By Contributor Marge Perry, A Sweet and Savory Life

Fruit crisp is the one dessert every new cook should learn to make and every experienced cook should have in her repertoire. It is nearly impossible to screw up, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, doesn't require any special equipment, and can be made entirely ahead or in a jiffy at the last minute.


All that is required is cutting up a bunch of fruit and tossing it with sugar and a thickener such as cornstarch, flour, or tapioca. Make a topping with butter, sugar, flour, also oats and/or chopped nuts if you are so inclined (as I always am); sprinkle that over the fruit and bake until the fruit bubbles up the sides.

  • Use enough fruit to come right up to the rim of your baking dish. It will shrink down as it bakes.
  • Any baking dish that is at least 1-inch deep will do. A standard pie plate works beautifully, as does a 9 x 11 or 13 x 9 baking dish. It all depends how big you want to make it and how much fruit you have on hand.
  • The most basic topping is flour, sugar and butter, crumbled together until it is the consistency of sand. Oatmeal and chopped nuts are often in the mix, along with cinnamon and/or nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
  • The crisp is done when you can see fruit bubbling up the sides. Poke the center with a fork to be sure the fruit feels soft. Most crisps will bake in 30-45 minutes.
  • Let the crisp cool before you cut it, or it won’t hold together.
  • Use whatever fruit you have on hand. I made the crisp above with 5 peaches, strawberries and blueberries because that’s what was there.

With a basic crisp in your repertoire, you will always be able to whip up a mouth-watering, toe-curling, crowd-pleasing dessert with no stress and in no time.

Here are some of MyRecipes' favorite crisps:

And here’s one that will make you very smart:

Have you ever asked yourself, "What's the difference a crisp, crumble, cobbler, slump, and buckle?" I've got the answer on the Ask the Expert column.