It’s hard to beat a classic like fruit salad, the ubiquitous Filipino holiday dessert enjoyed by both the young and old. It’s a simple medley of pantry staples that add color to the season’s festivities.

A fruit salad starts with a can of fruit cocktail, with its syrup drained and reserved for other purposes. Sometimes fresh fruits like apples and grapes—often gifts from neighbors and colleagues—are added, too. Others mix in coconut strips, nata de coco, or kaong. And some, as surprising as it may sound, even add raisins and macaroni noodles.

That mix of textures and colors is then tossed in simple all-purpose cream, often sweetened with condensed milk. Some like it thick and creamy, while others prefer it almost soupy. The salad is chilled, sometimes frozen, waiting eagerly for revelers to arrive. Many point out, however, that the salad is best consumed the day after it is made. Obviously, to each their own when it comes to fruit salad.

But if you’re looking to change up your usual fruit salad recipe this year, here are 10 easy ideas you can consider. None of these alters the essence of the Filipino fruit salad, but all offer an innovative way of serving up the classic. Enjoy!


1. Whip it

Make your salad creamier and give it more body by simply whipping your cream. Good ol’ all-purpose cream can also be whipped as long as it’s been chilled beforehand, but your best bet for this purpose is actual whipping cream. Use an electric mixer (or a strong arm and a whisk) to aerate the cream until peaks start to form. Carefully fold in your fruits and you’re good to go.


2. Coco loco

Why not go all out with coconut for a coco-themed salad? With the fruit cocktail, toss in coconut strips and nata de coco. Instead of all-purpose cream, use coconut cream to amp up the coconut flavor. And sweeten the mix with coconut sugar, too! For toppings, you can also sprinkle some desiccated coconut to round out the coconut feast.


3. Cheese is it

Ever tried adding cheese to your fruit salad? Aside from offering extra texture, the cheese also serves as a salty contrast to the sweet mix. You can do this by simply tossing in cubed cheddar cheese. Queso de bola works well, too. Another option is to combine softened cream cheese with your cream to make it thicker and more flavorful.


4. Pop star

Turn fruit salad into a cooler treat by transforming it into popsicles! This one will win over all the kids and kids-at-heart. Just make sure to replace the cream with fresh milk so the mixture freezes better. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, transfer to popsicle molds, freeze, and done!


5. Play with layers

Fruit salad in cake form? Yes, it’s possible! Just like when making mango float, you simply need to layer crushed or whole graham crackers, whipped cream with condensed milk, and drained fruit cocktail in a square container. Try changing it to broas instead of graham crackers, too!


6. A good start

Why not change things by serving your fruit salad at the start of your meal instead of the end? Toss together a simple green salad of lettuce and fresh and dried fruits of your choice. Also add in crumbled cheese, nuts, and other mix-ins available in your pantry. And to mimic the real fruit salad dessert, whip up a creamy vinaigrette made with cream, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.


7. Shake things up

Breathe new life to leftover fruit salad by turning it into a refreshing shake! Simply place the fruit salad in a blender together with some fresh milk and ice. Blitz to your desired consistency, pour into glasses, and serve. For a more indulgent treat, you can also add vanilla ice cream into the mix.


8. Fresh take

Received a basket of fruits in season? Skip the canned fruit cocktail this time and use all those treasures by making a fresh fruit salad. Play around with your choice of fruits to come up with the perfect balance of textures and flavors. Banana, mango, and jackfruit sound like a fantastic combination. Or how about a more unique mix of chico, caimito, and duhat?


9. We are family

Put extra value to family ties this season by using it as a theme for your fruit salad. How to do that? Use up fruits from the same family for your salad. Try the melon family of watermelons, cantaloupe, and honeydew tossed in simple syrup. Or the berry family of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries drizzled with a yogurt-based sauce.


10. Warm up

Match the cool breeze of the season with a warm dessert still inspired by fruit salad. Simply place your drained fruit cocktail in individual ramekins or a large baking dish. Cover that up with this crisp topping: rolled oats, flour, butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bake in a preheated oven or just the toaster oven until the tops are golden. Serve with a sauce of cream and condensed milk for drizzling or turn it a la mode with a scoop of ice cream.