This gluten-free apple cobbler recipe is my favorite gluten-free apple dessert. It uses a mix of crisp Fall apples and a biscuit-like topping that puffs up and gets all golden brown and delicious. Just add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and you are in dessert heaven.
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When I tested this recipe I brought it to a potluck and asked for feedback. No one could tell it was gluten-free, the hallmark of a good gluten-free dessert recipe. It travels well I often bring it to picnics and BBQs. It is one of my most requested recipes, along with my sweet corn ribs and bacon wrapped brussels sprouts.
📖Why This Recipe Works
An old fashion apple cobbler needs two things- a perfectly crisp and not overly sweet cinnamon apple filling and a dough based top that lands perfectly between a biscuit and a cake. Not too light, not too heavy.
And that is what this recipe achieves, brown sugar adds a depth of flavor but doesn't go overboard on sweetness. By not cooking the apples before baking they keep just the right amount of crunch.
This recipe uses buttermilk as the liquid which reacts with the baking soda to create the chemical reaction needed to get a puffy soft top. Adding an extra egg yolk to the cobbler topping ensures the finish cobbler topping stays moist.
The key ingredient for this recipe is obviously the fresh apples. I recommend using a mix of apples. Select two types that are a balance of sweet, crisp, and tart flavors.
For this recipe, I used half granny smith, which are firm tart apples, and honeycrisps, which are slightly softer but still crisp and very sweet. I use 5 to 6 large apples to make this cobbler.
Best Apples for Baking
- Granny Smith
- Golden Delicious
- Pink Lady
Do not use Red Delicious, Fuji, or Gala apples.
For this recipe you will also need:
- Brown Sugar- You can substitute granulated sugar or coconut sugar.
- Lemon Juice - Prevents browning.
- Cornstarch- You can substitute arrowroot or tapioca starch.
- Vanilla Extract
- Cinnamon - A fun alternative is cardamon. Mr. Peel prefers it this way, but I prefer cinnamon.
- Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend- Used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour which already contains xanthan gum. If your blend doesn't contain you will need to add extra to create structure.
- Sugar- You will also need extra for sprinkling on top.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda- As with most GF baking, you need both items to get the proper rise.
- Buttermilk- Make your own buttermilk by combining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with whole milk.
- Egg Yolk
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
⏲️How to Make Apple Cobbler Gluten-Free
The dough will need to rest for 10 minutes, a common practice in gluten-free baking. You may want to start with that and then prep your apples and the filling.
First, begin by preheating your oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a baking dish or pan. I found a cast iron pan to the perfect size, my 13x9 inch casserole dish led to the cobbler being a little too thin.
Wash your apples well before peeling. To remove the core, you can do 1 of the 3 following options:
- Use an apple corer to remove the center
- Cut into quarters and cut at a diagonal to remove the center
- Cut in half and use a melon baller to remove the center and then make a V at each end with a knife to remove the stem.
Slice your apples, I think about ⅓ inch is a perfect size.
Step 2- Apple Filling
I do not cook the filling before baking. Slightly different than our gluten-free peach crisp recipe.
Simply add the apples along with all the filling ingredients to a large bowl. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared baking dish.
Step 3- Cobbler Topping
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Next, you need to cut in your butter. The butter should be very cold! Typically, you would need a pastry blender for this, but I find using two forks to cut in the butter works just as well.
Once you have pea size crumbles mix in the buttermilk and egg yolk. I typically add the egg yolk to the measuring cup with the buttermilk and give it a quick stir. It will incorporate into the batter easier.
Slowly stir until the liquid is incorporated and then rest 10 minutes. Spoon the batter on top of the apples. The filling does not need to be fully covered. A little apple goodness peeking through the buttery top is what makes cobblers unique.
Step 4- Bake and Serve
Sprinkle the top of the dough with extra sugar, it helps create a nice brown crust. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes. I start checking around 40 minutes, but it typically takes 50 depending on the humidity.
Allow the apple cobbler to rest for a few minutes before serving. Cobblers should definitely be served warm with a big scoop of ice cream and maybe a drizzle of caramel sauce.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- If the cobbler is getting too dark on top, loosely cover with aluminum foil.
- Use 2 varieties of apples for the best balance of flavor and texture.
- Using a smaller but deeper baking dish will give you a thicker cobbler.
- Serve warm.
💭 Dairy-Free Variation
To make a dairy-free apple cobbler we need to swap the butter for vegan butter and the buttermilk for an equal amount of non-dairy milk plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I like the macadamia nut milk we use in our dairy-free eggnog.
With these changes, you can make the cobbler vegan as well. Just skip the egg yolk. It is just bonus moisture, but you can add a tablespoon of apple sauce or extra non-dairy milk.
🌡️Make Ahead and Storage
This recipe can be made a day in advance. Just store in the fridge in the original pan and cover with foil. Reheat at 300 degrees until warmed through and serve.
Leftovers will keep for 3 to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Eat cold or pop in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.
More Delicious Gluten-Free Desserts
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Both a crisp and a cobbler contain a fruit base. Fruit cobblers have a biscuit or other dough scooped onto the top. The top puffs up a bit as the cobbler bakes creating a bumpy solid(ish) dough texture. While fruit crisps have a crumbly topping made from oats and nuts.
Yes, this recipe can be converted into a dairy-free gluten-free apple cobbler. See the variations section for details. There is also a vegan option.
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Gluten-Free Apple Cobbler
- Baking dish
- Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly butter or oil your baking dish.
- In a large bowl, combine the apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Toss until the apples are evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and pat into an even layer.2 ½ pounds baking apples, ⅓ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Using two forks (or a pastry cutter) cut in the butter until you have pea sized crumbs.1 ½ cups gluten-free flour blend, ¼ xanthan gum, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Whisk together the egg yolk and buttermilk. Slowly add the mixture to the flour and stir with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. Rest the dough for 10 minutes.¾ cup buttermilk, 1 egg yolk
- Spoon the dough all over the top of the apple filling. The filling should be mainly covered with some pieces filling showing through. Optional: Sprinkle extra sugar or cinnamon and sugar over the top.
- Bake uncovered until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden, about 40 to 55 minutes. If it looks like it's getting too brown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
- See post for best baking apples. I used a 50/50 blend of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples.
- To make ahead fully bake and cool before storing in the fright. Reheat at 300 F degrees until warmed through.
- See post for dairy-free substitutions.