How To Tell The Difference Between A Cobbler, A Crisp and A Crumble

If someone asked you what a cobbler was, what would you say? Would it differ much from a crisp? Or what about a crumble? Do you think there is a difference between these three desserts or do they all sort of blend in as some variation of butter, sugar and flour atop fresh fruit? Well, with fresh apples, pears, and pumpkins from autumn harvest on their way, I think it’s important that we can all properly label the desserts we will make out of this fine fruit. So here’s my guide on how to tell a crisp from a crumble and a cobbler from a crisp, with plenty of tasty recipes along the way (of course!)


American cobblers are considered “fruit stews with dough dropped on top before baking” ( They involve a bottom layer of fruit that is then topped with ingredients for a biscuit dough. The result is a dense, rich dessert. Not to be confused with British cobblers (made with meat), popular cobbler ingredients include: apples, peaches and cherries.

Apple Cobbler
Rhubarb Cobbler
Never Fail Fruit Cobbler
Apple Berry Cobbler
Cranberry Cobbler


Crisps also have a bottom layer of fruit, but their topping is much more crunchy than cobblers. Instead of a dough-like pastry that rises, the crisp is topped with a different proportion of butter, sugar and flour that is sort of crumbly, and only briefly browned in the oven. Crisps might include oats or granola in their topping as well.

Apple Crisp
Cranberry Pear Crisp
Maple Apple Crisp
Rhubarb Crisp
Cranberry Apple Crisp


The crumble also begins with fruit at the bottom, but is topped with a different butter-flour-sugar mixture called a ‘streusel’. The three ingredients are mixed just until crumbly and then poured on top of the fruit. This dish is very similar to a crisp but the crumble originated in Britain whereas the crisp is seen as more American. Crisps are also more rich than crumbles with higher amounts of sugar, butter and flour.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble
Apple Crumble
Boysenberry Crumble
Baked Banana Crumble
Apricot Crumble

I hope this helped! And now that you’re more educated about fruit desserts, do you remember what a fruit flan is? :)

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  • Vera

    Very informative post! It can be a little confusing, these desserts do look similar at first sight :)

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Great post — honestly, I can never keep these straight, though all are favorite New England desserts and I should know which is which!

  • Ruby

    This was very informative because I had no clue

  • Charmian Christie

    Great information. Turns out I like to make crumbles but have been calling them crisps or betties. To add to the confusion, my husband’s family jokingly calls the dessert in question Apple George.

  • CherylK

    What a good explanation! And the recipes all look scrumptious! Thank you…

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