Do you cringe when you hear the words “You bring the fruit salad”? We can’t blame you if visions of rock-hard balls of honeydew, mushy brown bananas, and sour strawberries come to mind–there are a lot of bland, basic, and bad fruit salads out there. But it doesn’t have to be this way! We’ve rounded up 23 brilliant tips that will help you make a really good fruit salad:
Taste the rainbow.
We’re not talking about Skittles! Challenge yourself to include a fruit representing every shade on the color wheel, from ripe purple blackberries to tart green kiwi, luscious red strawberries to juicy peach slices. Using a wide variety of colors gives your fruit salad more “wow!”. But it also ensures that you’re serving up a rainbow of vitamins and minerals, since a fruit’s color indicates its nutrient profile; purple produce packs in a lot of vitamin K, while yellow and orange fruits bring the vitamin C.
Play with texture.
Same goes for your fruits’ “mouthfeel”. Your salad will be totally blah if you only use soft fruits, and give everyone a sore jaw if you only use crunchy ones. Mixing up the textures ensures that each ingredient stand outs, so that you can fully savor how the different flavors of the fruits play against each other. Some salad artists swear by layering fruit salads with the heavier fruits on the bottom and the lighter ones on top, so that the more delicate ones don’t get squished.
Don’t let your fruits brown!
You planned ahead and made your fruit salad the night before; we’ve love to applaud your time management skills, but now what was once a fruit rainbow looks more like a mud puddle! There are a couple tricks you can use to keep your fruit salad from browning. One is to toss the salad with a spritz of lemon or lime juice; the citric acid keeps the fruit fresh and also enhances the flavor. (If you’re a but of a sourpuss, orange or pineapple juice will work just as well and will even slightly sweeten your salad!) You can also prevent oxidation by covering the salad tightly with plastic wrap or keeping it in an airtight container, and storing your creation in the fridge.
No fuss, no mush.
Some fruits are especially prone to getting mushy in a fruit salad (and there’s really nothing that’ll ruin a brunch quicker than a mouth full of squashed fruit. Bananas, berries, watermelon, and kiwis are prime culprits, so wait until the very last minute before serving to add those if you can, and stir them in as gently as possible. Seriously, step away from the salad tongs!
To create fruit salad magic, keep these two rules in mind: even-sized pieces, equal representation. It might sound lofty, but it’s really simple. You know you’ve dug into a fruit salad and ended up with a spoonful of straight cantaloupe, when what you really wanted were those raspberries. Don’t do that to your guests! Cut your fruit up evenly and include equal amounts of each fruit so that everyone gets to try a little bit of everything.
Stay in season.
Do not bother with those pre-cut trays of fruit in the produce section of the supermarket–they’re almost always 50% underripe, overly crunchy, flavorless and colorless fruit. For a fruit salad that’s ripe with flavor, shop for what’s in season and if it’s not ripe, skip it. In summer load up on melons and berries, in winter go for juicy pears, persimmons, and grapefruit.
Learn how to properly cut fruit.
You don’t have to be a fruit ninja to learn a few knife skills. Struggling to clumsily cut up unwieldy fruits not only wastes a lot of time and fruit, it will put you off making fruit salads forever. Learning the proper way to cut watermelon, how to easily de-seed a pomegranate, and melon baller hacks will have you creating quick and easy fruit salads like a pro.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re pressed for time the extra step of skinning your fruit can seem like a hassle. Don’t skip it! Skinless fruit makes for a prettier presentation, and is also easier to eat. Plus, some fruits like peaches are known to slip out of their skins when the salad is tossed. While you’re at it, make sure your fruit salad is clear of any left-behind pits or stems, which will make for a seriously unpleasant bite.
Save time with an egg slicer.
Did you know that you can use an egg slicer for way more than boiled eggs? Put that egg slicer to work producing perfect slivers of strawberry, avocado, and kiwi and save yourself time and effort! Plus, remember tip #7 about cutting your fruit into evenly sized pieces? The egg slicer keeps everything uniform.
Keep it clean.
Raise your hand if you hate washing fruit! No one wants a fruit salad served with a side of pesticides. Keeping the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” lists in mind when you shop for produce can give you peace of mind, but you still shouldn’t skip giving your fruit a good shower before you start prepping your salad. Giving mold-prone fruit like berries a bath in a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water can also help keep them fresher longer.
Turn your fruit salad into a cube!
Normal fruit salads are so square… but this Rubik’s Cube made out of fresh fruit is a much cooler way to display healthy, delicious, and pleasingly geometric fruit!
Serve it in a watermelon.
You’re going to serve that beautiful fruit salad in a bowl? Snooze. Up your presentation by serving your fruit salad in a hollowed out pineapple, grapefruit cup, or watermelon. But not just any watermelon–make it look like a fruit-crazed shark, friendly frog, adorable teapot, or even a lil’ grill with fruit kebabs!
Throw in some veggies.
There’s fruit salad, and there’s salad salad–but why can’t they be mix and mingle? Invite veggies to your fruit salad party to amp up the nutrition. Pick vegetables that are on the sweet and mild side. Cherry tomatoes (OK, technically a fruit), avocado (you caught us, technically a berry), cucumber, radishes, celery, ribbons of carrot, and even sweet corn are all wonderfully unexpected in a fruit salad.
Don’t leave it naked.
Sure, fruit salad tastes amazing all by itself. But you can give yours a little extra zest with a gourmet dressing. Balsamic vinegar and black pepper enhance the flavor of berries, while a little salt makes melons explode with juiciness. Brown sugar or honey is beautiful on citrus, and anyone who’s spent time in Southeast Asia or Latin America knows that salt, chili, and lime amplify tropical fruits like mango and pineapple.
Garnish it with edible flowers.
You don’t have to have a green thumb to create an edible bouquet. Adorning your bowl with edible flowers like pansies, nasturtiums, and lavender will make it look like a fairy paid a visit to your fruit salad. This romantic touch from the Victoria era is in vogue once again.
Cheese and fruit go hand in hand–in fact, a plate of cheese paired with pears or apples is a classic European dessert. Goat cheese, mascarpone, fresh buffalo mozzarella, bleu cheese are all more than welcome in a fruit salad. And while you’re in the dairy aisle, pick up some greek yogurt, whipped cream, or buttermilk to top your fruit salad.
Sprinkle on some toppings.
Think sprinkles are just for ice cream sundaes? Then just consider your fruit salad a banana split! Unconventional toppings can take your fruit salad to the next level. Just a few ideas: herbs like mint, basil, cilantro, and rosemary for extra freshness; pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts for nutty crunch; chia, poppy, or flax seeds for nutrition; dried cranberries, raisins, dates, figs, or apricots for added sweetness. How about a few spoonfuls of granola or quinoa for protein? Or, if you want to really make your fruit salad taste like dessert, toss in some mini marshmallows or powdered sugar. Now we’re talking!
Make it adults-only.
Boozy fruit salads are going to be the next big brunch trend. Go ahead, spike your fruit salad with a splash of limoncello, amaretto liqueur, dark rum, or vanilla vodka. Hey, if you can have a Bloody Mary with brunch, you can pour a little of the hard stuff on your fruit salad.
Why does grilled fruit taste so good? Grilling carmelizes the sugars in the fruit and deepens the flavor. Watermelon, pineapple, mango, pears, and peaches are especially tasty when grilled–and those grill marks make your salad look that much more gourmet. So next time you’re bringing a fruit salad to a summer BBQ, throw some of that produce on next to the burgers!
Pick a theme.
One way to create a really striking fruit salad is to go with a theme. Some fun ideas are using only stone fruit (peaches, cherries, apricots, and plums), sticking with tropical flavors (papaya, coconut, pineapple, and mango), or making a monochrome salad with just one color fruit (we know this goes against rule #1, but an all-orange or all-red fruit salad can be really special). Red, white, and blue fruit salad is perfectly patriotic for the 4th of July, while a red and green combo is decked out for Christmas.
Dish out individual portions into glasses.
If you’re hosting a party, serve your fruit salad in style. Give each guest an individual portion dished into a pretty wine goblet or champagne flute. Layer the fruit parfait-style, and garnish each glass with a sprig of mint. Mason jars also make excellent vessels for fruit salad.
Use cookie cutters.
Take a cue from Japanese bento artists and use cookie cutters to make your fruit that much more fun. Hint for parents trying to convince a picky eater to try a new fruit: everyone wants to eat a star!
Better yet, put it on a cookie.TipHero
When all else fails, plop your fruit salad on top of a cookie. While our recipe for this pretty “watermelon” fruit cookie is not technically fruit salad, it’s got a whole cornucopia of fresh fruit cut into bite sized pieces and arranged on top of a delicious sugar cookie crust–and that’s good enough for us!