Home - Articles - Buckle, Cobbler, Crumble, Crisp: What’s the Difference?

Buckle, Cobbler, Crumble, Crisp: What’s the Difference?

A 101 on summer’s favorite baked desserts.

Serve up a hot, bubbling dish of crust-covered fruit and everyone at the table will likely have a different name for it. Is it a crisp? A cobbler? A crumble? A buckle? The terms vary region to region (and even household to household), so it’s no surprise there’s confusion. The truth is, while they do share similarities, these beloved desserts also have some key differences.  

Let’s start with how they’re alike. Crisps, cobblers, crumbles, and buckles are all fantastic ways to showcase fresh, seasonal fruit. They can be made year-round with apples and pears in the colder months and berries and stone fruits in the summer. No matter the variety, the fruit softens and  releases moisture in the oven, creating an irresistible contrast to the cakey or crispy topping. The fruit’s natural sweetness also intensifies, eliminating the need for loads of extra sugar.  

All four of these treats are practically foolproof, making them a less stressful, more beginner-friendly alternative to pie. They can be whipped up at the last minute with easy-to-find ingredients and can be scaled up or down to serve any number of guests. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, or a drizzle of heavy cream for dessert, or with yogurt or kefir for breakfast the next day.  

Stumped on which one to make first? Here’s what to know about how they differ:  


Fruit crumbles , which are thought to have originated in England, are arguably the most straightforward of the bunch. The traditional topping is just flour, sugar, and butter, though many recipes nowadays call for oats, nuts, or coconut flakes. The butter is worked into the dry ingredients until small crumbles form, then the mixture is sometimes frozen, like in this stone fruit crumble, to ensure it stays clumped in the oven.  

While most commonly baked in a 2 to 3-quart baking dish, like this peach and cherry crumble, they can also be assembled in individual ramekins, or even single-serve foil packets, that are perfect for enjoying outside.  


Crisps are essentially crumbles with the addition of oats and optional nuts, which causes  the topping to “crisp” in the oven. Due to the higher ratio of oats to flour, crisps are often enjoyed for breakfast and are just as tasty eaten cold from the fridge as they are warmed up in the oven. For an extra-easy version,  start with store-bought granola for a quick, delicious breakfast with apples and cranberry.   

Though the earliest crisps were made with apples, you’ll now find recipes using all types of fruits. In the summer months, keep your kitchen cool by making the crisp in the slow cooker.   


Whereas crisps and crumbles are topped with a streusel-like mixture, cobblers are topped with a cake-like batter or a biscuit-like dough. When dropped onto the fruit in spoonfuls, like in this Southern cornmeal peach cobbler the topping bakes up to resemble a cobblestone street, hence the name “cobbler.” In some cases, the fruit is actually placed on top or sandwiched between two layers of crust. Almost any fruit can be turned into a cobbler, though berries and peaches are particularly popular.  

Out of these four dishes, cobblers are the most likely to be savory. Consider this Tomato Cornbread Cobbler, for example, in which a layer of cheesy cornbread bakes atop garlicky cherry tomatoes.  


Though crumbles, crisps, and cobblers are more akin to pie, a buckle is a lot like cake. In fact, they look nearly identical to fruit-filled coffee cakes. As the batter rises in the oven, the weight of the fruit causes it to “buckle.”  

Though some buckles are topped with a streusel, the easiest buckles, like our 5-ingredient blueberry buckle, are a simple mix of fresh fruit and cake batter. Either way, they’re guaranteed to be a sweet taste of summer.

Search and shop our 5,000+ recipes

Popular articles

Search and shop our 5,000+ recipes