When Is a Cobbler Really a Grunt, Buckle, or Betty?

Fresh fruit cobblers and all their variations match fruit pies fork to fork in terms of flavor. Easier to prepare and faster to bake than pies, crisps and cobblers are the perfect showcase for seasonal fruits. After that, it’s hard to find consensus on how to make one because there are many branches on the cobbler family tree, some more familiar than others. Top fruit with biscuits or sink it in batter? Sprinkle with sweet crumbs or what? As it turns out, everyone’s right. Despite their differences, they’re all cobblers in the end. Here’s how to recognize a few of the more whimsically named. You know, just in case you meet one for dessert.

And how cool will you look when you can tell one from the other?

Rustic Fruit Desserts: Cobblers, Grunts, Buckles, and Bettys | Fresh Cherry Cobbler

Fresh Cherry Cobbler | Photo by Doughgirl8


Most bakers agree a cobbler is a rustic fruit dessert with roots in colonial America. Simple to make, these easy desserts are covered with a pastry lattice, or sticky biscuit dough dropped by spoonfuls over fruit, which looks like the cobblestones of an old street.

Crisps, Crumbles, and Crunches

Crisps are topped with a streusel topping of bread crumbs or flour, brown or white sugar, butter, and often a hearty shake of cinnamon and/or ground nutmeg, Baked until the topping is crisp and the filling bubbles and thickens, they’re often topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but equally delectable on their own warm from the oven.


Sweetened fruit is stewed under batter or dumplings, typically on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet. The odd name might refer to the guttural sound the fruit makes as steam escapes through the thick topping. Commonly found in New England and Canada’s Maritime provinces, grunts and slumps (see below) are thought to be the closest early British colonials could come to recreating their traditional steamed puddings.


Rustic Fruit Desserts: Cobblers, Grunts, Buckles, and Bettys | Plum Slump

Plum Slump via Boulder Locavore

Similar to a grunt, but often called a slump in some regions because of how the batter or dumplings collapse while cooking.


This dessert is all about batter topped with fruit. As it bakes, the batter rises around the fruit to form a cake with an uneven, or buckled, surface. Buckles are often topped with streusel-like crumbs or nuts.

Chef John’s Blackberry Buckle

Boy Bait

Rustic Fruit Desserts: Cobblers, Grunts, Buckles, and Bettys | Blueberry Boy Bait

Blueberry Boy Bait | Photo by pomplemousse

Similar to a buckle. This vintage recipe was named by a 15-year-old contestant in a 1950s bake-off. And that’s just adorable.

Brown Betty or Apple Brown Betty

Rustic Fruit Desserts: Cobblers, Grunts, Buckles, and Bettys | Honey Rhubarb Brown Betty

Honey Rhubarb Brown Betty via Kitchen Treaty

One of the first documented apple desserts in the United States, this colonial hit remains a nostalgic favorite, especially in autumn apple season. Theories abound as to the origin of its name, but none are conclusive. A typical Brown Betty is made with apples layered between a mixture of sweetened bread crumbs, butter, and brown sugar, which is then baked until the fruit is tender and the crumb topping becomes crispy.


This cleverly named cobbler variation is a native of North Carolina, specifically Surry and Wilkes counties. While the dish includes fruit and batter or biscuits, this highly regional dish is interpreted differently from family to family. All agree, however, that it must be served with a thick, sweet, milky dip. No one, though, knows exactly how it got its name.

Rustic Fruit Desserts: Cobblers, Grunts, Buckles, and Bettys | Blackberry Sonker

Blackberry Sonker via Lottie + Doof


Baked with a batter topping that is broken and tucked down into the fruit while it cooks. The name is thought to come from its unadorned, or dowdy, presentation.

Rustic Fruit Desserts: Cobblers, Grunts, Buckles, and Bettys | Apple Pandowdy

Apple Pandowdy via Revolutionary Pie

More Recipes for Cobblers & Their Relatives 

Find more delicious food tips right here on Allrecipes Dish.