Cooking with Fruit: Sweet & Savory

A common image that comes to mind when we think about cooking with fruit is that of rich pies, candies, and fruity cookies. But it's time to disprove that idea and discover how adaptable fruit really is! Despite what many people think, fruit isn't just for desserts. It may easily take center stage in savory recipes, including zesty sauces and cool salads before they play their role in those decadent desserts we all know and love. Together, we will explore how using fruit in your cooking may enhance flavor and provide vital nutrients. Join us on this culinary journey. Put on your apron and join me as we explore the world of fruit-based cuisine, both sweet and savory!

Why Use Fruit?

Before we jump into the recipes, let's spill the beans on why your kitchen needs a generous dose of nature's candy:

Natural Sweetness: Forget refined sugars; fruit brings its own sweet game to the table. Whether you're whipping up a dessert or a savory sauce, fruit enhances flavors without hijacking your taste buds.

Vitamins and Minerals: Fruits are the rockstars of vitamins (cue the vitamin C solo) and essential minerals like potassium. Tossing them into your meals is like giving your nutrition a VIP pass.

Texture and Color: Fruit isn't just a taste sensation; it's a visual feast. Picture a salad with juicy orange segments or a stir-fry rocking vibrant bell peppers (yes those, like tomatoes are fruits, not vegetables!). And let's not forget the texture dance – the fruit can be crunchy, juicy, or tender, giving your plate the variety it craves. 


Best Fruit to Use

The type of fruit you use in any given dish depends largely on three things –  the other ingredients in the dish, where the recipe originates from, and what fruit you have available. It’s best to use nice, plump, fresh fruit when available and possible but canned or frozen fruit can work as well. Some fruits work incredibly well in a diverse range of dishes.



Some call the mango, the “king of fruits”. These luscious, sweet-tasting beauties are beautifully yellow. Depending on the ripeness the texture can be hard like an apple or soft like a peach. The more ripe the mango, the sweeter the flavor. Mangoes can be sliced into salads like Thai Som Tum which is complemented by chili, peanuts, and fish sauce. Mango is great for smoothies, salsas, or chutneys which can take the sting out of even the hottest spices found in Indian curries, or even grilled to add a juicy accomplice to barbecue meats. Mango is a vibrant and exotic-tasting fruit which you can have a lot of fun experimenting with.



Peaches are known for lending their flavor to amazing desserts but they can also be savory! Great for grilling, or baking into pies or cobblers, they provide a delectable sweetness to both sweet and savory dishes. While their natural succulence makes them a perfect addition to desserts, they can balance the heat and spice found in the salsas or other savory dishes. You can have them with grilled chicken breast on skewers or grilled and added to Mediterranean-style prosciutto salad.


Like peaches, apples are usually seen as the basis for desserts like pies or French galettes, but their versatility lends their ability to be used for both sweet and savory recipes. Apple sauce can complement a nice roast ham or latkes, while apple also pairs well with creamy cheese like brie. The humble Granny Smith or Gala apple can do wonders for brightening up a savory dish with their crunchy texture and tart flavor.



Named after the color, this yellow-red ball of delight is another big player in the fruit bowl game, the zesty and refreshing orange can inject a burst of citrusy goodness to brighten up any dish. Whether juiced for marinades or glazes for salmon, providing extra tang in the French Duck á l’Orange, or playing a big part in Chinese-American chicken dishes, oranges are renowned for their high vitamin C content and subtle sweetness. Segment them in salads, or grate their peel over desserts, you can find dishes from all over the world that make the most of this delightful fruit.



Often the quintessential summer fruit, vibrant strawberries, succulent blueberries, and rich raspberries, berries are a treasure trove of antioxidants and natural sweetness. Each berry has its strength and weakness depending on its sweetness and tanginess, but can go in everything from your favorite smooth, summer salads, barbecue sauces for meats, or balsamic glazes for poultry



Sweet and slightly tart, apricots can be roasted with honey and thyme or paired with goat cheese for great appetizers. They’re phenomenal in North African couscous salads, or alongside other superfoods like quinoa in pilafs. You can add them to jams, or enjoy them fresh – apricots lend a subtle, fruity elegance to your creations.


Arguably the sweetest of all fruits, the pineapple always adds a tropical twist to dishes. Grilled alongside barbecue or roasted meats, or in Cantonese sweet and sour rice dishes, they can certainly bring a sunny disposition to your culinary endeavors. You can also risk putting them on pizza if so inclined!


Beyond just oranges, the citrus family includes lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Each of these fruits can offer a spectrum of flavors. Limes are often a staple of Mexican or Tex-Mex cooking, while French and Italian cuisine uses the humble lemon for elegant dishes and desserts. Use them for marinades, tangy dressings, or refreshing beverages, enhancing your recipes with a citrusy zing.  Next time you have a nice bowl of soup, see what a little bit of lemon juice can do for the taste. 

Pro Tip: Dish too salty? Try topping with some fresh lemon juice to cut the saltiness. The acidity of the lemon helps to create balance. 



Pears while common are often underrated.  They bring a subtle elegance to both sweet and savory dishes so that the end outcome is anything but pear-shaped. Poach them for desserts, slice them into salads, or enjoy them alongside cheeses and melon for a sophisticated flavor profile.



Similar to peaches but with smoother skin, nectarines offer a juicy and sweet experience. Enjoy them fresh, grill them for a caramelized touch, or incorporate them into desserts for a delightful twist. Nectarines like Independence and Red Gold pair well with the saltiness of feta cheese in stuffed chicken thigh dishes. If you are one of those previously mentioned bold culinary outlaws, who have their pineapple pizzas, you might like to try nectarine and arugula on your deep pans.


Stone Fruits

Encompassing a variety of fruits with a single pit, such as cherries, plums, and prunes, stone fruits contribute a rich and juicy essence to any dish. Ranging from tart and sour to sweet, they can enhance pasta dishes, make for saucy compotes, or, in the case of dates, fit well with Middle Eastern and African meals. 


Bananas and Plantains

While similar in appearance, bananas and plantains are quite different in their taste, texture, and the role they play in meals. Bananas tend to be sweet and soft whilst plantains almost always have to be fried, mashed, and turned into soups and stews before consumed. Ripeness is an important factor to consider when using both berries as the ripeness will determine flavor and cooking time.

Breakfast: Start Your Day With Fruit

Breakfast is often the most significant meal of the day for many people. Whether you choose to eat fresh pancakes, a bowl of cereal, muesli, porridge, or something else entirely, gaining that energy boost will help you start the day on the right foot with energy. For sweetness and much-needed nutrients, it makes sense to add fresh or even dried fruit. You can enjoy adding a mixture of fresh raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries to your morning routine.  For an energy boost and a dose of vital nutrients to get you through the day, top your pancakes with a mix of fresh fruit. A generous portion of Greek yogurt topped with a few berries is a great option if you're not a huge breakfast eater and just want something light.  Wash it all down with freshly squeezed, pulpy orange juice!

Mains and More: Incorporating Fruit Into Savory Dishes

As we’ve noted before, fruit isn't limited to desserts; it can also shine in savory dishes. So many salads stand to benefit from fruit. Even tomatoes are fruit! If you’re not a big cook or are just beginning on your journey of experimenting with fruit, try creating a watermelon salad salad with red onion, plum, and cherries. More experienced cooks or those excited to experiment can even try marinating fruits to make interesting dishes like Watermelon Sushi. The surprising combination of flavors will elevate your regular meals to a whole new level.​​​​​​​ Try our Strawberry Balsamic & Burrata Toast with Arugula Salad.



Sauces and Marinades: Using Fruit as a Punch of Flavor

Sauces and marinades don't just have to be savory, they can also be sweet. Almost every fruit has a place in a sauce or a marinade somewhere. Using fruit like blackberries for BBQ glazes, like our Oven-Baked Blackberry-Bourbon Glazed Ribs brings a fresh twist to a classic recipe. We recommend experimenting with fruit to add new depth to your dishes, whether using orange juice for our One Pan Mandarin Chicken with Ginger or pineapple juice for our Hawaiian-Inspired Grilled Mahi Mahi, fruit is sure to brighten up and bring flavor to your dish!


​​​​​​​Sweets and Desserts: Adding Fruit for Dimension and Texture

Desserts are possibly the easiest place to get those fruits in. If you’re a parent who wants to see their child get their vitamins in, you can do it through fruit salads, or ice cream sundaes, or you can experiment with pie or cobbler fillings, combining the tanginess of rhubarb with the freshness of sweet peaches. The list of deserts involving fruit could fill a book (and frequently does!) - apple and cinnamon pies, rhubarb, and caramel tart, even blue cheese and honey crostini with sliced nectarines or plums go down a treat. Even a slice of freshly baked peach cobbler with a dollop of vanilla ice cream will do! 

So there you have it! Cooking with fruit opens up a world of possibilities, transforming your meals into culinary adventures. Whether you're aiming for sweet or savory, the addition of fruits like mangoes, berries, and citrus can elevate your dishes to new heights. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your favorite fruits, and embark on a flavorful journey in your kitchen. Happy cooking!

Grab your oranges and try our One Pan Mandarin Chicken with Ginger recipe!