North Carolina Sonker Is the Dessert Recipe You Haven’t Tried Yet

Love blueberry pie but don't want to fuss over a complicated crust? This step-by-step blueberry sonker recipe will be your new go-to summer dessert!

Sonker is North Carolina’s most popular dessert that most people have never even heard of, let alone baked at home. It was invented to feed a hungry crowd, and a wide variety of sonker recipes are handed down from generation to generation in Surry County, North Carolina. The bakeries, diners and home cooks there use the best fruit from each season to bake sonkers throughout the year.

To taste the real deal, stop at several local spots on the Surry Sonker Trail and experience the many flavors of the Carolina sonker for yourself. No road trip in your future? Make this blueberry sonker recipe at home and you’re an hour away from blueberry heaven!

What Is Sonker?

Unlike fruit cobblers that have batter spooned in dollops over the filling, sonker recipes have a thick pancake-like batter poured over a hot, baked fruit base.

The heat from the fruit filling cooks the topping from below while the oven provides a gorgeous golden brown crunch on the top. The final result is a cross between a cake and a biscuit. Rumor has it that the name “sonker” comes from a Scottish word that means “saddle” and refers to how the smooth topping sits like a saddle over the baked fruit filling below.

Bakers from Surry County originally turned to these deep-dish fruit desserts to feed hungry farmhands because they were less fussy to make than pies and could be scaled up to serve a crowd. You can find sonker recipes made with apples, peaches, cherries and even sweet potatoes coming out of Southern ovens all year!

Learn more about the difference between cobblers, crisps, and crumbles.

North Carolina Sonker Recipe

This blueberry sonker recipe is inspired by the best sonkers on the Surry Sonker Trail. It makes 6 generous portions and is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry sonker dessert ingredientsTiffany Dahle for Taste of Home

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 6 cups (3 pints) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

For the topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the filling

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, add the blueberries, sugar and salt. Give the berries a gentle stir to combine them evenly. If using frozen berries, there is no need to thaw them first, unless they’re all stuck together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch with a fork. Pour the mixture into the bowl of blueberries and gently toss to coat.

Step 2: Bake the filling

Pour the blueberry filling into a deep 8-inch square baking dish. Place the dish on a baking sheet lined with parchment to prevent the bubbling filling from creating a sticky oven spill.

Bake for 15 minutes for fresh berries and 30 minutes for frozen berries. Use a spatula to stir the filling, making sure to scrape the bottom of the dish. The cornstarch will begin to cling and you’ll want to combine it with the blueberries at the top of the mixture.

Smooth the filling back out into an even layer and bake for an additional 15 minutes for fresh berries and an additional 30 minutes for frozen berries. The filling should be hot and bubbling.

Step 3: Prepare the topping

While the blueberry filling is in the oven, prepare the sonker topping.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Add the milk, melted butter and vanilla and whisk together until smooth. The mixture will look like thick pancake batter.

Step 4: Assemble the sonker

Blueberry sonker dessert instructionsTiffany Dahle for Taste of Home

When the blueberry filling has finished its first bake, the fruit mixture should be hot and thick. Pour the sonker topping over the filling, starting at one corner and moving evenly over the surface. The batter will settle into place; there shouldn’t be any need to smooth it with your spatula. Be sure to scrape all the batter out of the bowl onto the filling.

Step 5: Bake for the last time

Blueberry sonker dessertTiffany Dahle for Taste of Home

Bake the blueberry sonker for an additional 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when pricked in the center of the topping. You may wish to rotate the pan in the oven halfway through baking so that the top is evenly browned.

The sonker is best the day it’s baked. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Blueberry Sonker Recipe Variations

Want to take your sonker up another notch? Try one of these fun variations.

  • Add a dash of almond extract to the fruit filling before you bake it.
  • Sprinkle in a few blackberries and raspberries for a triple berry sonker.
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar over the batter before baking for a sparkling crust.
  • Serve with peach-flavored ice cream for an extra fruity treat.
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Tiffany Dahle
Tiffany Dahle is the founder of Peanut Blossom, an online community for busy moms who want real-world, family-tested, kid-friendly food. She provides ongoing creative inspiration, helping parents celebrate the everyday moments that become cherished childhood memories. Her popular series of cookbooks for kids, The Ultimate Kids' Cookbook and The Ultimate Kids' Baking Book, encourages families to connect in the kitchen.