This vegan apple pear cranberry crisp is so cozy and perfect for the fall! It has just the right balance of sweet and tart flavors, plus an irresistable, buttery crumb topping. Plus, it’s easy to prepare and to make ahead of time.
Holiday cooking can be demanding. Holiday baking can be particularly so.
As you undertake these many projects, you may find yourself wishing for an easy, no fuss vegan dessert. Something you can whip together at a moment’s notice yet count on being crowd-pleasing, seasonal, and tasty.
That’s what this festive vegan apple pear cranberry crisp is. It’s a cozy, heartwarming holiday fruit dessert that’s big on flavor, but low on stress.
I originally made this recipe because I had both apples and pears at home. Usually I make crisp or crumble with just apples.
I reserve pears for my very favorite vegan chocolate pear cake.
Yet, since I had both fruits, I figured, why not use them both? And adding fresh, tart cranberries—which I keep around during the holidays, anyway—seemed like a great way to balance the sweetness of the pears.
In the end, all of these components together create what I think is a perfect balance of fruit flavor. Plus, apples, pears, and cranberries are all festive and seasonal ingredients.
Together, they make for a wonderful, plant-based holiday treat.
The pears, on the other hand, contributed mellow sweetness and a juicy consistency.
I should say that, according to some definitions, this crisp is actually a crumble.
Crisp and crumble tend to be used interchangeably. But some people designate “crisp” as having a crumble topping with oats in it, whereas the topping for “crumble” is just flour, sugar, and butter.
Originally, I did include oats in the topping for this recipe. Over the years, I’ve realized that I actually don’t love what rolled oats do to the texture of fruit desserts like this one.
Rather than crisping up, which is what they’re supposed to do, I think they tend to actually get in the way of the big, crispy crumbs that I love so much. I’ve come to prefer a simple flour, sugar, and butter mix.
For this recipe, that wonderful, crispy crumble will sink into the fruit. It helps to bring the whole dessert together. In fact, it also binds the crisp, so that you don’t have to add any extra flour to the filling.
I use Granny Smith apples to make the crisp. They’re known for tartness and firm texture, and they’re a go-to for bakers.
But I also love baking apple desserts, like my Italian apple cake, with Jonagolds and gala apples. Choose what’s available to you.
I used Bosc pears in this recipe, but I often cook with Anjou pears, too. I find that they both become juicy and tender while holding enough shape to stand out in a dessert. Once again, you can use what you have!
I definitely recommend using fresh cranberries in the recipe, if you can. They’re responsible for the delightful, tart flavor. Dried cranberries won’t be as tart, and they also won’t contribute to a nice, juicy crisp.
I usually use unbleached, all-purpose flour in the apple pear cranberry crisp.
However, when I first made the recipe, I was intentionally hoping to make it friendly for gluten-free eaters. I used oat flour in place of all-purpose. Oat flour has a nice, mild flavor, and while I don’t often bake with it, I think it’s perfect for crispy toppings.
You can use either regular, all-purpose flour or the oat flour option to make the crisp. You can also use a gluten free, all-purpose blend.
As with all crisps and crumbles, the steps here are fortunately quite simple.
The most time-consuming and hands-on preparation step in making the crisp is actually just to peel and cut the apples and pears. This is step 1 of the process.
The beauty of the crumb topping here is that you don’t need a food processor or even a pastry cutter to make it. Simply working the cold butter into the flour and sugar with your fingers will do.
You’re aiming for a mixture that has some very crumbly bits, but also some big, substantial crumbs, the size of peas.
Give this a little time: it should take you a few minutes to really achieve that crumb texture and work all of the butter into the flour.
I prepare the filling by simply putting all of my fruit into the dish that the crisp is baked in, then adding the other filling ingredients.
You can use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix it all together. No need for dirtying another bowl—the point of this recipe is its ease and simplicity!
There’s a lot of juicy filling in this apple pear cranberry crisp. Accordingly, it needs a full 50-60 minutes of bake time, or until the filling is bubbling and the top is a nice, golden brown.
The crisp serves a lot of people! It’s designed to be baked in a 9 by 13-inch/24 by 36cm rectangle pan. It’s perfect for a family gathering or to bring to a party.
If you need to make a half batch of the dish, you can cut the entire recipe in half and bake it in an 8-inch / 20cm square baking dish instead.
If you have a bunch of leftovers, wonderful! They’ll keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. They can also be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
If you want to simply prepare the crumb topping ahead of time, it freezes really well. Once that’s made, preparing the apple pear cranberry crisp is even quicker. You can make the topping and freeze it for up to 8 weeks before preparing and baking the crisp.
I definitely recommend reheating portions of the crisp prior to serving.
In order to reheat the crisp, place one or several servings in an oven-safe dish. Transfer to a 350°F / 175°C oven for 15 minutes, or until warmed through.
I always serve the apple pear cranberry crisp with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream.
However, it’s also lovely with some vegan whipped cream! I make a silken tofu whipped cream that’s really excellent (and adds a little protein to your dessert).
I also have a raw, vegan cashew whipped cream that’s great, and which I’ve been making for years.
I love the addition of orange zest and juice in this recipe. It channels the cranberry/orange flavor combination that’s so tried-and-true.
Plus, I’m a big fan of citrus flavors in baking.
Perhaps you’ll add the crisp to your holiday menu or use it as an opportunity to enjoy some of autumn and winter’s seasonal fruits. I hope you enjoy it!