Gluten Free Blackberry Crisp
A lot of my clients have a goal of eating more fruits and vegetables for their health and finding easy and delicious recipes to cook and bake with can make this goal easier and more attainable. Using fruit in baking can be a fun way to make healthy desserts and to enjoy it! In the Pacific Northwest where I live there are abundant blackberries in late summer, so I chose to use them to make a delicious and satisfying gluten free blackberry crisp. However, this recipe is so versatile you can use any fruit that sounds good and it works great with frozen fruit as well.
Classic crisps and crumbles tend to be heavy on the saturated fat (butter) and sugar. And they almost always contain flour or non gluten-free oats so they’re not friendly to all my clients who need to avoid gluten. When I was comparing recipes and assessing how I’d create my own gluten free blackberry crisp, many versions had a lot of butter, sugar, and flour. Since fruit naturally has a nice amount of added sweetness you can ditch the added sugar to show off the complex sweet-tart flavors in the fruit. This recipe uses less than half the traditional amount of sugar and after making this recipe several times now, I’ve never found it to be anything less than perfectly balanced. I’ve also made it naturally gluten-free (in an easy way!) and it’s got less fat than typical crisps as well.
The case for a healthier crisp
Cutting back butter and sugar in search of a healthier crisp or crumble is actually really easy. You’ll be surprised that this healthier, lighter version still tastes amazing – sweet and buttery – just like it’s supposed to. Working with the sweetness of the fruit can create a more interesting flavor that is more unique to the fruit than just another sweet dessert. You can always add some toppings to get more flavor if that’s what you’re after.
All berries are packed with fiber, unique antioxidants (look at those dark colors!), vitamins and minerals. Blackberries have that gorgeous purple-blue hue and that indicates that they’re really high in specific antioxidants that are good for the body. They can help lower inflammation and calm irritation in the body that may be fueling health problems. I wrote a book about inflammation, in fact – the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep Book and a recipe like this gluten free blackberry crisp fits in perfectly.
This recipe is really focused on the fresh fruit as well as the oats and spices. It’s very “crumbly” and so if you’d like, you can add a bit more butter or even some oil so that it sticks together more. All of my recipes are designed to be flexible to your needs and preferences so I’m breaking down all the different ways to customize this down below.
Making the gluten free blackberry crisp
This is such an easy dessert to make, which is a plus if you’re not feeling well, going through treatment, or struggling with inflammation. You’ll start by greasing the pan. I use coconut oil because I love the flavor it adds but there are lots of options (If you’ve got coconut questions, I’ve got answers here in this blog post). You are welcome to use butter, vegan butter, spray, or another oil if that’s what you have on hand.
After that, you’ll start the crisp recipe. First I add the fruit and sugar, toss them lightly to coat, then prepare the crumble topping.
You can make the crumble in a separate bowl and then just pop the berries in the prepared pan, top them evenly with the topping and you’re ready to bake.
This gluten free blackberry crisp is a really great meal prep recipe because it’s so quick to prepare and stores well. While it’s baking for 40 minutes, you’ve got time to prepare other dishes and so it’s perfect for multi-tasking. Best of all, it makes very little mess to clean up.
Crisp alternatives and options
Blackberries are what I used for this recipe gluten free blackberry crisp, but you can really use any type of berry, or fruit, that you want. I like blackberries because of their sweet-tart taste and also their size. They are a bit more firm and so they have a nice texture when baked, and tend to get less mushy than other berries, I’m looking at you raspberries. That being said, use raspberries if you have them – fresh are my favorite. Feel free to slice strawberries, cherries or even apples or peaches and use those. Blueberries work very well, too and I actually add in some frozen ones if I need to bulk up my blackberry mixture. You really can’t go wrong!
The Crisp Topping
You can so easily make this topping vegan by using a vegan-‘butter’ substitute. It’s a simple way to get rid of the dairy but keep the exact same culinary properties and flavor, too.
You can also adjust the amount of spices. In the written recipe I erred on the light side for the spices, but when I make it for myself I add a little extra of all the spices because they add such a nice complexity of flavor. You can also add some texture, protein and healthy fat by adding in chopped nuts; almonds, walnuts or pecans would be great here.
If you’re gluten-free, make sure to get gluten-free labeled oats because though oats are naturally “gf”, they’re often contaminated by being processed in facilities that also process flour. You can also easily use a gluten-free flour blend instead of regular flour. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill flour blend (so you don’t have to do any blending yourself!) Going gf in this recipe won’t change the texture or flavor at all. If you want more gluten-free options, you really need to try my chocolate gingerbread cupcakes and my vanilla champagne cupcakes.
Sometimes a pie, cobbler, or crisp just doesn’t feel complete without a creamy topping. There are so many options here, for a low-sugar option you can use plain greek yogurt mixed with a little honey or maple syrup, you could pick up a non-dairy whipped toppings you can use, or you can go full on decadent with some ice cream! Depends what you are in the mood for.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe! It’s so delicious and insanely easy. If you need other berry recipes, I’ve got so many up on the blog. Check out my Plum Berry Cobbler Granola, Rose poached strawberries, and my Wild Blueberry Matcha Green Tea smoothie.
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 4 cups fresh blackberries frozen are ok; can sub other types of berries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup Gluten Free flour I like Bob's 1 to 1 GF flour
- 1/2 cup rolled oats Labelled GF
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup regular or vegan butter softened
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with coconut oil.
- Add the berries to a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle them with sugar.Gently fold to coat the berries and let them sit in the sugar while you prepare the oat mixture.
- In another medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and lemon peel. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Pour the berries into the prepared dish, scraping any additional sugar on top of the mixture. Spread the oat mixture evenly on top of the berries then bake the crisp for 35-40 minutes until its lightly browned and the berries are bubbling and soft. Set the crisp on a cooling rack and serve warm.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
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