Published Nov 01, 2023, Updated Nov 14, 2023
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This cherry crisp can be made with fresh or frozen cherries and has a crunchy oatmeal almond topping. It’s absolutely delicious and easier to make than pie!
Introducing your new favorite dessert: cherry crisp!
This recipe combines tart and sweet cherries with a crunchy oatmeal nut topping. And it has a subtle almond flavor thanks to the almond extract, almond flour and almonds in the topping that definitely takes this crisp to the next level. The combo of cherry + almond = pure perfection! And instead of using cherry pie filling like many cherry crisps we’re using real deal cherries. I went with frozen cherries to save time, but feel free to use fresh if you prefer.
Whether you’re making this recipe for a simple weeknight dessert, summer potluck or Thanksgiving dinner it’s guaranteed to be a hit!
Table of contents
- Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Ingredients Needed
- How to Make
- Ingredient Substitutions
- How to Serve Cherry Crisp
- Can You Make This Crisp Ahead of Time?
- Tips for the Perfect Crisp
- How to Store Leftovers
- Cherry Crisp FAQ’s
- More Healthy Desserts to Try
- More Cherry Recipes to Try
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy to make – No fussing with a pie crust… this easy cherry crisp delivers all the flavor and comfort of a homemade pie without intricate steps.
- Delicious – The combo of sweet and tart cherries paired with an almond oat crumble topping is chef’s kiss!
- Healthy – This crisp is made healthier with real cherries, maple syrup, almonds, rolled oats and almond flour.
- Dietary friendly – It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and refined sugar-free.
- cherries – the star of the show! I used a blend of frozen tart and sweet cherries, but you can use whatever is available to you. You can also use fresh cherries, but I prefer frozen because it saves time on pitting the cherries.
- arrowroot powder – this is what thickens the cherry mixture, giving it that perfect consistency. You can use cornstarch as substitute.
- lemon juice – a little acidity helps to balance the sweetness and enhances the cherry flavor.
- almond extract – this ties our flavors together, echoing the almond in our topping and giving an extra depth to the cherries.
- old-fashioned rolled oats – this gives our crumble its classic texture. Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often cross-contaminated during processing, so if you need this crisp to be gluten-free, make sure you look for oats that say “gluten-free” on the package. I like using Bob’s Red Mill gluten free old fashioned rolled oats.
- almonds – adding a nice crunch and flavor that complements the cherries wonderfully. I used raw slivered almonds, but if you only have whole raw almonds on hand you can roughly chop them for the topping.
- almond flour – we’re using almond flour to keep this recipe gluten-free.
- maple syrup – the perfect natural sweetener for this crisp! Make sure you’re using pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup that’s loaded with corn syrup!
- coconut oil – it brings the crumble topping together. I’ve purchased several different brands of coconut oil before, but Nutiva organic extra virgin coconut oil is my favorite.
- vanilla extract and almond extract – the perfect flavor enhancers. We’re adding a dash of almond extract to the cherry filling for more almond flavor.
- cinnamon and sea salt – to round out all the flavors!
How to Make
Prep – Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F and spraying your 8-inch square baking dish with a non-stick spray.
Simmer cherries – In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, lemon juice, almond extract and arrowroot powder. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring and pressing the cherries down with a wooden spoon or spatula occasionally to break down the cherries. You want your cherry mixture to thicken up slightly so it coats the back of a spoon without being too drippy.
Make topping – While your cherries are simmering, mix the oats, almonds, almond flour, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, almond extract and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
Assemble – Pour the thickened cherry mix into your baking dish. Generously sprinkle and spread the oat topping over the cherries, creating an even layer.
Bake – Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and topping is golden brown.
Serve – Once done, let the crisp cool for 15-20 minutes to set further, then serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
- Cherries: If you’d like to swap the cherries with another fruit a mix of berries or pears would be a good substitute. You could also make this apple crisp, peach crisp or blueberry crumble instead!
- Rolled oats: You can’t substitute the rolled oats for steel cut oats, but quick oats should work.
- Almond flour: I haven’t tested this crisp with a different flour, but I have a feeling that oat flour, all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour will work just fine for the topping. If you try it, please let me know in the comments.
- Arrowroot powder: Cornstarch is a direct substitute and will help thicken your cherry mixture just as well.
- Maple syrup: Honey, agave syrup, coconut sugar, or brown sugar can be used in place of maple syrup if needed. Each offers a different but equally delightful sweetness.
- Almond extract: While it provides a unique flavor that complements the cherries, if you’re out, you can just use a bit more vanilla extract or skip it entirely.
- Nuts: The slivered almonds add a lovely crunch, but they can be omitted for a nut-free version or replaced with chopped pecans or walnuts for a twist.
- Coconut oil: You could use another neutral oil or vegan butter as a substitute. Regular melted butter if you don’t plan on keeping this recipe vegan.
How to Serve Cherry Crisp
This cherry crisp is delicious on its own, but if you really want the full experience I recommend serving it with some toppings. Here are some ideas:
- ice cream – I love topping it with a scoop of classic vanilla ice cream! Go for a dairy-free ice cream to keep it vegan.
- yogurt – add creaminess and protein by adding yogurt as a topping! Pro tip: whip the yogurt in a food processor for a light and airy texture.
- whipped cream – can’t go wrong with classic whipped cream!
- coconut whip – looking for a dairy-free option? I love topping this cherry crisp with coconut whipped cream!
Can You Make This Crisp Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can totally make this cherry crisp recipe ahead of time, which is perfect if you’re serving it for Thanksgiving dessert and have a ton of other dishes to make. There are a couple of options that work really well.
OPTION 1: BAKE AND THEN REHEAT BEFORE SERVING
Prepare your crisp as the recipe suggests. Once baked, let it cool, cover the baking dish and place it in the fridge. You can do this 1-2 days in advance. When ready to serve, take your crisp out from the fridge, cover with foil and reheat in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.
OPTION 2: PREP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN WITHOUT BAKING
Simply prepare your crisp as the recipe suggests without baking it. Cover your dish with foil, place it in the fridge and then bake it as directed below before you’re ready to serve.
Tips for the Perfect Crisp
- Use frozen cherries: If you feel like using fresh cherries, go for it, but I highly recommend using frozen cherries for convenience and ease.
- Know your cherries: Knowing the sweetness of your cherries can guide if you need to adjust the amount of maple syrup. If they are too tart, a little extra sweetness can make all the difference.
- Don’t skip the lemon juice: It might seem minor, but the acidity truly enhances the cherry flavor and balances the sweetness.
- Keep an eye on the crumble: Ovens vary, so start checking a few minutes before the timer goes off to avoid over-browning the top. If you notice your crumble getting too dark you can cover it with foil.
- Let It cool: After baking, give it some time to set. Diving in immediately might be tempting, but a cooler crumble ensures the flavors are absorbed, and the filling thickens.
How to Store Leftovers
At room temperature: Leftovers will store well at room temperature for about 2 days.
In the fridge: For longer storage, store this cherry crisp in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
In the freezer: I don’t recommend freezing leftovers because I don’t think the crisp topping will hold up.
Reheating: This crisp is delicious warm, at room temperature or cold straight from the fridge, but if you want to reheat leftovers I recommend reheating it in the oven or a toaster oven for the best results. The microwave will work for reheating, but it will, but it will make the crumble topping soggy and not as crisp!
Cherry Crisp FAQ’s
For a cherry crisp, using a blend of tart and sweet cherries gives the best results. Tart cherries, like Montmorency, bring a vibrant flavor, while sweet varieties, like Bing or Rainier, add natural sweetness. If fresh cherries aren’t available, frozen cherries are a convenient alternative, offering a similar taste and texture without the hassle of pitting and preparation.
Absolutely! If you prefer fresh cherries or they’re in season, feel free to substitute. Just remember to pit and halve them, and you might not need to simmer as long as with frozen cherries.
The main difference between a cherry crisp and a cherry cobbler lies in the topping. A cherry crisp has a streusel-like topping made from a mixture of oats, flour, butter, and sugar, which bakes to a crispy texture. On the other hand, a cherry cobbler has dollops of biscuit dough or a layer of cake-like batter on top, which rises and becomes fluffy as it bakes.
The amount of sugar in a cherry crisp can vary based on the recipe and the cherries’ natural sweetness. In this particular recipe, we minimize added sugars by sweetening primarily with the natural sugars found in cherries and using maple syrup in the topping. There’s no refined sugar, and the overall sweetness is balanced. Be mindful that variations in ingredients and portion sizes will alter the sugar content, so it’s always a good idea to calculate based on the specific products and amounts you’re using.
More Healthy Desserts to Try
More Cherry Recipes to Try
- Cherry Baked Oatmeal
- Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
- Cherry Energy Balls
- Mocha Cherry Smoothie
- Cherry Cheesecake Overnight Oats
- 4 heaping cups frozen cherries, I used a frozen blend of tart and sweet cherries
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder, cornstarch also works
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat oven to 350F and spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
- Add frozen cherries, lemon juice, almond extract and arrowroot powder to a saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring and pressing down with a wooden spoon or spatula occasionally to break down the cherries. You want your cherry mixture to thicken up slightly so it coats the back of a spoon without being too drippy.
- While cherries are simmering, make your topping. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, almonds, almond flour, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, almond extract and sea salt. Set aside.
- Carefully pour cherry mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Spoon oatmeal almond topping over the cherries in an even layer.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and topping is golden brown.
- Let cool for 15-20 minutes then serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.