Tropical Fruit Salad bursting with all your favorite fruits and the best dressing!
This Tropical Fruit Salad is sweet, refreshing, crunchy and what paradisaical dreams are made of! It is loaded with your favorite tropical fruits: pineapple, mangos, oranges, apples, pears, kiwis, bananas and pomegranate then dusted with toasted coconut, caramelized cashews and drizzled with Pomegranate Vinaigrette – mmmm… hello tropics. This tantalizing tropical fruit salad takes minutes to make, goes with practically everything and is a fabulous side for everyday OR entertaining (see below). You can make it in the Spring, Summer and Winter for a winning fruit salad you will be dreaming about all year-round.
Tropical Fruit Salad Recipe
We are enjoying another uncharacteristically warm inter (instead of 60’s its 70s), still, I find myself mostly whipping up winter comfort foods and cozy soups, leaving me longing for a taste of the tropics, so I’ve concocted my own tropical paradise in this Tropical Fruit Salad recipe. Longing be gone.
I actually 8X this Tropical Fruit Salad recipe for a holiday party and it was the first item to disappear with everyone clamoring for the recipe. So to be clear, YOU will be the hero if you make this Tropical Fruit Salad recipe!
This Tropical Fruit Salad is another favorite along with my Pina Colada Fruit Salad and Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Dressing. With one bite of this tropical fruit salad, your taste buds will be doing the hula.
But this salad isn’t just tropical fruit, which would be delicious but not completely paradisaical. This Tropical Fruit Salad is mixed with a sea of toasted coconut and sprinkled with 5 Minute Caramelized Cashews that taste like crunchy candy. Their toasted, caramel nuttiness accentuates the sweet citrus fruit so perfectly that I was searching for these precious little cashew morsels to devour in every bite. They belong in every bite. You might want to double the batch.
This fruit is then drizzled with sweet, slightly tangy, slightly creamy, Pomegranate Vinaigrette goodness that you will want to drink. The symphony of flavors and textures of the fruit, cashews, coconut and pomegranate dressing are a match made in heaven – or in this case, paradise. Welcome to the best Tropical Fruit Salad of your life.
What fruits go well together in a tropical fruit salad?
I chose fruits that are readily available in the winter months because this Tropical Fruit Salad started out as a winter fruit salad – but really, you can make it all year round and swap out some of the fruit for your favs or what is readily accessible.
- pineapple: Fresh pineapple please! Choose the pineapple with the largest eyes, this means the pineapple was allowed to ripen the longest on the branch. Look for a pineapple with flat eyes – meaning the spiky points are pressed against the pineapple instead of sticking out. Flat eyes mean the pineapple is sweeter. More tips on how to know when a pineapple is ripe below.
- mangos: My most favorite fruit! Make sure you use ripe mangos for juicy, sweet freshness. To check for ripeness, focus on FEEL not color because every variety is a different color when ripe. For example, red doesn’t necessarily mean ripe. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness. A ripe mango will give slightly like a ripe avocado. If you are intimidated by selecting or cutting mangos – check out my How to Cut A Mango Post that teaches everything you could ever want to know about mangos!
- pears: Use ripe pears but not soft pears.
- apples: Use a sweet apple like Fuji or Honeycrisp
- bananas: Choose bananas that are ripe but not soft. Slice your bananas at least 1/2 inch thick so they hold their shape and don’t get mushy in the salad. I looooove bananas in my fruit salads and want them in every bite, so if you aren’t sure you want bananas in your Tropical Fruit Salad – try it!
- kiwis: Take care your kiwis are ripe or else they will taste bitter. It is better to omit bitter kiwis than include them.
- blood oranges or mandarin oranges: I like blood oranges in this Tropical Fruit Salad during the winter when they’re in season because their red adds a festive flair. In spring/summer, I recommend fresh mandarin oranges. Mandarin oranges are a class of orange of which contains both tangerines and clementines. We want clementines in our fruit salad as they are seedless and super easy to peel.
- pomegranate arils: You can purchase a whole pomegranate and remove the seeds yourself or you can purchase ready-to-eat seeds for convenience.
You are welcome to swap the fruit in this Tropical Fruit Salad but try and swap equally sweet for sweet fruit and equally tangy fruit with tangy fruit to maintain the flavor balance. Here are a more fruit ideas:
- green grapes
CAN I USE CANNED MANDARIN ORANGES IN MY FRUIT SALAD?
I don’t recommend canned mandarin oranges because they tend to fall apart easily when tossed. If you loooove them though, then feel free to use them. I would suggest refrigerating your canned mandarin oranges first so they tasted refreshingly chilled.
How to Know when Pineapple is ripe?
You can purchase a ripe pineapple if making Tropical Fruit Salad immediately, but more often than not, you will have to first select a pineapple and wait for it to ripen. Here is how you know your pineapple is ready to be eaten:
- Touch: Squeeze the pineapple gently. The skin should give a little, but it should still be firm.
- Smell: Put your nose close to the bottom of the fruit. It should smell sweet; that indicates it is ripe.
- Sound: Tap the pineapple. Unripe fruits will sound hollow whereas ripe pineapple will sound dull and solid.
- Color: It is possible for a green pineapple to be ripe, but more often than not, look for yellow coloring around the eyes and base. Look for a pineapple in which yellow reaches high up the pineapple. The higher the yellow, the more evenly flavored the pineapple.
- Shape: When a pineapple is ripe, the eyes will be uniform in size as opposed to small on the bottom and large in the middle.
HOW DO I KEEP FRUIT FROM TURNING BROWN in FRUIT SALAD?
If you are making the Tropical Fruit Salad hours ahead of time, you will want to brush or soak the bananas, apples and pears with some sort of citric acid. Here are a couple options to prevent browning fruit, just keep in mind the bananas should not be soaked for longer than 5 minutes or they can turn mushy – just turn to coat and remove with a slotted spoon:
- Soak in pineapple juice: My favorite way to keep fruit from oxidizing after slicing them is to put them in a bowl of pineapple juice and let them soak for 5-10 minutes. The citric acid prevents oxidation and browning and the flavor of the pineapple juice is quite tame and doesn’t change the flavor of the fruit. If you know the bananas, apples and pears need to stay fresh for a longer period of time, then add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pineapple juice.
- Soak in honey and water. This is actually America’s Test Kitchen’s preferred method which claims the fruit stays fresh for up to 24 hours (you can watch America’s Test Kitchen’s video here). Mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 cup of water in a large bowl and toss the apple slices in as you cut them. The reason honey works is not only does it have a slight amount of citric acid, but it contains a peptide that blocks the activation of the enzyme responsible for the oxidation process in apples and other flesh fruits (not for bananas).
- Soak in water and lemon juice. Alternatively, you can mix 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons lemon (or 1 cup water with 1/4 cup lemon juice) and add the fruit to the mixture as you slice them. Let them soak for 5 minutes once you’ve added your last slice. Make sure you stir the fruit so they are evenly coated.
- Soak in carbonated soda. Lemon/lime based sodas such as Sprite, 7-Up, or Ginger Ale all work well without altering the flavor of the fruit but are not as healthy as the aforementioned alternatives.
Dressing for Tropical Fruit Salad
My favorite dressing for this Tropical Fruit Salad is Marzetti Simply Dressed Pomegranate Dressing Vinaigrette – it is spectacular! I had never tried this dressing before and now I don’t know how I lived without it. As much as I love to make my own dressings, it is so nice to have a dressing on hand that instantly infuses everyday fruits and vegetables with robust flavor with a just a few drizzles. And honestly, it would be hard to achieve this perfection at home.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR TROPICAL FRUIT SALAD
- Chill your fruit. Place your fruit– chopped or whole – in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Chilled fruit is everything in a fruit salad. You don’t need to chop your fruit 2 hours in advance, but at least place your whole fruit in the refrigerator because no one likes luke-warm tropical fruit salad!
- Use ripe, but not too ripe fruit. We want fruit but don’t want it too ripe or it will get mushy and fall apart – especially the bananas and kiwis.
- Use pineapple juice. The bananas will keep for a few hours without turning brown if they are immediately tossed in a little pineapple juice. I like to add them to the cutting board after I’ve chopped the pineapple then turn to coat.
- Mix up Fruit. Feel free to mix up the fruit and omit/add whatever works for you!
- Scale Up or Down. This Tropical Fruit Salad is easy to scale up or scale down depending on your needs.
CAN I MAKE FRUIT SALAD AHEAD OF TIME?
- The most time consuming part of this Tropical Fruit Salad is chopping the fruit BUT this can be done whenever you have time. With the exception of the bananas, you can chop all of your fruit a day in advance and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator (using one of the aforementioned methods to prevent the pears/apples from oxidizing). You can also peel and segment your oranges and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- You can toast the coconut up to one week in advance and store in an airtight container.
- You can make the caramelized cashews up to one week in advance and store in an airtight container.
- This Tropical Fruit Salad is best if allowed to chill at least 30 minutes after you add the dressing and served within 2 hours but it is still delicious if allowed to chill longer, but be aware the coconut will soften as well as the bananas.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES THIS TROPICAL FRUIT SALAD SERVE?
- This Tropical Fruit Salad recipe makes enough for 10-12 people to have a one cup serving. I could easily eat more than this – and want more than this – so take into account how much you think everyone will eat and what else you are serving with it.
- You can also halve this fruit salad recipe or double this recipe depending on the amount of people you want to serve.
How do you keep fruit salad fresh?
- If you expect leftover Tropical Fruit Salad and don’t want the coconut to get soggy, either toss coconut with just part of the salad or top individual servings with coconut.
- If storing leftovers of this Tropical Fruit Salad, remove the bananas and store the rest of the salad in an airtight container. I like to add freshly sliced bananas to my new servings of fruit salad.
HOW LONG DOES FRUIT SALAD KEEP?
- This Tropical Fruit Salad stores well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
- The longer it sits, the softer the fruit will get since it’s macerating in the dressing and getting softer.
- The fruit will taste delicious the next day but the pears and apples will turn slightly brown sound the edges.
- Juices will accumulate from the fruit the longer it sits in the refrigerator. Toss the fruit in the juices then you can use a slotted spoon if you prefer to serve your fruit.
How to Use Leftover Tropical Fruit Salad
- Leftover Tropical Fruit Salad is delicious with vanilla yogurt and/or granola – mmm!
- Whenever I can’t use fruit in time, I freeze it later for smoothies. For this Tropical Fruit Salad, divide any leftovers into individual sandwich bags, seal and freeze for later. Combine with vanilla yogurt, ice/or frozen banana, orange juice and sugar to taste.
- You can also create an immediate slushy by adding your leftover fruit salad to your blender along with ice and some honey or sugar.
- You can even make popsicles! Puree the fruit salad, add honey/sugar if desired to taste and pour into popsicle molds
Looking for more Fruit Salad Recipes?
- Pina Colada Fruit Salad
- Perfect Fruit Salad with Honey Citrus Dressing
- Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Dressing
- Watermelon Pineapple Fruit Salad
- Poppy Seed Chicken Fruit Salad Lettuce Wraps
- Honey Almond Granola Fruit Salad
- Grape Salad with Vanilla Yogurt Dressing
- Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone
Carlsbad Cravings Original
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