They're all delicious, but they're not all the same. 

By Sarra Sedghi
July 13, 2010
Photo: Greg DuPree Food Styling: Rishon Hanners Prop Styling: Thom Driver

Plenty of our favorite summer fruits are in season, meaning there’s never been a better time to bake them. Whether you got a great deal on blueberries or just picked a ton of strawberries at your local farm, there’s no better way to enjoy them than in a cobbler or crisp. 

No matter what they’re called, they feature all the appeals of pie, minus the hurdles that come with constructing one. Rather than crossing your fingers with a pie crust, you just place everything in a trusty casserole dish. All you need is a little time and at least one scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect piece celebrating the pinnacle of summer baking. 

Crisps, cobblers, and the like all encompass baked fruit topped with free-form carbohydrates. These fruity desserts can have all kinds of filling combinations, but their names deviate based on what kind of topping is used and the overall structure of the dish. We’ll start with crisps and cobbler, the most popular desserts with the easiest difference to remember. 

Crisps

Photo: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky 

The difference between crisps and cobbler all comes down to what’s on top. Crisps typically have a topping comprised of flour, nuts, butter, cereal (usually oatmeal or granola), and sugar, leaving a—you guessed it—crisp texture. The topping can also include streusel—what matters here is the crunch. Thanks to their crumbly nature, crisps are also called crumbles. 

Cobbler

Photo: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Cobbler is usually topped with batter or biscuits in lieu of crust. Cobbler’s name comes from its sometimes cobbled texture, which is a result of spooning or dropping the topping over the fruit rather than distributing it equally. This way, the filling can peek through. 

Buckles, Slumps, and More

Victor Protasio


Cobbler and crisps are the mightiest limbs on the baked fruit dessert tree. From there, distinct or hyperlocal treats branch out. Buckles, moist fruit cakes with streusel topping, get their name from their topping’s buckled appearance. Sometimes they’re called crisps, which only adds to the confusion. Grunts, also known as slumps, are baked or stewed fruit dishes topped with rolled biscuit dough (While cobbler can also include biscuit dough, the technique for topping a grunt is much more systematic than dripping or spooning it over fruit). Finally, sonkers, which are mainly sequestered to Surry County, North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains, have a soupier texture—and much more juice—than a standard cobbler. The sonker is typically paired with a vanilla cream sauce called “dip” that’s glazed over the finished dish. 

Advertisement