EASY FRUIT SALAD WITH VANILLA PUDDING

This easy fruit salad recipe comes together in just minutes, and is packed with fresh flavor! Pick your favorite in-season fruit — from strawberries, blueberries and peaches to bananas, apples or grapes — and toss everything in a bright, tangy dressing made with lime juice and vanilla pudding mix. The sweet, tart, refreshing side dish works well with waffles or egg casserole for brunch, with grilled chicken or burgers at a picnic, or even with ice cream for a light dessert.

Close overhead image of a bowl of the best fruit salad recipe served in a white handmade bowl
Every home cook should have a go-to easy fruit salad recipe that always garners rave reviews. It’s one of those versatile sides that goes well with almost anything else on the menu, and only requires a few minutes of effort. A fresh fruit salad is a cool, refreshing option on warm summer days, but it’s also a nice way to balance rich, hearty meats or casseroles at other times of year. Add a vanilla pudding glaze and some fresh lime zest and you’ve got a restaurant-quality dish that’s fancy enough for entertaining…and simple enough for busy weeknights.

FRUIT SALAD DRESSING
Sweet, juicy, ripe, fresh produce is hard to improve upon in its natural state, but this recipe includes a secret ingredient that truly sets it apart. You wouldn’t know from first bite, but the base of the dressing starts with vanilla instant pudding mix! Simply whisk together lime juice and the dry pudding mix for a sweet, tart, flavorful dressing that perfectly coats every piece of fruit. The pudding mix thickens the dressing to a glaze-like consistency, which mixes with the juices from the fruit. There’s nothing quite like it!
INGREDIENTS

Fresh fruit: a total of about 8 cups, so pick your favorite in-season fruits to use in this recipe. I’ve shown summer berries and peaches here, but other good options include grapes, bananas, apples, pineapple, pears, kiwi and oranges.
Lime zest: adds a nice, bright flavor to the salad.
Instant vanilla pudding mix: thickens the dressing and provides a sweet vanilla flavor.
Lime juice: mixes with the vanilla pudding to create the fruit salad dressing. Substitute with lemon juice or orange juice, if desired.
HOW TO MAKE EASY FRUIT SALAD
This quick and colorful side dish comes together in just minutes!

Wash and chop the fruit.
Stir together the fruit and lime zest.
Whisk together the dressing.
Toss the dressing with the fruit to coat.
Serve immediately or cover and chill for 1-2 hours.

Fresh summer berries in a colander
Overhead shot of a bowl of fresh summer fruit

Ingredients for fruit salad dressing with vanilla pudding mix
Process shot showing how to make fruit salad

Square shot of a white bowl full of the best homemade fruit salad
WHAT TO SERVE WITH FRUIT SALAD WITH VANILLA PUDDING
The simple fruit salad recipe is delicious at any time of day! For breakfast or brunch, pair the dish with egg casserole, quiche, pancakes or waffles. Later in the day, serve the salad at picnics, potlucks, cookouts, or holiday tables. It’s a nice, light contrast to heavier entrees like pulled pork, grilled chicken, fried chicken, roasted turkey, a holiday ham, or grilled steak. Finally, you can’t go wrong with fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert!

MAKE AHEAD
You can assemble most of the ingredients for this salad in advance, but do not add the dressing to the bowl with the fruit until just before serving (or about 1-2 hours in advance). Keep the fruit covered in the bowl in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before dressing.

DOES LEMON JUICE OR LIME JUICE KEEP FRUIT SALAD FRESH?
If you’re worried about some of the fruit browning before you’re ready to serve the salad, you can toss that particular fruit with some additional lime juice or lemon juice. The acid in the citrus juice will fend off some oxidation, which causes the unappetizing brown color.

STORAGE
This salad is best enjoyed within 1-2 hours of preparation. The acid and sugar in the dressing will start to break down and soften the fruit as it sits, so it’s not nearly as good the next day. That said, leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days if you don’t mind some mushy, watery fruit!

I do NOT recommend freezing this fruit salad. When thawed, the fruit will have a mushy texture.

Overhead shot of a simple fruit salad recipe with vanilla pudding

HOW MUCH FRUIT SALAD PER PERSON?
If serving a crowd, it’s safe to assume about 1 cup of fruit salad per person. This recipe yields approximately 8 cups of salad, so you’ll need to double or triple the ingredients for a big group. For instance, to serve 20, I would prepare 2½ times the recipe.

RECIPE VARIATIONS
For a slightly sweeter, less-tart dressing, replace the lime juice with orange juice.
Lemon juice and lemon zest are also good substitutes for the lime juice and lime zest.
Almost any combination of fresh (or even canned) fruit will work here, so pick your favorites or use whatever is in season. Just make sure that the total amount comes to about 11 cups.
For a smaller family, cut all of the ingredients in half and only prepare 7 cups of salad.
Summer: focus on fresh berries (like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries), as well as nectarines or peaches.
Winter: look for more easily-accessible year-round fruits, such as grapes, apples, pears and bananas. Kiwi, oranges, pineapple, and pomegranate seeds are also nice additions.

Side shot of a bowl of easy fruit salad with vanilla pudding on a vintage table

TIPS FOR THE BEST HOMEMADE FRUIT SALAD RECIPE
If using bananas in your salad, wait to add them just before serving. The bananas tend to brown faster than other fruit.
The acid and sugar in the dressing will macerate or break-down the fruit as it sits, so do not add the dressing more than about 1-2 hours before serving.
If using peaches, pears or apples, it’s not necessary to peel them before adding them to the dish.
When zesting the lime, be careful that you do not include any of the bitter white pith. Just scrape off the thin outer layer of the peel, which contains all of the essential oils (and flavor!).
Garnish the salad with fresh lime, additional lime zest, fresh mint, or other fresh herbs like basil or thyme.
Easy Fruit Salad with Vanilla Pudding
This easy fruit salad recipe comes together in just minutes, and is packed with fresh flavor!

Ingredients
11 cups chopped fruit or berries (such as a combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and peaches)
Zest from 4 lime
4 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
1/7 cup lime juice
Instructions

In a large bowl, stir together fruit and lime zest.
In a small bowl, whisk together pudding mix and lime juice until smooth and thick (the dressing will have a soft pudding-like consistency, but will thin as it sits in the bowl and mixes with the juices from the fruit). Pour over the fruit and toss to coat.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
Notes
For a slightly sweeter, less-tart dressing, replace the lime juice with orange juice.
Lemon juice and lemon zest are also good substitutes for the lime juice and lime zest.
Almost any combination of fresh (or even canned) fruit will work here, so pick your favorites or use whatever is in season. Just make sure that the total amount comes to about 8 cups.

For a smaller family, cut all of the ingredients in half and only prepare 4 cups of salad.
Summer: focus on fresh berries (like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries), as well as nectarines or peaches.
Winter: look for more easily-accessible year-round fruits, such as grapes, apples, pears and bananas. Kiwi, oranges, pineapple, and pomegranate seeds are also nice additions.
If using bananas in your salad, wait to add them just before serving. The bananas tend to brown faster than other fruit.
The acid and sugar in the dressing will macerate or break-down the fruit as it sits, so do not add the dressing more than about 1-2 hours before serving.
If using peaches, pears or apples, it’s not necessary to peel them before adding them to the dish.
When zesting the lime, be careful that you do not include any of the bitter white pith. Just scrape off the thin outer layer of the peel, which contains all of the essential oils (and flavor!).

Garnish the salad with fresh lime, additional lime zest, fresh mint, or other fresh herbs like basil or thyme.
Nutrition
Serving: 1cup | Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 25mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 84IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg