This 4 ingredient vegan apple crumble recipe features a tangy filling and a sweet and crunchy oat streusel-style topping. It can be made gluten-free and has been created with a crisp topping in mind. Read on to discover the secrets to a good crumble and how to keep your crumble topping crisp!
Easy to make with just 4 basic ingredients and no special equipment, this homemade vegan apple crumble recipe features a crunchy streusel-style topping. Gone are the days of soggy crumble, in this recipe we’re sharing with you the secrets to a good English apple crumble and revealing how to achieve a crisp crumble topping that stays crisp.
Making a great crumble is not a difficult process but it does require specific steps – I’ll be walking you through the process including crucial success tips and the best 4 ingredients to use. Keep reading to find out the secret to a good crumble!
- The written recipe
- Why you’ll love this recipe
- Success tips
- Step by step instructions with photos
- Other incredible recipes like this one
What is Apple Crumble and where does it originate?
Apple crumble, a British dessert dating back to World War II, traditionally showcases stewed or sliced apples beneath a golden crumbly topping made with flour, sugar, and butter. Often paired with custard or ice cream, it remains a staple in British cuisine, often gracing pub menus and English homes during autumn and winter.
A classic crumble topping, with its fine breadcrumb texture, transforms into a biscuit-like layer when baked atop the dessert. Over the years, various adaptations have emerged, including apple crisp which tends to have a streusel-style topping with crunchy clusters, and apple cobbler which is crowned with round scones. The terms ‘crisp’ and ‘crumble’ tend to be used interchangeably across the world to describe a similar dessert.
Why you’ll love this Vegan Apple Crumble recipe
You need 4 simple ingredients. The only ingredients you need to make this easy dessert are apples, oats, brown sugar and vegan butter. So many recipes out there use unnecessary added ingredients – keep it simple! Apple crumble doesn’t need a lot of extras, it’s delicious as it is.
It’s got a beautifully crisp topping. This recipe has been developed with a crisp topping in mind. We’ve created a streusel-style topping for optimal crispness and use a cooking method that removes the excess water from the apples before the crumble is added. These are two of the secrets to keeping crumble topping crisp!
Simple beginner-friendly recipe. Apple crumble is a brilliant beginner-friendly recipe. We’ve made ours extra simple, cutting out any unnecessary ingredients and steps.
The ingredients are customisable. This apple crumble recipe can be whipped up with ingredients that you have in your pantry. If you have sweet apples rather than tart cooking apples, you can use those instead (just add less sugar). Short on oats? You can substitute the oat flour for plain flour (all purpose flour). If you’ve only got white sugar or Demerara sugar, you can use this instead of light brown sugar. The only ingredient we don’t recommend substituting is the vegan block butter – this is important for creating those streusel-style clusters for the topping.
Pre-cook your apples. This recipe calls for you to part-cook your apple chunks in a saucepan before adding them to the baking dish. By doing this, the apples will begin to break down and release any excess water which is then simmered off. This is one of the secrets to a good crumble because it keeps the crumble topping crisp by not adding it to an overly wet filling.
Keep your butter cold. It’s essential to use cold vegan butter for this recipe in order to form those delicious clusters in the topping. Softened or melted butter will give completely different results, causing the mixture to spread in the oven and potentially burn (so you’ll miss out on all of those lovely clusters!).
Making it gluten-free. Use certified gluten-free oats to make this topping gluten-free. Just be sure to check the packet of your other ingredients, to make sure they’re gluten-free too.
Keeping your crumble topping crunchy. The oat streusel topping for this apple crumble is designed to be crunchy and it does a pretty good job of that. By pre-cooking the apples before adding the crumble topping, you’ll be removing the excess water, thus ensuring the crumble topping stays crunchy. For the crunchiest crumble, you can cook the topping separately (please see the recipe card for how to do this) and sprinkle it on top of the filling on serving.
To make it in advance. If you would like to make this crumble a day in advance, stew the apples until mostly broken down (approximately 15-20 minutes on the hob in a saucepan) and bake the crumble topping separately (see the recipe card for how to do this). Store both parts separately in airtight containers. When you’re ready to serve, warm the apple filling up in the microwave (or on the hob) and pop the pre-baked crumble topping on a baking tray and bake for 3-4 minutes to warm it through. Serve the warm apple filling sprinkled with the crisp topping.
How to make this 4 Ingredient Vegan Apple Crumble
We’ve created this recipe with just 4 simple ingredients (yes you read that right!). This classic British dessert is at its best when it’s kept simple, so that’s exactly what we’ve done. To create this recipe you’ll need:
Apples. The most important ingredient of course! We used tart apples in the form of Bramley cooking apples, as is traditional in England. But you can use pink lady, Granny Smith apples or whatever is your favourite! If you’ve been busy apple picking this autumn, feel free to use whatever type of apple you have on hand. If you are using sweet apples, start with around 1/3 of the sugar that the recipe calls for, taste the apple mixture once it’s partially cooked on the hob and add more sugar if needed.
Sugar. We use soft light brown sugar to give a beautiful caramel flavour to this sweet and delicious vegan apple crumble recipe. You can substitute for dark brown sugar for a more intense caramel flavour, coconut sugar or white sugar. We don’t recommend maple syrup for this recipe because you need a dry sugar (as opposed to liquid) for making the crumble topping.
Oats. Keep it simple and use either rolled oats or porridge oats. You’ll be blending the majority into oat flour and retaining some whole to stir into the crumb topping (rolled oats are perfect for this due to their wonderful chewy texture).
Vegan Butter. We recommend using cold vegan block butter (either unsalted or salted is fine). For this recipe, we would not recommend using coconut oil or spreadable vegan margarine. Make sure your butter is cold, not at room temperature.
That’s it – no lemon juice or vanilla extract needed! The only additional ingredient that we recommend is cinnamon in the apple layer; it’s optional but well worth adding if you’ve got it to hand.
You do not need any special equipment for this recipe. You don’t need a food processor – just a mixing bowl, baking dish and a preheated oven! Opt for a round baking dish that is approximately 20-22cm (8”) in diameter. If your dish is larger or smaller, increase or reduce the ingredients accordingly.
Make sure to head to the recipe card below for the full recipe and instructions!
Gather together your ingredients – tart Bramley cooking apples, rolled oats, soft light brown sugar and vegan block butter.
Preheat the oven to 170°C fan (190°C conventional / 375°F / gas mark 5). Peel, core and chop the apples into 1-2cm pieces. Add the apples to a large saucepan along with 50g brown sugar.
Cook the apples on the hob until they’ve broken down by around 50%. They’ll release water and then the mixture will thicken (this usually takes around 10 minutes), at which point they’re ready for the next step.
Tip: If you’ve got ground cinnamon, it’s a great optional addition. Stir 1 tsp into the apple mixture at this stage of the recipe.
Add the partially cooked apple filling to a 20cm/8” ovenproof pie dish.
Transfer 200g of the oats to a blender and pulse for around 10-20 seconds to create oat flour.
Add the oat flour to a large bowl along with the vegan butter and 75g brown sugar.
Rub everything together until the mixture is the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs, with some larger clusters in it.
Stir through the whole oats
Sprinkle the crumble mix on top of the partially cooked apple filling in the pie dish.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the crumble topping is lightly golden brown. Serve with vegan ice cream or custard.
What is the secret to a good crumble?
The secret to a good crumble relies on three things. First, use cold block butter to create a crisp crumble topping. Second, pre-cook the fruit filling to eliminate excess water and avoid a soggy crumble. Third, choose a tart apple, like Bramley, because this gives a delightful contrast with the sweet crumble layer.
If you use melted vegan butter or softened margarine to create the crumble topping you run the risk of the topping spreading and burning. Cold vegan butter, on the other hand, helps to create those little crunchy clusters that are so delicious in a crumble topping because it holds everything together.
Pre-cooking the fruit filling in a saucepan for around 10 minutes, allows the apples to release any excess water which is then simmered off as the filling thickens. Once the water has gone and the apples have started the break down and soften, the thick apple mixture can be added to an oven proof dish, topped with crumble mixture and baked.
Which apple is good for apple crumble?
Traditionally in England we use the tart cooking apple variety ‘Bramley’ for apple crumble. Combined with a little sugar it creates a filling with a tangy flavour, which balances the sweetness of the crumble topping beautifully. If you use a sweet apple variety instead, reduce the amount of sugar added to the apple filling, or you may find you don’t need any at all.
If you’re lucky enough to have an apple tree, use whichever variety it produces for optimal freshness and flavour.
How do you cut apples for apple crumble?
To cut apples for apple crumble, peel, core and then cut them into small chunks (1-2cm / 0.5-1”). Add them to a saucepan and pre-cook for 5-10 minutes until softened, before transferring the filling to an oven proof dish, adding the crumble topping and baking.
Can I make this apple crumble gluten free?
Use certified gluten-free oats to make this crumble gluten-free. Just be sure to check the packet of your other ingredients, to make sure they’re gluten-free too.
Can I use whole wheat flour or regular flour to make this crumble?
Yes, if you’d like to substitute the 200g of oat flour for whole wheat or regular flour (plain or all purpose) you can do this.
Can I use dark brown, Demerara or white sugars in this recipe?
Yes, you can substitute the soft light brown sugar for dark brown, Demerara or white sugar, although they’ll all give slightly different results and subtle flavour differences.
How do you keep crumble topping crisp?
Keeping a crumble topping crisp relies on three things. First, use cold block butter rather than melted butter or margarine. Second, pre-cook the fruit filling to eliminate excess water. Third, store the crumble in an airtight container. For a really crisp topping, cook the crumble layer separately and sprinkle it on the fruit filling on serving. See our recipe card for how to do this.
If you use melted (or softened) vegan butter or margarine to create the crumble topping you run the risk of the topping spreading and burning. Cold vegan block butter, on the other hand, helps to create those little crunchy clusters that are so delicious in a crumble topping.
Pre-cooking the fruit filling in a saucepan for 5-10 minutes, allows the apples to release any excess water which is then simmered off as the filling thickens. Once the water has gone and the apples have started the break down and soften, the mixture can be added to an oven proof dish, topped with crumble mixture and baked.
How do you know when apple crumble is done?
You’ll know when apple crumble is done when the filling is bubbling and thick and the topping is lightly golden and crisp. Typically, this takes around 25-30 minutes in the oven at 170°C fan (if you’re using a part-cooked filling that you started off on the hob).
How long does apple crumble last?
You can refrigerate apple crumble for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Cool the crumble completely before transferring it to an airtight container and putting it in the fridge or freezer.
To re-heat the crumble, defrost it fully in the refrigerator, and then microwave or oven bake it until hot through. Re-heated crumble will likely not retain a crispness to the topping, particularly if microwaved, however, slather it in some vegan custard and it’ll still taste great.
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Loved this 4 Ingredient Vegan Apple Crumble? Here are some more delicious vegan desserts to try
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The Written Recipe:
4 Ingredient Vegan Apple Crumble (Very Easy Recipe!)
For the apple filling:
- 775 g Bramley apples (peeled, cored and cut into chunks approx 1cm (approximately 3 large apples))
- 50 g soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
For the oatmeal crumble topping:
- 240 g oats (rolled or porridge oats (gluten free if required))
- 75 g soft light brown sugar
- 100 g vegan butter (the block kind, cold)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan (190°C conventional / 375°F / gas mark 5).
- Prepare the apples by peeling and coring them, and then cutting them into small chunks (around 1-2cm).775 g Bramley apples
- Add the apple chunks* to a large saucepan along with 50g brown sugar and, if you’re using it, the cinnamon. Stir together.50 g soft light brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Put the saucepan on the hob on medium heat and cook the apples for 5-10 minutes until they’ve broken down by about 50%**.
- Add the partially cooked apple filling to an oven proof pie dish that is around 20-22cm in diameter (8”).
- Measure out 200g of the oats (2.25 cups) and add them to a blender cup. Pulse for around 30 seconds until they are the consistency of flour.240 g oats
- Add the oat flour, 75g brown sugar and cold butter to a large bowl and rub together until the mixture is fully combined. It will be the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs with some larger clusters in it.75 g soft light brown sugar, 100 g vegan butter
- Stir through the whole oats (40g/0.5 cups).
- Sprinkle the oatmeal crumble topping on top of the partially cooked apple in the pie dish.
- Place the pie dish in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the crumble topping is lightly golden.
- Serve with vegan ice cream or dairy free custard.