11 Unexpected Ingredients You Should Pair With Blueberries

One of late summer's most popular offerings, blueberries are an iconic component of many desserts. With their vibrant color and sweet flavor, it's easy to go through your entire blueberry supply, making dishes that satisfy your sweet tooth, be it with pies, muffins, or cobblers. You could lose hours just choosing your favorite blueberry pie recipe from the hundreds that are out there. 

However, blueberries can be a much more versatile ingredient than you might imagine. These antioxidant-rich berries pair just as nicely with savory dishes as they do with sweet. Umami combinations might not be the first pairings that spring to mind when you start planning blueberry recipes, but this versatile fruit actually makes the transition from sweet to savory with amazing ease. Before you make your third batch of blueberry waffles, try a couple of these outside-the-box pairings. You might surprise yourself with how much you enjoy the unexpected marriage of blueberries and some of these more unorthodox ingredients.

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is unique in its composition as it utilizes every part of the grape, skin, seeds, meat, and stem. It has a more robust and sweet flavor than other wine-based vinegars. Balsamic vinegar can also be reduced down into a sweet glaze that makes an amazing addition to both sweet and savory dishes.

Blueberries share many of the same flavor profiles as balsamic vinegar, making them natural compliments to one another. If you want to elevate your next blueberry pie, drizzle some balsamic vinegar into your blueberries before putting them into the crust. It will bring the acid, much like lemon juice, but it will also provide a dark sweetness as it bakes. You could also marinate blueberries in balsamic vinegar and use them as a garnish on pork chops or pork loin to contrast the pork's juicy meat. If you want to be truly adventurous, drizzle balsamic glaze onto vanilla ice cream and top with fresh blueberries for a sophisticated dessert.


What was once a staple of many holiday dinners, duck has become more of a novelty in modern cuisine. Gamier than chicken or turkey, duck has a distinctive taste that is all its own, which pairs nicely with fruit. The flavor of duck tends to be more robust than its more familiar counterparts due to its high-fat content and the fact it is considered game meat, which tends to have an earthier taste more akin to beef than chicken.

Due to this strong profile, people tend to pair duck with other potent flavors: orange, rosemary, garlic, and plums, to name a few. Blueberries, with their rich depth of flavor, would also make a fantastic companion to duck. The balance of sweetness and tartness found in wild blueberries cuts through the buttery quality of the duck meat. Making a quick compote of blueberries, maple syrup, and fresh-squeezed orange juice will give you a sauce that will transform your duck breast recipe into a true star of the table.


Botanical flavors have risen in popularity in recent years. It's rare to peruse a cocktail menu and not see at least one floral-forward drink being offered. The most popular of those flowery fares is almost certainly lavender. Soothing and earthy in its flavor, lavender lends its essence to teas, cocktails, and cookies. Juicy blueberries bring a perfect balance to the lighter notes of lavender. The lavender does well to bring out the botanical notes in the berries, while the berries equally highlight the almost honey-like quality of the lavender.

Mixologists have capitalized on the blueberry and lavender combination for a while, especially in gin cocktails, which thrive on botanical ingredients. But the addition of lavender adds a dreamy note to almost any blueberry confection. Next time you make a batch of blueberry muffins, add a pinch of culinary lavender to your batter to bring in that soothing botanical flavor. Or try brushing a lavender simple syrup onto a lemon and blueberry pound cake for a decadent teatime snack.


Whether it's for Thanksgiving dinner or Sunday supper, there's no centerpiece quite as impressive as a perfect roast turkey. Normally, the good old cranberry springs to mind when you think of fruity side dishes that complement turkey. However, if you want to take a break from tradition, make yourself a blueberry sauce that will dress up your turkey. Blueberries have the same richness as cranberries, with an undercurrent of tartness that is tempered by the natural sweetness that cranberries lack.

Like duck, the flavor of turkey is enhanced by adding blueberries, which underscore its meatiness and juiciness. Not only do blueberries play well with the meat, but the traditional seasonings and spices that are used with turkey are also copacetic with the berries. Sage, orange, rosemary, and thyme are all delightful bridges of flavor that marry the turkey and the fruit, making the entire meal harmonious.


A classic American creation, bourbon whiskey is one of those spirits that wears many hats and is the consummate host. Perfect on its own or blended into a cocktail, it's not hard to find fruity pairings that enhance bourbon. Orange and cherry are traditional fruity companions you often find skewered on a plastic pick and swirled into your bourbon. Modern mixologists, however, have embraced blueberries as the ideal ingredient to make a stellar bourbon cocktail (from Blueberry.org).

Whether using blueberry bitters or muddling fresh berries with a dash of sugar, the slight pucker of blueberry is such a lovely edge to the velvet caramel tones of bourbon. Much like cherries, blueberries have an almost wine-like quality that folds well into the body of bourbon. You might find yourself skipping the cherry altogether with your next old fashioned and popping in a few ripe blueberries instead.


Fresh ginger is one of those ingredients that can truly change the spirit of a dish. Bright and spicy, the flavor of ginger adds notes akin to citrus and heat to a recipe. While it can be very overpowering on its own, ginger's potent spice can be tempered when it is combined with complementary ingredients. Blueberries, with their natural sweetness and botanical notes, play exquisitely with fresh ginger.

A grating of fresh ginger root into blueberry pie filling will brighten the dessert, the ginger standing out in vivid contrast to the sweetness of the berries. Similarly, adding ginger to a blueberry smoothie will give your morning drink the kick that will truly wake you up. And if you're feeling under the weather, ginger, and blueberry tea is just what the doctor ordered, with antioxidant-rich berries and the stomach and throat-soothing power of ginger, you'll soon be on the mend.


Polenta is a versatile side dish made from yellow or white cornmeal. When it's made and served fresh, polenta has the texture of a thick porridge. As it cools, polenta solidifies to the point it can be sliced like a loaf or cake; those slices can then either be eaten cold, fried, or grilled, making this dish a veritable triple threat as both a savory side or sweet dessert depending on its presentation and garnishes.

Blueberry.org recommends trying a blueberry polenta cake if you want to bring something unique to your next potluck. With a spongy texture and the natural sweetness that comes from the cornmeal and the berries, you'll be asked to bring it time and time again. You could also grill slices of plain polenta and coat them with a smear of blueberry jam for a fun brunch snack. Polenta fries can also be dipped into a blueberry compote for that tantalizing play of savory and sweet.


Adding heat to blueberries is a way of transforming a sweet fruit into the realm of savory. While jalapeños are not the spiciest peppers on the market, they are an easy and approachable bridge to heating up a dish. Cooking down blueberries with a freshly chopped jalapeño creates a spicy base that can be used for sauces or stirred into cream cheese for a delightful cracker spread.

Blueberry and jalapeño cornbread is a fun marriage of sweet and spicy ingredients. The pillowy, slightly sweet cornbread is the perfect base that tempers both the fruitiness of the berries and the heat of the peppers, creating a baked good that can either be eaten with honey butter as a breakfast food or dipped into chili for a hearty lunch.

And don't be afraid to bring the spice to your beverages as well. A jalapeño and blueberry shrub is a unique cocktail ingredient that will bring the warmth of pepper and the sweetness of the berries into your favorite drinks. You can even add it to seltzer water to keep it alcohol-free.


Honestly, is there anything that isn't improved by the addition of some bacon? Sandwiches, salads, soups, eggs, muffins, just chop up some fried bacon to sprinkle into them, and the smokey umami boost of protein suddenly elevates them. Did you know that you can candy bacon? All you need is some jam (maybe some homemade blueberry jam) and a pastry brush. Brush the raw bacon with the jam and pop it in the oven on a baking sheet and the sugar in the jam will caramelize on the meat, and your breakfast or club sandwich suddenly becomes a gourmet experience.

You can also make a savory bacon spread with bacon, onions, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar. By cooking down some blueberries into the mix, you'll also be introducing a dimension of fruity flavor into the condiment, which will make it even more versatile. Spread this delicious jam on toast, scones, or burgers to put all other condiments to shame.

White chocolate

White chocolate is a divisive food. Some people love it for its creamy, light, almost floral flavor. Other people can't stand it and fight against it, even going by the moniker of chocolate since it doesn't actually contain any cocoa. White chocolate is actually cocoa butter, oil, and milk blended together, but no actual cocoa or cocoa nibs, which give chocolate its recognizable color and flavor.

Due to its mild, sweet taste, white chocolate pairs perfectly with many different types of fruit. Blueberries provide an elegant contrast to the creamy flavor of white chocolate. Whether you're making a striking purple and white blueberry bark or a white chocolate blueberry cheesecake, you'll find that the berries' natural flavors are boosted and highlighted by the decadent confection. Even a simple favorite like blueberry banana bread is taken to the next level by adding a cup of white chocolate chips, which add bursts of creamy sweetness to a familiar dish.


Is there anything better than cheese? With hundreds of varieties of cheese in the world, there's almost no dish that a bit of dairy goodness can't enhance. From sharp and dry to creamy and mild, there's a cheese for just about every taste. And you'd be amazed just how well the different variations play with blueberries.

Baked Brie is a warmed, semi-soft cheese that can either be served plain or wrapped in pastry. Fresh blueberries offer a tart contrast to the nutty, earthy flavor of the Brie. You could also place a dollop of blueberry jam onto the pastry crust of your baked Brie and allow the flavors to swirl together as you slice the gooey cheese.

The salty, sharp flavor of cheddar is also a great companion to blueberries. Make your next grilled cheese into a masterpiece by spreading blueberry jam on the bread before layering on the cheese slices. Once it hits the pan, the melted cheese and the blueberry jam will mingle together in a harmonious salty and sweet combination that will leave you wondering where this sandwich has been all your life.