~ These Red, White and Blue Fruit Salads are sure to be showstoppers at all your summer holiday parties … from Memorial Day and the 4th of July, right on through to Labor Day. Even Flag Day! We’ve lined up these easy fruit salad recipes from the very quickest and most basic … to full on WOW factor, so you can choose which one you want to make, depending on how much time you’ve got! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less (some options) • Make Ahead • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
Wait. Let me guess …
You’re heading to a barbecue. Maybe a potluck. (Maybe you’re even the hostess??)
And you want that “wow” factor. You wanna do that casual shrugging “awwwww … it was nothing” gesture when everyone ooooohs and aaaaaahs and says, “Oh my gosh! Who brought this?!?”
Yeah. Me too! (I hope we’re not going to the same party!)
But if you’re like me, you somehow also kind of managed to run short on time. Maybe you got a bit overzealous in imagining how much time you’d have to create your potluck masterpiece …. or maybe life happened. The soccer game ran late, you picked the slowest checkout lane at the grocery store (always … how is that even possible?). Something like that, right?!?
Same. Yep – I’ve totally been there. Like, pretty much every.single.day.
But ya know what? We can still be barbecue superstars! I promise! I’ve absolutely got you covered – and no matter how much time you have, you’ve got options!
Today I’ve got 5 fruit salad “recipes” for you … each with its own, fun twist … so you can easily punt at the last minute and pick whichever version you actually have time enough to make! There’s sort of a sliding scale of difficulty and time-consuming-ness here … from our “Base Model” right on up to a full-on-wow centerpiece!
So no matter how much time you actually end up with, you’ll still show up at the party with something terrific!
It all starts with what fruit you can find. Let’s brainstorm fruit options, so you’ve got a plan as you go dashing through the grocery store:
Choosing Fruits for Your Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad
Red is so easy! Think of all the options …
- Raspberries (just don’t smash ’em!)
- Red grapes
White is waaaaay less easy, except at the real peak of summer when you’re more likely to be able to get your hands on white melons like golden honeydew or white crenshaw. Those are a prized find!
In a pinch, you can usually get regular, green-ish honeydew to look more or less like white (that’s what I had to do when I shot these photos for you in late spring). That’s generally going to be your safest bet, a fruit you can always count on finding at the store.
Bananas are, of course, very white … but they also very quickly turn mushy and brown. So, you usually only want to use those if you’re assembling your fruit salad at the last minute, or if you can just layer a few bananas on top right before serving.
Apples and pears are white if you peel them, but I just don’t think they feel summer-y enough to wheedle their way into my summer fruit salads (although I love apples in my Hearty Fruit Salad in the fall, and pears in my Salad with Goat Cheese at Thanksgiving). And besides, just like bananas, apples and pears both have their own issues with turning brown.
So, in terms of white summery fruit, you’ve basically got:
- White(ish) melons
- White peaches, if you can find them and have time to peel them
Blue – we’re back to easy! Particularly since there’s a berry with the word “blue” in its name. Slam dunk. All you really need are:
Need a Dressing Recipe for Your Fruit Salad?
Personally, I almost never mix a dressing into my fruit salads. Summer fruits are just so gorgeous on their own, and they’re so bursting with their own natural sugars that I feel like they don’t necessarily need anything more.
But, I do sometimes like to offer a fruit dip / fruit salad dressing on the side – in case other partygoers want to get a little reckless and crazy. (Wait … does that make it sound like I go to really lame parties … if “reckless” means using some fruit dip?!?! Oh geez … I promise I have more craziness in my life than that! 😉 )
If you’d like to offer a fruit salad dressing as a side option, I definitely, definitely recommend our Healthy Sugared-Vanilla Yogurt Fruit Dip.
It’s only got 4 ingredients, and it’s thin enough to be a nice dressing over a fruit salad, but thick enough to double as a fruit dip, too!
If you do decide you want a dressing, though, serve it on the side, so that it doesn’t mess with the red, white and blue color scheme you worked so hard to create!
Ok … now you’ve got your fruit and you’ve made your fruit salad dressing decisions. How much time do you have??? Take a peek at your watch, and then build your fruit salad accordingly, starting with our fastest, easiest option …
1) The Basic (But Still Awesome), Super-Easy Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad
Let’s start with the base model. Toss a bunch of red, white and blue fruit in a bowl, and off you go.
Ok, full disclosure: this may not exactly constitute true “wow factor.” But, studded with the season’s freshest fruits, it’s still gorgeous. Still has sweet, summertime refreshment written all over it.
And it’ll still win ya at least a tiny “oooooh and aaaaaah” from hungry bystanders. Because no matter how basic and obvious it seems, what is guaranteed to be a hit at summer picnics? Fruit. When the temperature rises, people gobble it like candy. (And really … isn’t fruit basically Nature’s Candy? Go with me here – just nod and say yes.).
Wanna turn the “Base Model” into something a little more star-spangled?
If you’ve got an extra couple minutes (and you were able to track down a white-ish melon), then just cut a couple of melon slices that are about ½” thick, and use a little star-shaped cookie cutter to make some celebratory stars!
It really only takes about an extra 5 minutes tops, but it goes a looooooong way toward that wow factor you were hoping to achieve!
But what if you have even a little bit MORE time to get organized and build your salad? Then you’ve got time for …
2) A Red, White and Blue Layered Fruit Salad!
This is just that Base Model Fruit Salad above, with a little upgrade package. It honestly requires hardly any extra time at all!
There are two main tricks to success here:
• A Clear Bowl – To really get the wow factor pumped up, you truly do need a clear glass bowl or even a footed trifle bowl. You want people to see all that patriotic fruitiness! I got my glass salad bowl ages ago (wedding gift!), but it’s similar to this one, and I use it for lots and lots of things beyond fruit salads. (It’d be picnic-perfect for this Layered Chicken Taco Salad, too!)
• The Right Fruit – You need to have the same amount of each color of fruit, so each of those pretty stripes is roughly the same size. Remember how I mentioned that white fruits can be tough to come by, especially for Memorial Day, at the kick-off of patriotic foods season? If you couldn’t come up with much in the way of white fruit, for example, then you might need to stick with our Base Model fruit salad (above) … because with that one, you can get away with just tossing a few banana slices in at the last minute and there’s still enough “white” for people to get the whole red-white-and-blue vibe you were shooting for.
My son and I quickly tossed something like this together last Fourth of July, and when we stood back and saw how pretty it was … we snapped some pics (of course – gotta think about Instagram, right?!?), and immediately knew we’d be sharing the idea with all of you.
Almost a year later, with the 4th just a couple weeks away … now’s the time!
If only we’d had a few more minutes that day, then we could’ve added little stars on top, too! Just like we suggested in Option #1 above, if you’ve got the time, then whip out those cookie cutters for a cute finishing flourish …
3) A Star-Spangled, American Flag Fruit Salad
Instead of making vertical red-white-and-blue layers in a clear trifle bowl, take a couple of extra minutes and make flag stripes in a baking dish! Poof! Instant star-spangled showstopper! Well … nearly instant, that is!
I’ve seen some different versions of this idea, but none of them seemed to involve any sort of “stars” on the blue. What?!? That was easy enough to fix!
Let me share what I’ve found works best here and some of the options you’ve got.
You can easily make itty-bitty white dots for “stars” by using a small measuring spoon as a melon-baller, like this …
Or, you can use that cookie cutter strategy once again, and cut out teeny stars to lay on top of your blueberries – so cute!
A few tips on this one, friends:
• Planning! – The main trick here is in carefully keeping your rows straight and making sure they’re all the same size. Before you get started, take a quick moment to strategize and figure out how many red and white stripes you’re gonna make, and about how wide each stripe will be. A moment of planning will make your life MUCH easier when you start building those stripes!
• Red or White?? – I’d recommend that you have red stripes on the top and bottom, for two reasons: (1) That’s how the American flag actually is. (Although … yes … technically, it actually has 13 of them, and we’re going for more like 5, but trust me, people will still get the flag idea with only 5 stripes!) And also (2) because, as we’ve already discussed, you’re more likely to be able to find a bunch on red fruits than a bunch of different white ones, so it’s better to have more red stripes than white.
• Keep ‘Em Separated! – Also, I find that the blue area is easiest to create if you have a separate little rectangular or oblong dish – just to keep those blueberries contained. But, honestly, you can get by without it if you don’t have one.
But wait … do you have EVEN MORE time to build your fruit salad? To reach EVEN GREATER heights?!? Then buckle up, friends … and check out our …
4) Easy Fruit Salad Centerpiece
This is so much more than just a fruit salad. This is a centerpiece, a showstopper. This is … WOW.
And it’s seriously soooooo easy! Here’s what you do:
Before you pile fruit in your serving bowl, place a small vase or drinking glass in the center.
Then, add your fruit all around the vase.
Grab some festive patriotic decorations, and arrange them artfully (channeling your inner floral designer) in the vase.
One little tip here: I’d recommend NOT using decorations coated in glitter. Festive – yes. Great for eating – no. I learned this little gem of wisdom the hard way, after I photographed this salad for you, and (not surprising) found my beautiful fruit salad was sprinkled with not-so-edible glitter. Facepalm. Should’ve been obvious, right?!?
Ok! And now here’s the grand finale we’ve all been waiting for …
5) The Red, White and Blue Fruit Bouquet Centerpiece
This is how you ratchet alllllll the way up to full-on fruit salad magnificence. When you show up at the party with this, it says, “You guys are awesome friends and I went all-out for you.” (It also says, “You may now commence the oooooohing and ahhhhhhing.”)
It’s not hard. Truly – not hard at all! It just takes some extra time.
Use the same strategy as I outlined in #4 above, placing a small vase or drinking glass at the center of your serving bowl. But, instead of creating a display of purchased party decorations at the center, you’re gonna make fruit kabobs! (Oh yes – you are! You can do this, I promise!)
We’re basically just using the same concept we introduced waaaaaaay back in one of our first blog posts, when we detailed how to make fruit bouquets and fruit kabobs.
The only things you really have to know are:
• Choose the very bottom piece of fruit (that you’ll thread onto the skewer first) carefully – you want it to be sturdy enough that it can help support all the other fruit above it and doesn’t lose its shape and go sliding down your skewer. Red grapes, for example, tend to work much better than chunks of melon.
• Snap some of your skewers a bit shorter than others, so your fruit bouquet has skewers of varying heights.
So, How Much Time Have You Got?
Not much time at all? No worries. Go for option #1. It’s a sure thing!
Time enough to unleash your inner Picasso? Then get super-creative playing with option #5!
Or, anywhere in between!
Well, I’d probably start out planning for #5. And then, I’d scale back as needed once reality hits and my day’s schedule gets re-scheduled 17 times!
But hey – that’s the beauty here … you’ve got options!
And no matter how it ends up, you’ll still walk into that summertime party armed with something you’ll be proud of!
Red Fruit Options
- Raspberries (just don't smash 'em)
- Red grapes
White Fruit Options
- White melons such as crenshaw or white honeydew, or a "regular" green honeydew if that's all you can find
- White peaches, if you can find them and have time to peel them
Blue Fruit Options
- Wash and, if needed, peel or cut your fruit.
- Depending on which salad you're making, combine the fruit in a large bowl or arrange it in layers or stripes.
- If you're creating a Fruit Bouquet Centerpiece, use star-shaped cookie cutters to cut stars from melons, and thread some of the fruit onto bamboo skewers. Arrange the skewers at the center of your fruit salad, as described in the post.
- If desired, serve with a fruit salad dressing alongside, such as our Healthy Sugared-Vanilla Yogurt Fruit Dip.
Make-ahead tips: Depending on which fruits you use, these fruit salads can generally be made at least a couple of hours in advance. Some of the fruits, particularly the melons, can even be cut or made into star shapes a day or two in advance. Bananas, in particular, do not hold up well and should be added only at the last minute.