Brown Butter Maple Berry Skillet Cobbler

Do you know the difference between a crisp and a cobbler or a brown betty and a crumble.  All four desserts are a great way to use a surplus of berries in season with little to no effort. So sit back and let this southern gal give you the scoop!


Okay there really is no substantial, crazy, out there, difference in all these desserts. They all taste amazing. They are all super simple to make. They each have some form of fruit, flour, butter or sugar and they are all baked. So why must we know the difference then? Because what if you are sitting at the table with a group of people who are eating a cobbler but you know its really a crumble and they are going on and on about the cobbler and yet you know its a crumble and then that opportune time comes when they ask you what you think and that is when you get to stand up in the chair and announce to the whole table that they are in fact eating a crumble not a cobbler! Then everyone claps for you and tells you how amazing you are! So if and when that happens- you can be prepared:)

So Let’s Go:



A crumble is a fruit based dessert that has been baked in the oven with some sort of streusel oat topping. The topping is generally combined with spices, butter and sugar, allowing for the oats to really stand out and the fruit is only seasoned with a hint of sugar or preferred spices before topped with the streusel. Check out this amazing Rhubarb Plum Crumble Recipe by my good friend Barbara over at Barbara Bakes!

Brown Betty

A Brown Betty is similar to a crisp but has an extra layer of yummy crispiness at the bottom of the pan. So think of a crisp with a bottom and top layer. Try this Peach Brown Betty for a nice summer dessert.


The difference between a crisp and a cobbler is hard! Traditionally a crisp is a dessert where the topping has no oats. Instead the crispy goodness you get on top with every bite is due to a buttery sugary dough that crumbles (yes I know I just said “crumble” between your fingers and resembles in taste and texture that of a pie crust. Now some people swear that a crisp can and does involve oats as the topping. One not to argue- This can still technically be a crisp! In fact, check out this daring Aple Crisp Pizza recipe  for a sightly different take on your traditional crisp! It combines both an oatmeal topping and pie dough as the bottom crust layer.


Now we are at my favorite of them all. The Cobbler! A cobbler is like a jacked up combination of all 4 desserts. The topping is not a streusel or crumbled pie crust but buttery biscuits that have been dropped onto the cobbler before baking- giving the bottom of the biscuits just enough time to soak up in some of the berry goodness before crisping up.


The key to my Brown Butter Maple Berry Cobbler is the topping. The fruit is mixed with that nice combination of cinnamon, sugar, hints of lemon and orange peel, sweet basil and vanilla but the goodness comes with the topping of brown butter drop biscuits laced with maple sugar. It is out of this world and not anymore time consuming than a standard recipe given that you just have to do one extra step and that is brown the butter. I mean, how many times have you browned butter without even meaning to? My point exactly, no time at all:)


I’ll leave you with a statement I love from America’s Test Kitchen. “Good cobblers may be no more than a fleet of tender biscuits on a sea of sweet fruit, but the good versions can hold their own against fancier desserts. Best of all, they come together in just a few quick steps, then are ready to be dished up hot, accompanied by an all-important scoop of vanilla ice cream.”


Brown Butter Maple Berry Skillet Cobbler
  • 1½ lbs mixed berries, washed and well-drained
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ cup maple sugar plus 1 TBSP maple sugar
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 TBSP fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  2. Place butter in saucepan on medium-high heat to melt. Swirl or stir the butter with a wooden spoon as it starts to foam. Continue to melt until butter begins to bubble and turn brown. Scrape melted butter into a oblong small pan or rectangular Tupperware and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. When the brown butter is solid again, slice into ½-inch cubes and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine your washed berries with the cornstarch, chopped basil leaves and 1 TBSP maple sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, zest and maple sugar. Cut in the cold brown butter (using your fingers or a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until some of the butter flakes are the size of gravel. Stir together the buttermilk and vanilla and then add to the flour mixture, stirring enough to make a soft dough.
  5. Lightly grease either 4 miniature cast-iron skillets or one large cast iron pan or baking dish. Pour berry mixture among skillets or into your preferred baking pan. Place large drops/spoonfuls of the biscuit mixture over the berries.Bake at 400° for 20 to 24 minutes or until fruit bubbles and crust is golden brown.

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  1. nancy at good food matters

    Brown butter makes everything better…but maple sugar brown butter? gotta be over-the-top good. love the bit of lemon zest and chopped basil in the preparation, too.

    1. kbelleicious

      Nancy i really really think it is the maple sugar that really topped it all off for me. I have cooked with brown butter plenty but the combo like you said with the brown butter and maple sugar was just a home run!

  2. Melynda@OurSundayCafe

    I have made browned butter baked goods in the past and have always love them! But I am a huge fan of real maple syrup, this has got to be very special, thanks for sharing.

  3. Bonnie Hunter

    What’s in a name? I say just call it fruit deliciousness and dig in!!


    1. kbelleicious

      LOL! Love that Bonnie! Amen to that

  4. Erica

    I love any fruity dessert…so they all sound good! What a pretty, summer/spring time dessert!!

  5. Chantal

    What a lovely dessert!
    I like the combination of fruits and the buttery biscuits which is different from the usual crumble.
    Thank you for sharing this,

    1. kbelleicious

      Thanks Chantal for stopping by. I see your Tapioca pearls recipe and it is making my mouth water! Delicious

  6. Daphne

    Great explanation!!! And this clobber LOOKS AMAZING! I love a good crumble most winter nights though but this is something i have to look into!

  7. Angie (@angiesrecipess)

    I have never heard of brown better before…your skillet cobbler looks amazing! Love love your cast-iron skillets!

    1. kbelleicious

      Oh angie! You must make it and then you can even freeze it to use in any baking recipe that calls for butter. You would love it

  8. Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen

    I definitely would flunk the test on the difference, but I say let’s just call them all delicious.

  9. Geni

    Oh my goodness!This looks incredible! I am so glad you straightened me out on the whole, cobbler, crumble, crisp and brown betty quandry. I can now breathe a sigh of relief that i know this. 😉

  10. Mary

    Oh this is lovely! thank you for clearing up that misunderstanding of crumble, crisp cobbler etc! In England everyone eats crumbles so I was totally confused when I got to the States and heard cobber etc etc. Your desserts look fabulous!

  11. Velva

    Your skllet cobbler would not last a day in my house. This is the kind of food that I enjoy eating right over my kitchen sink. Love cobblers…. Berries are in season here in north Florida and I usually pick enough at local farms for the entire year and frreze them.

    Thanks for sharing this…I feel inspired.


    1. kbelleicious

      Such a great idea to freeze them! I try so hard to do that but my boys are fruit maniacs! They are picky like their daddy but fruit they love:) i rarely have anything left to freeze! LOL!

  12. Liz

    I cannot resist a good cobbler…and your berry version looks phenomenal! I think I’m going to have to try a Brown Betty next 🙂

  13. 2 Sisters Recipes

    Thank you for these amazing desserts! Living in the South, I realized that biscuit’s are a staple here like mac and cheese, and I am loving them to death! BTW, we love your cobbler! The mixed berries with lemon and fresh basil added and the maple syrup- who can resist this one?

    1. kbelleicious

      Ya’ll always make me blush when you visit! I just love ya’ll! Cheers to the SOUTH!

  14. Sandie

    This looks great- just in time for fruit season. Are you eating wheat again?

  15. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert

    I love this post and your explanations are great … however – haha – my mother always made blackberry cobbler with pie dough. She ladled cooked blackberries with their juice in the bottom of a deep casserole dish then topped it with a piece of pie dough, then repeated until she was at the top. She floated the last piece of dough on top then baked all this juicy goodness until the top was browned. She always told me a cobbler was a fruit filled dessert “cobbled” together. But I know this was just her version of a cobbler because most have a shortbread dough dolloped on top like yours. Lovely recipe – makes me think of my mom 🙂 One of my three brothers will still argue about cobbler and often talks about mom’s. Hope you have a great weekend – and thanks for taking me down memory lane even if it really was just a soupy pie!

    1. kbelleicious

      I love your comments. They show that you actually take time to read a post and not just comment to comment. I love that about you! I AM LOVING your mother’s version of a cobbler. Oh my the layers of dough sound incredible. You betcha I am going to be trying that here soon!

  16. Eva Taylor

    What a great lesson post, thanks so much Jessica. I’ve only ever made crisps because that is what I learned from my MIL (Hungarians don’t really have an equivalent). I adore your cast iron frying pans and that you’ve got two…are they tiny? Like single portions? (I’m salivating now!). I have the cutest little square cast iron frying pans but they are not deep enough to make something like this. It sure does look tasty.

  17. LaCuisineHelene

    I make crumbles a lot with different fruits. You are inspiring me to make cobblers. Great pics!

  18. Joanne

    I can never remember the differences between these, but the good thing about them is that no matter which one you make, they all taste good!

    I love your brown butter maple awesomeness infusion into this! All the more delicious.

  19. Helene D'Souza

    I had no idea that there was a difference and I just realized that I need cast iron frying pans. =)
    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

    In Maine we had crisps because our topping didn’t have those pesky oats – as my mother told me. My friend’s mother always made a cobbler and I loved the way the juice soaked into the biscuit topping. Yum.

  21. lena

    i am already chuckling reading your first paragraph..jess, you are so funny! i must admit at times i do sometimes get confused with all those crisp and crumbles. The biscuit looks incredible ..brown butter and maple syrup..yum!

  22. val

    Is there anything better than brown butter? I think not. This is such a great dessert.

    1. kbelleicious

      No Val! There isn’t. Except for maybe your snickerdoodle muffins:)

  23. Adri

    I love fruit desserts like this, and the addition of basil is such a great idea. With summer on its way, this recipe is just in time! I can’t wait to try it.

  24. Asmita

    This sounds and looks divine!!

  25. Roz

    I would take any and all of them: crisp, cobbler, brown betty or crumble . . . just as long as I can enjoy some of that spring and summer berry deliciousness! Yours looks and sounds perfect!!!!!!! And as always, your photography is the best!


  26. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    This was a great lesson for me! I knew three words, but didn’t know about brown betty AT ALL! That was something new, and I didn’t know cobbler was the one that has all. I love this type of dessert, but didn’t clearly know the difference. Now I know I like cobbler the best! Looking so delicious. I love brown butter and this sounds wonderful! I have to print out the recipe before I forget!

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