Apple Crumble

This is a recipe I made up with Jimmy in mind. My husband, the milkshake connoisseur, to my shock and awe, has agreed to do a 30-day Paleo challenge. For the next 30 days, we will be eating grain, dairy, and legume-free. No mac & cheese, no pizza at Cogan’s, no frequent trips to Dairy Queen. We will be eating plenty of grass-fed and free-range meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils. Last night, we stayed up past midnight talking of goals and dreams, and one of the things he is committed to is healthier eating. He wants to give it an honest shot, and has committed to the 30 days.

You have no idea how grateful I am for this. Well, actually, if you have ever tried to go on a diet or eat differently than your significant other, you do have some idea how grateful I am. I have been eating this way (with more than a few falls of the wagon) since January. It can be extremely challenging to have the willpower to say no to bread when you smell it freshly toasting nearby, or to pass up pizza when there’s a huge one in front of you when you’re out to dinner. Since he has agreed to do this, I’ve completely purged the house of all non-paleo foods, and stocked up the fridge and freezer with all sorts of goodies. We talked about strategies for sticking to the plan (trail mix in the pocket should fend off vending machine cravings, coconut milk-banana-cocoa shakes instead of dairy queen trips) and he seems excited to try this out.

I plan to do my part and keep him well-fed while he tries something new for the next month. I’ll be posting recipes, packed-lunch ideas, and more as we go along. And so without further ado, I present to you…

Paleo Apple Crumble recipe

Apple Crumble

Serves 6-8
This recipe is paleo, vegetarian, and vegan

The filling
5 granny smith apples
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg [see ingredient notes]
juice and zest of two lemons
1 tbsp arrowroot powder [see ingredient notes]

The topping
1 cup nuts – I used a mixture of cashews, almonds and brazil nuts
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp arrowroot powder
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tsp vanilla

How to make it

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease up a baking dish (I used a big pyrex bowl) with coconut oil and set aside.
  • Peel and thinly slice the apples. Place into a large mixing bowl. Add the other filling ingredients and mix well.
  • Pulse the nuts, salt, and arrowroot powder in a food processor until the nuts are in crumbly, small chunks. Then slowly add the coconut oil one tablespoon at a time while pulsing the mixture (it helps if your coconut oil is liquefied when you do this). Add in the raisins a bit at a time while pulsing. Now do the same with the vanilla.
  • At this point, the mixture should be holding together somewhat like a doughy mixture.
  • Fill your baking dish with the apple mixture. Then use your fingers to dollop the topping over the surface a bit at a time. Don’t worry about it being perfect, it’s a crumble, it’s supposed to look rustic and homey.
  • Bake for 45 minutes til golden brown and bubbly.

This was delicious if I may say so! I like my apples to still have a bit of texture, but if you really want that soft, apple pie feel, you should bake it a bit longer. You could even saute the apples on the stovetop in a bit of coconut oil prior to putting them into the dish. I may try that next time because Jimmy likes the softer apples.

I really loved the flavor of this. The lemon zest makes it very bright, so if you’d prefer a more traditional apple pie taste, leave some out. I also can taste the coconut oil, which I don’t mind. If you’re not doing strict paleo, butter would be a preferable substitute there.

Ingredient notes

Arrowroot powder comes from the rhizome of the West Indian arrowroot plant, and is a thickener similar to cornstarch. I prefer it to cornstarch for a couple of reasons: It has a more neutral flavor than cornstarch, it works well at a low temperature and tolerates acidic ingredients for a longer cooking time, it gives dessert sauces and fillings a really pretty sheen, and unlike cornstarch, you can freeze things made with arrowroot without them turning into a blobby, gummy mess. Don’t use arrowroot powder with dairy, though, it turns things into a disgusting slimy mixture. Not cute.

You can use ground nutmeg instead of freshly grating your own, but why not do it since you’ve got your microplane grater out anyway? I find whole nutmeg for pennies at my local Indian grocery store. I also buy coconut oil, coconut milk, and spices there for a fraction of the price you’d find them anywhere else. Brand name coconut oil is $14 per jar at the local organic grocer, but I can get the same size jar from the Indian grocer for $3. Not sure if you have an Indian grocer in your area? Call a local Indian restaurant and ask!

Help me out

I’d love for you guys to test this recipe for me. I am writing a paleo cookbook and at some point will probably have an organized recipe testing system, but for now, I’d just love to know what you think. If you make this, please leave me feedback in the comments!


  1. Heather says

    I am trying to go mostly grain-free, and *never* thought to just use nuts instead of oats for crumbles. I’ll pick up some apples tomorrow and give this a shot. YUM!

  2. says

    Oh that is so great that your husband is going to do this 30 day challenge! I have been eating Paleo (though not strict as I don’t fully eliminate dairy) for a little over 2 months now and part of the reason I have been able to be successful is because my boyfriend jumped right on the bandwagon with me. Not sure if I could resist (bread, mostly) if it was all around me so kudos to you for sticking to it! I can’t get over how in only two months being grain-free has totally changed my life. I’m excited you will be posting some recipes and a cookbook sounds awesome! I’ll let you know when I try this.

    (Next I might get some balls and try Crossfit…haha still a little scared about that though!)

  3. says

    Wow. Pulsing nuts with raisins and coconut oil to get that crumbly texture – ingenious! I’m assuming you could do the same thing with dates? Is that paleo-friendly? We have a few apples from our weekly bag of produce, but not sure those will last long enough for a crumble. I’ll let you know.

    Also, fist-bump Jimmy for me! Trying to eat healthier is always a challenge.

  4. says

    This looked so good. I will give it a try when it cools off a bit more…. Nothing like smelling baking apples in the house! Great idea for the crumb topping too!
    Cheers! Kris

  5. Laurah says

    Oh, good. I look forward to the recipes. I am not paleo, but with not eating land creatures, all my allergies (wheat/dairy/eggs/peanuts/etc. etc. etc.) and doctor-ordered soyvoidance, I end up eating a lot of stuff that would qualify for your diet. I like the apple recipe!

  6. says

    That looks awesome! I make a similar one, but had never thought of using the arrowroot, but I will try it! Glad that your husband agreed to try it! Mine tried for 30 days, and 6 months later is going strong (and looking it!). Great blog!

  7. Katie says

    Hey Amber! I was wondering what size apples you used for your crumble? I just tried making this and bought large granny smith apples and only used 3 because they were starting to outweigh the other ingredients it seemed. I can’t wait to try it I just placed it in the oven!!