Monochromatic Fruit Salad

Monochromatic Fruit Salad Recipe

Monochromatic Fruit Salad Recipe

A couple of Julys ago, I got invited to a last-minute birthday dinner. There was a homemade chocolate cake planned, but the hostess asked if I could make a second option for dessert. I texted “Of course!” before realizing I had no great ideas about what to bring…

I love to bake pies and tarts, but, having spent a dozen summers in hot New York apartments, I try to avoid turning on the oven for any reason between June and September. All I want for every meal is something fresh and cool. I wondered what I could make that would satisfy these urges, but still look and taste impressive.

Reader, I decided to make… a fruit salad!

At the grocery store, I picked out a ton of fruits all in the same vivid colorway — dark reds, purples and blues — and tossed them together in a giant white bowl. I added a generous squeeze of lemon, the smallest pinches of raw sugar and tore a few mint leaves for visual contrast.

The result has become my go-to dessert for company: the monochromatic fruit salad. It bears no resemblance to the wilted collection of honeydew pieces, lackluster grapes and tough pineapple you’d recognize from those plastic cup fruit salads in grocery store refrigerators. The matching colors and tangy-sweet-juicy tastes make it feel special and surprising. It’s also light — the perfect complement to something chocolatey on a sultry summer night.

At the party, everyone declared it delicious. “This is the most amazing fruit salad I’ve ever seen,” said my friend, Sarah, who to this day pays reverence to my “big fruit salad” (a Seinfeld reference is the truest form of flattery).

Our version of the dark fruit salad seen here includes figs, black plums, black seedless grapes, blackberries, pomegranate seeds, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, black cherries, mint, sugar and lemon juice. The light salad has gooseberries, golden raspberries, sunshine raspberries, apricots, Pink Lady apples, Rainier cherries, peaches and nectarines.

Monochromatic Fruit Salad

Here are a few tips for putting together this super simple, beautiful dessert:

  • It works in any season. Try berries, cherries and stone fruit in the spring and summer. In the fall, consider apples, pears and grapes. Bonus points if you know how to supreme winter citruses, which you can combine with golden kiwi and star fruit.
  • It’s all about presentation. Select fruits that have bold colors and hold up well when sliced and mixed. Bananas aren’t great for this dish, for example.
  • Let your washed and sliced fruit dry and drain in a colander for a little while so water and juices don’t make it mushy in your serving bowl.
  • Don’t overslice! Put in some whole pieces and roughly cut others. (A key detractor in many fruit salads are all the same-sized cubes.)
  • Look for unexpected fruit varieties that fit your colorway, like golden raspberries or yellow cherries.
  • A squeeze of lemon helps brighten the flavors and keep cut fruit looking fresh. A spoon of sprinkled sugar makes everything glisten.
  • Prepare it a few hours ahead, if you like, and keep it in the fridge, covered.
  • Serve on its own, garnished with mint, or pair it with chocolate cake or delicate cookies. It makes a wonderful light dish during a carb-y brunch, too.


Monochromatic Fruit Salad Recipe



Thoughts? Would you make this? (And if you’re in the mood for fresh fruit, you might also like strawberries and cream and summer berry cobbler.)

P.S. A guide to table manners, and how to make conversation at a party.

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)

  1. I really like the cutting and arrangement of the fruits…

  2. A very nice and informative post shared by the author. Pictures of berries are really increasing my hunger pangs. Delicious!

  3. I love the cutting and the arrangement of the fruits. This is a healthy way to snack too! Keep up the good work.

  4. I have tried other recipes but this one takes the price, simple to follow through but the taste is not simple to forget but leaves a mark, yummy!!

  5. I loved how you combined ingredients. It is innovative and fresh!

  6. Viginia Luther says...


  7. What a fab post. Perfect for summer!! I love mint leaves in my salads so I might add a sprinkle on top :)


  8. elizabeth says...

    Thanks for this great recipe!

  9. chris m says...

    Would love to be able to print some of your recipes, please make that possible with printer friendly capability!

  10. Healthy food is best for me. I love making salads. Now I know exactly what salads in the near future I will eat. Thank you!

  11. I love this! Fun additions….
    Basil instead of (or in addition to!) mint.
    And/or …. Splash of bourbon. Which makes everything better. ha!

  12. Briar says...

    Oh how funny, I made just a salad the other night! We were having cheese fondu and wanted something bright, simple, and sweet. I ended up using tinned lychees, golden kiwifruit, mango and tons of finely sliced mint. It tasted (and looked) divine!

  13. lovely and looks so fresh and perfect for these hot southern summers! Never thought of the beauty of monochromatic fruit, such a small thing with beautiful results!
    May I ask about where to find the gold cutlery??

  14. Jen says...

    Love this idea! The simplicity of it is right up my alley.

    Do you mind me asking where the dishes are from? I’m specifically wondering about the individual plates/bowls in the first two photos… Thanks!

  15. Beautiful. I am so inspired! I thought I’d seen it (and done it) all as a home cook, but this idea takes simplicity to new heights. Thanks for the tip!

  16. Yes! A friend of mine makes a similar fruit salad with only the good stuff – berries! I always love it and have been meaning to recreate it with some of my own touches. These tips are great, and the salads are gorgeous!

  17. Loretta says...

    I did this in 1993 when I got married. My mum and caterer tried to talk me out of it. Mine weren’t as beautiful as yours though.

  18. What a wonderful idea! It’s a great way to really appreciate the flavours too. We are so used to overcomplicated desserts and dishes that we forget how nice a simple flavour can be!

  19. These look absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe. This really is a useful post.

  20. Trish says...

    We’re having a carry-in at work tomorrow so this was perfect timing! I got the stuff and am taking it. Thanks for the idea!

  21. milla says...

    We add shaved white chocolate to our fruit salads and put them under the broiler for 3-5 mins until the white chocolate turns caramelized brown. It adds a subtle sweetness and crunch – amazing! We usually do a mix of strawberries, bananas and kiwis. Doesn’t sound like it goes together but it’s fantastic and a there is even a restaurant in Stockholm that serves it all summer. Yum!

  22. Nancy says...

    Fruit salad is often my go to dessert to take to pot luck dinners as it is accessible to those with dietary restrictions. Trying to accommodate dairy free, gluten free, diabetic and those watching their weight (ahem… myself included), can be challenging. If I want to bring something a bit more substantial, I will sometimes make a Pavlova and serve the fruit on top, but will also serve extra fruit on the side for those that just want the fruit.

  23. This is beautiful and so simple it’s just genius! Hahaha! Gonna try this cos where I live, its SUMMER all year round and just looking at the colours makes you feel instantly refreshed and happy!

  24. Stephanie says...

    Wow, this looks delicious! I haven’t seen some of those raspberry varieties around before. Thanks for sharing such a great, but simple idea.

  25. molly says...

    Awesome! I just served one like this last night at my MIL’s birthday dinner! I was going to do a standard fruit salad as my daughter requested, but I remember our neighborhood fruit stand has incredible berries right now, so I grabbed a variety of them there and tossed them together with a squeeze of clementine juice because I didn’t have a lemon on hand. It was so simple and so pretty and was the only dish that was completely devoured. I decided it’d be my new go-to, I was so proud of it! Haha. Anyway, these are especially beautiful! xo

  26. Simple gorgeous! Always love a good, refreshing, and vitamin-packed fruit salad! ;)

  27. janelle says...

    fruit salad is one of my go-to contributions to a potluck or work thing. most often, something light is welcomed and needed when there are a million other crowd-pleasing desserts and heavy dishes.

  28. I absolutely love this. Will be making soon.

  29. Looks so amazing & colorful! :)

  30. We eat with our eyes, the saying, goes and monochromatic color is so pretty! This is a fantastic idea for a dessert–I totally forgot about it! My parents used to spike fruit salad with Grand Marnier and a dash of lemon for preserving ’til the next day…no wonder I loved it so much!!! Thank you for this post! xo

    adorn la femme

  31. Lisa says...

    Fruit salad as an awesome dessert, healthy, easy to prepare. My mother in law often serves just strawberries as a dessert, dressed with mint, sugar and orange blossom water – the orange blossom water gives a delightful flavour. Sometimes I use rose water instead. DeLISH.

  32. Yummy! I love the monochromatic theme. Not only does it look delicious but also gorgeous! I would definitely make this—in fact I probably will for one of our upcoming picnics. It seems so simple!

  33. Audrey says...

    I do this all the time in the summer. I usually add a scoop of mango sorbet or dollop of fresh whipped cream (which kids especially love).

  34. Em says...

    Beautiful – will definitely be pulling this idea out for future parties!

  35. bisbee says...

    I love this! I make a fruit salad that has a Honey Lime dressing – I think it would be great on one of these monochromatic fruit salads!

    1/4 cup honey
    2 tsp lime zest
    1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

    Whisk together and pour over salad just before serving – toss to coat.

  36. wow. I’m impressed – this looks GORGEOUS. and so tasty. want to go make this right now.

  37. Beth says...

    Beautiful idea!! As a Weight Watchers member, seeing a dessert like this at a dinner party would be a godsend since fruit is 0 points. A dollop of homemade whipped cream would be a nice touch to make it feel truly fancy.

  38. These look beautiful. I wonder if watermelon would work with the dark fruit salad or would make anything soggy. I love using watermelon in whatever is possible during the summer months. I used it just a month ago in a make it and drink it in the same day sangria. It would have been a good idea to add these other dark fruits on top for an extra garnish! Next time! Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      I think it would work, especially if it’s really red and ripe. It would be cool, too, to serve the dark fruit salad on a watermelon “plate” like this recipe:

  39. Kimberly says...

    This is revolutionary!! I love how simple and beautiful they are!

  40. Aga says...

    A lovely approach to fruit salad — i can’t stop staring at the photos! They’re absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!! I want them as prints in my kitchen!!! (Cup of Jo merch idea..? ;) )

  41. Glenda says...

    Love me some fruit! Yours looks yummy!

  42. Love this! I should have read this two nights ago! Last night I posted a picture of different fruits on my Instagram and I said that after all the chocolate we’d been eating the past few days fruits never looked better. I should have known about the monochromatic salad!! what a better way to present it. :)


  43. Great idea!

  44. Lucy says...

    A fruit salad is my go to for summer picnics and parties, but these fruit options and themes are a great twist. My secret ingredient: I mix sugar with Grand Marnier for a little extra kick!

  45. Karina says...

    Hahaha I love it! When you described the types of fruit, I couldn’t but resist thinking of “Goblin Market”.

  46. Lauren says...

    Only Joanna Goddard could make a fruit salad look cool… ;-)

    • Aga says...

      I think this is the work of Lexi!

  47. Anya says...

    We always had homemade fruit salad for desert in my house growing up, and always with the freshest seasonal fruit we could find (so, a lot of citrus in winter in Canada). Mint always freshens things up, but torn up basil is also amazing. I like substiting lime, or, if I want an especially fancy grownup fruit salad, a drizzle of Grand Marnier for the lemon juice. A little sprinkle of brown or white sugar mixed in is great too. Not a lot, just enough to enhance the flavours of the fruits.

  48. Mallory says...

    These salads are beautiful but I’m such a sugar addict, I would be so disappointed if someone pulled out fruit for dessert unless it was on top of that homemade chocolate cake or over a big bowl of ice cream. I once convinced a cousin to stop dating a guy because when asked to bring dessert to dinner, he brought over DATES. For dessert!! Clearly he had to go.

  49. Anitra Sweet says...

    Brilliant! I’m so stealing this idea :) Also, the Seinfeld link isn’t working for me. Not sure if that was mentioned already. Maybe it’s just my computer. :)

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Aw, sorry Anitra. It works for us!

  50. Seriously beautiful salads. I am sold on those brass-plated spoons, too. Perfect styling as ever. :)

  51. mmm these look delicious and so beautiful! Love eating with all of my senses.

  52. What a genius idea! I can’t wait to try one of these salads. I’m sure I’ll end up making for our fridge on a Sunday and my husband and I can snack on it throughout the week. This is perfection, thank you for sharing. Also, beautiful pictures! – Charlie,

  53. yael steren says...

    I love adding mint to salads – it’s so delicious!!! It might not be as monochromatic, but another delicious salad is with watermelon, feta cheese and mint!!! Love this post! xox yael

  54. Love this idea! Fruit salads tend to be overlooked at buffet tables, but this is fabulously presentable.

  55. Amy Lauree says...

    Such a great idea. Sort of a forehead slapper- why haven’t we thought of this before!? Looks delicious.

  56. Lucy says...

    I’m throwing my sister a bridal shower this weekend and this is EXACTLY the dish I need to add. I’m having a mid-day patio party so no-cook sides are necessary. Thank you!

  57. Anne says...

    Classiest fruit salad ever.

  58. Very cool! I’m usually more about a variety of colors when I make fruit salads (sometimes I’ll make a fruit plate in a sort of mandala like way (, but I really like these versions with all the unexpected additions like gooseberries and figs.

  59. Clara says...

    This reminds me of spending a semester in France! We often ate fruit salad as dessert after lunch. I learned that monochromatic works best! One of my favorites was mango, pineapple, and golden kiwi!

  60. I love serving fresh fruit with brunch! It gets almost decadent with a little dollop of fresh vanilla whipped cream, too!