15 Best Uses For Fruit Preserves

Fruit preserves are a pantry staple that can add flavor and excitement to a range of recipes. While they are commonly used as spreads for toast, there are many creative ways to incorporate them into your cooking. Whether it's jam, jelly, marmalade, or another kind of fruit preserve, there is no limit to their use in your sweet and savory cooking.

For sweet applications, try using preserves as a filling for pastries or cakes, or mix them into yogurt or oatmeal for a healthy breakfast. You can also use them as a glaze for meats or a topping for cheese boards for a unique twist on savory dishes.

The possibilities are endless, and this article provides creative ideas to help you get started. Whether you're trying to use up a jar of preserves sitting in your pantry or looking for a new way to add fruit flavors to your cooking, don't let that sweet preserved fruit go to waste.

Include preserves on your cheese board

A cheese board is not just about the cheese; it's also about creating a balance of contrasting flavors that excite the palate. While cheese may be the star, providing a variety of salty and savory components, on its own cheese can be too rich and overwhelming. This is where a sweet element, like fruit preserves, comes in handy.

Condiments like fruit preserves are not just gratuitous additions to a cheese board. The sweetness of the preserves can complement the cheese and create unique and interesting pairings. They can also help cleanse the palate and cut the harshness of a particularly strong cheese. Or, despite being preserves, they can add a bite of freshness.

Giada De Laurentiis' quick jam trick to elevate a cheese board is a good example for how to pair cheeses with preserves. She likes to combine Calabrian chili paste — a popular Italian culinary ingredient — with fig jam to create a spicy, sweet flavor for spooning onto slices of crostini and brie.

Stir preserves into oatmeal

Oatmeal, on its own, may feel like an uninspired breakfast. But it's simple to elevate oatmeal by adding some fruit preserves to the mix. Fruit preserves are an ideal addition to oatmeal because they provide the perfect combination of sweetness and flavor. Moreover, they can be used as a substitute for fresh fruit when it's unavailable, or in winter when options are limited. If you use a preserve with chunks of fruit, such as jam or marmalade, it'll be even closer to replicating the experience of the whole fruit.

To make a perfect bowl of oatmeal, stir a couple tablespoons of your favorite preserves into your freshly cooked oatmeal. The fruit will quickly meld into the warm and creamy oats, imparting flavor and some visual interest. Then, top your bowl off with a complementary ingredient like nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, or a sprinkling of cinnamon. If you have a variety of fruit preserves available, you can switch up the flavor of your oatmeal every day, keeping your breakfast exciting and fresh with minimal effort.

Spread preserves over a cake

A cake is a tasty treat when it's moist and tender. However, sometimes our baking efforts may not yield the desired results, and a cake may turn out dry and tasteless. There's no need to worry, though, as this problem has a simple solution. One of the easiest ways to revive a dry cake is by pouring your favorite fruit preserves over it. The liquid from the preserves will seep into the cake, making it moist, while the fruit will add a fresh burst of flavor. No one will ever know the difference.

To make getting the fruit on your cake easier, you can briefly heat up the preserves in the microwave. Then, use a brush to spread it over the top of the cake. Or if your cake has layers, you'll also want to put preserves in the middle. If you poke a few holes throughout the cake, this may help the cake to absorb the liquid.

Of course, you don't have to wait for a dry cake to incorporate fruit preserves. This can be an intentional fruity and versatile topping for many cake recipes.

Layer preserves in a parfait

Who doesn't love a parfait? The combination of creamy and crunchy layers, all topped with colorful fruits, is a classic breakfast or dessert. But what if fresh fruit isn't available?

With a jar of fruit preserves, you can enjoy a parfait with the flavors of your favorite fruits all year round. Preserves are the perfect solution even if you're craving a summery strawberry parfait on a cozy winter's day. Plus, the fruit in preserves maintains a consistent texture and creates beautiful layers of color — unlike frozen fruit, which can turn mushy and release liquid, turning your beautiful treat into a soggy, unattractive mess.

All you need to do to use preserves in a parfait is to spoon them out and spread them between the alternating layers of ingredients. They would also work well as part of the topping. Consider using a few flavored preserves together to make things more interesting, or perhaps using them in combination with fresh fruits.

Create a vinaigrette

If you have a nearly empty jar of jam or preserves in the fridge, don't throw it away. Instead, you can turn the remaining spoonfuls into a delicious, fruity vinaigrette. It's a great way to sweeten up salad dressings and add unique flavor to your dishes.

To make a fruit-based vinaigrette, add your desired vinegar or citrus juice to the jam jar. You can add herbs, garlic, shallot, or other flavoring ingredients in addition to oil. Once everything is in the jar, put the lid back on and shake well. This will help to release any jam remnants from the sides of the jar and incorporate them into the dressing. Then, taste and adjust the dressing with salt and more oil or vinegar as needed.

Using jam in your dressings can bring sweetness and a fruity flavor to your salads, but it's also a great way to use up the last bit of jam in your jar and reduce food waste. Even better, any leftover dressing can be stored directly in the jar.

Pour preserves over ice cream

If you have a jar of preserves at home, you can elevate your ice cream experience without going to a specialty ice cream parlor. Heat the preserves gently in the microwave or on the stove, then pour them over your bowl of ice cream. This is a quick and easy way to dress up ice cream — especially simple flavors like vanilla, which pair well with almost any fruit. This also means you can avoid buying a special jar of ice cream topping, which may not even be made with real fruit, unlike preserves.

However, if pouring preserves over your ice cream doesn't sound appealing, here's another idea: if you like making your own ice cream, consider using preserves in place of some of the sugar. This is Alton Brown's ingredient swap for perfect homemade ice cream, and it's genius. Preserves contribute sweetness, and the pectin in preserves will help create a creamier and smoother texture for your ice cream.

Sweeten a cocktail

Have you ever thought to add a spoonful of fruit preserves to your homemade cocktails? You might not have considered this before, but it's a great way to add fruity flavors to your drinks. There are many ways to add a fruit component to a cocktail, such as using juice, syrup, liqueur, or fresh fruit. However, preserves are a convenient option, adding flavor while also creating more depth and body in the cocktail.

For instance, you can easily change up whiskey sours with a scoop of marmalade. Orange marmalade, a traditional fruit preserve, complements the lemon and whiskey in the cocktail, and adds a touch of both sweetness and bitterness thanks to the orange rind pieces. A slice of orange is a common garnish for a whiskey sour, and adding marmalade provides another orange element to the drink, creating a more cohesive flavor using a unique approach. 

Add preserves to grilled cheese

If you enjoy the combination of fresh fruit and cheese, you'll be pleased to learn that adding fruit preserves are one of the ways how to make the ultimate grilled cheese. The combination of gooey melted cheese and sweet, fruity jam creates a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors.

To make the grilled cheese, start by spreading a layer of your preferred fruit preserves across the inside of one or both slices of bread before grilling the sandwich. As the sandwich cooks, the preserves will start to caramelize and blend into the melting cheese, adding an extra punch of flavor to the sandwich.

When choosing your fruit preserve, you can get creative and consider what flavors will pair best with the type of cheese you're using. For instance, a tangy cheddar cheese may go well with a sweet raspberry jam, while a nutty gouda cheese may pair well with a tangy apricot preserve. The possibilities are endless, and you can experiment with different combinations to find what suits your taste buds.

Blend preserves into smoothies

Fresh fruit is an essential ingredient to a tasty smoothie, so preserves may seem an odd and redundant item to add to the blender. However, it is possible to enhance the flavor of smoothies with a spoonful of fruit jam.

You should consider using preserves like jam in your smoothies when you need just a little more flavor. Sometimes, we only have one or two fruits on hand, but we want a more exciting smoothie. Or maybe our fruit has spent too long in the freezer and is well past its prime. In these situations, jam is a good alternative to boost the level of fruitiness.

Jam makes sense because it is made by cooking down a large quantity of fruit, which creates a more concentrated flavor than you'd expect. Jam and other preserves are also made when fruits are at peak freshness, and smoothies are all about that fresh flavor. Although jam may not seem intuitive to include in a smoothie, it makes sense when you think about it.

Flavor a sauce

If you want to liven up your homemade sauces, look no further than the jar of fruit preserves hanging out in your pantry. Preserves can be used in a variety of ways to enhance marinades, glazes, barbecue sauces, and more. The fruit's natural sweetness helps create a pleasant contrast to the sauce's savory elements, while also opening up options for a unique range of flavors.

Whether you're grilling up some chicken and want to make a blueberry barbecue sauce, or you're cooking a vegetable stir-fry and could use a hint of citrus, fruit preserves are a simple yet effective addition to elevate your dishes in new ways while requiring little effort. You don't need a special recipe to get started, either. Just add a spoonful or two to your next sauce and stir. If there's already a sweet component, you could either reduce that or replace it with the preserves.

Stuff French toast

For a breakfast that's both decadent and full of flavor, stuffed French toast is the answer. The dish consists of two slices of custardy bread filled with ingredients like fresh fruit and cream cheese. However, making stuffed French toast can seem like a lot of effort if you don't have the right ingredients on hand and need to prepare a special filling. Fortunately, this is another instance where fruit preserves can come to the rescue.

Preserves may be the most convenient filling for a stuffed French toast. There's no need to chop up and cook fruit. All you have to do is spread the preserves across the inside of two slices of your bread, dip the entire sandwich in the egg coating, and cook on each side until browned and crispy.

You could mix the preserves with other ingredients, such as cream cheese or Nutella. Or, consider including it as part of a savory and sweet Monte Cristo sandwich, which is essentially a cross between French toast and grilled cheese.

Enjoy pancakes and waffles with preserves

Are you out of maple syrup, but still want to enjoy a stack of pancakes or waffles? Don't worry, fruit preserves can be the perfect solution. Not only are they already sweet and can fill in for the syrup, but they also offer a variety of flavors, along with a bit of nutritional value as they contain plenty of fruit. And when fresh fruit isn't available either, preserves can be a great substitute for both the maple syrup and fruit toppings.

Here's a creative idea when you're in a hurry: try sheet pan buttermilk jammy pancakes. This recipe is a great way to cut down on the effort of cooking individual pancakes, because the batter is baked in one large pan in the oven. Even better, you flavor the giant pancake by swirling jam throughout the batter. It's a quick and easy idea for cooking and flavoring pancakes when you're short on time and ingredients.

Bake preserves into muffins and breads

Adding fruit preserves to breakfast baked goods like muffins and quick breads isn't just an ideal way to incorporate fruit flavors. It is also a smart way to ensure that your baked goods don't end up dry and bland. The preserves help to keep the items moist and tender, which is especially important for recipes that tend to dry out quickly. In addition, the preserves also act as a sweetener, which means you can use less of other ingredients like sugar.

Using different preserves can create various fruit flavors depending on what you're in the mood for. You don't need to bother adding fresh or frozen fruits, as the preserves can take their place. Plus, preserves are available year-round and can be found in many different flavors, from classic strawberry or raspberry to more exotic options like passion fruit, fig, or mango. Try different combinations of preserves, or even a mix of fresh or dried fruits with the preserves.

Mix preserves with cottage cheese

Cottage cheese, once considered an old-fashioned diet food, is now having a moment in the health and wellness scene. It is an excellent source of protein that is both wholesome and convenient, making it an excellent snack and breakfast food.

However, eating plain cottage cheese can be a dull experience, and that's where fruit preserves come in. A couple of spoonfuls of fruit preserves can transform the taste of cottage cheese, making it much more fun and enjoyable. The sweetness of the preserves complements the tangy flavor of the cheese, and together, they create a pleasing balance of flavors.

Additionally, fruit preserves are available in various flavors, so you can switch things up and experiment with different combinations to keep your bowl of cottage cheese always feeling fresh. Combining cottage cheese and fruit preserves is a simple way to add a protein-packed fruity snack to your diet.

Use in fruit tarts and pastries

Fruit-filled tarts and pastries may seem like complicated baking projects, but you can easily create impressive baked goods using your favorite preserves. Preserves easily add sweet fruit flavor, whether spread as a filling, swirled into pastry dough, or brushed over the top to create a glossy finish. Combine preserves with other time-saving strategies, such as pre-made puff pastry or cookie crumb crusts, to make delicious treats with minimal effort.

In this white chocolate cranberry tart recipe, for instance, you cook a cranberry jam that is spread over the bottom of a gingersnap cookie crust. While this still counts as a good use for fruit preserves, you could make it even easier with a store-bought jar of cranberry jam, or by using a jam that you've previously preserved. Either way, you can cut the preparation time for the recipe down significantly. Meanwhile, in this recipe for a cheese Danish with mango and lime, you spoon already prepared mango preserves over cream cheese to create a tropical-inspired breakfast pastry. In both cases, the preserves serve as an essential component.