The Difference Between Cobblers, Crumbles, Crisps, Buckles and More

Let's shed some light on these hard-working (and delicious) everyday desserts.

With summer (aka berry season!) approaching, we’re all thinking about delicious ways to bring fresh seasonal fruit into our baking. It’s understandable if you’re wondering about the difference between cobblers and crisps or buckles and crumbles, because regional variations can be confusing and blur the lines. They’re all equally delicious, but here’s a look at the nuances that make each one unique!


Cobblers get their name because the dollops of batter or biscuit dough are dropped on top of a bed of fruit, puffing up to look like cobblestone streets. (Who knew?!) With roots tracing back to the 1850s (when most paved streets were probably cobblestone), it was defined in 1859 as: “A sort of pie, baked in a pot lined with dough of great thickness, upon which the fruit is placed; according to the fruit, it is an apple or a peach cobbler.”

While apple cobbler and peach cobbler always sound so good, it’s still considered a cobbler even when you combine rhubarb and marshmallow or summer vegetables like zucchini and red peppers!

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When this cakey dessert rises in the oven, it actually rises around the fruity center, making it buckle into the middle. It’s delicious either hot from the over or cold. Buckles can even be baked up for easy breakfast servings, which we love.

For your next buckle-baking day, we’re recommending a blueberry buckle with lemon sauce or this caramel apple version made in a cast iron skillet.

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Crumbles and Crisps

A crumble is a dish of baked fresh fruit, with a streusel crumb topping. The topping is usually made with a dreamy combination of butter, flour and sugar, with the option to include nuts.

Like a crumble, a crisp is a baked fresh fruit dessert, but the streusel topping is less dense and typically includes oats. The oats will crisp up during baking, while crumble toppings stay more dense and cakey.

Take a look at this grilled pear and cranberry crumble! For a crisp, go with a tart-yet-tasty combination of rhubarb and mandarin, or pop a few mini pear crisps on the grill during your next outdoor dinner party.


We all know buckles, crumbles and cobblers, but what about a pandowdy? This dessert is similar to the rest because it starts with a base of sweetened fruit. However, a pandowdy (or pan dowdy) is topped with a layer of pie crust pieces and then baked. It’s a great way to use up leftover crust and it doesn’t require one perfect sheet—just pieces and scraps work great in this recipe for an apple pandowdy.


If you’re looking to make a betty—like this tasty apple brown betty—you won’t need the crumbles or biscuit dough. Instead, this dessert relies on bread crumbs or chunks—and brown sugar is a must.

Grunts and Slumps

Grunts and slumps are pretty similar to the cobbler. Both use baked fruit and biscuit dough. The only difference here—and it’s not a big one—is that the biscuit dough is set atop the fruit in dollops or rolls instead of in a single piece. Also slumps are occasionally served inverted like an upside down cake, though this blueberry slump is so pretty you might not want to turn it out! Be sure to try this apple grunt, too.

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Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.