Apple Brown Betty with Homemade Breadcrumbs

published Jul 25, 2021
Brown Betty

Flaky, croissant breadcrumbs make this treat even better than apple crisp.


Prep20 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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An apple based dessert called Brown Betty, with vanilla ice cream on the side
Credit: Eric Kleinberg
Brown Betty

An apple brown betty is the no-fuss dessert you need to add to your fall repertoire. It’s perfect for anyone who is intimated by homemade pie crusts or if you’re just tired of making the same fruit crisps or cobblers. A brown betty is a resourceful dish because it uses crumbs from day-old bread to achieve that signature dessert crunch. Any leftover bread can be repurposed into this dessert, from a crusty French or Italian loaf to something sweeter like challah or brioche.

For my version, I decided to give it a little twist by making flaky, buttery breadcrumbs from leftover croissants. If you’re like me, there have been more than a few times in Costco where that big box of croissants lures you in from across the store. This is the perfect recipe to turn to when you suddenly realize you can’t get through that bulk purchase fast enough.

What’s the Difference Between a Brown Betty and Apple Crisp?

A brown betty is made with buttery, sweetened breadcrumbs instead of the oats traditionally used in a crisp. In addition, brown betty desserts call for layering the fruit and breadcrumbs together.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni
Brown Betty

What Are the Best Apples for a Brown Betty?

Since a brown betty is sweetened with sugar, a tart apple is the best choice. Granny Smith apples are firm and tart, so they lend themselves well to this type of baked dessert.

Does an Apple Brown Betty Need to be Refrigerated?

Any leftovers from an apple brown betty can be refrigerated for up to one week in an airtight container. Warm refrigerated leftovers in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds, then top with a scoop of ice cream.

Brown Betty

Flaky, croissant breadcrumbs make this treat even better than apple crisp.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • Cooking spray

  • 5

    large day-old croissants (about 8 ounces total)

  • 2 pounds

    large Granny Smith apples (about 5)

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup

    raisins (optional)

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


  1. Arrange rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

  2. Tear 5 large day-old croissants into 1-inch pieces. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until crisp and golden-brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut 2 pounds Granny Smith apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place in a large bowl, add 2 teaspoons lemon juice from 1/2 medium lemon, and toss to combine.

  3. Let the croissaints cool slightly. Place 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until melted. (Alternatively, melt on the stovetop.)

  4. Transfer the toasted croissants to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Transfer 2 cups of the crumbs to a medium bowl (reserve extra crumbs for another use). Add the melted butter and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and toss to combine.

  5. Place 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/3 cup raisins if using, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  6. Place half of the apples into the baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the brown sugar mixture and half of the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat layering the remaining apples, brown sugar mixture, and breadcrumb mixtures. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

  7. Bake until the apples are softened, about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden-brown and the apples are jammy, 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Any day-old bread can be used here to make the breadcrumbs. Slices of crusty French or Italian bread also work well. You’ll need half a small loaf (and will likely have leftover crumbs). If using bread, increase the unsalted butter to 5 tablespoons.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.