FOOD HOLIDAY: Cobbler, Crisp & Crumble ~ What’s The Difference? | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures FOOD HOLIDAY: Cobbler, Crisp & Crumble ~ What’s The Difference? | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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FOOD HOLIDAY: Cobbler, Crisp & Crumble ~ What’s The Difference?

There’s a group of cooked fruit desserts with crumb or pastry toppings that are similar enough to be confusing. Since today is National Cherry Cobbler Day, we’ll review the differences.


A betty is a crisp (see below) topped with buttered bread crumbs or bread pieces instead of streusel or another topping. Later recipes also use graham cracker crumbs (see the history of the graham cracker, which postdates the Brown Betty).

In some recipes, sugared and spiced fruit, usually diced apples although any fruit can be used, are placed in alternating layers with the crumbs and baked, covered, to the consistency of bread pudding.


A cherry raspberry cobbler. Photo courtesy


The dish and name date back to colonial times, but the original “Betty” is lost to history; the brown refers to the brown sugar in the recipe. Here‘s a brown betty photo.


A cobbler is a cooked fruit dish, but the topping is different from other cooked fruits with toppings: It’s crowned with cooked lumps of dough. The dish got its name because the lumps of dough resembled cobblestones. In contrast, a crisp or crumble has a crumb topping.

Although some might see the cobbler as a crustless pie or “spoon pie” (a fruit pie with a filling so juicy it should be eaten with a spoon instead of a fork), it is often classified as a cake. Fruit is baked in a baking dish or casserole, then shortcake batter or biscuit dough is dropped onto the fruit before it goes into the oven.

Today, people tend to call everything a cobbler. But remember: a cobbler has a dropped pastry dough top instead of a crumb top.


A cherry crumble. Photo courtesy


A crisp is a deep-dish fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping and baked. The British term is crumble.

The next three relatives are in the spoon pie category.


A grunt is a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit (fruit which is steamed, not baked). It’s a stovetop variation of the baked cobbler. Here‘s a photo.


A pandowdy is a spoon pie with a rolled top crust that is broken up to allow the juices to come through.



A slump is a spoon pie topped with biscuit dough or pie crust, which can be baked or steamed. It can be made upside down.

Now go bake a cherry cobbler and celebrate National Cherry Cobbler Day!



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