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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!

Side shot of fresh fruit salad on a table in front of a dark background

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for the best fruit salad. 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. 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!

  1. Wash and chop the fruit.
  2. Stir together the fruit and lime zest.
  3. Whisk together the dressing.
  4. Toss the dressing with the fruit to coat.
  5. 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 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.
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.
Close overhead image of a bowl of homemade fruit salad with vanilla pudding and fresh lime

More Fruit Salad Recipes to Try

Close overhead image of a bowl of the best fruit salad recipe served in a white handmade bowl

Easy Fruit Salad with Vanilla Pudding

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 100 kcal
This easy fruit salad recipe comes together in just minutes, and is packed with fresh flavor!

Ingredients
  

  • 8 cups chopped 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.
  • 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: 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 with vanilla pudding
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
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. 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. 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. If you ever get back into Baltimore, take the boys on a pirate adventure ship in the harbor!