Ingredient Intelligence

What’s the Difference Between a Cobbler, Crumble, and Crisp?

updated Jun 6, 2022
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When it comes to dessert — especially those involving fresh fruit and pastry! — we’re usually too busy spooning up another bite to care what it’s called. But these can be confusing, right? What’s a cobbler, exactly? Is a crisp by any other name a crumble? If you need a refresher on your fruit desserts, you’re in luck. Learn more about what exactly makes these beloved summer treats so unique, what makes them similar, and, of course, how to make a delicious version of each!

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

What Is a Cobbler?

Cobblers differ from crisps or crumbles in that they typically have a biscuit topping covering the cooked fruit. The biscuits are usually dropped onto the fruit in small rounds, giving it the appearance of a cobbled road, hence the name.

Cobblers, such as traditional peach cobbler, can also be made with cake batter or cookie dough instead of biscuit and are equally tasty. Get creative with your cobbler recipes and try this “any-fruit” cobbler, with its sugar cookie / pie crust-like topping, or this mango cobbler with coconut whipped cream.

What Is a Crumble?

A crumble is a baked dessert made of fresh fruit with a streusel-like topping, typically prepared in a baking dish or casserole dish. The name “crumble” is thought to have originated from England. You can easily make crumbles at home by first preparing a basic streusel topping and then trying out crumble recipes like Blueberry and Apricot Crumble, Plum Crumble, and Blackberry Rhubarb Crumble.

What Is a Crisp?

A crisp is extremely similar to a crumble in that it is a baked dessert made with fresh fruit and a crumbly streusel-esque topping. Originally, the difference between a crumble and a crisp, however, was an ingredient used in the topping: crisps would contain oats and crumbles would not. In an actual crisp, as in apple crisp or strawberry crisp, the oats in the topping crisp up as it bakes, hence the name. As time has gone by, though, the lines have blurred and the names crumble and crisp are now used interchangeably.

What Cobblers, Crumbles, and Crisps Have in Common

Cobblers, crumbles, and crisps are all baked desserts of fresh fruit topped with some kind of pastry. The fruit juices bubble up into the pastry as it bakes, forming little pockets of deliciousness and giving most of these desserts their signature pockmarked appearance.

Although these rustic desserts aren’t going to win any beauty contests, they’re a great, easy way to showcase ripe fruit and serve a lot of people. In our opinion, the combination of warm summer fruit and pastry trumps all. Add a scoop of ice cream and we’re in heaven.