The freezer is such a treasure chest of kitchen delights. I reach into my own for frozen vegetables to get dinner done in a pinch, ice for cold brew and boo-boos alike, and frozen fruit like berries, cherries, and peaches (yes, even in the height of summer!).
And yet, I'm not making smoothies every day. No, I'm using frozen fruit for everything from dessert to dinner in a few surprising ways that makes these frozen gems worth their weight in gold. Here are seven clever ways to use frozen fruit that have nothing to do with morning smoothies.
Pancake and Waffle Topping
Last year, my family fell in love with these cornmeal pancakes by way of Louisville, Kentucky. They're served with a strawberry compote we needed year-round. Frozen strawberries make that possible. And if you love the berry-flavored syrups from your local pancake house and want to try them at home, frozen berries are the best place to start. Save the seasonal berries for eating out of hand and making jam instead.
Punch, Sangria, or Lemonade
Frozen fruit can do double duty as a flavor agent and ice in your punches, teas, sangrias, and even lemonade. My kids love frozen peaches and strawberries in their lemonade because they enjoy eating the partially thawed fruit too.
Peach barbecue sauce is a specialty enjoyed throughout Georgia and South Carolina as a way to use summer's bounty throughout the winter. Now that I'm living on the West Coast, I've turned to frozen peaches for making my own peach barbecue sauce at home year-round.
Get the recipe: Bryant Terry's Pomegranate-Peach Barbecue Sauce
Salad Dressings and Marinades
Fruit-based vinaigrettes are well-loved for the sweet-meets-sour balance they can bring to boring greens. By blitzing frozen fruit with a little vinegar, you can get the sweet seasonal power of fruit any time of year.
Get the recipe: Raspberry Vinaigrette
Cobblers, Cakes, Pies, and Galettes
Confession: I almost never make peach cobbler with fresh peaches. They're just too precious to cook with all that sugar in the summer. Plus frozen peaches are peeled, pitted, and sliced for me. Almost any fruit dessert or baked good (think: muffins and scones) can be made with frozen fruit too!
Fruit leather is such a fun treat if you have kiddos in your kitchen, but it takes so much fruit to produce a small batch that it is almost always more cost-effective to buy frozen fruit, thaw it, add sugar, and then slowly dry it into fruit leather.
Get the recipe: Blackberry-Chile Fruit Leather
Okay, so this one is pretty close to a smoothie, but technically qualifies as dessert. Nice creams are frozen fruit churned to soft-serve consistency. A frozen banana and another fruit of your choice along with some nut milk is all you need.