It’s been an amazing cherry season this year. I typically enjoy them as a snack, but was recently inspired to make this dairy-free fresh cherry crisp. It’s a delicious variation on a classic dessert that combines the sweet-tart taste of fresh cherries with a perfectly sweet and buttery topping. Technically, this is a cherry crumble, since it doesn’t contain oats. But I did include an oat option!
The Dairy-Free Fresh Cherry Crisp Recipe that You’ll Love
This dairy-free cherry crisp is a new recipe from my kitchen! Years ago, Prevention magazine shared their fresh cherry crisp recipe with us. Unfortunately, many of you had problems with the results. So I started testing and created this delicious new version that’s actually higher in cherry goodness, and lower in fat and sugar. And trust me, this one works beautifully! I also have some more tips and notes in the FAQs below.
Can I Use a Different Size Pan?
You can use a 9-inch pie or cake pan without a problem. If your pan is a little bigger, like a 7×11-inch or a 9×9-inch, it will work fine but will be a little flatter. You can also double this fresh cherry crisp recipe (double all ingredients) and make it in a 9×13-inch baking dish. If you want a thicker crisp, double the recipe and bake it in a 9×9-inch baking dish.
Can I Use Frozen Cherries?
In a pinch, you can definitely use frozen cherries. I would let them defrost a little before making the recipe to ensure they bake through. Most grocery stores sell frozen sweet cherries, which are delicious in this cherry crisp any time of year.
What Brand of Buttery Sticks Do You Use?
Lately I’ve been testing with Country Crock Plant Butter sticks. They are readily available in my area and the best option locally on a budget. They also perform very well and are on the salty side, which I like for most baking recipes. If using another brand, I recommend using a salted variety. If your butter alternative is specifically unsalted (usually stated on the front of the package), I would add a generous pinch of salt when whisking the flour.
Can I Use a Dairy-Free Buttery Spread?
Sticks are formulated for baking, and tend to hold up better. But in a pinch, most brands of buttery spread should work okay. Since they don’t refrigerate as firm, your crumble topping might clump more. That’s okay. Just break it apart as you sprinkle it overtop.
Can I Substitute Coconut Oil for the Butter Alternative?
I have tested this recipe with refined coconut oil, and was not a big fan of the results. It can work, but I have some recommendations. I would personally use unrefined coconut oil if you like the flavor. The refined coconut oil is just too lackluster in this fresh cherry crisp. Also, add a pinch of salt to the flour blend and start with just 1/4 cup solid coconut oil in place of the butter alternative. Add just a little more oil if needed to get coarse crumbs. Keep in mind that it does melt when baking, so the crisp might spread a little and not be as clumpy.
Can I Substitute Shortening for the Butter Alternative?
Definitely! There will be a little less flavor. I would add a pinch of salt with the flour. It will work with organic palm shortening, such as Spectrum, or butter-flavor shortening, if you prefer.
Why Do You Call it a Crisp if it’s a Crumble?
The original recipe that my version is replacing was called a crisp, so I’m rolling with it. Also, I noticed that crisp and crumble seem to be used interchangeably with recipes. And, I did provide an oat crisp option in the notes! So technically this is a fresh cherry crisp and crumble recipe all in one!
Do You Have Any Dairy-Free Toppings to Recommend?
Of course! See our guide to the Best Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream. You can also see our Dairy-Free Whipped Topping Guide. If you prefer homemade, my Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream and Dairy-Free Whipped Cream recipes are delicious on fresh cherry crisp.
Can I Use Other Fruit?
I assume you’re thinking with the cherries. Make it a mixed berry crisp with cherries and blueberries, or even add raspberries and blackberries. Apples and cherries are also delicious together. This recipe will work with other fruit, too, if you don’t have any cherries on hand.
Special Diet Notes: Fresh Cherry Crisp
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 ½ pounds fresh cherries, stemmed, halved, and pitted
- 1 ½ tablespoons + ⅓ cup sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch (can sub arrowroot starch)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup dairy-free buttery sticks, cold and cut into small cubes
- Preheat your oven to 400ºF.
- Place the pitted cherry halves into a large bowl. Sprinkle on the 1 ½ tablespoons sugar, starch, and vanilla (if using), and stir until the starch isn’t visible.
- Transfer the cherries to an 8x8-inch baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and remaining ⅓ cup sugar. Add the butter alternative, and whisk or cut in with a pastry blender or fork until coarse crumbs form.
- Sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit, using a lighter hand around the edge so a little cherry is peeking out on all sides.
- Bake the crisp for about 35 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and the crumble topping is just beginning to turn golden.
Oat Crisp Option: Reduce the flour to ⅔ cup and add ½ cup quick oats. Optionally use brown sugar instead of white sugar in the crisp topping.