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Apple Brown Betty

Looking for a great use of fresh apples that’s not as complicated as apple pie? Let me introduce you to Apple Brown Betty.

It’s made of sweet, tart, and juicy apples underneath a bed of buttery crumble. Apple Brown Betty is the perfect autumn comfort food. 

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Homemade Apple Crisps or Crumble with Ice Cream

Don’t believe me? Try it, and you’ll see! Don’t worry, it’s so easy to make. Even non-bakers will nail this!

Just slice up some apples and whip up a crumble. The rest is up to the oven. 

Boy, your kitchen is about to smell like heaven.

Drooling yet? Me, too, so let’s get started!

Apple Brown Betty

An Apple Brown Betty is a baked dish made with apples topped with a crisp crumble. The combination of sugar, butter, cinnamon, and apples gives it the ultimate fall flavor.

Because there is no pie crust required, an Apple Brown Betty is one of the easiest apple desserts to make. It calls for the most basic pantry ingredients that you most probably already have on hand.

Apart from peeling, coring, and slicing the apples, it’s just a matter of mixing ingredients to create a crumble. Minimal effort, maximum reward!

Apple Brown Betty is a fantastic dessert, but you can also serve it with coffee for breakfast. It also makes a delicious afternoon treat, especially when paired with tea. 

Or have it at midnight while watching your favorite show. I promise I won’t judge! I do it too, all the time. 

A Brief History

Apple Brown Betty has been around since colonial times. It dates as far back to 1864, first appearing in the Yale Literary Magazine.

It was described as a dish made with sweet apples, bread crumbs, and spices. 

In 1890, the recipe appeared in a cookbook by Mrs. Mary Hinman Abel titled “Practical Sanitary and Economic Cooking Adapted to Persons of Moderate and Small Means.” What a mouthful!

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Featuring recipes that could feed a family for as low as 13 cents a day, the book contained affordable recipes that sought to improve the dietary choices of the poor. 

Here’s a fun fact: Apple Brown Betty was one of President Ronald Reagan’s favorite desserts!

He loved it so much, that it was one of the most frequent desserts made at the White House during his time. 

It’s so good that it even has his own day! Yup, October 5th is the official National Apple Brown Betty Day.

Apple Brown Betty vs. Apple Crisp

They are closely related, but not quite the same. Basically, they’re both apples underneath a crisp topping and baked to perfection. The difference is, an apple crisp has oats in the topping. 

That said, if you’re not a fan of oats, this recipe is for you! This recipe uses flour, sugar, and butter to make a crumble. It has the same delicious topping, minus the gritty oats.


Apples. Either Crispin, Granny Smith, Empire, or McIntosh. Slice the apples thinly and evenly so they soften perfectly as they bake.

Orange juice. To keep the apples from browning. You can use any acidic fruit juices, too, such as lemon, lime, or pineapple.

All-purpose flour. The base of the crumble. While other recipes call for bread or granola for the topping, you’ll make your very own! 

Sugar. To sweeten the crumble.

Cinnamon and nutmeg.  To give the crumble that iconic fall flavor. 

Butter. Make sure it’s cold! Otherwise, you won’t be able to create those coarse crumbles.

Tips for Making Brown Betties

  • Slice the apples thinly, about 1/4 inch. That way, they’ll be perfectly tender once cooked. You’ll also want to make uniform slices, so they cook evenly.
  • Coat the apples with brown sugar. This’ll give them a sweeter, deeper flavor. Apples are known to pair beautifully with brown sugar!
  • Don’t forget about the orange juice! It will keep your apples from browning as you prepare the crumble. 
  • Don’t overbake your Brown Betty. Take it out of the oven as soon as the topping is lightly browned.
  • Serve Brown Betty either warm or chilled. It’s gold, either way.
  • Got leftovers? Highly unlikely, but if you do, place them in an airtight container and store them in the fridge.

The Best Apples for Apple Brown Betty

Apples are obviously the star of this dessert, so if you want it to be sweet, use sweet apples.

But since you’ll be cooking them, you’ll also want to pick crisp and firm apples that won’t disintegrate in high heat. 

That said, your best options are Crispin apples, which are available all year round, so yay! Empire apples from New York are also ideal because they’re crisp, sweet, and slightly tart.

And, of course, you can’t go wrong with the classic Granny Smith.

McIntosh apples, albeit a bit tangy, also work well. Just add more sugar to the recipe if you want to counterbalance the tartness. 

Bowl of Apple Crisp with Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

What to Serve With Apple Brown Betty 

Just like pies, tarts, or cobblers, Apple Brown Betty is best served with vanilla ice cream. The combination of hot and cold creates such a tastebud-tingling sensation!

You also can’t go wrong with sweetened whipped cream. Or drizzle it with caramel sauce. It’ll be so lip-smackingly delicious.

Then wash it down with a pumpkin spice latte for the ultimate fall treat.

More Apple Recipes You’ll Love

Apple Bread
Mock Apple Pie
Apple Dump Cake
Cinnamon Roll Dutch Apple Pie

Apple Brown Betty



Prep time


Cooking time






  • 4 cups 4 thinly sliced apples (about 2 apples)

  • 1/4 cup of orange juice

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup 1 granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup cold butter, sliced into cubes


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch pie plate.
  • Pile apples in the pie plate and drizzle with orange juice to avoid browning.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in the butter until the mixture turns into coarse crumbs.
  • Sprinkle the crumbs all over the apples.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!
Apple Brown Betty

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Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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