Apple Brown Betty Recipe - A Delicious American Dessert

Apple Brown Betty

Apple Brown Betty Recipe - A Delicious American Dessert
Region / culture: USA | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 40 minutes | Servings: 6


Apple Brown Betty
Apple Brown Betty

Apple Brown Betty is a classic dessert that has been cherished by generations for its simplicity, comforting flavors, and the delightful way it fills the home with its aromatic baking scent. This dessert is made with layers of sweetened apples and bread crumbs or pieces, spiced with cinnamon, and baked until golden and bubbly. It's a perfect example of how a few humble ingredients can be transformed into a delicious treat. This recipe offers a straightforward approach to creating a traditional Apple Brown Betty that's sure to become a favorite in your dessert repertoire.


The origins of Apple Brown Betty date back to colonial America, making it one of the oldest dessert recipes in the United States. The term "Brown Betty" first appeared in print in 1864, but the dessert itself is believed to have been made much earlier. It was a practical recipe, created to make use of stale bread and seasonal apples. Over the years, it has evolved, with variations including different types of bread and spices, but the essence of the dish remains the same: a comforting, baked apple dessert.


How to prepare

  1. Grease a 1 qt (946 ml) baking dish.
  2. Arrange half of the apples on the bottom of the dish.
  3. Follow with half of the bread, then half of the sugar.
  4. Repeat the layers.
  5. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, cut the margarine into pieces and lay them on top, finish by pouring hot water over everything.
  6. Cover and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Serve warm or chilled.


  • Apple Cheese Betty: Spread 1 cup of ricotta cheese evenly over the first layer of apples, bread, and sugar. Proceed with the remaining steps as mentioned above.
  • 1. Pear Brown Betty: Substitute pears for apples.
  • 2. Gluten-Free Brown Betty: Use gluten-free bread.
  • 3. Vegan Brown Betty: Use vegan margarine and ensure the bread is vegan.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

1. For the best flavor, use a mix of tart and sweet apples.

2. Thinly slice the apples for even cooking.

3. Stale bread works best as it absorbs more flavor.

4. For a richer taste, substitute butter for margarine.

5. Adding a splash of lemon juice to the apples can enhance their flavor.

6. If you prefer a crunchier topping, broil the dish for a few minutes after baking.

Serving Suggestions

Apple Brown Betty can be served warm or chilled. It pairs beautifully with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. For a less traditional but equally delicious option, try serving it with a sharp cheddar cheese.

Cooking Techniques

Baking is the primary cooking technique used in this recipe, creating a soft interior and a slightly crisp top. For a more pronounced crust, consider broiling the dish briefly after baking.

Ingredient Substitutions

1. Butter for margarine for a richer flavor.

2. Maple syrup for brown sugar for a different sweetness.

3. Panko breadcrumbs for bread pieces for a crunchier texture.

Make Ahead Tips

Assemble the Apple Brown Betty up to a day in advance and refrigerate. Bake just before serving to enjoy it fresh and warm.

Presentation Ideas

Serve in individual ramekins for a personalized touch. Garnish with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a cinnamon stick for an elegant presentation.

Pairing Recommendations

Apple Brown Betty pairs wonderfully with a sweet dessert wine, such as a Riesling or a Moscato. For a non-alcoholic option, a spiced apple cider complements the flavors beautifully.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of Apple Brown Betty contains approximately 250 calories. The calories are primarily derived from the carbohydrates in the apples and sugar, with a smaller contribution from the fats.


A serving of Apple Brown Betty contains approximately 45 grams of carbohydrates. The majority of these carbs come from the apples and brown sugar, providing energy. The bread contributes to the carb count as well, making this dessert a source of quick energy.


This recipe contains a modest amount of fat, with about 4 grams per serving, primarily from the margarine. Using margarine instead of butter keeps the saturated fat content lower, making it a somewhat lighter option.


Apple Brown Betty is not a significant source of protein, containing about 2 grams per serving. The small amount of protein comes from the bread and to a lesser extent from the apples.

Vitamins and minerals

Apples are a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. This dessert also provides small amounts of potassium and iron, primarily from the apples and bread. The overall vitamin and mineral content can contribute to your daily nutritional needs.


This recipe contains gluten (from the bread) and may contain dairy (if butter is used instead of margarine). It's important for individuals with allergies to these ingredients to take caution.


Apple Brown Betty is a dessert that offers a balance of carbohydrates and a modest amount of fats, with a low protein content. It provides some vitamins and minerals, making it a sweet treat that can fit into a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation.


Apple Brown Betty is a timeless dessert that combines the simplicity of ingredients with the richness of flavor. This recipe is a testament to the comfort and joy that traditional dishes can bring to the table. With its easy preparation and versatile serving options, it's a delightful way to end any meal or celebrate the flavors of the season.

How did I get this recipe?

I can still remember the exact moment I discovered this recipe for Apple Brown Betty. It was a crisp fall day, much like today, and I was visiting my dear friend Margaret's house. Margaret was known for her delicious baked goods, and that day she had a special treat in store for me.

As I walked into Margaret's cozy kitchen, the warm scent of cinnamon and apples filled the air. I could see her bustling about, pulling ingredients out of the pantry and measuring them carefully. "What are you making, Margaret?" I asked, trying to catch a glimpse of what was hidden in the large mixing bowl on the counter.

Margaret smiled at me and said, "I'm making an Apple Brown Betty. It's an old family recipe that has been passed down for generations. Would you like to help me make it?"

I eagerly agreed, excited to learn a new recipe from my friend. Margaret guided me through the steps, showing me how to peel and slice the apples, mix the spices with the brown sugar, and layer the mixture with buttered breadcrumbs. As the Apple Brown Betty baked in the oven, the sweet aroma continued to waft through the kitchen, making my mouth water in anticipation.

When the timer finally dinged and Margaret pulled the steaming dish out of the oven, I couldn't wait to try a bite. The Apple Brown Betty was a perfect combination of tender apples, crunchy breadcrumbs, and warm spices. It was a comforting and delicious dessert that instantly became one of my favorites.

Over the years, I have made the Apple Brown Betty countless times for family gatherings, holiday meals, and special occasions. Each time I make it, I think back to that day in Margaret's kitchen and the joy of discovering a new recipe that would become a cherished part of my culinary repertoire.

As I continued to hone my skills in the kitchen, I sought out other recipes from friends, family, and cookbooks. I learned how to make savory dishes like beef stew, chicken pot pie, and lasagna, as well as sweet treats like apple pie, chocolate cake, and lemon bars.

One of the things I love most about cooking is the way it brings people together. Whether it's preparing a meal for my family, baking cookies with my grandchildren, or hosting a dinner party for friends, food has a way of creating connections and memories that last a lifetime.

As I reflect on my culinary journey, I am grateful for all the recipes I have collected over the years. Each one tells a story, whether it's a cherished family tradition, a special occasion, or a shared moment with a loved one. And the Apple Brown Betty will always hold a special place in my heart, as the recipe that started it all.

So the next time you find yourself in the kitchen, preparing a meal for your loved ones, take a moment to appreciate the recipes you have collected along the way. Each one is a gift, waiting to be shared and enjoyed by those you hold dear. And who knows, maybe one day you'll discover a new recipe that will become a cherished part of your culinary journey, just like the Apple Brown Betty did for me.


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