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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.

Made of sweet, tart, and juicy apples underneath a bed of buttery crumble, it’s the perfect autumn comfort food. 

Homemade Apple Crisp with Ice Cream in a Bowl
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What Is Apple Brown Betty?

An Apple Brown Betty is a baked apple dessert made with a crisp crumble on top.

The combination of sugar, butter, cinnamon, and apples gives it the ultimate fall flavor.

And because there’s no pie crust, it’s one of the easiest apple desserts to make.

A Brief History

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

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

And 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 after-dinner treats made at the White House during his time. 

It’s so good that it even has its 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 that apple crisp has oats in the topping, and Brown Betty doesn’t. 

So if you’re not a fan of oats, this recipe is for you!

Bowl of Homemade Apple Crisp with Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

You’ll find a detailed list of ingredients and a step-by-step rundown of instructions at the bottom of this post.

For now, here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll need:

  • 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.

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.

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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. 

How To Make Apple Brown Betty

As I said before, this is such an easy recipe. It’s a lot like apple crisp, so if you can layer fruit and buttery topping in a baking dish, you’ve got this!

1. Preheat the oven and grease a pie plate.

2. Mix the sliced apples with orange juice.

3. Mix the topping ingredients in a bowl until they look like breadcrumbs.

4. Add the apples to the pie dish then sprinkle over the topping.

5. Bake until golden and bubbly.

Tips for Making Brown Betties

Really, this dessert couldn’t be easier to make. Still, I have a few quick tips so yours comes out perfect!

  • 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.
  • 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.
Homemade Apple Crisp with Ice Cream and Caramel

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

Servings

8

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

45

minutes
Calories

278

kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 cups thinly sliced apples (about 2 apples)

  • 1/4 cup of orange juice

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup cold butter, sliced into cubes

Instructions

  • 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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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
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 :)

4 thoughts on “Apple Brown Betty”

  1. Easy and delicious. I used lemon juice, 3/4 c sugar, and only 6/8ths of a stick of butter. Crisped up the top by placing under broiler for 1 1/2 minutes before serving.

    Reply
  2. Hi there. I made this last night and my husband and son both flipped over it. I wish I could tell you what an accomplishment that is. My son has never eaten apple pie or any fruit pie before and loved this. My husband said it was “like crack.” I will definitely be making this again. (btw, have never left comment on a recipe before). Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. I’m sure your dessert is wonderful, but brown betty has stale bread in it. My mom is 101 years old and made this for us growing up. I made it. Always with stale bread.

    Reply
    • Hi Mary, that’s a great tip! I will have to try it sometime. I’m sure your mom’s recipe can’t be topped!

      Reply

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