Make This Tonight: Summer Berry Crisp

Why? Because one of the country's best pastry chefs does. Here, Margarita Kallas Lee on the virtues of the humble fruit crisp, with a recipe for an effortless one that's guaranteed to satisfy. No bells and whistles required here—a scoop of vanilla ice cream will do the trick.

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Along with her husband, chef Phillip Frankland Lee, Margarita Kallas Lee runs two restaurants in Los Angeles: Scratch Bar & Kitchen and The Gadarene Swine. And with more restaurants on the way, the young chef doesn't have time for fussy desserts at home. (The white-chocolate rosewater cakes are better left for weekend service at the restaurant.)

Wine with your crisp? We don't see why not.
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But when Lee is in a pinch to turn out a showstopping dessert on a moment's notice, she finds herself coming back to the satisfying comforts of a seasonal crisp—one that lets the fresh summer fruit do all the work. "My grandparents from each side of my family were chefs," says Lee. "I grew up in Latvia and Ukraine, going to the forest with my grandfather to pick berries, fresh acacia, and flowers." Those early experiences taught her an important lesson she carries with her to this day: let your ingredients shine.

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Kallas Lee's recipe and development headquarters.

"Desserts are all about balance," says Lee. "You don't want to have an overly sweet dessert because that's going to be overwhelming. Taste as you go, adding a little bit of acid or a little bite of salt and go from there." While Lee's go-to summer crisp is loaded with sweet blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and blueberries, she fortifies the mixture with lemon and orange zest, which round out those flavors.

No matter your skill level in the kitchen, you can make Lee's summer fruit crisp—and you'll find yourself making it again and again.

Summer Crisp

Picture perfect.

Servings: 6


1½ cups blackberries

1½ cups raspberries

1½ cups cherries

1½ cups blueberries

¾ teaspoon lemon zest

¾ teaspoon orange zest

½ teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt


2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, scraped

¼ cup vegetable shortening

¼ cup coconut oil

How to Make It

Your hands are your best tools.

Combine fruit in bowl. Add orange and lemon zest, salt, sugar, and vanilla. Gently mix berries until sugar dissolves.

Who needs pie dough? We're all about the simple crumb topping.

In a different bowl, add flour, sugar, oil, shortening, salt, and vanilla beans. Use your hands to mix together until evenly distributed.

A little extra on top never hurt anyone.

Add fruit mixture to 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle flour mixture on top.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

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