11 Underrated Ways To Use Up Fresh Blueberries

We all have a favorite blueberry food. Some of these might include jams, jellies, purées, and baked goods such as muffins, pies, pancakes, scones, crumbles, biscuits, cakes, and so much more. There are beverages, too — blueberries are often included in smoothies and cocktails. These tasty, dark blue-skinned fruits are generally the size of a pea, but some are larger or smaller. The insides closest to the skin are twinged with purple then get green and white toward the center. Most people purchase cultivated blueberries from the store or farmers market, and some are even lucky enough to have access to fresh, wild blueberries.

Baked goods of all kinds are a no-brainer way to utilize blueberries, so we decided to skip those here. But even without bakes, there are plenty of underrated ways to use these delicious fruits. For example, you could make fresh blueberry butter to generously slather on your blueberry scone or blueberry clafoutis. Want to shake things up for a special occasion? Try infusing your own blueberry vodka to add a punch of flavor and bright color to your vodka cocktails. From drinks like lemonade to bites such as grilled cheese and coleslaw, these creative applications will ensure your fresh blueberries won't go to waste.

1. Salad

Fruits such as peaches, strawberries, apples, watermelon, and pomegranate are regularly included in salads. It's high time to add blueberries to your salad. Fresh blueberries give a pop of texture and a little bit of tang to your salad without overpowering it. You can eliminate the lettuce altogether and opt for a blueberry and watercress salad. Blueberries on a bed of mixed greens like spinach and arugula with grilled chicken, strawberries, red onion, walnuts, and goat cheese is a winning combo. In salads, blueberries pair well with greens, nuts, proteins, and soft cheeses, so you're able to get creative.

If you don't want it centered around blueberries, you can swap them in for any of the aforementioned fruits in a salad, or add them all — try strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries together in a salad for a very berry mixture. Plus, it's a colorful and nutritious way to jazz up your meal. Blueberries and apples can juxtapose each other in texture — blueberries practically melt in your mouth while the apples are crisp and firm. It helps that blueberries are one of the easier fruits to prep since you don't have to peel and chop them. Simply rinse your fruit, toss them into your salad, and they're ready to eat. When it comes to salads, you can use what you have in your refrigerator; you don't necessarily have to head out to the store to buy a particular green or cheese. Experiment with what you have.

2. Grilled cheese

Grilled cheese remains a comfort food for any age. There's something so familiar about the crisp, toasty bread and how the cheese pulls as you take your first bite. Take this childhood favorite and give it a little upgrade with fresh blueberries. Fruits like apples and figs get added to grilled cheese all the time. You'll see fruit spreads and jams in them as well, so it doesn't hurt to include blueberry instead. Use your favorite bread and any type of cheese for this sandwich, including cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, pepper jack, gouda, havarti, blue cheese, gorgonzola, or Swiss. Butter the outside of your bread or skillet to give your sandwich a bit of richness. 

To make your grilled cheese, mash the blueberries before adding them to the bread along with your cheese and grill to perfection. The mashed blueberry acts like a jam, which you'll see in grilled cheeses often. It'll also give you an idea of how wet the blueberries are in case you don't want to have a moist, leaky grilled cheese. If you prefer the crunchy burst of a whole blueberry in your sandwich, you don't have to mash it ahead of time. Sourdough pairs divinely with the blueberries but white bread, baguette, ciabatta, and even English muffins are excellent options too. Elevate your grilled cheese by including other ingredients besides the blueberries like bacon, cranberry sauce, or honey. This sweet and savory version of a time-honored sandwich might become your next favorite meal.

3. Simple syrup

The great thing about simple syrup is that it's quick and easy to make. It doesn't require a lot of steps, equipment, or ingredients to whip up. It's accessible and convenient since most people have some type of sugar in the cabinet, whether it's granulated white, brown, coconut sugar, or something in between. You only need sugar, water, and fresh blueberries to make blueberry simple syrup. The syrup acts as a blank canvas because there are so many variations and ways to use it. You can branch off into other tasty syrup combinations such as blueberry apricot, blueberry ginger, blueberry lemon, or blueberry vanilla, or try different fruit or spice combinations depending on how you think you'll use it. 

The rich color can make any drink or food look all the more alluring. Brush a thin layer of the blueberry simple syrup on a lemon loaf cake or on blueberry cardamon donuts. Give a blueberry lavender iced coffee a shot or add a couple of squirts of syrup to your favorite sparkling water as a refreshing beverage. Talk about adding a splash of sophistication to your food and beverages! If you don't end up using it all in one go, store it in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze it in fun-shaped ice molds to use later.

4. Meatballs

Sweet and savory make an epic combination, so you might want to try meatballs with a blueberry twist. If grape jelly can be added to meatballs, why not blueberries? Grape jelly and meatballs have been part of the culinary world since the 1960s and have experienced a rise in popularity in recent years. You'll see this duo in restaurants, home cooking, tailgates, and more. Unlike jams and jellies, blueberries by themselves don't have any added sugars. They can be sweet, but they tend to be on the more tangy side as far as fruits are concerned. Keep the tang as is or integrate sugar or honey into the blueberry meatballs for added sweetness. Balance it all out with a spicy kick from meatballs with blueberry sriracha sauce, hot sauce, or jalapeños.

Whip up your meatballs on the stove or in a slow cooker for your next get-together. Guests will certainly be surprised by the addition of blueberries, but the intriguing taste will surely win them over. Serve as a party appetizer with toothpicks so people can pick them up individually and it'll be a hit for your gathering. These make a quick and easy weeknight dinner as well, and one that doesn't skip on interesting flavor.

5. Lemonade

While strawberry lemonade and watermelon lemonade are popular versions of this tasty drink, blueberries are just as good. Country Time, Calypso, and Simply Lemonade introduced their own versions of blueberry lemonades to the beverage market, so why not make your own at home? All you need is water, lemons, blueberries, and sugar. You could use lemon juice if you don't have fresh lemons on hand. Mash the berries and strain them so there aren't any residual chunks, or skip the strainer and muddle fresh blueberries directly into your lemonade if you don't mind the pulp. You can even plop fresh blueberries straight into ready-made lemonade instead.

Need a couple of tips to make the most refreshing lemonade? Consider adding lemon zest, a hint of mint, or a spritz of sparkling water to your beverage. Mix in strawberries or watermelon for a fruity lemonade combination and then serve with ice in your favorite glass on a hot day. Have you ever had a comforting honey lemon tea on a cold night? Instead of making blueberry lemonade with sugar, swap it with honey to create a hot lemonade to warm up on a frigid evening. Blueberries have antioxidants and honey has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, so this might be the perfect combination to stave off or soothe a winter illness or symptoms. Blueberry lemonade is a must-try for your beverage lineup.

6. Salsa

Fruit is no stranger to salsa. You'll often see mango, pineapple, or strawberries in salsa, so blueberries make for a logical addition. Tomatoes and avocados are technically fruits as well, but we won't get into that right now since those are pretty obvious choices when it comes to salsa. You can always buy blueberry salsa online, but it's easy enough to make your own. Chop onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes, then toss in whole or halved blueberries, lemon juice, salt, and any other seasoning to taste. It's like a flavor explosion with hints of sweet, tart, and spicy hitting all the right spots. Make it sweeter by adding blueberries to a refreshing mango salsa, or go hotter with serrano or habanero peppers. TikTok also has some great inspiration for blueberry salsa if you want to see how people are making it.

Texture is also key here, but comes down to personal preference. Opt for a thicker, chunkier salsa with large pieces and whole blueberries, or chop things finely for a different mouth feel. You can also change the texture completely by blending everything together in a blender. The slightly sweet tanginess of the blueberries can elevate just about any salsa recipe. Pair this colorful salsa with corn chips as a scrumptious snack or add it to tacos, grilled meats, or fish to enhance a meal. 

7. Coleslaw

Whether you want a more typical taste or you prefer charred or grilled vegetables, it's safe to say there are many ways to make coleslaw. A traditional coleslaw usually comes with purple cabbage, green cabbage, and shredded carrots. Coleslaw dressing often includes a mixture of apple cider vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, salt, or pepper. While coleslaw is notoriously savory, fruit isn't new to it. If you happen to use apples, nectarines, or grapefruit in your coleslaw, swap in blueberries for a sweet, tangy twist. The crunchy pop pairs perfectly with the crispness of cabbage, and there are bagged coleslaw blends at most grocery store if you don't want to chop everything yourself. 

Create a rainbow coleslaw with different vegetables. Fresh blueberries add a beautiful hint of color that goes well with the purple of cabbage and orange of carrots. Add cilantro or torn mint leaves or include a toasted nut such as pistachios, peanuts, or cashews for added crunch. Aside from experimenting with ingredients, there are plenty of other ways to boost the flavor of your coleslaw — marinate your coleslaw ahead of time, try a warm coleslaw, or add a hint of spice with jalapeños, gochujang, or chiles.

8. Frozen yogurt bark

Yogurt and blueberries are a terrific pairing, so making a refreshing bark out of them feels like a natural next step. Use Greek yogurt, sweet yogurt, flavored yogurt, or whatever suits your fancy. Simply spread yogurt on a baking sheet before adding your blueberries and other toppings. For a thicker bark, use a 9x9-inch pan or bread loaf tin. Try this frozen yogurt bark with fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, granola, and sliced almonds. Use a blueberry yogurt for an extra blueberry kick, but these fruits also go well with vanilla, strawberry, or lemon yogurt. Mash up the blueberries and mix them into the yogurt itself. You can take an additional step by mashing and straining the berries so you don't have any blueberry chunks.

Aside from fruit, whatever toppings that you can think of. Give it a boost of flavor by sprinkling on some chocolate chips, coconut flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom. Sprinkle in nuts or other fruit, or even mix in a nut butter like peanut or almond. You can add seeds like hemp, flax, chia, sesame, or pumpkin, too. There are countless options and pretty much all of them go with blueberries. This is a fantastic snack or dessert to make with the kids because they can customize it to their liking. It's best served straight out of the freezer, so it's not melting in your hands. 

9. Butter

Brunch will never be the same. To make blueberry butter, simply whisk the two titular ingredients together. It's that simple. While blueberry butter isn't widely available in grocery stores, brands like Better Butter have a blueberry craft butter if you aren't keen to do it yourself. This compound butter is a top choice for any breakfast or brunch. You can add it to toast, bagels, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and pretty much anything on the table. It goes well with practically any baked good. It's phenomenal on a piece of fresh bread from the farmers market or bakery. Spread a generous amount on a stack of pancakes and enjoy as the bluish, purplish butter melts and drips like a beautiful piece of art.

You can elevate your blueberry butter even more by including additional ingredients. Pour in a little bit of maple syrup or brown sugar for sweetness or blend in strawberries with the blueberries for extra fruitiness. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and allspice to the mix for a spiced blueberry butter. Once you're done with brekkie, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

10. Vodka

Infused vodka can complement or enhance any cocktail. The options are endless when you infuse your own vodka with fresh blueberries. The market is full of flavored vodkas already, from mango, red cherry, sweet tea, apple, cucumber, raspberry, coffee, or strawberry lemonade. Brands like Stoli and Smirnoff offer blueberry vodka. However, flavored vodka and infused vodka are different. When you infuse your own vodka, you're utilizing fresh ingredients to create the flavor rather than the unknown flavoring used in commercial vodkas. 

Use a craft cocktail kit to make infused vodka or steep it yourself. It's as easy as opening your bottle of vodka and adding fresh blueberries to it, making sure the vodka covers the fruit. Leave it in the fridge for two to five days and keep an eye on it each day to see the progress. Day by day, you'll notice the color start to change as the ingredients infuse. The longer they infuse, the more potent the flavor. Mix in other ingredients if you want to switch up the flavor profile. Add a cinnamon stick or other spices like whole cloves or star anise, or include various fruits like strawberries, lemon, or grapefruit. Go the herby route with fresh basil or mint, or try rosemary or lavender if you want something more fragrant.  Your cocktails will never be the same. 

11. BBQ sauce

You can't go wrong with a classic condiment like barbecue sauce. When making barbecue sauce from scratch, it usually has a type of vinegar, something to sweeten it, and then a tomato base. Ingredients may include apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, ketchup, or tomato paste, as well as other bits and bobs like Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard, salt, etc. But have you ever considered adding fresh blueberries to your recipe? It's the unexpected fruit that makes BBQ sauce sweet and rich in a finger-licking good type of way. Use it to marinate meats like beef and chicken, brush it onto your next sandwich, or dip french fries or fresh veggies for a sweet condiment boost.

While blueberries are scrumptious, there are other ways to elevate your homemade barbecue sauce as well. You could try a fruit combination with blueberries and pineapple, dates, or cherries. These fruits will not only change the taste and texture of the sauce but also offer a range of colors to make your next backyard BBQ a memorable experience. Switch up the vinegar entirely by using plum or rice vinegar for added aromatics. Blueberry barbecue sauce creates a flavorful fusion of sweet and savory that'll intensify your next meal for the better.