Crisp, Cobbler, Crumble: A Guide to Baked Fruit Desserts

Fruit desserts are easy to make and delicious all year round. It’s easy to choose fruits that are in season and turn them into sweet, gooey deliciousness. Maybe your go-to summer recipe is peach cobbler. Perhaps your Aunt Sue’s brown betty recipe has been in your family for ages. Or, maybe you’re more of a blueberry buckle person.

And if you’re like most people, you probably don’t know the differences between our favorite fruit desserts. What makes a crumble a crumble and not a crisp? What’s a cobbler? And where does the buckle come into play?

Don’t worry. We have the answers you are looking for. And they are delicious.

The Crumble


I’ve spent most of my life referring to any fruit-and-streusel dessert as a crumble. So what is it, really?

The crumble is a baked fruit dessert where the layer of fruit is covered with a loose streusel topping that contains oats. Along with oats, the topping generally includes flour, cinnamon, and sugar.

The Crisp

From Valerie's Kitchen
From Valerie’s Kitchen

Here’s where things get tricky. It turns out that crisps are the same as crumbles – according to most people. However, there is a small contingent of folks who decide if a dessert is a crisp or a crumble based on the presence or absence of oats.

The Cobbler


The cobbler is where we start to break away from the idea of a crumbly, buttery topping. Cobblers are covered with a layer of dropped biscuits, rather than streusel.

This leads to the iconic ‘cobbled’ look to the top of the dessert. Next time you make a cobbler, go crazy and try using cookie dough or another batter instead of biscuit dough.

The Buckle

Boulder Locavore
Boulder Locavore

The buckle is very, very different than your cobblers or crisps. This dessert starts with a cake batter base that is then topped with fruit.

As it bakes in the oven, the cake rises up and around the fruit, creating a cake-y, fruity wonder. Some people go all out and top this with streusel too.

For this particular strawberry buttermilk buckle, get the recipe here.

The Slump

Kailley's Kitchen
Kailley’s Kitchen

No, this isn’t the tiredness you feel after eating a plate full of crumble. The slump is similar to its cousin, the cobbler.

It uses biscuits as a topping, too, only this time the whole thing is cooked on the stovetop instead of in the oven.

The Brown Betty

The Pioneer Woman
The Pioneer Woman

Last, but not least, we have the brown betty. Like the slump is sort of a cobbler, the brown betty is kind of a crumble.

Where a crumble is covered in a layer of topping, the brown betty gets streusel on both the bottom and the top. And really, can there be too much streusel?

So there you have it. That’s your easy breakdown of summer desserts that all have layering in common.

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