A Spicy Perspective

Apple Brown Betty (Old-Fashioned Crumble)

The Best Apple Brown Betty Recipe – This baked apple crisp is a classic dessert that’s delicious any time of year! Enjoy warm with whipped cream or ice cream for a sweet and comforting treat.

Close view plate with Apple Brown Betty serving topped with vanilla ice cream.

What is a Brown Betty

With so many amazing fruit dessert bakes out there sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart – An Apple Brown Betty is a baked fruit dessert that’s similar to a cobbler, crisp, or crumble. In the olden days, the topping may have been re-purposed stale bread or cake that was crumbled with butter and sugar. However, a traditional flour crumble topping, without oats and nuts, and heavy on the brown sugar, is also considered a Brown Betty.

This classic recipe features firm tart apples mixed with lemon juice and brown sugar, and a simple spiced brown sugar crumble top. It’s a fabulous late summer or early fall dessert! Serve it with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for an irresistible treat.

Top down view two plates of apple crisp with ice cream.

Ingredients

  • Granny smith apples – firm, tart, and lightly sweet
  • Lemon – juiced
  • Light brown sugar – or coconut sugar
  • All-purpose flour – can be gluten-free
  • Cold butter – cubed
  • Apple pie spice – or pumpkin pie spice
  • Salt – a baking essential, balances the sweetness of the dessert

Pro Tip: Can’t find apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice blends? Make your own blend with 1 ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and ½ tsp allspice.

Hand with large metal spoon scooping portion of apple crumble from the pan.

How to Make Apple Brown Betty

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Either grease the dish with butter or spray it thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray.

Set out a large mixing bowl. Peel and core the apples, then slice into ¼ – ½ inch wedges. Place the apples in the large bowl, and toss with lemon juice to reduce browning. Then add ½ cup of brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt to the apples. Toss well to coat. 

Set out a medium mixing bowl. Combine the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 ½ cups of flour, cold butter cubes, apple pie spice, and ½ teaspoon of salt.

Hand with measuring spoon adding ingredients to a mixing bowl.

Use a pastry blender tool (or large forks) to press the butter cubes into the flour mixture.

Hand using a pastry cutter to crumble cubes of butter into the topping.

The crumble top is ready when it looks well mixed with chunks no larger than the size of peas.

Finished apple crisp and crumble topping in a mixing bowl.

Scoop the apples and juices into the prepared baking dish. Spread them out into a single layer.

Slices of granny smith apples in a baking dish.

Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the surface of the apples.

Get the Complete (Printable) Old-Fashioned Apple Brown Betty Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Adding the apple crumble topping to the fresh apple slices in the baking dish.

Bake the apple crumble uncovered for 60 minutes.

Apple Brown Betty fresh baked dessert from the oven.

The crisp is done when the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbly and juicy.

Top down baking dish with servings taken out.

Recipe Variations

  • Make this a gluten-free Apple Brown Betty recipe. Swap all-purpose flour with your favorite GF baking substitute.
  • Use plant-based non-dairy butter for a dairy-free and vegan dessert.
  • You can use your choice of apple pie or pumpkin pie spice. Pumpkin pie spice has cloves, which gives this seasoning blend a more spicy flavor.
  • This Apple Brown Betty recipe can be made with other fruits! Try this crumble with peaches, pears, cherries, or other firm and hearty fruit.
Plate with serving of baked apple dessert crumble.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this deliciously warm baked apple dessert with fresh whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream.

Can’t get enough apples? Add a scoop of spiced apple ice cream!

Drizzle on caramel sauce for an ultra indulgent treat!

Keep things vegan and dairy-free and enjoy with coconut milk ice cream.

Top down plate with Apple Brown Betty topped with scoop of ice cream.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called Apple Brown Betty?

There are many theories for how this staple American dessert got its name. Some believe that the original recipe was invented by a woman of African descent, whose actual name was Betty.

Other ideas for where the name came from include the original use of “brown bread” as the topping, and the color of the crisp when baked.

What’s the difference between apple crisp, cobbler, crumble, and Apple Brown Betty?

All of these baked desserts include fruit and a deliciously sweet topping. But there are significant differences between the recipes…

  • Crisp is made with a fine mixture of flour, sugar, and butter.
  • Crumble also has a fine topping like a crisp, but is made with oats.
  • Cobbler has a thick topping, typically made with a pie crust or biscuit dough.
  • Brown Betty has a similar topping as a crisp. But this classic recipe uses brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.

What are the best apples to use for apple crisp?

Granny smith apples are sweet and tart, and perfect for making this old-fashioned baked apple dessert. They are firm and hold up well to oven heat. Plus the tartness is great to balance the sweetness of the brown sugar.

Can I make a fruit crisp ahead of time?

Yes, you can! This apple crisp is terrific to make ahead and freeze. Assemble the crumble in an aluminum pan, but instead of baking wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil.

If you prefer to freeze after baking, first let the Apple Brown Betty cool completely. Then wrap in plastic and a layer of aluminum foil.

Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake per the recipe.

Does Apple Betty need to be refrigerated?

To keep the dessert fresh and tasty, I do recommend that you store leftovers in the fridge. Keep in an airtight container and enjoy within 5 days.

Final recipe view with apple crisp topped with ice cream.

Looking for More Classic Dessert Recipes? Be Sure to Try:

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5 from 4 votes
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Apple Brown Betty (Old-Fashioned Crumble Recipe)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
This baked apple crisp is a classic dessert that's delicious any time of year! Enjoy homemade Apple Brown Betty warm with whipped cream or ice cream for a sweet and comforting treat.
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 14 cups granny smith apples from 8-10 apples
  • 1 large lemon juiced (2-3 tb juice)
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar packed and divided
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold butter cubed
  • 1 tablespoon apple pie spice blend or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Either grease the dish with butter or spray it thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Set out a large mixing bowl. Peel and core the apples, then slice into ¼ – ½ inch wedges. Place the apples in the large bowl, and toss with lemon juice to reduce browning. Then add ½ cup of brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt to the apples. Toss well to coat.
  • Set out a medium mixing bowl. Combine the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 ½ cups of flour, cold butter cubes, apple pie spice, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Use a pastry blender tool (or large forks) to press the butter cubes into the flour mixture. The crumble top is ready when it looks well mixed with chunks no larger than the size of peas.
  • Scoop the apples and juices into the prepared baking dish. Spread them out into a single layer. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the surface of the apples.
  • Bake for 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbly and juicy.
  • Serve warm, with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Notes

Can’t find apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice blends? Make your own blend with 1 ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and ½ tsp allspice.
This apple crisp is terrific to make ahead and freeze. Assemble the crumble in an aluminum pan, but instead of baking wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil.
If you prefer to freeze after baking, first let the Apple Brown Betty cool completely. Then wrap in plastic and a layer of aluminum foil.
Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake per the recipe.
To keep the dessert fresh and tasty, I do recommend that you store leftovers in the fridge. Keep in an airtight container and enjoy within 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 6oz, Calories: 375kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 325mg, Potassium: 226mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 42g, Vitamin A: 553IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Sommer Collier

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4 comments on “Apple Brown Betty (Old-Fashioned Crumble)”

  1. I had to make this as soon as possible after I saw it. I’m so glad that I did because it may just be a new favorite! Thank you!

  2. this is my favorite fall dessert! especially with the fresh apples from my town. thank you so much for sharing this recipe

  3. This was so good, I made it for my parents and they absolutely loved it.

  4. Wow this was incredible!!! Thank you so much for sharing.