Summer Berry Cobbler is a classic dessert with jammy fruit topped with a simple, tender, sweet biscuit. Make it with fresh or frozen berries for a summery dessert you can actually make all year long.
We drove out to my mom’s house over the weekend for a very special purpose – blackberry picking! It was a steamy summer night with the sun setting behind us and the kids stuffing hundreds of berries in their mouths as they picked. In this summer that is decidedly not what we had planned, it felt like a moment of pure normalcy.
And we got gallons of berries out of the deal. 😉
And so, of course, what we needed to do with all these berries was bake cobbler! In truth, I’ve been working on this recipe for Summer Berry Cobbler since early spring. I wanted one that checked all the boxes – a berry layer that is rich, thick, and jammy plus a topping that is light and tender. The topping here is a buttermilk drop biscuit. But it’s NOT a finicky biscuit. This is the easiest drop biscuit you’ll ever make. (More on that below.)
- Mixed Berries – The real star of cobbler is the fruit. Okay….maybe the star is the biscuits. Either way, you’re going to want some really good berries to create the fruit filling. If it’s not the season for fresh berries, frozen berries are a great way to go. See below for thoughts on choosing the “right” fruit for cobbler.
- White Sugar – You don’t need a ton of sugar for this recipe, but a bit of sugar mixed with the filling and the topping help to highlight the natural sweetness of the fruit.
- Cornstarch – I’m partial to a thicker fruit filling, so I find cornstarch a must-have. This will help to thicken the juices of the fruit as it cooks.
- Lemon Juice – A bit of fresh lemon juice brightens the flavor of the fruit. If you don’t have lemon juice, feel free to skip it – the dish will bake just fine without it.
- Buttermilk – It’s hard to beat the subtle tangy flavor and ability to make tender biscuits you get from buttermilk. See below for lots of other ways to use it up if you’ve bought a jug of it. If you don’t have buttermilk, check the recipe for my go-to substitute.
- All-Purpose Flour, Baking Powder, Kosher Salt, Unsalted Butter, Pure Vanilla Extract – Standard baking items you’ll need for the biscuits.
Choosing Fruit for Cobbler
The berries or other fruit you choose for cobbler will affect the texture of the filling. Strawberries, raspberries, and any frozen berries tend to release more liquid and will lead to a thinner fruit base (great for spooning over ice cream). Blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and peaches hold up a bit better and will usually give you a thicker base. It’s great either way, just be sure to factor that in when you’re choosing fruit!
Fruit options for cobbler:
- Strawberries, chopped
- Peaches, sliced or chopped (great with blueberries or blackberries)
- Cherries, halved and pitted
Why Pre-Cook Fruit Filling?
The best way to get a thick filling in which the berries have a jammy consistency is to pre-bake the fruit filling. After about 15 minutes in the oven, the berries have started to soften, and that is the time to add the biscuit topping.
If you are using any of the fruit that I mention above that leads to a more liquid-y filling, you can bake that for a few extra minutes (try 20 minutes) before adding the buttermilk biscuit topping. A few extra minutes allows more of the liquid to cook off.
Shortcut Drop Biscuits with Melted (!) Butter
Surely I’m not alone in that homemade biscuits = a project. Traditional buttermilk biscuits have to be made just right for that great, light, tender texture. But the biscuits that top this Summer Berry Cobbler are NOT finicky biscuits. They have a secret.
They use a method I came across in a very old copy of Cooks Illustrated. Most traditional biscuit recipes have you keep the butter cold so that pieces stay intact until the biscuits are in the oven. In the shortcut version you melt the butter. Yes – melt it! Then whisk very cold buttermilk into the hot, melted butter. When the two combine, it causes the butter to seize up, creating the very same little clumps of butter.
Here is what the mixture looks like right after cold buttermilk is added to hot butter. It looks lumpy and curdled, but that’s exactly what you want. This method takes the guesswork out of the process of making drop biscuits.
P.S. I have a savory version of drop biscuits using this same method! I’ll share it later this summer.
Extra Thick Cobbler Topping
Want a serious dose of topping on your cobbler? Try doubling the biscuit recipe. When you double the biscuit topping of this cobbler, you get a crazy thick, tender layer on top. Just be sure to increase the baking time once the topping is added by about 5 minutes. The cobbler below is exactly what my kids want in a cobbler – “more cake”!
Leftover buttermilk? Try these recipes that use buttermilk.
- Crispy Baked Cornflake Chicken
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
- Banana Bread Bundt Cake with Chocolate
Simple Summer Berry Cobbler
- 9x9 Baking Dish
- Mixing Bowls
- 5 cups Berries (see note)
- 1/4 cup White Sugar
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Cornstarch
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Buttermilk Biscuit Topping:
- 1 1/4 cups (156 g) All-Purpose Flour
- 1/3 cup (66 g) White Sugar
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
- 5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Cold Buttermilk
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- Spray a 9x9 baking dish (see note) with nonstick cooking spray. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan (this will catch any berry filling that bubbles over during cooking).
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
Prepare Fruit Filling:
- Stir together fruit, sugar (portion for filling), cornstarch, and lemon juice. (If using frozen berries, do not defrost them first.) Spread out in baking dish.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes to start fruit cooking.
- While fruit filling bakes, combine flour, sugar (portion for topping), baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Melt butter in the microwave until hot (or melt it on the stove). While butter is still hot, stir in buttermilk and vanilla extract. (The mixture will look slightly curdled or separated which will help to keep the biscuits light; even if your mixture doesn't look curdled - don't worry - just proceed with the recipe as written.)
- Pour butter-buttermilk mixture over dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Do not overmix - stop stirring as soon as no dry spots remain.
- Spray a 1/4 cup measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray. Use the measuring cup to scoop out biscuit dough and drop it onto the top of the warm fruit filling (I like to make one biscuit per serving).
- Bake until filling is thick and bubbling and a tester inserted in the biscuits comes out clean, 28 to 32 minutes.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before serving (the filling will continue to thicken as it cools).
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