The Best Canned Fruit Cocktail

The best canned fruit cocktail is wildly nostalgic. Like, when’s the last time you ate a bunch of peeled grapes, maraschino cherries, and little cubes of pear suspended in syrup? Too long, I’ll bet. Well, if you’re looking to revisit a classic canned concoction that harkens to the school cafeteria, we’re here to help. 

Whenever I think of canned fruit cocktail, I always think of the movie Steel Magnolias and Truvy’s “cuppa cuppa cuppa” recipe. As she lays it out for Clairee, “It’s a cuppa flour, a cuppa sugar, a cuppa fruit with the juice, mix and bake till gold n’ bubbly.” No, I’ve never actually made it (although lots of people online have)—but should I ever decide to live my sweet Southern hairdresser dreams, I now know which fruit cocktail can make it great.

When I started cracking open cans of canned fruit salad, I wasn’t totally sure what I was looking for, but it quickly became apparent what separates the best fruit cocktail from the rest of the fruit cocktails. There should be a good mix of fruit—diced pear tends to be a bit bland and it feels like filler fruit. If a can contained too much diced pear, it didn’t make the list. Give me nice big hunks of peach instead, please! Besides that, I wanted good variety, nice color, and lots of fruity flavor (even if it was added after the fact, like in the cherry flavored fruit mixes). Here’s the best fruit cocktail for your next cuppa cake (or just eating straight out of the cup).

best low sugar fruit cocktail

Best No Sugar Added

Del Monte No Sugar Added Fruit Cocktail

This canned fruit salad is low sugar, but it’s still plenty sweet because it contains some artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t have a gross aftertaste, though. In fact, it’s pretty mildly sweet for an artificially sweetened product (the sweeteners in question are sucralose and acesulfame potassium, in case you were wondering), which makes it the best fruit cocktail we tried that was reduced sugar or no sugar added. Del Monte canned fruit cocktails contain plenty of big chunks of tender peach. And the no sugar added Del Monte fruit cocktail was no exception, which gave it a big leg up in this taste test. If you’re cutting down on sugar, this is a good option.




best canned fruit salad

Best Unique

Dole Tropical Fruit

Dole tropical fruit mix is the best fruit cocktail if you want something that more closely resembles fruit salad in a can than classic fruit cocktail. It’s a mix of papaya and pineapple packed in light syrup and passion fruit juice—it’s very tasty and unlike any of the other canned fruit cocktail we tried. The fruit is firm and very sweet. I don’t eat a lot of papaya, but I have a hunch I’d like this canned version better than fresh. The passion fruit juice gives everything a beautiful backbone of tropical flavor. This is a trip to Hawaii in a can. Use it in a salad with sweet cream and coconut shreds, use it to make ambrosia, or just open a can and eat it as a snack.




best light syrup canned fruit cocktail

Best Light Syrup

Great Value Extra Cherry Fruit Mix

This canned fruit cocktail is a must-love-cherries situation. And I don’t mean fresh cherries—I mean sweet, sweet maraschino cherries. You can smell cherry as soon as you open the can. Honestly, it’s a little off-putting, but in the end this was the best fruit cocktail we tasted in light rather than heavy syrup. The mix in this can is so much better than in most other Great Value fruit cocktail cans, which were all so loaded with slightly browned white grapes. Gross! This can has big hunks of peaches, and a good number of halved cherries. Yes, everything in the can tastes like cherry, but it’s better than fruit cocktail that tastes like nothing! But if you don’t like cherry flavor you will not like this. Also, we tried Del Monte’s 100 Calorie Cherry Mix and it was WAY too cherry flavored. This one is milder, trust me.




best fruit cocktail

Best of the Best

Del Monte Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup

The instant I opened this can, I could tell it was gonna top our list of the best canned fruit cocktail. Yes, it’s a little heavy on grapes, but they’re a reasonable size and they actually taste good. There are nice, big cubes of peach (which was elusive in other canned fruit cocktails), and there’s way less pear than you’ll find in other cans. This was also the sweetest of the heavy syrup fruit cocktails. Yes, it does contain more sugar, but not dramatically more and, frankly, the additional sugar gives everything more flavor. I like that even though the fruits are all stewing together in a saccharine juice, you can still taste the difference between them. This is the fruit cocktail I’d recommend to Truvy.




Other products we tried: Great Value Fruit Cocktail in Juice, Great Value Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup, Great Value Extra Cherry Fruit Cocktail in Light Syrup, Great Value No Sugar Added Fruit Cocktail, Kroger Fruit Cocktail in Juice, Kroger Fruit Cocktail in Light Syrup, Kroger Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup, Sweet Harvest Fruit Cocktail, Sweet Harvest Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup, Del Monte Very Cherry Fruit Cocktail

About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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