Coconut Apple Cranberry Crisp

I love fruit crisps! In my pre-paleo days I made them throughout the year, using blueberries, mulberries, pears, peaches, and apples – depending on what was in season. My favorite topping was made from white flour, white and brown sugar, butter, and oats… All of which I have since learned were not doing my digestive system any favors.

After I went grain free, I experimented with recipes that used nuts and nut flours. This recipe from Heal Balance Live for a master fruit crisp topping uses almond flour and is quite delicious and even pleased my picky husband. But since I gave up nuts a few months ago in an effort to improve my digestion and keep my autoimmune disease from flaring up, fruit crisps had not been part of my baking repertoire and I missed them deeply!

Then this week I discovered that some of the apples we picked back in September and were slowly eating out of the crisper drawer of the refrigerator had gotten a little mealy in their advancing age but knew they would be perfect in a pie or a crisp, especially combined with the tart seasonal flavor of cranberry. So, I started improvising with shredded coconut (this is the brand I used), coconut flour, and tapioca starch (this is the brand I used) to see if I could come up with a fruit crisp topping that could transform them into a warm and tasty dessert.

I am happy to report that this recipe for coconut apple cranberry crisp is gluten free, grain free, dairy free, AND nut free… and just as delicious as the junk filled crisp I used to make! The flavors are also excellent the next day, but I have found that the gran free topping looses its “crispiness” much more rapidly than the wheat based original. I recommend letting it cool just 10 or 15 minutes and then eating immediately. It would be delicious with non-dairy ice cream!

NOTE on shortening: If you tolerate dairy, then you may want to use grass fed butter. Otherwise, use palm shortening but make sure you are buying a brand that is sustainably harvested. This is one I trust

Notes for healing diets:

  • Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) – This recipe is almost completely AIP friendly as written, and will be acceptable for most people. It does include a small amount of nutmeg, which Sarah Ballantyne lists as a seed-based spice that one should avoid, at least initially. As a side note, both cinnamon and cloves are not seeds and are safe!
  • Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or GAPS – Unfortunately, the tapioca starch and coconut palm sugar are both forbidden on SCD and GAPS. If you want to experiment with substituting coconut flour for the starch and using honey for sweetener, please let me know in the comments how it turns out. If you can tolerate nuts, then the recipe I linked above is a great option to substitute for the topping.
  • Low-FODMAPs – Apples are a high FODMAP food and there is no way around that. However, you could use the same topping on blueberries and make a delicious dessert that is low-FODMAP.

Coconut Apple Cranberry Crisp (Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free)
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Flavors of fall with a crispy grain, nut, and dairy free topping!
  • 3-5 apples (depending on size - about 1.5 lbs), peeled, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup palm shortening (or grass fed butter if you tolerate dairy)
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ cup coconut palm sugar, turbinado sugar, or other granulated sugar
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine honey, coconut oil, and spices to melt and combine.
  3. Pour honey, oil, and spice mixture over apples and cranberries and toss to combine.
  4. Spread fruit in shallow pie plate, 8x8 inch, or 2 quart baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, mix all topping ingredients. Use your hands if necessary to create a crumbly mixture.
  6. Sprinkle mixture evenly over fruit.
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until fruit is soft and juices are bubbling and topping is browned and crisp.
  8. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and serve warm.


Other great grain-free crisp recipes


Shared with Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, Easy Green Mama’s Gluten Free Tuesday, Holistic Squid’s Party Wave Wednesday, Phoenix Helix’s Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable.

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