~ A beautifully layered Christmas Fruit Salad with festive stripes! This features holiday favorites like pomegranates, dried cranberries and pistachios, along with apples and grapes, plus a luscious dressing and crunchy topping. So much more special than typical fruit salad recipes … yet it takes hardly any extra time at all (and can be prepped ahead, too)! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Includes Make-Ahead Steps • Vegetarian • Gluten Free (see note) •
Creating holiday magic doesn’t have to be hard … or time-consuming. I don’t know about you, but one thing I definitely don’t have is loads of extra time on my hands. Especially at Christmas!
Still, I want to make everything feel extra-special however I can. A little more wonderful, a little more sparkly!
This fruit salad is a perfect example!
Why This Christmas Fruit Salad Is So Magical
• First, it looks truly special, all layered up with festive stripes of color.
• It also tastes truly special – a unique twist that’s way more exciting that ordinary bowls of cut-up mixed fruit! It’s got a delicious combination of sweet and tart, crunchy and chewy. Juicy grapes and crisp apples, tangy dried cranberries and little pops of flavorful pomegranate.
• All draped in a light, creamy dressing. Plus, a crunchy granola and pistachio topping. It’s so, so delicious. Waaaaay beyond the usual fruit salads you find on holiday buffet tables!
• But it takes just a few minutes to make. Honestly, about the same amount of time you’d spend on plain, boring ol’ cut-up fruit salad.
• And, it can be pretty much entirely prepped ahead, even the night before (you know we’ve got make-ahead tips)! So you’ll have plenty of time to help set out Christmas cookies for Santa, and sprinkle “reindeer food” on the yard, and maybe even get a couple hours of sleep (maybe!).
How to Make Those Festive, Fruity Layers
Although this festive fruit bowl looks so pretty, it’s truly simple to make.
To really get the full effect of the colorful fruit layers, it’s best to use a glass trifle dish (like this one I used) or a straight-sided glass bowl. In a pinch, though, any clear glass bowl will still work ok, too.
From there, to make your magical salad, start by mixing your fruit salad dressing, your green fruits, and your red fruits in three separate bowls.
Place a few of the Christmas-y green fruits around the outside of your fruit bowl or trifle dish, against the glass. I like to make sure the pieces of apple have the green skin facing outwards, so you can see the green color.
Then, you mix a little bit of the dressing into the remaining green fruit and spoon it into your serving bowl, inside the ring of fruit you pressed against the glass.
Extra-Fast Tip: If you’re in a HUGE hurry, you can skip the step of placing a few green pieces of fruit along the outside of the bowl. I just like to do that so that the colors are extra bright and festive, without having the white fruit salad dressing obscuring the fruit colors.
Next, do the same thing for the red layer. Place some of those pretty, red fruits against the glass on the outside of the bowl. Mix a little more dressing into the remaining red fruit and spoon that into the bowl, on top of the green layer.
After that, you spread the remaining fruit salad dressing in an even layer on top of the red fruit layer.
Push it near to the glass, but don’t force a lot of it right against the edge, because then it tends to drip down a little and obscure some of the red layer below it. A few artistic drips here and there are fine, though – don’t obsess about it!
Quickly toss your crunchy granola and pistachios together, and sprinkle them all across the pearly white dressing. (Alternately, you can sprinkle each separately, preferably with the greenish pistachios on top.)
Mound some of those glistening, jewel-toned pomegranate arils in the center of your fruit salad, and sprinkle a few all across the top, too.
Then, for an extra flourish (because, I mean … we’re really in the business of over-the-top, extra little flourishes with this fruit salad, aren’t we??), top the whole gorgeous creation with some shiny, golden stars.
But don’t worry – this part is easy, too! And we’ve got a couple of different ideas for you on how to do this.
How to Make Festive Stars (2 Ways)
Method #1) The very easiest way to make those stars is to grab a star fruit (aka carambola).
I have to give a huge shoutout here to our wonderful friends in Florida who gifted us with some of their lovingly homegrown starfruit, which is about 1,000x more delicious than any I’ve ever bought in the grocery store. Their stunning fruit is the hero of today’s recipe photos, for sure.
But, if you don’t happen to have friends with a star fruit tree growing in their yard, and you can’t find any star fruit at your local store … don’t panic. We’ve got another idea!
Method #2) You can also use a star-shaped cookie cutter (or channel your inner Michelangelo and free-hand this with a sharp knife if you’re feeling especially artistic).
Cut a flat plank from the side of a pineapple, and use your star cutter to make some Christmas-y stars.
You could similarly use a whitish-green honeydew melon, instead of pineapple (like we do in our recipe for DIY fruit bouquets and fruit kabobs). The stars won’t be golden, of course, but they’ll still be decked out in appropriately holiday-spirited colors.
I recommend choosing Granny Smiths for your green apple. Their tart flavor is a nice counterpoint to some of the sweeter flavors in this fruit salad. And, they’re one of the best apples for resisting browning after they’ve been cut, which is a bonus if you’re prepping this salad ahead (more on that in a minute).
For the red apples, I recommend Honeycrisps – for their terrific crunchy-juicy texture, their wonderful flavor, and because they’re also champs at resisting browning. The thing here, though, is that Honeycrisps come in wide ranges of color variations, from mostly reddish to mostly yellowish.
To make your red layer as … well, as RED … as possible, select apples with as much red skin as you can, instead of more yellow-y ones.
You can often purchase already-prepared pomegranate arils in little packaged cups in your grocery store’s refrigerated produce section. That’ll save you a couple of minutes of prep time.
Or, you can but whole pomegranates (which are less expensive and also keep longer before they go bad), and cut them yourself. If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry – it’s easy! We walk you through it in our post How to Open a Pomegranate. After you’ve done it once, you’ll be a lifelong pro!
It’s super important to grab lightly salted pistachios.
The “regular” salted ones are just too … salty. They don’t taste as good with this fruit salad.
Honestly, if you can’t find lightly salted, I’d recommend using completely unsalted instead of “regular.”
Granola (+Gluten Free Tip)
We generally choose a relatively plain granola. You definitely want one that doesn’t have additions like chocolate or peanut butter that will mess with the flavor combination of your fruit salad.
To be sure this salad is gluten free, choose a brand of granola that’s clearly labeled with a gluten free seal.
You know I absolutely love make-ahead recipes. That’s especially true at the holidays, when time is tight. Luckily, this salad is more than just a pretty face … it’s got a bit of make-ahead magic in it, too!
As I mentioned above, both Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples resist browning fairly well. I’ve actually been amazed at how this salad, including the apples, still looks pretty terrific – even after a couple of days in the fridge.
So, you can definitely prep everything early in the day for a dinner buffet, or the night before if you’re serving this fruit salad for Christmas brunch.
*Don’t* add the final, crunchy layer of granola and pistachios (or the pomegranate and stars toppings) until closer to serving time.
You can measure out the granola and pistachios, mix them together, and have them all ready to go. But, if you sprinkle them on top of the creamy yogurt dressing layer too far in advance, they’ll sog out a bit and loose their wonderful crunch.
An hour or two ahead will be fine, but don’t go much more than that.
In Case You Have Leftovers
I’ve been making this scrumptious Christmas Fruit Salad for at least three or four years now … and it’s such a huge hit … I’m guessing you probably aren’t going to have a lot of leftovers! 😉
But, I know how holiday buffets are. There’s always too much food, and even the very most delicious recipes can’t possibly all be polished off.
If that happens, count yourself lucky, ’cause you’ve got extra fruit salad for your breakfast tomorrow, too! Yay, you!
But remember how I said the granola and pistachio layer would get soggy? No problem – I’ve got ya covered on this one, too. Simply sprinkle on a little extra, fresh granola and some more pistachios.
Poof! The crunch is restored!
Adjusting the Yield
It’s easy to adjust this recipe for larger groups by doubling or tripling the ingredients as needed.
Depending on the circumference of your serving bowl, you’ll likely end up with taller layers, which will be lovely!
If you have really deep layers, though, just be sure to use a long-handled serving spoon so that everyone can dig all the way through to get a little bit of each layer. You don’t want the first folks through the buffet line to have a pile of granola on their plates … while the last diners through the buffet are stuck with just green apples and grapes from the bottom of the bowl!
Holiday magic in a fruit salad? Why not?!?!
When it’s this easy, this pretty, and this delicious … even your Christmas Fruit Salad can be extra-special!
Happy holidays, friends!
- 1 1/2 cups nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons white grape juice (100% juice)
- 2 cups horizontally halved seedless green grapes
- 1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped green Granny Smith apple
- 1 cup horizontally halved seedless red grapes
- 1 cup seeded, chopped red sweet-tart apple (such as Honeycrisp)
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup pomegranate arils (divided, see note)
- 3/4 cup granola (we use Cascadian Farms Oats & Honey)
- 1/2 cup roasted, lightly salted pistachios (or unsalted, if you can't find lightly salted)
- star fruit, pineapple (cut into flat planks) or honeydew melon (cut into flat slices) to make stars
- In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and juice.
- In a second medium bowl, mix GREEN grapes and chopped Granny Smith apples. (As directed in the post, if desired, reserve a few green grapes and apple pieces to line the outside of your clear glass serving dish, before adding the yogurt dressing.) Then, stir 1/4 cup of the yogurt dressing mixture into the (remaining) green grapes and apples. Spoon this mixture evenly into the bottom of your serving bowl.
- In a third medium bowl, mix RED grapes, chopped Honeycrisp apples, cranberries, and 1/2 cup pomegranate arils. (As directed in the post, if desired, reserve a few red fruit pieces to line the outside of your dish, before adding the yogurt dressing.) Then, stir 1/4 cup of the yogurt dressing mixture into the (remaining) red fruit mixture. Spoon this mixture evenly into the serving bowl, on top of your green fruit layer.
- Evenly spread the remaining fruit salad dressing on top of the red layer, pushing it near the edge but not fully against the glass (so it doesn't drip down too much and slightly obscure the red layer beneath it).
- Combine granola and pistachios, and sprinkle them on top of the dressing layer.
- Pile most of the remaining 1/4 cup of pomegranate arils in the center of your fruit salad and sprinkle a few all across the top.
- As discussed in the post, to make stars for the top you can (1) slice a star fruit, or (2) use a star-shaped cookie cutter or sharp paring knife to cut stars out of pineapple planks or slices of greenish-white honeydew melon. Lay your stars around the top of your salad.
Pomegranate arils: To make prep faster, instead of purchasing a whole pomegranate and removing the arils yourself (like we show you how to do in our post How to Open a Pomegranate), look for cups of pomegranate arils in the refrigerated section of your grocery store's produce department.
Serving dish: This colorful Christmas Fruit Salad is prettiest in a clear glass trifle bowl (like this one I used) or straight-sided glass bowl. Alternately, any clear glass bowl will work. And of course, if you don't have a clear bowl at all, it will still taste fantastic, even if you can't see the layers as easily.
Make-ahead tips: This fruit salad can be prepped and completely assembled a few hours ahead, or even the night before serving EXCEPT for the toppings (the granola, pistachios, etc.). The granola and pistachios will get soggy after sitting on top of the dressing layer for more than a couple of hours, so it's best to sprinkle those on (and then add the final pomegranate arils and stars on top) closer to serving time.
Gluten free note: To be sure this recipe is gluten free, purchase a gluten free brand of granola.