From Classy to Trashy, a Ranking of the Best Peach Things
All month long on Kitchn we’ve been talking about the delicious ways to eat a peach. Some peaches are better for different occasions, as Assistant Food Editor Kelli Foster notes in her post about the best peaches to buy for the right moment. We’ve also given you various recipes, including this gluten-free crisp and this almond peach pit milk (!!!) that you need to make in the next month if you know what’s good for you. It’s mostly been a practical guide for the peach-lover in all of us.
Well, now that we’ve given you some non-judgmental options, it’s time to lay down some cold hard facts about how peaches sit in our cultural zeitgeist. If you want something delicious and classy, there are only a few peaches that fit the bill, and you need to know about them. We’ve ranked all the various ways to eat a peach for you in our very scientific matrix that definitely wasn’t just some arbitrary thing that I decided to work on. Read this and go forth knowing exactly what you should make and eat this summer.
1. The Perfect Yellow Peach
Just like summer, the perfect yellow peach is ephemeral. Finding the perfect peach feels not unlike finding the door to Narnia — it’s transformative and magical. The perfect peach has the perfect texture — not too mushy, not too hard — and it will be so juicy that you’ll make a total mess eating it. But you won’t care. Because it’s so perfect and flavorful. Long live the perfect peach! Long live juice running down your chin and not caring a bit!
Overall ranking: 1 (duh)
2. Grilled Peaches
The only thing better than a cold, juicy peach that’s at peak ripeness is one that’s thrown on the grill. This might be the most underrated summer dessert and it’s incredibly simple to make: Prepare your grill, de-pit the peaches, and put them on the flames for four to five minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.
Overall ranking: 2 (tied)
3. Peach Ice Cream
Peach ice cream doesn’t get the attention it deserves. When it’s done right, the flavor can be both delicate and rich — the perfect way to end a day out in the sun, or after a meal made entirely on the grill. I love when peach ice cream has chunks of real peaches in it, too. Bonus points for those recipes.
Get the recipe: Peach Pie Ice Cream
Overall ranking: 4
4. Peach Cobbler, Crips, & Crumbles
I’m going to say something that is probably a little controversial, but that everyone needs to accept in their hearts: Peach cobbler is way better than peach pie. I’m sorry if you disagree — I really am. Warm peaches are delicious, but they need some texture to make things pop. This is why a cobbler (or crisp or crumble) will always be superior. Add a little ice cream or fresh whipped cream (not optional).
Get the recipe: Gluten-Free Peach Crisp
Overall ranking: 2 (tied)
5. Canned Peaches
Our Lifestyle Editor, Lisa Freedman, has some unpopular opinions when it comes to peaches, but hear her out: She thinks canned peaches are even better than fresh ones. Her logic? It’s all about that sweet, sweet peach juice you find in the can, and the fact that most times than not, the peaches are peeled (fuzzy peach skin isn’t for everyone).
Overall ranking: 6
6. Peach Mylk
Have you met the glory that is peach pit milk? All you need is some almond milk and peach pits (that’s right — no actual peach flesh is required). It’s cold and refreshing and might just make the perfect addition to your breakfast routine this summer.
Get the recipe: Almond Peach Pit Milk
Overall ranking: 5
7. Gummi Peach Rings
There’s no denying that Peachie O’s are a superior gummy. Sure, they don’t live up to the glory that is a fresh peach — it’s artificial peach flavoring, after all — but they pull their weight in the candy aisle. The delightful sugar coating and not-so-delicate peach flavor is exactly what you need during the long winter months when fresh peaches are nowhere in sight.
Overall ranking: 10
8. Peach Pie
When done right, a good peach pie can be delicious — but that’s a hard thing to do. There are a lot of bad peach pies out there. Many peach pie recipes lacks in flavor and need too much ice cream to make up for the fact. As Sam Sifton says of the New York Times recipe for peach pie, you need a good amount of sugar and lemon to balance things out. If you’re able to pull it off, wow, good for you!
Overall ranking: 7
9. Donut Peaches
These peaches are so freaking cute, it’s hard to pass them up when you see them at the farmers market. And it’s a good thing, too, because they just so happen to be my favorite snack during the summer. In terms of taste they aren’t the most delicious of the peaches, but they certainly are tasty and easy to carry to work so they make up for it.
Official ranking: 3
10. Frozen Peaches
Did you go a little overboard on buying peaches this year? Can’t force your significant other to eat one more peach? Freeze that sweet summer goodness! Sure, they won’t taste as good as when they are fresh, but they’ll do some good in that sad winter smoothie.
Read more: How To Freeze Peaches
Overall ranking: 8
11. Peach Jam
Jam is another way to turn too many peaches into something you can consume later. Peach jam is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as good as other jams. It’s definitely not as good on a peanut butter sandwich, and it won’t add a ton of flavor when swirled into your morning yogurt. It’s best consumed with a spoon or on a simple slice of sourdough toast with a little butter.
Get the recipe: How To Make Easy Freezer Peach Jam
Overall ranking: 11
12. The Peach from James and the Giant Peach
This is without a doubt the most magical peach in this entire list. This peach, after all, helped James and his anamorphic bug friends escape the evil aunts and go on a wild adventure. But just because it’s magical doesn’t mean it’s something you’d actually want to eat. Honestly, I bet it tastes pretty gross (sorry). This peach has gone on quite the journey is obviously bruised and overripe. No thank you.
Overall Ranking: 9
13. Peach Schnapps
Drinking peach schnapps should probably be illegal after the age of 22, but alas, there are a few classic-ish drinks that use it still (I’m looking at you, Sex on the Beach and Fuzzy Navel). The cloying beverage is reminiscent of drunken peach gummies, but decidedly not as delicious. Beware the awful hangover that always (and I mean always) follows a night after drinking this stuff.
Read more: How Not to Drink Peach Schnapps
Overall ranking: 13
14. The Color “Peach”
Peach, the color, is pretty unique and hard to pin down. You might even call it elusive if you wanted to be all literary about it. Is it just one color? Is it more of an ombré-type thing? Is it just varying shades of yellow, orange, red, and pink? Is the color bright or a bit more pale? These questions are what makes the color exciting! But also, it might just make you hungry so that’s a huge drawback.
Read more: You Have To See This Pretty, Peachy Pink Kitchen
Overall ranking: 14
15. The Peach Emoji
You can’t not see the peach emoji and turn into a 13-year-old girl, right? Last year we almost lost the emoji as we know it, but the rage was so strong that Apple reverted it back to its original state. We love you, peach butt emoji, and we hope you never change.
Overall ranking: 12
16. A White Peach
White peaches get a lot of attention during the summer and I honestly don’t know why. White peaches are a little bit sweeter than yellow peaches, and tend to be less flavorful. They are best eaten out of hand instead of used for jams, cobblers, and grilling. They’re just more delicate and fussy and not worth the hype I’m sorry.
Overall ranking: 15