Full of fall flavors, this Apple Cranberry Cobbler recipe is a delicious and easy dessert to pull together for your seasonal festivities. Infused with vanilla, star anise, and optional bourbon, this apple cranberry dessert is luscious shared with vanilla ice cream. This recipe is vegetarian and egg free.
This recipe was first published November 2014 and was updated November 2022.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love this Apple Cranberry Cobbler
When the temperatures dip, it’s time for all things comfort like Bourbon Pecan Pie, Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili, a crackling fire, London Fog Tea, and your favorite cozy sweater. There’s another comfort to add to your list; Apple Cranberry Cobbler.
This is the time of year when apple cranberry recipes start making a showing. And it’s no wonder. Cranberries and apples are seasonal superstars that complement each other. Here’s why you’ll love this cranberry apple dessert recipe:
- Easy to Make – a simple biscuity topping crowns spiced and lightly sweetened diced apples and fresh cranberries.
- Bourbon or Not – bourbon and apples are perfect partners! However, bourbon can be omitted in favor of apple juice or apple cider with delicious results.
- Versatile – this apple cranberry dessert can be made in an 8 x 8 inch baker or single serve ramekins.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Cranberries – you can use fresh or frozen in this recipe. Just make sure they’re plump and not wrinkly.
- Apples – use your favorite… I like Gala, Granny Smith, Jonagold or Liberty. Farmer’s market apples are perfect for this cobbler too! Use a mix for best flavor.
- Bourbon or Apple Cider/Juice – you can use a mix of the two or use all of one or the other, depending on preference.
- Star Anise – this is an optional ingredient, but one I recommend. If you just need the two called for in this recipe, look in the bulk spice section. You can also use star anise extract if you have that on hand (about 3/4 tsp). The flavor isn’t loud in this dessert, rather, it just adds something extra that’s so nice.
- Brown Sugar – you can use light or dark. I love the molasses flavor of dark. It plays well with bourbon and apples.
- Ground Cinnamon – a hint to liven up the apples and offer a bit of warmth.
- Lemon – you’ll use fresh lemon juice in zest in the apple cranberry mixture, just enough to brighten the fruit.
- Unsalted Butter – adds richness and flavor to the apple and cranberry mixture.
- All Purpose Flour – to create a light and tender dough.
- Cane Sugar – for the topping, granulated sugar sweetens the dough and makes top texture crisp.
- Heavy Whip Cream – instead of butter, we’re mixing flour and sugar with cream. This creates a tender and light texture for the topping.
Quick Guide: How to Make Apple and Cranberry Cobbler
Baked apples and cranberries are such a delight to share and enjoy! Choose your baking vessel(s), either an 8 inch x 8 inch baker or four ramekins, depending on preferred presentation. In summary, here’s how to make it (see recipe card for details):
- First, macerate the cranberries in bourbon or cider/juice (or a mixture of bourbon and cider), brown sugar, anise and vanilla. These can set for up to 8 hours in the fridge.
- Second, peel, then dice the apples into bite size pieces. Add the brown sugar, lemon zest and juice with a pinch of salt.
- Third, butter your baking dish(s).
- Fourth, mix the apple cranberry filling, by combining the diced apple mixture, lemon, sugar and cinnamon with the cranberries and macerating juices. Transfer to a prepared baking dish.
- Next, make the cobbler dough by mixing the flour, baking powder, and granulated sugar with heavy cream. Spread the dough mixture over fruit mixture.
- Last, bake!
If the cobbler starts getting a little too dark, place a piece of foil loosely over the top. Once the fruit is bubbly, the topping is puffy, golden brown and crisp and a toothpick comes out clean, it’s ready.
Cobbler, Crisp, Pandowdy, Grunt or Slump?
I adapted this cranberry apple cobbler recipe from a grunt recipe, yet after doing a bit of research on what a grunt is, I changed the title from grunt to cobbler. A grunt is in the same group as crisps, pandowdys, cobblers, brown betties, slumps and buckles. But…
While all of these desserts focus on seasonal fruit, the main difference is the crust or topping; from the ingredients to how the dessert is assembled and/or baked. I realized, what I created here was a cobbler, not a grunt (splitting hairs?).
A cobbler is a comforting baked mix of seasonal fruit with a biscuity dough topping. This dough is creamy and tender, not flaky, with a hint of crunch on the surface. I find it imperative to have a tender, creamy bit of dough with every mouthwatering bite of sweet apples, tart cranberries and caramelized buttery syrup. So, there’s plenty of dough to go around!
Apple Cranberry Cobbler FAQ’s
Why Macerate Fruit?
Macerating is similar to marinating, but instead of soaking meat or poultry, you’re soaking fruit. Fresh and dried fruit will soak up macerating liquid which causes fruit to soften. Since we’re adding brown sugar to the macerating cranberries, the sugar will draw moisture and flavor out, also creating a bit of a syrup. For this recipe, we’re macerating cranberries for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
Can I Bake the Cobbler in Ramekins?
You can! Use four, 10 oz ramekins. You’ll bake at a higher temperature and for a shorter amount of time, then when baking in a baker.
Do I Need to Peel the Apples?
This is up to you. I prefer to peel the apples for a smoother texture. However the skins can be left on if you like.
Can You Freeze Apple Cobbler?
Although I prefer this recipe fresh, Apple Cranberry Cobbler freezes well. Simply allow the cobbler to cool completely, then transfer it to a lidded container. Freeze for up to two weeks. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
A Few Recipe Tips
- Get Ahead: The cranberries can be macerated up to eight hours ahead of when you’ll make the recipe.
- What to Serve Cobbler With: High quality vanilla bean ice cream pairs deliciously with this recipe! Or, if you prefer, you can whip up some whipping cream to dollop.
- Save Time for a Rest: After baking, this cranberry apple cobbler needs to rest for about 15 minutes so that the fruit juices have time to thicken. This will give the cobbler some time to cool a bit too.
- Kitchen Tools: I recommend an oven thermometer and weighing your ingredients using a digital kitchen scale for best outcome.
Apple Cranberry Cobbler Recipe
- 1 cup ( 90 grams) Cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1/3 cup (70 grams) Apple Cider or Bourbon or a mix of both* unsweetened apple juice may be used (see note)
- Two Star Anise
- 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar light or dark
- 1/2 Vanilla Bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
Macerate the Cranberries:
- Place the cranberries in a large mixing bowl with the bourbon and/or apple cider, star anise and brown sugar. Scrape out the vanilla bean and put the beans and pod in the cranberry mixture. Stir, cover and set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight for at least 8 hours.
Prep the Baking Vessel(s):
- Take 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and spread it on the bottom and sides of four, 10 oz (283g) ramekins OR an 8×8 inch (20x20cm) baking dish. If baking in ramekins, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat, set aside.
- Preheat Oven: Arrange oven rack in the center of the oven. If baking in ramekins, preheat to 400 fahrenheit (204 celsius). For an 8×8 inch baking dish, preheat to 350 fahrenheit (180 celsius).
Prep The Apples and Filling:
- Remove the vanilla pod and anise from the cranberry mixture (TIP: rinse and dry the vanilla pod overnight, then add it to your sugar container for vanilla sugar). Peel, core and dice the apples into about 1/2 inch (12mm) pieces. Transfer the diced apples to the bowl with the cranberries.To the apples/cranberry bowl add the lemon zest, juice, brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Gently stir the mixture well coating all the apple pieces with the liquid. Set aside.
Make The Dough:
- In a medium mixing bowl whisk the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Add the heavy whip cream and stir gently just to incorporate the ingredients until no dry patches remain. Do not over work the tender dough. It will be a shaggy mess, very moist and sticky.
- Place the apple mixture into the baking vessel(s), dividing fruit equally among the ramekins OR spreading into an even layer in the baker (be sure to pour all the juice in too!). Cut the remaining butter into small cubes and dot evenly on top of the fruit.
- 8×8 Baker: Dollop and spread the dough over the fruit mixture – the dough doesn't need to completely cover the fruit. Ramekins: Dollop the dough equally over the fruit in the ramekins. Pack it down if needed. The ramekins will be full, but the fruit mixture will break down as it bakes.
- Sprinkle the top of dough with raw or turbinado sugar if using.
- 8×8 Baker: Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350F. Start watching the crust at about 30 minutes. Ramekins: Set the ramekins on the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400F. Start watching the crust at about 18 minutes. You want a golden brown crust. If it starts getting too dark, place a piece of foil loosely over the top. The cobbler is done when a tooth pick inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean and the edges are bubbly.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before serving. This allows the fruit juices to thicken further. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
- Cool completely, then store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Rewarm, covered, at 350F in the oven for about 15 minutes.