Colorful and sweet, this simple fruit salad recipe is always a showstopper for gatherings. Whether you’re sitting down for brunch with friends or enjoying a holiday meal with family, a big bowl of fruit salad is sure to please everyone.
No gathering at my house is complete without a big, colorful bowl of fruit salad.
It’s a dish my mom always made for holiday meals, and it’s a tradition I’ve continued with my own family.
If stored properly, you can even use the leftovers in your little ones’ lunch the next day!
Fruit salad may seem like a silly thing to use a recipe for. It seems so easy, but trust me: A lot can go wrong.
A lot can go wrong if you buy it at the store, too. It seems like an easy shortcut, but in reality all that yummy fruit is often soaked in preservatives to keep it looking fresh.
That’s where my simple fruit salad recipe comes in: I am going to help you take the guesswork out of this deceiving dish and make it EASY for you to whip up in a cinch.
In this article, I’m going to cover:
- what fruits to use and how to cut them — I have some winning combos for you to try.
- how to keep the fruit fresh before serving it, because no one likes a brown, wilted fruit!
- the best dressings for fruit salad — yes, dressings! I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you elevate a plain jane fruit salad.
- how to how to store your fruit salad, in case you have leftovers to enjoy the next day!
The best fruits for fruit salad
The best fruits for fruit salad are, well, any fruit you can get your hands on!
Seriously, I can’t think of any fruits I wouldn’t put in a fruit salad. That’s kind of the point! It’s a menagerie of sweet, colorful goodness.
So what does a fruit salad contain?
Here are the fruits I always add to my fruit salad:
- Pineapple, diced into chunks
- Strawberries, sliced
- Kiwi, halved and sliced
- Red and/or green seedless grapes, whole or halved
- Blueberries, whole
- Red and/or green apples, diced
- Oranges, sliced
Depending on what I have on hand and what’s in season, I might also include:
- Bananas, sliced
- Pears, diced
- Raspberries, whole
- Cherries, pitted and halved
- Blackberries, whole
- Grapefruit, sliced
- Blood orange, sliced
- Clementines or tangerines, broken into their wedges
- Watermelon, diced into cubes
- Cantaloupe, diced into cubes
- Honeydew melon, diced into cubes
- Pomegranate arils
You will also need to pick up lemons or lemon juice to keep everything fresh. (Limes work too!)
One thing I want to note: As I shared in my housewarming party tips, you will want to make sure you are considering any allergies for your guests.
For example, I have a friend with a pineapple allergy, so I’d want to make sure to nix that from my shopping list if she’s coming to brunch.
Toppings for fruit salad
There are a number of additional toppings you can add to your bowl of simple fruit salad. You can either mix them in or sprinkle them on top.
- Mini marshmallows
- Dates, chopped
- Dried fruits, such as raisins or cranberries
- Nuts and seeds, such walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds
- Snickers candies (My husband loves it when I add Snickers to our Christmas fruit salad!)
- Shredded, unsweetened coconut
- Fresh herbs like mint
How to make simple fruit salad
First, you need to determine how much fruit salad to make.
A good rule of thumb is 1 serving of fruit per person. Most people will only serve themselves a scoop the size of their fist, which is about 1 cup.
Next, wash and dry your fruits. I use a colander, then I dry the fruit with paper towels. I recommend an over-the-sink colander, and if I have extra time, I will let the fruit drip dry in there.
Then, get out a sharp paring knife and your cutting board. I like these knives from Wüsthof — the shears are handy for adding herbs. Get to slicing and dicing!
The next part depends on if you are serving your fruit salad right away or if you’re prepping for an event later.
Ideally, you will refrigerate it for 30 minutes before serving. Optional but I recommend it! That extra rest time helps the sweet fruit juices to come out and make your fruit salad even better.
If you are serving it right away, you are free to add all your fruit to a serving bowl, stir it all together and serve.
But if you’re making it in advance, you will want to take some precautionary measures to keep the fruit fresh.
Can I prepare the salad ahead of time?
Yes, you can! The best way to do this is to douse your fruits in lemon juice, especially if you are adding apples to this simple fruit salad.
(Lemon juice is one of my favorite kitchen tricks — it even helps preserve apples while you are preparing an apple pie!)
Lime juice will also work, as will orange juice if you’re in a pinch! The acidity of citrus is what you need to combat the browning.
One other tip for preparing your fruit salad: Don’t chop your bananas ahead of time or they will brown! I have made this mistake before and it’s no bueno.
If you are using a dressing, you will want to wait until just before you’re ready to serve to add it.
Can I use frozen fruit?
Unfortunately, this is one time I don’t recommend using frozen fruit.
Frozen fruit loses its shape when thawed, and just never quite returns to its pre-frozen state. You’re going to want to stick to fresh fruit — trust me.
Dressing for fruit salad
Adding a dressing to your simple fruit salad is an extra step, but it’s well worth it in my opinion.
There are a number of kinds of fruit salad dressing you can add:
Orange juice — This is the key to my orange juice fruit salad. It’s sweet and not too acidic, which makes it a perfect dressing.
Cool whip or whipped cream — Though fruit salad with Cool whip is wonderful in a pinch, I prefer to make homemade whipped cream. It’s pivotal to my whipped cream fruit salad. The fluffy, creamy goodness is a perfect match for the sweet and tangy fruits!
Lime juice + honey — Mix together equal parts of lime juice and honey until the honey is dissolved and the mixture is liquid. Then pour all over your fruit salad and stir it up.
How to store fruit salad
If you are waiting to serve your fruit salad, you can make it ahead of time and store it in an airtight container. I love these mixing bowls with lids because it saves me on dishes.
However, I wouldn’t prepare my fruit salad more than one day in advance so that it stays super fresh. I prefer to make it the morning of my event.
As I mentioned before, if your fruit salad has apples, make sure to spritz with lemon juice. And if you plan to include bananas, cut them up right before serving.
Ideally, you should eat it within 2 hours of serving it. If you leave it out for too long, the fruit can go bad. Always put leftovers in the fridge as soon as everyone is done serving themselves.
If your fruit salad ever has an off odor or taste, or if it develops mold, please throw it out right away!
How to serve fruit salad
What is fruit salad good for? So many things!
Fruit salad is wonderful for brunch or lunch, too. I used to send it in my son’s lunchbox when he was going to preschool in person.
And hey, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it at dinner too! For dessert, serve it in a martini glass to make it feel extra fancy.
I also love to make it in a big batch for parties and showers. I once made a big batch for a fall baby shower with a focus on fall fruits like apples, figs and oranges plus 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. It was such a hit!
Let me know what you’d add (or not) to your fruit salad! Drop me a line in the comments below.
- 2 apples, peeled and chopped
- 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced (learn how to peel a kiwi here!)
- 1 quart strawberries, sliced
- 1 pint blueberries
- 2-3 clementines, peeled and slices separated
- 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved if desired
- ¼ cup lemon juice, or ½ a fresh lemon
- Dressing, such as orange juice, whipped cream, or poppyseed dressing (optional)
- Wash and dry all fruit.
- Add all fruit to serving dish.
- Pour lemon juice over fruit and toss. (If using a fresh lemon, squeeze as much juice as you can over the fruit.)
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes until serving. (Optional but recommended!)
- If adding dressing, add it just before serving and toss.
- Store in an airtight container for up to one day.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 207Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 103mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 7gSugar: 31gProtein: 3g