Vegan Berry Crisp

by Mary on July 17, 2012

berry crumble in a glass baking dish

made with fresh blueberries, frozen blackberries, and slightly more topping than the recipe

Summer means berries and berries mean crisps. But nothing keeps me away from this crisp recipe: I freeze lots of berries to enjoy it all year. I’ve made it with all kinds of berries, strawberry/rhubarb, and even fruits like mango and peach. The recipe began as the Seattle Times Three-Berry Crisp with Butter-Nut Crumb Topping but over the years it’s morphed into my own. One thing’s the same: the topping is flakey, rich, and studded with chopped walnuts.

I use a light hand with the topping and plenty of berries. I let the berries speak for themselves instead of adding lemon or sugar to them. The crisp is still plenty rich for my family, especially once they’ve added the inevitable scoop of ice cream on top.

The mixture of regular and powdered sugar gives the topping an especially soft, flakey crumb. That, and using a saturated fat instead of an oil to make it. I’ve tried both, and conceded that coconut oil works best here (or a slightly smaller amount of butter). If you make the vegan, non-dairy version I’ve written up below, the coconut oil used won’t give the crumble a noticeable coconut flavor. The coconut is there, but it’s subtle.

raspberry blueberry crumble in a glass baking dish

made with fresh raspberries and blueberries and a bit less topping

Any sugar works, but I often use coconut palm sugar here for its color and flavor. For the powdered sugar component you can make your own if you want. It only takes a minute (less with a Vitamix) in the blender or food processor. That way you can use all unrefined sugar. Keep in mind that you need a certain critical mass of sugar for the food processor or blender work properly, an amount which will vary depending on the size of your machine. So you’ll need to make more powdered sugar than the small amount required by the crisp. Whether you use store-bought or homemade powdered sugar, don’t omit it: it’s one of the secrets of the topping’s texture.

Enjoy! And if you make the recipe, please let me know how you liked it in the comments below.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegan Gluten-Free Berry Crisp
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8
For the berry filling:
  • 6-7 cups mixed berries (blueberry, blackberry, marionberry, raspberry)
  • 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
For the topping:
  • ¾ cup unsifted flour (I used Pamela's gluten-free baking mix, you can use that or whole wheat pastry flour or white flour)
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. plus one tsp. unrefined granulated sugar such as coconut palm sugar or muscovado sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (can be homemade from unrefined sugar)
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the fruit, combine berries and tapioca starch in 9 by 12 glass baking dish.
  3. For the topping, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, granulated and powdered sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts) in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Stir dry topping ingredients except walnuts together thoroughly.
  5. Mix coconut oil into dry ingredients with your hands as you would with butter.
  6. Add the chopped walnuts and mix.
  7. The topping should come together as a crumb.
  8. Gently place topping on top of fruit. Break up large crumbs, but don't mash the topping into the fruit.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes or until topping begins to brown.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Reeni July 18, 2012 at 1:33 am

Blueberry crisp is one of my absolute favorite desserts! This is a beautiful sight!
Reeni recently posted..Raspberry CustardMy Profile


Evelyn July 20, 2012 at 3:44 am

Hi Mary!

This looks so good. I’ve never had a berry crisp before. I’ll have to give this a try one day soon.

I noticed that you like using coconut palm sugar, I do too. It has a good taste.


Gena Berglund July 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Having tried this at your dinner party, I want to make it. It was delicious. As you know I have to be careful with sugars. Does it work without the powdered sugar? Where do you find coconut palm or muscovado sugar? Whole Foods? Thank you M. -Gena


mary July 21, 2012 at 4:55 am

Hi Gena, nice to hear from you! I get coconut palm sugar from PCC, I’m sure Whole Foods would have it too. You could also get it (probably for a lot less) at an Asian grocery store, so I need to look for it at Uwajimaya. I’ve heard that sometimes the palm sugar you buy at an Asian grocery store may be mixed with regular sugar, so research that if that’s your source. Coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index. Like agave, it’s low glycemic because it has a higher percentage of fructose than some other sugars. Some people worry about that but I do not, especially not in the small quantities that we use. Muscovado (demarara, Sucanat, etc.) are unrefined cane sugars so while delicious, they have a higher glycemic index if that matters to you. I think this recipe would work without the powdered sugar, the texture of the topping would just slightly different. I made powdered sugar from coconut palm sugar.


Anonymous1 February 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

This recipe sounds yummy…except I would never use coconut palm sugar.
Please read the article I posted. Think twice before switching to a new and exciting product when it hits the market!


mary February 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Thanks for starting this discussion, I love your care and concern and I enjoyed researching my reply. There are definitely issues with the supply of coconuts now that coconut meat, oil, and sugar are suddenly in such high demand for both culinary and beauty/health uses. And coconuts have not been a crop that farmers get much for at all. Check out these articles from Time magazine:,9171,2130967,00.html and I read through the article you cited and this quote jumped out at me: “coconut palms that were formerly producing coconuts are now being converted to coconut sugar production, because a farmer can often make more money from the simple coconut sugar production than they can from selling the coconuts to wholesale coconut commodity brokers.” Couldn’t that be a good thing, considering that these are largely very poor folks? I’m reminded of the controversy about quinoa where writers were claiming that the demand for quinoa and the resulting high price would be bad for Bolivians who would no longer be able to afford it. But, in fact, the high price of quinoa in general benefits the farmers and the region. So it is an issue to investigate, but by no means one with a slam-dunk answer. Companies which do make coconut sugar will give you the other side, as here: quote, “Coconut oil, like coconut palm sugar, is a wonderful food product produced by the coconut tree. We are fans of coconut oil, use it in our diet and are confident, based on years of experience, that both products can and are being produced, simultaneously, without any harm to the coconut tree.
Yet, the bottom line, is that coconut farmers make more money collecting the nectar than just selling the coconut fruit and the mission of our company is to help impoverished farmers earn more income so they can live in health and prosperity.” Hope to hear from you again soon!


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