We love simple fruit desserts like this one, not just because they are easy to make, but because they are easy to adjust to suit your personal tastes.
A traditional “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.
True to tradition, our recipe for apple brown betty is a delectable combination of sliced tart apples, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, breadcrumbs (we use panko), and melted butter.
About the ingredients in this recipe
Here are a few suggestions on how to tweak the ingredients and quantities to make this recipe your own.
- Apples: If you like your desserts lightly sweetened as we do, we recommend using a tart apple like Granny Smith, but any variety of apple that’s suitable for baking will work. Other good choices include Golden Delicious, Braeburn, and Cortland. For more information, check out our Guide to Apple Varieties.
- Brown Sugar: We’re usually satisfied with just a little enhancement to the natural sweetness of the apples, so our recipe doesn’t call for much sugar (only 1/4 cup). We suggest you taste your apples once you’ve added the sugar and cinnamon. If you’d like them sweeter, feel free to add a little more brown sugar.
- Cinnamon: We think cinnamon is the perfect spice to pair with apples, so our recipe calls for a fair amount. If you like a more subtle cinnamon flavor, try using just a light sprinkling on the apples, and cut back a little on the quantity used in the butter and crumb mixture.
- Nutmeg: Just a little bit of nutmeg goes a long way and it adds a fragrant quality to this dessert that we would miss if it weren’t there. Still, if you don’t keep it in the house, no worries – your apple brown betty will still be delicious without it.
- Butter: We recommend using unsalted butter in this and all baking recipes.
How to serve
Apple brown betty is best served warm, and yes, you can reheat it briefly in the microwave. Top it with whipped cream (we like homemade), vanilla ice cream, or to make it super-simple, just a drizzle of heavy cream that’s been slightly warmed.
More baked fruit desserts
Apple Brown Betty
- 3 lbs tart apples, about 6 medium – see notes
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- 5 tablespoons melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and generously butter a 9 x 9-inch baking dish.
- Peel and core the apples, slice them into thin wedges, then place them in a large mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.
- Drizzle the lemon juice over the mixture and toss to thoroughly coat the apple slices with the spices and sugar.
- In a separate bowl, combine the panko crumbs with the remaining brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Slowly pour in the melted butter and combine well.
- Arrange half of the apples in an even layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish and top with half of the butter and crumb mixture.
- Repeat with the remaining apples and crumbs.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crumbs are nicely browned, then remove from the oven and cover with foil.
- Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife.