Whole30 Apple Crisp

Whole30 Apple Crisp

So, we have this baker friend.  Actually, she does bake, but that moniker does her no justice at all.  She is really an artist who works in, well… cake (among many other delicious sweets).  Recently, Danielle’s and my experience doing Whole30 came up in one of our conversations and this baker friend seemed rather intrigued.  It turns out that conversation had motivated her to try the challenge herself.

Can you imagine?  You make sweets for a living and you are doing the Whole30?!  I thought I had it rough during those 30 days and I wasn’t BAKING CAKES FOR A LIVING!  Now that is a food challenge.

In an effort to encourage her in the most difficult early days of her challenge (and maybe a twinge of guilt?), we decided to make her something sweet as a way of saying, “See, it’s not that bad. There is life without added refined sugar… you just have to get a little creative.  You can do this!”

Now, in fairness to the Whole30 food challenge, desserts are not encouraged (even if technically on plan) and finding sweetener “workarounds” is not in the spirit of the challenge.  But this qualified as a special circumstance, no?  Seriously, she is a baker!  Is there no mercy at all?

Enough qualifying.  Let’s talk Whole30 dessert.  Sweet and delicious dessert as a matter of fact.  Is there anything better than guilt-free dessert that doesn’t taste like guilt-free dessert?  Well, yes.  Downright guilty dessert is better!  Anyway.  Moving on…

So if you are going to make a Whole30 compliant apple crisp that is even remotely like the real deal, you can’t just toss some apples and cinnamon together, bake it, and call it dessert.  It’s not dessert.  It is apple and cinnamon with a shamefully misleading name.  To do this right, you need to look at what makes an apple crisp so delicious:  the sweet and crunchy crust and the soft, gooey apple filling… in my opinion.

To replicate a sweet a crunchy topping laden with sugar, butter, grains – you know, all the fun stuff – you have your work cut out for you.   For this recipe, we made a crust of pecans and raisins that were run through a blender until chopped to small bits and then topped that with no-sugar-added coconut flakes.  Is it like the original?  No.  But when you taste it you couldn’t care less; it’s awesome.

Now, for the apple filling.  This is where you need to call your friend, who knows a guy, who knows a guy who can get things done… if you know what I mean.  But first a little background on how I came up with this semi-sanctioned workaround:

I am the kind of person that viscerally needs to have something, anything, sweet after a savory meal.  During my Whole30 food challenge, these were the saving grace that calmed my shakes when I needed something sweet: medjool dates.  I kept them in the freezer which gave them the consistency (and much of the taste) of a caramel chew candy.  They were all I needed and they were technically plan-approved (if you don’t believe me, and you shouldn’t after tasting them, check this out).

So, back to the workaround…

I decided that medjool date puree was the key ingredient to giving this guilt-free dessert the slightly-less-guilty guilt that it needed.  Did you follow that?  Soon we will write a more in-depth post about using medjool dates as a sweetener and link to in on this page, but to give you a brief overview, here is the process:

  1. Remove the pits from 8-10 dates and dice the flesh.
  2. Add diced dates to a saucepan and fill with water, enough to cover the dates plus ½ an inch.
  3. Simmer until ½ of the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  4. Using a stand-alone blender or immersion blender, puree the dates as smoothly as possible

For the rest of the recipe, let’s start off from there:


Take 4-5 large apples, peel and slice them (for an easy technique to slice them see here).

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Stlye

After I sliced the apples, I wanted to check to make sure I had the right amount for the 8”x8” Pyrex baking dish I was going to use before proceeding.  Looks spot on!

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style

To make the “crisp” topping, add pecans and raisins to a blender or food processor and blend until…

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style

…the mixture looks like this… then set aside.

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style

Here is the star player, the date puree.  You can see, I have added cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and kosher salt to the puree.

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style

Toss the peeled and sliced apples in the date puree and spice mixture until well coated.

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style

Transfer the coated apples to your baking dish and top with the pecan/raisin mixture.

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style

Bake, covered, at 400F for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is starting to bubble and release its liquid.  Then uncover, add the coconut flakes, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.  This is what it should look like…

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style

Before it completely cools, jump in and taste it.  You’ll immediately realize, as you mindlessly take bite after bite, that not only are you not missing the real thing, but this might just be your breakfast tomorrow.  Because after all, it’s healthy, right?

Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style


4.7 from 3 reviews
Apple Crisp - Whole30 Style
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6-8
  • 4-5 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
  • ¾ cup pecans
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ⅔ cup medjool date puree (find recipe here)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Instructions:
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Combine pecans and raisins in blender or food processor and chop until granular. Set aside.
  4. Combine date puree with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
  5. Combine apples and date/spice puree and mix to coat thoroughly.
  6. Arrange the apple mixture in an 8”x8” baking dish and top with the pecan/raisin mixture and cover with tinfoil.
  7. Bake covered for 25-30 minutes, or until the apples have started to render their liquid.
  8. Uncover and evenly distribute coconut flakes.
  9. Return to oven uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes. You want the apple mixture to be thoroughly bubbling and the coconut browned but not burned. Be vigilant, this can happen easily.
  10. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy as a dessert but don’t forget breakfast!




    • says

      Yes, no guilt with this one! And while we know that Whole30 does not encourage treats, this was an appropriate time to “help” a friend when attending a potluck supper where NOTHING was going to be on plan! And everyone at the party enjoyed it as well! Bonus! Thanks for stopping by. We will link up to Too Cute Tuesday again!

  1. says

    Apple Crisp! Yum! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

    • says

      Heather, I didn’t think I could follow Whole30 either when we started, but you might impress yourself. It was a great learning time for me and I actually really enjoyed it after the first two-ish weeks. We did not discover this dessert until after we finished our 30 days, but I will keep it on hand for a special treat next time. It is amazing what you can do with REAL food!

  2. says

    I am so excited to try this! I love seeing all the wholesome recipes that are being created. This is my first time to see a whole30 apple crisp. Pinning!

    • says

      Thanks, Kelly. It is a great twist on a classic and guilt free, which is a win for me. I know Whole30 doesn’t encourage desserts but this was a great find for even when you are not on Whole30!

  3. says

    This looks delicious! I’ve never done Whole30/am not strict Paleo or anything, but I haven’t made a dessert that wasn’t compliant with one or both of the programs in months. I figure it’s too easy to accidentally consume far too much sugar without adding sugar on purpose! Visiting from Create it Thursday. =)

  4. says

    I have been making wayyyy too many desserts that are full of sugar and carbs lately. Something like this would be a great way to still bake and have dessert, but its so much better for me. Thanks for joining us for Hump Day Happenings.

  5. Chelsea says

    I just started a new meal somewhat like Whole 30, so tried this out…YUMMERS! Seriously, just way to good to be healthy. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Melani says

    So excited to find this recipe…my husband and I just did a whole30–he chose to continue for awhile longer and today is his birthday so I think this will be perfect!

  7. says

    My sisters and I are on the Whole 30 program, but it was my dad’s 99th birthday tonight so we wanted a compliant dessert to celebrate him! I made this! It was thoroughly enjoyed by all!! The birthday boy had it with ice cream! Thank you for a great recipe and a sweet celebration treat for my dad! :)

  8. Nanny says

    This is a wonderful recipe. We r having friends for dinner tomorrow and I wanted a whole30 desert to serve. No one will guess this has no sugar! I made a test batch to make sure I wanted to serve it after prime rib and shrimp. It’s a winner, my husband loves it. It was actually better after sitting over night and then just warming slightly. I whipped coconut milk too, and will put a dap on top of each serving. I will also add a slice of cooked apple a thin slice of strawberry and 3 blueberries to the top of the whipped topping on each desert. Beautiful! Thank you for this yummy recipe!

  9. Larissa says

    Just making this now. Made the crumblw for the top…Was no expecting it to taste good. But so far its delicious :). Interested to see how the whole dish comes together…Stay tuned

  10. Scooter Mary says

    Second time making this. We did the Whole30 and try to stay compliant most of the time – especially with no processed sugar. It was awesome! Thank you!
    I melted a little coconut oil and poured over the top before cooking to give the apple as that creamy yummy that butter does for pies.


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