This easy berry cobbler recipe transforms mixed berries into their ultimate form: jammy, tart, and topped with fluffy biscuits for soaking up all of the juices. Two simple additions to homemade cobbler make it especially delicious: cornmeal for slight grit and flavor, and buttermilk for tang and tenderness. Tons of deliciousness, no hard work required.
Move over, American pie. This is your quintessential summer dessert-- juicy fruit filling, golden top, ice cream, and all-- made a whole heck of a lot easier.
Dare I say it? Yes?
It's also even tastier.
When the sun's out and the grill's hot, nothing rounds out the perfect day quite like a scoop of this mixed berry cobbler. It has it all: bright berry syrup, tender cornmeal biscuits, and a swirl of just-slightly-melted vanilla ice cream. In fact, if I had to pick only one dessert to make all summer, every summer, it'd have to be this one. It's surprisingly simple in its preparation, but an instant addition to the "must repeat" recipe folder once you take a bite.
WHAT IS COBBLER?
Cobblers, crumbles, and crisps, oh my!
What's the difference between those three (and buckles, and betties, and pandowdies)? There are about a dozen words for these fruit casseroles, and share a lot in common: they're all essentially pies without the pie crust. However, each one differs in the type of topping.
Some of the above involve a bit of debate, but cobblers are luckily straight-forward.
A cobbler is a fruit base topped (or "cobbled") with dough and baked until golden. That dough can be more akin to biscuit dough, cake batter, or pie crust, but the key is that the top is not smoothed down like you would see on a pie, nor is it sprinkled-on-streusel like you'd get with a crumble-- it's dolloped on top with little divisions that almost resemble a cobblestone road.
THE EASIEST FRUIT-FILLED DESSERT
Whoever coined the term "easy as pie" never had a cobbler-- because these desserts are easier, faster, and far more foolproof than pie. There's no rolling of pie dough involved, or perfectly crimping and trimming the edges. Just whip out the food processor (or a big bowl and wooden spoon), mix together your ingredients, and plop 'em over the top of your fruit filling. No smoothing or stretching or stressing required.
Let's not breeze past the fruit filling by the way. I personally prefer to use fresh berries which are in abundance in summer months, but in a pinch (or just because of your preference), feel free to swap out fresh berries for frozen ones. You can even use other fresh fruits you may have on hand, such as ripe peaches or plums.
WHY THIS BERRY COBBLER IS THE BEST
- Quick and Easy. With less steps than pie preparation and a much shorter cooling time, you can whip up a cobbler with a fraction of the effort and necessary notice.
- Versatile Ingredients. You can swap in any sort of berry or stone fruit you've got on hand-- fresh or frozen-- and you'll still have a delicious cobbler at the end of the day.
- The Best Berry Flavor. If you want to get the most out of your seasonal berries, this is a great way to do it. Instead of relying on a ton of extra spices that can quickly overpower delicate berries, this desert owes most of its flavor profile to the berries and their released juices. A bit of lemon juice and lemon zest, a tiny bit of vanilla extract, and just a pinch of salt bring out the natural flavor.
- Make it Ahead. Need some extra time the day of? Whip this berry cobbler up the day before and reheat in the oven when you're ready to serve it. You can even eat it cold from the fridge-- it's delicious either way.
BERRY-BUTTERMILK COBBLER INGREDIENTS
- Fresh or Frozen Berries. I prefer strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries for my cobbler, but blackberries, cherries, or even peaches can be a great option for this cobbler.
- Lemon Juice and Zest. Lemon adds brightness and brings out the natural tartness of the berries.
- Granulated and Coarse Sugars. Granulated sugar adds sweetness and allows the berry juices to turn into syrup, and coarse sugar on top adds extra texture to the cornmeal biscuits.
- Cornstarch. Cornstarch in the berry filling allows the juices to thicken, preventing overly soggy biscuits or liquidy sauce.
- All-Purpose Flour. This pantry staple makes up the bulk of the biscuits.
- Yellow Cornmeal. Cornmeal adds sweetness, nuttiness, and a textural bite to the biscuits, as well as a beautiful golden color.
- Baking Powder. Baking powder is a leavening agent which allows the biscuits to rise and become fluffy when baked.
- Unsalted Butter. Cubed unsalted butter helps create a rich, tender biscuit dough.
- Buttermilk. Buttermilk adds extra tang and tenderness to the biscuits, which balances the sweetness and grit of the cornmeal.
- Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Ice Cream. Vanilla rounds out the tartness of the berries. This recipe isn't complete without big scoops of vanilla ice cream to melt and mix with the berry syrup!
WATCH THE HOW-TO VIDEO
- 2 pounds (32 ounces) assorted berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
- Juice and zest of ½ lemon
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ cup cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
- Vanilla ice cream
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a large (9×13-inch) baking dish with softened butter.
- Prepare the berry filling. Add the berries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to the baking dish and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Make the cornmeal biscuit dough. In a food processor or large bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter. Pulse or cut together until pea-sized crumbs form, and then pour in the buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix until a well-combined dough forms. If the mixture is too dry, add buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time, until mostly smooth, being careful not to overwork the dough.
- Create the biscuits. Drop the biscuit dough evenly over the fruit, and then brush with buttermilk to help them brown. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired, for added texture and sweetness.
- Bake and serve. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly and the biscuits are golden-brown. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then serve warm with extra berries and vanilla ice cream.