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Backyard Barbecue: Dutch Oven Apricot-Blackberry Crisp

Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or camping for the week, this sweet-tart oatmeal crisp made in a Dutch oven is sure to please.

August 1, 2017

One of my friends and former coworkers is a pit master: she competes in and wins barbecue competitions all over the world. She loves to play, sleep and she especially loves to cook outdoors. Her meals win the hearts and palates of family and professional judges alike. She also loves sharing her knowledge and — more importantly — her tools to help others get into nature and fire up the, well, the fire.

My boys love to go camping: playing outside all day, running wild in the forest, sleeping out under the stars. Of course, this all happens in our backyard. They are creatures of comfort, which is fine by us, because while they are snuggled in sleeping bags on the back deck, we can sleep in our own bed and use indoor plumbing. It’s a mash-up of “glamping” (glamour-camping) and “staycation” (stay-at-home-vacation) around here. But it works.

Because our camping experience is relatively comfortable, I was looking to branch out of my own comfort zone of cooking outdoors. The grill is a stand-by favorite around here, so I asked my friend for the next step in my outdoor culinary adventures. Soon, I was loading a cast iron Dutch oven and a bag of charcoal briquettes into the back of my station wagon.

Now, this isn’t your super-fancy, beautifully-colored, enamel-coated Dutch oven that you picked up at the gourmet cook shop. This is the covered in ash and soot, never-seen-the-inside-of-a-house, thinking-about-covered-wagons Dutch oven. And, honestly, I was at a loss.

So, I did a little research, mustered up some courage and ventured outside with a chimney full of coal, a lighter and my oven, .

It turns out that Dutch ovens are super easy, and fun, to use. They cook up dishes just like you would using the stovetop or regular oven indoors. Except, you can take it with you while playing outside — whether it’s for a backyard barbecue, a daylong fishing expedition or a weeklong camping trip.

I decided to try my hand at dessert — something summery and easy. An oatmeal-topped fruit crisp is one of our favorite dishes for breakfast or dessert and super easy to prepare with whatever is on hand. I mixed a few apricots and blackberries in a pie pan, sprinkled the whole thing with an oatmeal-butter crisp topping and let it cook in the Dutch oven.

Lo and behold, about 40 minutes later, out came a perfectly bubbly and golden fruit crisp. Eaten for dessert, with a spoon of vanilla ice cream or for breakfast the next morning topped with milk, this apricot-blackberry crisp is a clear success.

Of course, if you’re not headed outdoors, or don’t own a rugged Dutch oven, this dessert-meets-breakfast treat can be cooked right in a pie-pan in the oven, the old-fashioned and indoors way. And, it’s just as delicious.

Dutch Oven Apricot and Blackberry Crisp

Serves six to eight people. 


  • 1 pound ripe apricots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces blackberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


Prepare charcoal briquettes. Place three small rocks or other heat-proof items in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Alternatively, preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine apricots, blackberries, 1/4 cup brown sugar, lemon juice, and 4 teaspoons flour in a 9-inch shallow round pie pan.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining one-fourth cup brown sugar, remaining one-half cup flour, oats, almonds, and salt. Rub in butter with your fingertips to form coarse crumbs. Sprinkle oat mixture over the fruit.

Place the pie pan in the Dutch oven and put on the lid. Place nine briquettes under the Dutch oven and 18 briquettes on top, in a checkerboard fashion. Cook until crisp is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling, about 45 to 55 minutes. Rotate the Dutch oven halfway through baking, and replenish the coals as needed. Or, bake in an indoor oven until the topping is golden-brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


Jackie Freeman

Recipe developer, food stylist and culinary tinkerer, Jackie Freeman has worked in the culinary field for over 20 years as a private chef, cheesemaker, culinary instructor, recipe editor and a radio and video personality.

More stories by Jackie Freeman

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Jackie, as a veteran of many a backyard camping expedition with the kids, I can tell you the campfire and dutch oven immediately bring the ambiance of the rugged outdoorsman (or woman) alive. It kind of puts the stamp of verissimilitude on the otherwise bland narative . . . of the backyard. Lots of fun and lots of memories. Thanks for reminding me.Your desert was a great choice for the dutch oven. One pot, toss on the lid and fire it up. Then spoon it into bowls while we sat around the fire. All you could hear were the moans of pleasure coming from the darkness. I'm smiling just thinking about it now.We have written several articles on the topic of getting the most out of your backyard. Our most recent is a review on trampolines. You can see that review here =>