Mixed Berry Crisp

pie tin filled with mixed berry crisp and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
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Juicy, jammy and covered in a just-sweet-enough, buttery, oaty streusel topping, this easy berry crisp recipe is summer in a baking dish. We hope that it becomes as beloved in your family as it has in ours. 

Easier Than Pie.

It lures you into the kitchen at midnight. It just might be healthy enough that you can make it once a week during berry season without a second thought. It celebrates nature’s most perfect fruit at its juiciest, ripest best. It’s summery, comforting and just begging to be paired with a porch swing, a warm evening and a big spoon. And best of all? Our mixed berry crisp is easy enough to throw together on a whim—pop it in the oven when dinner is done, and it’ll be ready to eat when the fireflies start to blink. 

If, some August evening, you find yourself hit with a twinge of nostalgia for summer even as you live it, and you think to yourself “I haven’t done enough summery things! It’s passing me by!” we recommend that you stop. Breathe. And take a few minutes to make a summer berry crisp. It’s quick and easy enough to put together that—even if you decide to make it after dinner—you’ll still have time to have a big bowlful before bed. And with a belly full of summer fruit crisp, you won’t doubt for a minute that you’re living your best summer life. 

ingredients for easy mixed berry crisp divided in small bowls

Berry Desserts 101: Crisps are (Basically) Crumbles, But Cobblers are Not Crisps, and Crisps are Not Cobblers. 

Before we dive into this berry crisp recipe any further, let’s set the record straight. This is a berry crisp recipe. A crumble is another word for a crisp, but a crisp (or crumble) is not a cobbler. Are you confused yet? We have plenty of love for any dessert that involves summer fruit, and especially summer berries, but crisps (also known as crumbles) are our favorite—they’re the easiest and they’re also the best. Cobblers, crisps and crumbles are all fruit desserts that are baked, and that involve topping a whole bunch of slightly-sweetened fruit with some kind of buttery topping. In that sense, they’re extremely similar. But there are some clear differences: 

  • Fruit Cobbler: here’s an easy way to remember what a cobbler is—they’re called “cobbler” because the topping looks like cobblestones! Cobblers are topped with biscuit topping that is usually dropped on top of the fruit in little mounds that bake up looking a bit like a cobbled road.  
  • Fruit Crumble: fruit crumble is arguably the simplest of the three. In a fruit crumble, fresh or frozen fruit is baked under a streusel topping in its simplest form—usually just flour, sugar and butter. 
  • Fruit Crisp: ahhh crisp, our beloved crisp. Fruit crisps are essentially the same as fruit crumbles, but the streusel topping is jazzed up a bit with oats for an extra nuttyness and texture and sometimes a sprinkling of baking spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
pie tin filled with mixed berry crisp and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Mixed Berry Crisp—An Edible Celebration of Summer Fruit. 

Here in the Pacific Northwest, most of us have gone berry picking more than once by now and have a freezer full of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Luckily this berry crisp recipe is adaptable and agreeable—it doesn’t care if you use fresh or frozen berries and will be delicious either way. We’re particularly fond of a combination of blackberries or Marionberries (a PNW favorite) and blueberries, but you can make a delicious crisp out of just about any summer fruit or berry you love—this easy crisp recipe invites experimentation. In addition to this blackberry-blueberry crisp recipe, are a few other summer fruit crisp combinations to try: 

  • Strawberry & rhubarb crisp—the classic early summer combination of strawberries & rhubarb, treated with a light hand and baked to perfection. Highly recommend. 
  • Blackberry & nectarine crisp.  
  • Plum & peach crisp—when the stone fruit are coming in so fast you can hardly keep up. 
  • Triple berry crisp—try a combo of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. 
  • White peach and raspberry crisp—not only delicious, but gorgeous too. 
  • Pear & apple crisp—for when autumn arrives and demands a celebration of its own.

TMP Tip: Freeze Your Crisp Topping, Make Crisp Anytime You Want. 

In a stroke of genius, we recently began making large batches of our crisp topping (also called a streusel topping) and freezing some of the topping to use later. With a batch of crisp topping in the freezer, we’re ready for a fruit avalanche whenever it happens. 

See some great peaches at the farmers market that are so ripe and ready they’re almost TOO good? With crisp topping in your freezer you can buy them by the flat and know they’ll go to good use. Same goes for blackberries, raspberries, blueberries—just about any summer fruit that calls to you. Even Alice Waters—the goddess of fresh, seasonal, local herself—says you should freeze crisp topping. In her iconic book, Chez Panisse Fruit, she writes: “ordinarily we disapprove of freezer storage and cooking in large quantities, but it is a great thing to have a container of crisp topping handy...quadruple this topping recipe and keep it in your freezer.” Who are we to argue?

Without Further Ado—Here’s How To Make A Crisp: 

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Our berry crisp recipe can be broken down into two easy pieces—the buttery, streusel-like, oatmeal-speckled crisp topping, and the mixed berry filling. Here’s the plan of attack: 

  1. Prep the fruit! As we mention in the recipe, we love to use a combination of two pints of blackberries or Marionberries and one pint of blueberries. The blueberries release a lot of juice as they bake, so a just-blueberry crisp will often be too runny. With a combination of blackberries and blueberries, the naturally-occurring pectin in the blackberries helps prevent the crisp filling from being runny. Gently toss the fruit with sugar, lemon juice, flour, salt and cinnamon in the dish you’ll bake the crisp in. 
  2. Make the crisp topping. Using your fingers, smash the cold, cubed butter into the brown sugar, flour, salt and oats until you’ve got a crumbly, somewhat dough-like bowlful of crisp topping. It won’t look like enough to cover all that fruit, and that’s OK! 
  3. Top the crisp and bake! Distribute the crisp topping as evenly as you can, but don’t fret if you still have a fair amount of exposed fruit. This is a rustic dessert—it’s all about ease, simplicity and showcasing fruit at the peak of ripeness. Bake until the fruit is bubbling up through the topping and the oaty streusel is crisp and lovely. 
  4. Eat! Ideally warm from the oven, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
mixed berry crisp with scoop of vanilla ice cream

Tools You’ll Need: 

Other Summer Fruit Dessert Recipes: 

How Many Times Have You Made This Crisp? 

When summer fruit is abundant, there’s no such thing as too much crisp. Whether you’re making a double batch for company, or a mixed berry crisp just because, we want to hear how it turned out! What combination of fruit was your favorite? Snap a photo of your summer fruit crisp and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can see. Happy eating!

Mixed Berry Crisp

Serves 8

For the Filling

3 pints worth of mixed fresh berries
1/2 lemon or orange, juiced (a generous tbsp)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

For the Crisp Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Gently mix the berries with sugar, salt, flour, and lemon juice. Pour this mixture into a 2-quart baking dish (or you can use a pie pan).
  3. In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, salt and oats. Use your hands to smash the butter into the flour, sugar, salt and oats until you have a sort of crumbly dough. Scatter the crumbly topping over the berries. It won't cover the whole top, and that's OK. Just distribute the crisp topping as evenly as possible. Bake for 30-40 mins. When the berries are bubbling and the crisp topping is browned and crisp-y, it's done.