have trouble digesting these sugar substitutes. If it's your first time trying them, I'd see if you could get a little from a friend or relative before making a purchase. That way, you won't be wasting money if these products do not end up agreeing with you.
The main pieces of equipment needed for this apple crisp recipe are an 8-inch by 8-inch glass baking dish, knife, and apple peeler. Once you have everything in hand, you are ready to get going with the recipe.
How Do You Make Apple Crisp from Scratch?
Make sure to clean your hands well both before starting this recipe and after completing it. Things will get a little messy!
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly mist an 8" x8" glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Peel, core, and slice your apples. I aim to make the slices ¼"-½" thick, and I cut the slices in half widthwise. Mix the apples with Swerve granular, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Pour your apple mixture into your prepared baking dish and spread the apples out into an even layer. Set the dish aside.
Next, in a medium bowl, combine the spelt flour, oats, Swerve brown, and butter. The recipe for the crumble is easy to remember because you need ½-cup of each ingredient. I like to stir the dry ingredients together and then incorporate the butter chunks with my fingers.
Your apple crumble mixture is ready when it has taken on a clumpy, coarse texture with no visible butter chunks. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top of the apples in the baking dish.
Bake your crisp in the middle of the heated oven for 35-40 minutes. I recommend letting the crisp cool before cutting into it. Your crisp will be less watery if you let it cool after baking.
If desired, you can serve your sugar free apple crisp with vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup or maple syrup. Use sugar-free and no added sugar products if you are looking to keep the entire dessert sugar free. It's SO GOOD!
Should apple crisp be covered when baking?
No, I don't recommend covering your apple crisp when baking. Covering the dessert will trap the moisture and may result in a crisp that is too watery.
Should apple crisp be watery?
Apple crisp does tend to be a little watery coming out of the oven, but the apple filling will thicken as it cools. I tend to prefer apple crisp that is cooled and then reheated because it is less watery this way.
If you often have extremely watery apple pies and crisps, consider changing up the apple variety you are using. Check out my suggestions for the best apples to use for apple crisp recipes in the FAQs below!
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Baked goods, including healthier baked goods such as this one, are not the best choice if you have a weight loss goal.
That said, fruit crisps tend to be a much lighter dessert option than pies, including fruit pies. The most calorific part of most pies and crisps tends to be the crust (or the crumble). Apple crisp will typically be lower in calories than apple pie because apple crisps do not have a bottom crust.
In addition, apple crisp is a fruit-based dessert. Desserts made with whole fruits tend to be lighter than nut or flour-based desserts. You will likely save hundreds of calories per serving when you choose a piece of apple crisp instead of pecan pie or a slice of chocolate cake.
Likewise, you could further lighten this recipe by reducing the amount of crumbly topping used in the crisp. Try using a little less butter than I've used in this recipe. Since each tablespoon of butter is a whopping 100 calories, even a small reduction can make a difference.
Light butters often don't work out as a 1:1 substitute for full fat butter in recipes. The extra water and/or additives used in light butter may have a negative impact on your recipe.
Using plant-based oils as a substitute for butter in this recipe will actually add more calories. Coconut oil, avocado oil, and other plant oils are higher in calories than butter because they do not contain dairy solids.
How many calories in sugar free apple crisp? How many net carbs?
This sugar free apple crisp provides 240 calories and 20.8g net carbs per generous serving. My original apple crisp recipe (with sugar) provided 353 calories and 49.8g net carbs per serving. It's a big difference!
The original apple crisp recipe contained ⅓-cup of white sugar (258 calories, 66.6g net carbs) and ½-cup of packed brown sugar (418 calories, 107.9g net carbs). In total, these two ingredients added a whopping 676 calories and 174.5g net carbs to the recipe.
When you substitute Swerve for sugar, you're cutting 113 calories and 29g net carbs per serving. Though the change may seem minor, it has a big nutritional impact. The simple swap to a sugar substitute results in a net carb decrease of over 50%!
What are some other recipes using apples?
Did you go apple picking this autumn and now have bushels of apples? Do not fear! Summer is here with an abundance of healthy apple recipes. Start with these:
- Pumpkin Spice Baked Apple Chips Recipe
- Slow Cooker Applesauce Recipe
- Applesauce Overnight Oats | High Protein
- Apple Pie Chunky Granola Recipe – No Added Sugar!
- Apple Strawberry Smoothie – No Added Sugar!
- Chicken Salad with Apples and Pecans
Apples are a great fruit to have on hand because they can last for many weeks in the fridge without spoiling. In addition, many recipes made with apples freeze well. Try freezing homemade applesauce and homemade apple crisp when you have too many apples.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best apples for apple crisp?
Cortland apples are my favorite apples for baking pies and crisps. I highly recommend them! They are fabulous for snacking on as well.
Some other apple varieties that are excellent for apple crisps include the following:
- Ginger Gold
- Gold Delicious (NOT Red Delicious apples!)
- Ida Red
- Granny Smith
I have a chart showing which apple varieties are best for eating, pies, sauce, and baking in my Slow Cooker Applesauce Recipe article. Use the chart to pick a good apple to make sugar free apple desserts. Alternatively, use the apple chart to figure out how best to use the type of apples you already have.
Should apple crisp be served warm?
The answer to whether apple crisp should be served chilled or warm is really a matter of personal opinion. I prefer the juxtaposition of a warm fruit crisp with cold vanilla or berry ice cream. Something about the combination of a warm fruit dessert with some soft and slightly melty ice cream is pure bliss to me.
Should apple crisp be refrigerated after baking?
Are you wondering where to store apple crisp? Store sugar free apple crisp in the refrigerator.
Some fruit pies and fruit crisps contain enough sugar to hinder the growth of bacteria and safely be kept at room temperature. For fruit crisp recipes without sugar, I would not risk it. Just pop your sugar free crisp in the fridge after baking and cooling.
Leftover apple crisp can safely be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. If you are not going to finish this apple dessert within that time frame, freeze it! Apple crisps freeze well and can last for months in the freezer.
Can I make this apple crisp gluten free?
The small amount of spelt flour in this recipe does contain gluten. Try making this sugar free apple crisp with almond flour instead of spelt to make it gluten-free. You will also need to ensure that you are using gluten free oats for a truly gluten free apple crisp.
Is this sugar free apple crisp keto?
No, this apple crisp is not keto, even though it is sugar-free. In general, apples are too high in carbohydrates to be a regular part of most keto diets. Though they contain no added sugars, apples are rather high in natural fruit sugars.
In addition, the oats and whole grain spelt flour used in the crumb topping are high carbohydrate foods. Though I would consider this a low carb apple crisp, it is not a good fit for very low carb diets (including ketogenic diets).
If you wanted a keto apple crisp, I have seen recipes that use peeled and seeded zucchini in the apples' place. Low carb flours, such as almond flour, can be used for the crumb topping. That Low Carb Life has a sugar free keto apple crisp recipe (using zucchini instead of apples), if that's what you are looking for.
What's the difference between apple crisp and apple brown betty?
Both apple crisp and apple brown betty are traditional American desserts where apples are baked with sweetened crumbs. Though some use these dessert names interchangeably, the apple brown betty may have crumbs placed between layers of apples. With an apple crisp, the crumbly streusel is always sprinkled just on top.
How do you make apple crisp without using oil or butter?
The butter in this recipe helps to hold the crumbs of the apple crisp together. If you want to make apple crisp without butter or oil, you will need something else to help make the crumbs crumbly.
I would experiment with applesauce, mashed banana, or pureed Medjool dates. Try incorporating nut butter if you want to use something with a higher fat content. Keep in mind that making an added oil-free apple crisp will alter this recipe's taste and nutrition information.
Other Sugar Free Desserts That You May Enjoy
This sugar free apple crisp isn't the only dessert without sugar on the site! If you're looking for more sugar-free snack ideas, you might like these:
- Strawberry Shortcake with No Added Sugar
- Dalgona Coffee (No Added Sugar, Caffeine-Free)
- Keto Blueberry Smoothie Recipe
- Roasted Black Beans | Cheesy and Crispy Snack!
- Nut Free Trail Mix | No Added Sugar!
- Peanut Butter Avocado Smoothie with Chocolate
Don't forget to subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter to be kept up-to-date on all of the latest and greatest recipes!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Sugar Free Apple Crisp Recipe
- 5 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples (I recommend Cortland apples)
- ⅓ cup Swerve, granular
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- cooking oil spray of choice
- ½ cup whole grain spelt flour
- ½ cup rolled oats, dry
- ½ cup Swerve, brown
- ½ cup butter, cut into small chunks
- added sugar free ice cream and/or sugar-free caramel syrup, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mist an 8" x8" glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- Peel, core, and slice your apples. Cut the slices ¼"-½" thick, and then slice them in half widthwise. Mix the apples with granular Swerve, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Pour your apple mixture into your prepared baking dish and spread the apples out into an even layer. Set the dish aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the spelt flour, oats, and brown Swerve. I used a combination of a spoon and my fingers. Then thoroughly incorporate the chunks of butter with clean hands.
- Your apple crumble mixture is ready when it has a clumpy, coarse texture with no visible butter chunks. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top of the apples in the baking dish.
- Bake the crisp in the middle of the heated 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes. Let the crisp cool before cutting into it (it will be less watery if you let it cool a bit).
- If desired, serve the crisp with some creamy vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup. Use sugar-free and no added sugar products if you are looking to keep the entire dessert sugar free. Enjoy!
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Baked goods, including healthier baked goods such as this one, are not the best choice if you have a weight loss goal. That said, fruit crisps tend to be a much lighter dessert option than pies, including fruit pies. The most calorific part of most pies and crisps tends to be the crust (or the crumble). Apple crisp will typically be lower in calories than apple pie because apple crisps do not have a bottom crust. In addition, apple crisp is a fruit-based dessert. Desserts made with whole fruits tend to be lighter than nut or flour-based desserts. You will likely save hundreds of calories per serving when you choose a piece of apple crisp instead of pecan pie or a slice of chocolate cake. Likewise, you could further lighten this recipe by reducing the amount of crumbly topping used in the crisp. Try using a little less butter than I've used in this recipe. Since each tablespoon of butter is a whopping 100 calories, even a small reduction can make a difference. Light butters often don't work out as a 1:1 substitute for full fat butter in recipes. The extra water and/or additives used in light butter may have a negative impact on your recipe. Using plant-based oils as a substitute for butter in this recipe will actually add more calories. Coconut oil, avocado oil, and other plant oils are higher in calories than butter because they do not contain dairy solids.