5 Best Herbs To Take Your Fruit Salad To The Next Level

Summer produce is a glorious time, bringing with it an abundance of delicious ripened fruit perfect for making a flavorful, fresh fruit salad. You can take your fruit salads to the next level this summer by including a few key herbs in the mix. Herbs might not be the first ingredients that come to mind when thinking of a fruit salad, but when paired correctly, they can give your salads a whole new depth of flavor. 

Different types of herbs pair with different fruits and can highlight the unique flavors of the fruits you're using, not to mention that herbs can give your fruit salads a sophisticated look and taste. The reason herbs work so well is that they create balance among your fruit salad's flavors. Herbs tend to have an earthy, sometimes bitter quality to them. 

When combined with sweet or sour fruits, this earthiness helps to tame some of the intense flavors of the fruit and brings out different tasting notes you might not expect. Herbs like basil and mint can give your salads a refreshing quality, whereas a zestier herb like cilantro gives your dish a savory flair.


Cilantro can help you turn mango from a succulent, candy-like fruit into a hearty mango salsa perfect to pair with fish tacos. The light citrusy and peppery taste of fresh cilantro balances some of that overpowering sweetness mango can have. Even if you're in the camp of people who think cilantro tastes like soap, you may want to give this pairing a try. Alongside the brightness of mango, cilantro takes second in terms of flavor.

Add in some diced tomatoes, jalapeños, and onions and you've got a salsa that may teeter on the edge of being classified as a fruit salad but is still delicious nonetheless. Fresh cilantro has some citrus flavor notes in it that work well with brightly flavored fruits like mango. Fresh cilantro can become overpowering if you use too much, so try to be sparing in the amount you add at first. You can always opt to add more in if you feel that your dish needs it.


A mixed-berry fruit salad featuring ingredients such as blackberries, raspberries, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries will have a relatively mild flavor. All these berries are tossed together to give you a lightly sweet, fresh-tasting fruit salad. However, on its own, a berry fruit salad can lack dimension and color. Adding in some fresh, chopped mint leaves not only brings in a lovely green hue but also provides a refreshing taste in every bite. Fresh mint also has a lightly sweet flavor and a cooling effect on the mouth. 

This cooling effect gives your basic berry salad an exciting mouthfeel as you enjoy it and is perfect for those hot summer days. Fresh mint is also mild enough that you can still enjoy the individual tastes of the berries while getting all the flavor benefits of the mint. You could opt to chop the mint finely or stick with using whole leaves throughout. If you do choose to use whole leaves, here's a tip: Slap the leaves between your hands to break the outside cells of the plant and release that minty aroma. This gives your fruit salad a gentle mint smell as well.


The floral, sweet notes of lavender bring a much-needed earthiness to the sourness of citrus. Combine grapefruit, clementines, blood oranges, and any other citrus of your preference together and sprinkle in some fresh lavender buds. The fragrant lavender will be able to hold its own against the strong citrus flavors and offers a light bitter taste that balances out the juicy sweetness of the fruit. This bright salad is perfect for making use of the last remnants of winter citrus and also gives you a healthy dose of vitamin C.

If you want to add more sweetness to your citrus salad, you could opt to use lavender sugar. Lavender sugar is just what it sounds like, lavender mixed with granulated white sugar for a sweetened floral flavor. Depending on the type of citrus you use, you might feel that your salad lacks the sweetness typically found in a fruit salad. Lavender sugar will help supplement some of that sweetness for a more well-rounded dish.


If you're looking for a classy, refined dish to serve at your next outdoor dinner or BBQ, a grilled peach fruit salad topped with a thyme honey dressing is the way to go. Grilled peaches develop a smoky, sweet flavor that makes for a unique take on a classic fruit. Combine them with other stone fruits such as cherries, apricots, and plums, and you have a real treat. 

Fresh thyme, meanwhile, has an almost spicy, clove-like flavor that brings a new taste to the peaches. The spice-adjacent flavor of this herb gives a warmth to the already slightly smoky peaches, really highlighting their grilled flavor. Topping with a thyme honey sauce simply balances all the already existing flavors and ensures that you don't lose that sweetness from the peaches. 

You can either stick with combining honey with fresh thyme for a simple dressing or add thyme to a honey balsamic glaze to give your peaches a punch of acidity as well. If you want to lean into making your grilled peaches on the savory side, you can always opt to just top them with fresh thyme.


One of the most classic fruit and herb pairings is basil and melon. Basil has a fresh, sweet flavor followed by a pungent aftertaste. A sweet, juicy melon will help dilute some of the basil's bite while still letting you enjoy the herbal qualities it offers. A watermelon, feta, and basil salad takes advantage of the sweet watermelon flavor by balancing it with a salty feta and some slightly bitter basil.

This is a classic fruit and herb pairing for a reason. The final result is a perfectly light side dish that can be paired with grilled meats or enjoyed on its own as a fresh lunch. You could opt to add other mild melons such as honeydew if you want to bulk the salad up more, but the watermelon does just fine on its own. You can keep the basil leaves whole or slice them into ribbons if you want a less intense flavor.