This Apple Brown Betty recipe is sweet, tart, and juicy apples coated in spice and layered with buttery crisp crumble! It is a great use for fresh apples and the perfect Autumn breakfast or dessert! If you love this, you will also love this Dutch Apple Pie, Apple Cobbler, Apple Crisp French Toast, Apple Tarte Tatin and Honey Apple Bars.
I love simple recipes like this one! Not only are they easy to make but I almost always have the ingredients on hand for them.
Apple Brown Betty consists of alternating layers of sugar-spiced fruit and buttered breadcrumbs. The “brown” in the recipe name refers to the fact that it is made with brown sugar instead of white (although I prefer a mixture of the two).
Our recipe calls for a crisp crumble instead of breadcrumbs, simply because I prefer the texture. The sweet-tart apples caramelize as they bake, making for tender slices swimming in a sticky caramel sauce. Layers of buttery crumble are what really make this recipe *pop*!
What Is a Brown Betty?
An Apple Brown Betty is a baked dessert made with fresh apples topped with a crisp crumble. The crumble is typically a mixture of flour, sugar, spice, and butter.
This fall-inspired treat has been around since colonial times! The first published version of the recipe appeared in an 1864 edition of the Yale Literary Magazine. It was described as a dish made with apples, breadcrumbs, and spices.
Since then, tons of variations of Brown Betty have popped up but the common theme of tender, spiced apples and buttery crumble runs throughout them all.
FUN FACT: Did you know that Apple Brown Betty was President Ronald Reagan’s favorite dessert? So much so that it was frequently made in the White House kitchen during his time there!
Apple Brown Betty Vs Apple Crisp
I know some of you are asking, “what the heck makes this different from apple crisp?”. Though they are closely related, there is one small difference: apple crisp has oats in the topping. So, if you’re not a fan of oats this is the recipe for you!
How to Make Apple Brown Betty
Because there is no pie crust in the recipe, an Apple Brown Betty is one of the simplest apple desserts to make. You’ll only need basic pantry ingredients that you most probably already have on hand!
- APPLES- Apples are obviously the star of this dessert, so if you want it to be sweet, use sweet apples. Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or McIntosh all work. Slice the apples evenly so they soften nicely as they bake.
- LEMON- acidity prevents oxidation which is what makes the apple slices brown before they reach the oven. You don’t want the slices to start breaking down and losing flavor!
- ALL PURPOSE FLOUR- sift the flour for a light, soft crisp.
- GRANULATED SUGAR- cane sugar is great too!
- BROWN SUGAR- light or dark brown sugar can be used. It works with the granulated sugar to caramelize apples and make that perfect sticky-sweet syrup.
- CINNAMON, NUTMEG, + ALLSPICE- warm spices are what make for the ultimate fall flavor! Feel free to adjust the measurements to suit your own spice level.
- SALT- just a pinch of salt enhances flavor and balances out sweetness.
- BUTTER- butter is the base to most caramels, which is kind of what you get in the bottom of the dish after baking the betty. Use high-quality, creamy butter for the best result.
- PREP THE APPLES- Slice the apples in thin slices (about half an inch thick), so they’ll be perfectly tender once cooked. You’ll also want to make uniform slices so they cook evenly! Toss the apples in lemon juice to prevent them from browning while you work on the crumble.
- MAKE CRISP CRUMBLE- All you’ve gotta do here is pulse your dry ingredients in a food processor and add in the butter until the mixture resembles sand with some large chunks of butter throughout.
- LAYER IT UP! – You will add two layers which is a bit different from a crisp.
- BAKE + SERVE- Do not overbake your Brown Betty! Start checking for doneness at 40 minutes and take it out of the oven as soon as the topping is lightly browned. This dessert is best served warm, but it also tastes amazing when cold!
Apple Brown Betty is a fantastic dessert, but you can also serve it with coffee or tea for breakfast! If serving for dessert, go ahead and add a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on top for good measure.
Highly unlikely that you’ll have leftovers, but if you do, tuck them into an airtight and keep it in the fridge. Apple Brown Betty can be refrigerated for a couple days before getting too mushy.
Brown Betty can be reheated in the microwave with a damp paper towel draped over the top. Heat in 30 second increments until warmed through.
Alternatively, you can reheat this dessert in an oven set at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to transfer your desired portion to an oven-safe baking dish!
Best Apple Recipes
We know a thing or two over at GBC about baking with apples! After you’ve had a serving or two of this Brown Betty, check out a few more of our FAVORITE apple-filled dishes:
Apple Brown Betty
- 4 cups Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples peeled, cored and sliced (about 4-5 apples)
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter very cold
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch baking dish using baking spray (or can use butter or shortening as well).
- Toss the apple slices in the lemon juice and layer half of them in the baking dish.
- In a food processor or blender, combine your flour, sugars, and spices. Pulse several times to mix well. Drop in butter 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between each addition until all the butter is fully incorporated and coarse crumbs form.
- Spread half of the crumbs over the apples in the baking dish and layer the second half of the apples over the top. Coat the apples with the second half of the crumbs.
- Bake the Betty for 40-45 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the crumbs are crisp and golden brown.
- Cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream over the top.