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This easy fruit salad with vanilla pudding dressing 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.

Close overhead shot of easy fruit salad recipe with vanilla pudding on a turquoise table.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  2. Ingredients
  3. Directions
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Tips For Success
  7. Easy Fruit Salad with Vanilla Pudding Recipe

Looking for even more salad recipes that are perfect for cookouts, picnics, and Sunday suppers? Try this strawberry jello salad, a classic English pea salad, this popular Southern potato salad, and our favorite Southern macaroni salad, too!

Deeleesh! I used blackberries, strawberries, grapes, pomegranate seeds and bits of pineapple & a sprinkle of coconut!

– Mrs. R
Side shot of a bowl of easy fruit salad with vanilla pudding dressing on a turquoise table.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Easy. While it tastes fancy and decadent, this easy fruit salad recipe is a quick side dish that you can stir together with just 15 minutes of prep time. Plus, you can use just about any fruit that you have on hand.
  • Sweet and Tangy. Instant vanilla pudding mix is the not-so-secret ingredient in this sweet and tangy fruit salad dressing. You’ll combine the mix with lime juice for a bright, citrus-flavored mixture with a hint of vanilla flavor. The pudding mix thickens the dressing to a glaze-like consistency, which mixes with the juices in the bowl and clings nicely to the fruit.
  • Versatile. Every home cook should have a go-to 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. Offer the fresh fruit salad as a cool, refreshing option on warm summer days, or as a nice way to balance rich, hearty meats and casseroles at other times of year. It works well on an Easter brunch table, at a 4th of July picnic, and at your family’s next Sunday cookout.
Square side shot of a bowl of easy fruit salad with vanilla pudding.

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for the best fruit salad with vanilla pudding. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Fresh fruit: a total of about 8 cups, so pick your favorite in-season fruits to use in this recipe. In the summer, focus on fresh berries (like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries), as well as nectarines or peaches. In other seasons, look for more easily-accessible year-round fruits, such as red or green grapes, apples, pears, and bananas. Kiwi, oranges, pineapple chunks or tidbits, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries and pomegranate seeds are also nice additions.
  • Lime zest: adds a nice, bright flavor to the salad. Lemon zest or orange zest are fine substitutes as well.
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix: thickens the dressing and provides a sweet vanilla flavor. Sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix will work fine. Just make sure that you choose a box of instant pudding mix — not the Cook & Serve variety.
  • Lime juice: mixes with the vanilla pudding and the fruit juices to create the fruit salad dressing. Substitute with lemon juice or orange juice, if desired.
Horizontal collage of process shots showing how to make easy fruit salad recipe with vanilla pudding dressing.

Directions

This quick and colorful side dish comes together in just minutes! You’ll find the detailed directions for the easy fruit salad in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version.

  1. Wash and chop the fruit.
  2. Stir together the fruit and lime zest.
  3. Whisk together the pudding mixture.
  4. Toss the dressing with the fruit to coat.
  5. Serve immediately or cover and chill for 1-2 hours.
Close square overhead shot of a bowl of fruit salad with vanilla pudding.

Serving Suggestions

Fruit salad with vanilla pudding is delicious at any time of day! For a special occasion 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 on holiday tables. It’s a nice, light contrast to heavier entrees like grilled hamburgers, pulled pork, grilled chicken, fried chicken, roasted turkey, holiday ham, or grilled steak. Finally, you can’t go wrong with fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream, Cool Whip, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a refreshing sweet treat in lieu of a heavier dessert!

Side shot of an easy fruit salad recipe on a rustic wood table surrounded by peaches and limes.

Preparation and Storage Tips

To 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.

How to Store: Vanilla pudding fruit 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 image of the best fruit salad recipe tossed with vanilla pudding dressing on a table.

Tips For Success

  • 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. For a crunchy garnish, add some chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans, or almonds.
  • 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 2 ½ times the recipe.
Overhead shot of a bowl of fruit salad with vanilla pudding dressing.

More Fruit Salad Recipes to Try

Close square overhead shot of a bowl of fruit salad with vanilla pudding.

Easy Fruit Salad with Vanilla Pudding

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 100 kcal
A simple fresh fruit salad that's tossed with a vanilla pudding and lime juice dressing!

Ingredients
  

  • 8 cups chopped fresh fruit or berries (such as a combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and peaches)
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ¼ cup lime juice

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, stir together fruit and lime zest.
    Process shot showing how to make easy fruit salad.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the 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).
    Fruit salad dressing made with vanilla pudding mix.
  • Pour the dressing over the fruit and toss to coat.
    Stirring together easy fruit salad with vanilla pudding.
  • Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
    Side shot of a bowl of easy fruit salad with vanilla pudding dressing on a turquoise table.

Notes

  • 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. For a crunchy garnish, add some chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans, or almonds.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 100kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 25mgPotassium: 124mgFiber: 4gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 84IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 10mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: easy fruit salad, fresh fruit salad, fruit salad, fruit salad with vanilla pudding
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in June, 2021. It was updated in May, 2024.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Kris says:

    Thank you Blair! Fruit salad in the summer is the best! I’ve never topped it with anything, except whip cream once in a while. This sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it!
    I really enjoy your weekly email. Between the wonderful recipes & beautiful photos of your recipes, your home & family & the beauty of the area … it’s a treat to explore every week! Thank you for sharing your talents!

    PS: I think you should explore making a coffee table book with all your amazing photos of beautiful Virginia!

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you so much, Kris. I really appreciate your kind words and positive feedback! I hope that you love the fruit salad.

      I am always working on improving my photography — it’s a fun hobby! I’m glad that others enjoy it as well. 🙂

  2. Barbara Ringley says:

    If you ever get back into Baltimore, take the boys on a pirate adventure ship in the harbor!

    1. Blair says:

      Yes, we saw the ships (but they weren’t running during the hours we were there). They look fun!

  3. Mrs. R says:

    5 stars
    Deeleesh! I used blackberries, strawberries, grapes, pomegranate seeds and bits of pineapple & a sprinkle of coconut!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Yum! Thank you!