10 Ways You Can Give Canned Fruit New Life

When we think of canned fruit, most of us immediately conjure up an image of a tiny can of room-temperature fruit cocktail, or an oversweet fruit salad served outside at a summer potluck. But canned fruit is more than fruit cocktail in a cup at your grandma's party. While canned foods have been available since 1811, fruit wasn't canned until 1825. Canned fruit is convenient, inexpensive, and readily available. It's also versatile. You can elevate your favorite meat dish with canned fruit or surprise your guests with a decadent parfait for dessert at your next dinner party. 


Traditional canned fruit staples (peaches, pears, and pineapple) are easy to find at any grocery store in the country. But the canned fruit options don't stop with peaches, pears, and pineapple. Many varieties of fruit are available canned, including cherries, mandarin oranges, and mangos, just to name a few. If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, you can even can your own fruit at home, using whatever fruit bounty you have collected from your home garden (or a recent trip to the local peach orchard). Self-canned or store-bought, there are plenty of creative ways to give canned fruit new life.

I am a food blogger with over a decade of experience creating easy, family-friendly recipes. These are my best tips for using canned fruit.


Make an easy fruit salad recipe

Fruit salad is a favorite side dish year-round, and with good reason. It's just as easy to throw a small batch together for a quick family dinner as it is to prep a larger batch for parties and gatherings. A fruit salad recipe is the perfect addition to your next summer potluck, but don't limit yourself to dinners and potlucks. Fruit salad is even suitable for your Thanksgiving dinner.


It's hard to go wrong when making fruit salad. You can spend some time creating an elaborate classic, like Watergate salad, or keep it simple and toss your favorite canned fruit together in a bowl and call it a day. While there aren't any hard and fast rules to fruit salad recipes, there are some recommendations you should follow for the best results.

First, be sure to drain the cans. You can do this by pouring all of the cans into a colander and letting the natural juices drain before combining everything in a bowl. After you've put the salad together, let it chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. It will taste fresher when it's chilled. And finally, if you are adding bananas or other fresh fruit, like apples, add them right before serving. This will keep the fresh fruit from oxidizing or getting soggy.


Want to get creative and try something new? Serve your fruit salad hot over ice cream for the perfect cold-weather comfort food.

Turn your canned fruit into cobbler

Everyone loves a homemade cobbler, but sometimes, we don't have the time or resources to make it from scratch. If you're short on time but have a hankering for some homemade dessert, canned fruit is a good option for your next cobbler filling. Cobbler is an easy recipe to make and ideal for a home baker in a hurry as it requires very little prep — particularly if the majority of it comes from a can.


Dating back to Colonial America, a cobbler is a baked dish that consists of fruit with a cake batter or biscuit topping. Sweet and hearty, cobbler is a scrumptious dessert that pairs well with barbecue, chicken, or ... anything. It's cobbler, and you're going to love it. Serve it warm with a scoop of ice cream for a decadent dessert experience, no matter what you had for dinner.

To make a cobbler using canned fruit, purchase your favorite canned fruit or pie filling. Peaches, apples, and cherries make exceptional cobblers, but you're only limited by your imagination. Any fruit will do. If you go with canned fruit instead of pie filling, choose an option canned in heavy syrup as this will yield the sweetest results. However, be sure to drain the liquid before you use the fruit to ensure the fruit doesn't make the cobbler topping soggy.


Make a parfait using canned fruit

A parfait is a layered dessert originating in France that usually includes fruit, yogurt or custard and toppings, like nuts or granola. In recent times, parfaits have gained popularity as breakfast items, too. And canned fruit can make parfait-making a breeze.


For an easy dessert parfait, choose your favorite canned fruit and yogurt. Vanilla yogurt is sweet and goes well with all fruit, making it a desirable choice. For a richer flavor and texture, replace the yogurt with custard. You'll also want to include some toppings, like roasted nuts, toasted coconut flakes, or chocolate chips. Starting with the yogurt or custard, create several layers with your ingredients until you reach the top of your dish. If you want to switch it up, you can use whipped cream for one of the layers in the middle (it's pretty simple to make whipped cream at home if you want to make it special).

For a breakfast-friendly version, swap out the custard for Greek yogurt, which has more protein and less sugar than traditional yogurt, making it a positive way to start the day. If you're trying to reduce sugar, choose a canned fruit option with no added sugar. Parfaits are easy to make, and you can make them in batches. However, if you're making parfaits ahead of time, reserve the toppings until you're ready to eat. Nuts and granola will get soggy if you store them in the parfait container.


Blend your canned fruit into a smoothie

Canned fruit makes a quick and tasty addition to your daily smoothie. Ingredients like pineapple and mandarin oranges can be hard to source, but you can find the canned versions at your neighborhood supermarket. Fresh  pineapple, mango, and mandarin oranges are seasonal, so it's not always possible or practical to purchase these fruits. Not to mention, they all take some extra time to prepare compared to, say, bananas, or even pears — have you ever prepped a pineapple? It takes some work. The canned versions work very well for smoothies; and you might even prefer them over their freshly picked counterparts.


When using canned fruit in your smoothie, decide ahead of time if you want to include the juice or not. You'll need to add liquid to your smoothie, and using the juice that the fruit was stored in will reduce food waste (no throwing the juice away) and also increase the intensity of the fruit's flavor. For a unique flavor punch, add some grated ginger or mint leaves. Ginger in particular goes well with tropical fruits, and mint is lovely with berries.

Freeze it for later

Canned food has a long shelf life, and most canned fruit will stay good for 18 months. However, if you're running up close to the expiration date have no fear — you can freeze canned fruit for later.


Never put canned food directly into the freezer, i.e., in the can. As it freezes, the liquid will expand inside the can, which may cause it to explode, leaving you with nothing but a mess to clean up. Instead, remove the fruit from the can and drain all the liquid. After draining, lay the fruit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Stick it in the freezer for a couple of hours until the pieces have frozen. Then, transfer the frozen fruit to an airtight container or freezer bag. Freezing the fruit in individual pieces is an important step because it keeps them from freezing together into one large clump, which will happen if they have excess moisture — the juice they were stored in.

However, this is the real world, and you might not have time to pre-freeze your fruit before freezing it. In that case, drain it well and pat it dry before placing it all in a freezer-safe container.


Don't throw away all that drained juice, though! You can freeze it, too. Put your ice cube tray to good use and fill it with the juice from the can. You can add the frozen juice cubes to smoothies, or even iced tea.

Broil canned fruit for a side dish or dessert

You've probably had broiled veggies before, but have you ever had broiled fruit? It's a game-changer. Broiling your canned fruit will give it a rich and unexpected flavor.

Broiling uses extremely high heat from the top of the oven to brown the top of the food. You can broil meat, vegetables, and even bread, plus this method is often used as a finishing touch on pasta dishes, to get that crispy brown cheese on top. It can work the same wonders for fruit. Peaches and pears are popular choices for broiling, and good ones to start with if this is new to you. Before broiling, drain and dry the fruit with a paper towel. Place in an oven-safe bowl or on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. The trick to broiling anything is to keep a very close watch on it. Your food will go from zero to burnt in the time it takes you to step away. You can expect your broiled fruit to be ready in about four or five minutes.


Once your fruit is broiled, have fun putting it to good use. It is delicious on its own, or you can top it with whipped cream and chopped nuts. Try using it as an ice cream topping. Add it to your roasted chicken, or let it cool, slice it, and turn it into your new favorite salad topping.

Add it to your pizza

Are you strongly in the "anti-pineapple" camp when it comes to pizza? Fruit on pizza can be scary, but trust us on this. Fruit can pair perfectly with bread and cheese for the pizza of your dreams, and that goes for our most beloved canned versions of fruit, too. Don't believe it? Here are some pizza combos made in heaven. 


Combine peaches, goat cheese, and arugula for a fresh and summery pizza experience. Add the arugula after the pizza has been cooked, to avoid wilting. A few leaves are all you need.

Level up your pizza game with apricots, prosciutto, and roasted pine nuts. Sprinkle on a mix of mozzarella and gouda cheese to make it even more magical. Try different sauces to see what you like best.

Let strawberries in on the game. Top your pie with strawberries, feta, and basil. Once your pizza is done, add a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette before serving. If you're feeling extra fancy, look for a flavored option, like a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.

Before baking your pizza, be sure to drain and pat dry the fruit. This will keep the pizza from getting soggy from fruit juices. Slice the fruit into thin slices so it will cook evenly. Still not sure? Maybe a dessert pizza is more your style.


Use it as a topping

Add some pizzazz to your basic brunch foods with a fruit topping. Canned peaches, pears, and pineapples are brunch-friendly choices for adding some sweetness to your morning meal or afternoon snack.

Canned pineapple comes in several sizes, from tidbits to spears that rival the size of a pickle spear. The tidbits make a great cottage cheese topping. The tart sweetness of the pineapple is the ideal balance to the tangy flavor of the cottage cheese. It's no wonder this is a popular combo.


Canned peaches are perfect for porridges, like oatmeal. Once you've prepared the oatmeal, add warm peaches to the top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add some roasted nuts and a little swizzle of honey and heavy cream to enjoy a high-end breakfast experience at home.

And let's not forget pancakes, which are just begging for a sweet fruit topping. Sliced pears in heavy syrup are a decadent substitute for traditional maple syrup. Don't forget the butter. A little butter, some warm pancakes, and sliced pears? Yes, please.

Make popsicles

Popsicles are already easy to make and even easier when you use your favorite canned fruit. It's also a good way to get rid of fruit nearing its expiration date. Turn your canned fruit into popsicles and keep them in an airtight container for a chilly treat that you can enjoy year-round.


To make popsicles, pour the fruit from the can directly into the popsicle molds. This is one instance where you definitely want to take advantage of all that juice in the can. For a more refined look, or if you're feeding small children, you can puree the fruit first, which will make it all the same texture and freeze beautifully. Once it's been pureed, you can mix it with other ingredients (like yogurt, cream, or coconut milk) or add fresh berries to the mix before pouring into molds and freezing.

Don't have a popsicle mold lying around the house? No problem. Use a bread pan for a popsicle mold instead.

Add it to muffins or bread

The best part about muffins is that once you find a recipe you like, it's really easy to swap out ingredients to change things up. The next time you make a loaf of bread or a batch of muffins, add canned cherries, peaches, or mangos for a surprising twist.


Adding fruit to your muffins or bread is a very straightforward process, although you'll want to make sure the fruit has been drained properly. If you use fruit with excess moisture, it will impact the baking time and you might end up with soggy-centered muffins or bread that didn't bake all the way through. If you're worried about soggy muffins, pat the fruit dry with a paper towel after draining. Once your fruit has been drained, cut into small pieces (unless you're using cherries, which are perfect the way they are). 

You can get creative with these recipes. Try adding some mango to your next loaf of banana bread. Instead of blueberry muffins, replace the blueberries with cherries (and add some walnuts for a little crunch). Making orange-flavored muffins? Cut up some mandarin oranges and fold them into the batter before baking.