Whiskey and pear cobbler is like a warm night in Nashville

Hattie B’s may be famous for their fried chicken, but it’s their cobbler I can’t forget

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published October 30, 2022 4:30PM (EDT)

Whiskey Pear Cobbler (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Whiskey Pear Cobbler (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

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Someday, I will be in Nashville long enough to eat and drink everything I want to eat and drink there. This had not been that day. The bakery the locals love, its name solemnly and secretively whispered to me by a friend, had been closed. The little meat-and-three on the edge of town was just out of my schedule's reach. I tried my best, though, to let my stomach be my guide during my recent surgical strike to Music City. I let myself be a tourist and was rewarded with a stellar breakfast at Biscuit Love. I had a startlingly delicious spicy kebab for lunch. And I ate my heart out at Hattie B's, before a transcendent evening of beautiful music and local beer at the Ryman.

I would die happy if my last meal on earth was from Hattie B's. The last time I was in Nashville, I beelined there directly from the airport, leaving a colleague to wonder why I hadn't yet checked in at my hotel. Priorities, that's why. They make fried chicken as the good Lord intended it to be — juicy, crunchy, spicy and perfectly burnished. They make silky southern greens and pimento mac and cheese that you will consume, joyfully, perched on a stool while listening to the O'Jays. And the peach cobbler. Oh, the cobbler.

I love all things cobbler, crumble, crisp and betty. I love any excuse to not roll out pie dough. I love the generous proportion of crust to filling. And maybe it was because I hadn't had any dessert the night before, but that cobbler at Hattie B's this time around made me emotional, it was just that stirringly, soulfully good. I came home and realized I need more cobbler in my life, starting immediately.

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I live in the chilly north, so it's just not the right time to be thinking of Hattie B style peaches. And while cobblers are by nature a pretty easy baking lift already, I figure, why not make things even easier with canned fruit and a cake mix that does practically all the work?

This is one of those absolutely magical recipes, like Sicilian love cake, that you put in the oven thinking, "No way this is going to be okay," and then you're inhaling an hour later. Trust me, it works. Bubbling with soft pears and fragrant with cinnamon, this is a cobbler that might make you a little weepy too. And because the only way to make something this easy even better is, naturally, to throw some alcohol into the mix, I've also spiked this with a generous glug of Jack Daniels. And when you can't get to Tennessee, what better way to stir up a little taste of it than with something warm and sweet, smooth and easy?

* * *

Inspired by The Spruce Eats and Epicurious

Whiskey Pear Cobbler
 8 - 12 servings
Prep Time
 10 minutes
Cook Time
 45 minutes


  • 1 29-ounce can of pear halves (or sliced pears)
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 4 tablespoons of Jack Daniels or your own favorite whiskey 
  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Optional: Whipped cream or ice cream, for topping



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To a 9 x13-inch pan or baking dish, add the pears, with their syrup. Add the whiskey.
  3. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the pears to cover. You may not need the whole box.
  4. Evenly pour the butter over the mixture. Don't worry if some spots are dry; just do your best. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
  5. Bake for roughly 45 minutes, until the cobbler is bubbling and just golden on top. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Cook's Notes

You just know you want the leftovers for breakfast.

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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