This Swedish apple pie is similar to a crisp and has an amazingly easy topping. It’s my most-requested Thanksgiving dessert and as a bonus, can easily be made gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free. It’s perfect with ice cream, vanilla sauce or custard on top.
When I google Swedish apple pie, I see a lot of recipes that don’t resemble the Swedish pie that I know. They’re all missing oats!
And texture. So here’s my version.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I was an exchange student twice in Sweden and have gone back for lots of visits during the summer. This has resulted in me eating lots of Swedish pies.
And lots of Swedish pancakes, kladdkaka (which is like a dense and fudgy brownie cake!), and pepparkakor (which are thin, crisp ginger cookies popular around Christmas!).
I have so much love and nostalgia for all things Swedish. Whenever I make this pie or the kladdkaka I mentioned above, which I make quite often, I feel all warm and fuzzy.
What is a Swedish apple pie?
The type of pie here is called a smulpaj, or crumb pie and is almost like a crumble or crisp. You can make a traditional version with all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour, or you can make it gluten-free with oat flour.
Oat flour is just ground up oats, so if you don’t have any, don’t worry – you can make it yourself with oats (see more on that below).
To make this pie, you just have the apples on the bottom and a topping. No fussy crust. It’s really so quick and easy!
Need to make something for gluten-free family or friends?
If you’re not gluten-free but need to make a gluten-free pie for Thanksgiving, this is an awesome option. You don’t need to buy any special ingredients.
You do need gluten-free oats + gluten-free oat flour, but the GF oats can be found in most grocery stores. And once you’re done with this pie, you can use the oats up however you normally use oats instead of having a bag of gluten-free flour around.
Or you can make this gluten-free apple crisp, which also uses oats and oat flour. These healthy banana muffins also look fantastic!
Traditional version vs. a healthier one
You’ve got several options when making this pie!
- Flour: all-purpose flour, oat flour, or whole wheat flour
- Fat: butter or coconut oil
- Sugar: granulated sugar or coconut sugar
Note that if you use coconut sugar, the pie will be quite a bit darker in color.
What makes this pie better than regular pies
Pie crusts are kind of my nemesis. They often fail, they’re messy, and I find that unless they’re a cookie crust, they usually don’t even taste good.
And when it comes to gluten-free pie crusts, a lot are soggy. No, thanks! These caramel apple pies are an exception. Their oatmeal cookie crust is amazing!
So I am all about this crustless apple pie. You just combine the apples with the spices and sugar, put them in the pie pan, and then pour the topping over the apples.
Most Swedish fruit pies I’ve had didn’t have any spice but because I’m me, I added cinnamon and cardamom. Scandinavians love their cardamom and so do I! It belongs in this pie.
If apples aren’t your thing, any kind of fruit can likely be used, though you’ll probably want to adjust the amount of sugar and spices! Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it’s really hard to mess up.
A great make-ahead pie
A lot of recipes, especially gluten-free pie recipes, are best when served on the same day. If you make them ahead of time, the pie crusts can be soggy when it’s time to serve them.
This paleo vegan pumpkin pie is, by far, my favorite pumpkin pie, but it can only be made 1 day ahead of time.
That’s not a problem with this apple pie. This is one pie that’s actually better after it’s sat for a bit. So this is a great option for Thanksgiving!
You can absolutely make it on Tuesday and let it sit on the counter until Thursday.
How to serve this pie
Instead of ice cream, Swedish fruit pies are usually topped with vanilla sauce (that usually comes from a box, I might add!). At least it did in the families I stayed with.
What you see in the pictures is this vegan custard. It is so thick, creamy and flavorful!
The sauce you see in the video is this paleo vegan vanilla sauce.
If you try out this pie, I’d love to hear what you think!
Questions about this pie?
- Can I use different fruit?
I haven’t tried it but any kind of fruit can be used, although you’ll likely need to adjust the amount of sugar and spices!
Luckily, its way more forgiving than a regular pie. You don’t have to worry about the filling making the bottom crust soggy because there is no bottom crust!
I’m thinking that a different fruit would make the pie harder to cut. I was able to get neat pieces pretty easily but think using berries would be messier.
- Do I have to peel the apples?
Yes. I just made this pie again, to test it with unpeeled apples, for people who are in a hurry this Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, you can taste the peel and it tastes a bit funny.
- What type of apples should I use?
To be honest, I usually make this with whatever we have sitting around. But if you’re going shopping, anyway, you might as well pick up some proper baking apples!
According to this article, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Rome, Jonathan or Jonagold, Braeburn or Northern Spy are best for baking.
I’ve never tried Northern Spy but I’m intrigued and wish we had them where we live!
- Can I omit the cinnamon and cardamom?
I mean, if you have to, sure. But if you’re not allergic to or don’t hate cinnamon, please at least just that.
The cardamom adds an amazing touch so I highly recommend it but know that most people don’t have cardamom at home.
- Can I use a different fat?
So far I’ve just made it with coconut oil and butter, so I’m really not sure. If you try something else out, let us know in the comments how it worked out!
- Can I use a different sweetener?
I haven’t tried it but think anything you usually use as a sub for granulated sugar would work here.
If you use coconut sugar, the crust will be much darker and have a darker taste, which I think isn’t a bad thing for the flavors in this pie.
- Can I reduce the sweetener?
I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s not a lot of sweetener for a whole pie and it’s needed to keep the crust together.
Feel free to omit the 1 tablespoon of sugar in the filling, if you don’t want the filling to be sweet.
- Can I use something other than maple syrup?
Honey or agave would almost definitely work, though I haven’t tried it.
- Do I have to use oats / oat flour?
Yes, sorry, there’s not a good sub for either one. See below for how to make oat flour!
- How do I make oat flour?
You can whirl some quick or rolled oats in a food processor, high-powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix or an electric coffee grinder until it’s very fine and powdery.
My favorite way for small amounts is the coffee grinder. Then the high-powered blender. Those both get the oat flour really fine.
If you have a large food processor, you’ll probably need to grind more oats than you need for this recipe to get it to grind the oats finely enough. And even then, the oat flour won’t be as fine as with the other two methods. But it’ll still work!
I have a large food processor and need at least a cup or two of oats to even get it over the blade.
Photos updated 10/2020. Here’s an old one! You’ll find the recipe for that sauce in the notes section, below the recipe. That sauce is not vegan. There are links to the two vegan sauces in the recipe.
Swedish Apple Pie (gluten-free, vegan options)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 8 slices
This Swedish apple pie is almost like a crisp and is as easy as one, too.
- 4 cups firm baking apples, peeled, cored and chopped to 1/4" chunks (this was about 4 medium apples or 492 grams of chopped apples)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar or granulated sugar
- 9 tablespoons (126 grams) refined coconut oil1, melted and still warm or 9.5 tablespoons (133 grams) butter for non-vegan, non-dairy-free, melted and still warm2
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) raw sugar or granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (113 grams) rolled oats (if GF, use GF oats)
- 3/4 cup + 1.5 tablespoons (78 grams) oat flour (if GF, use GF oat flour) OR for non-GF, use 3/4 cup + 2.5 tablespoons (113 grams) all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- click here for the → vegan custard you see in the photos or use this cashew-based paleo vegan vanilla sauce or see the recipe in the notes section below for a non-vegan vanilla sauce3
For the filling:
For the topping:
For the vanilla sauce:
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and grease a 9" pie pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the filling ingredients. Spread the apples evenly over the bottom of the prepared pie pan.
- In another large mixing bowl, stir together the the topping ingredients, just until combined. Spread the topping over the apples.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the apples are bubbly and the topping is firm.
- Serve warm, room temperature or cold. I recommend letting it sit for about 3-4 hours or until it's cooled. This allows the flavors to come together better and it's much easier to cut. When still warm, it's more like a crumble and you won't get clean slices.
- Cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. Refrigerate after that. This is great made a day or 2 ahead of time!
For the pie:
- I prefer refined because it has no coconut taste. You can use unrefined if you don't mind some coconut flavor.
- It's easier to get the topping over the apples if the topping is pourable. That's why I recommend using still warm melted fat. If your topping firms up, put it in the microwave at half power for a few seconds. Mix and pour over the apples.
- This is the recipe for the non-vegan vanilla sauce.
– 1 1/2 cups (355 milliliters) milk of choice (just not canned coconut milk)
– 3 tablespoons raw sugar or granulated sugar
– 1 tablespoon cornstarch
– pinch of salt
– 1 large egg
– 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the milk, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the egg. Slice the vanilla bean open and scrape out the seeds. Add them to the pan along with the scraped-out bean.
Bring to an almost simmer while stirring constantly. It should thicken quite a bit and coat the back of a spoon. It's okay if it simmers briefly, but do not let it boil. It'll likely take 5-10 minutes. If using vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, add it now. It will continue to thicken a little as it cools. Remove the vanilla bean before serving. Once cooled, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
126 comments on “Swedish Apple Pie (super quick, easy, amazing flavor)” — Add one!
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Is there a vegan version of the vanilla sauce? Some way to substitute the egg? Would “Just” liquid egg substitute work?
The two vanilla sauce recipes mentioned in the recipe box are vegan. Do you mean you’d like to make a vegan version of the non-vegan version in the notes? Egg sub isn’t possible, but you could make the vegan custard I linked to in the recipe box! It has similar ingredients but is vegan.
Well, it’s now mid-November, which means it is time for some Swedish apple pie. I love the crispness of apple pie, and I’m sure that the Swedish people love it too.
Haha. Well I think they do. ;)
Hi Erin, thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes. I really love Swedish pies and this one I tried and it’s EXCEPTIONAL!!! Sooo good, the crunchy top followed by delicious apples. Tastes like kind of granola bar with apples. So thanks again. Keep up what you doing,love reading it. 😍🤤 And tasting it.
Hi Mia! I’m so happy that you liked the pie! You sound kind of like a Swedish pie connoisseur. I like it. :D Thanks for your very kind words and the feedback!
I am totally making this for Thanksgiving because pumpkin is the bane of my existence and this looks amazing! Besides, I’m 1/4 Swedish! 🤣 Have you ever added cranberries? Toying with the idea…
Haha. I’m glad I posted something pumpkin-free you can make! I’ve never added cranberries but I think it’d work. They’re quite sour so you’d have little bursts of sourness. Sounds good to me! But you could also add a little sugar to the filling. I’d love to hear how it goes!
This looks so tasty. I need to try it with monk fruit or a sugar replacement of some kind. I have been on WW for almost a year. I really have enjoyed the purple plan I am doing.
Hi Erin. I found this recipe as I perused the ‘net looking for a quick and easy recipe that didn’t include making a traditional pie crust, for some apples I needed to use. I used half the sugar, and I used honey (because it’s what I had) instead of maple syrup in the topping; it had a nice little crunch to it and was plenty sweet enough for me. It got a thumb’s up from hubby, too. We topped it with dairy free whipped cream. I’m looking forward to making the vanilla sauce for the next one. I see this becoming a go-to for dessert or for bringing to a gathering. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Denise! I’m sorry for just now seeing your comment. I’m glad that it worked out well with less sugar and honey. I’ll have to try that, too! I hope you’ll enjoy the sauce next time. :) And how awesome that it’ll be a go-to! I’m always happy to hear that. Thank you for your nice comment!
Hi I’d love to make this for thanksgiving in 2 days ( hope you’re able to reply by then). I just had one question. So there’s really no crust? The apples are just the bottom of the pie?
I’m so excited about it! My mouth is watering already!
Yup! The recipe is correct. :) I hope you’ll enjoy it! I’d love to hear how it comes out.
Has anyone used gluten-free flour mix instead of the oat flour? I can make some oat flour, but would just as soon use my GF mix. Any thoughts? I have lots of apples and pears this year and am looking for things to make (esp. for Thanksgiving)
I haven’t tried it but oat flour isn’t really interchangeable with other flours so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you try it anyway, I’d love to hear how it goes. :)
This pie was excellent. I went apple picking and had a surplus of multiple types of apples. I made this just as you suggested and it was PERFECT! Thank you for this wonderful recipe 😀
You’re welcome! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the pie. :) Thanks for your comment!
This looks yummy and I have a lot of apples right now.
Can’t wait to try this!
You’re welcome! Hope you’ll enjoy it. :)
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to comment but today, after checking my pinterest for your recipe, I decided it was high time that I did.
I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been making this recipe for the last 4 or 5 years. This pie comes out consistently fabulous any time I make it. I have to say that I have tried Truvia in place of the sugar, as well as Pyure (my personal fave), and that I have used any apples that I have had on hand all with marvelous results. It’s always so delicious and yummy that I don’t even make the vanilla sauce anymore. Ive substituted other fruits like strawberry/rhubarb mix and mixed berries, adding 2 to 3 TBS corn or potato starch if I use these other fruits and they have all come out treat with rave reviews. I even put the topping on a cheesecake batter and it was ab fab as well. I sent it home with my niece uncooked so they could cook it that evening or the following morning fresh. She is a huge fan of cheesecake. Evidently the pie got tipped a bit (good thing I wrapped it well and tight). She said the baked it the next morning as disheveled as it was and it was a huge success.
I’m known as a good cook amongst my family and friends and I get alot of recipes online, but I have to say that yours tops them all. I’ll sign up to follow you and I’m excited to see what else you’ve shared.
Sincere thanks for one of the best recipes in my collection!
Hi Leila! I’m really sorry for just now replying. I just got back from vacation! I’m thrilled that you’ve been enjoying the recipe all these years and that you think my recipes are tasty. :D The cheesecake batter sounds like a delicious addition! How did you do that version? It’s good to know that different fruits work well. I’ve tried an all blueberry version and while it was insanely delicious, it couldn’t be cut like a pie. It was more of a crumble. Sorry again for my slow reply and thank you for your super kind words! They’ve made my day.