12 Underrated Fruits To Top Your Next Cake

If you're looking to add a little more pizzazz to your next cake beyond just slathering on a coat of buttercream, you might reach for some sliced fruit. Adding fruit to a frosted cake can upgrade your cake's appearance easily and quickly while adding extra flavor and textural components.

Beyond topping a pre-baked cake, you might also choose to bake fruit directly into the top of your cake — like in the case of a pineapple upside-down cake. Sure, while the pineapple is technically baked on the bottom of the cake, when you flip it and serve it, it's the first thing anyone sees, right on top. The baked fruit lends a tasty, caramelized flavor to an otherwise boring yellow cake.

That said, the fruits you often see adorning the tops of cakes are pretty standard fare. Think cherries atop a black forest cake or sliced strawberries or other berries atop a sheet cake or, again, those baked pineapples. Even if you arrange the berries in an attractive manner (creating a strawberry and blueberry American flag is a popular option around Independence Day), they're still somewhat expected. For something a little more out of the ordinary, consider one of these underrated fruits — and make sure to follow our tips and tricks for using each to get the best results.


Plums might not be as common in the kitchen as some other stone fruits (like peaches), and they might not be as common as even their dried counterparts, prunes, but if you bake plums into the top of your cake, you won't be sorry. This plum cake recipe produces a result similar to a pineapple upside-down cake, but with Sicilian roots.

Just be sure if you're searching for another recipe for a plum-topped cake that you don't inadvertently end up making the plum cake that's sometimes more of a holiday fruit cake than a plum-topped cake. Historically, "plum" referred to all dried fruits, so the resulting modern recipes for things like "plum cake" and "plum pudding" sometimes contain no actual plum at all.

If you'd prefer to add uncooked plums to the top of a frosted cake, just make sure the plums are well-washed and remove the pits before slicing. Wait until you're ready to serve the cake to add the plums so they still look and taste their best.


We all know banana bread, which is the ultimate in easy cake recipes. However, why not give the boring (albeit delicious) banana bread an upgrade by creating a banana dessert of another kind? Just like you can bake pineapple or plums into the top of a cake, you can do the same with sliced bananas, caramelizing them slightly before you bake the cake.

Uncooked bananas also pair well with a variety of frosted cakes when they're sliced and arranged on top of the frosting right before serving. For instance, you could make a fresh banana cake that's a little like banana bread in flavor but with a more cake-like texture. Then, pair the cake with a cream cheese frosting and add freshly sliced bananas to the top. You could also make a Caribbean cake with peanut butter frosting for that classic flavor combo of bananas and peanut butter. Given that a Caribbean cake includes bananas in the batter, you can just set a few extra aside for topping.

Whatever route you go, just be sure you don't let the uncooked bananas sit on the cake for too long. Bananas turn brown quickly after peeling, which definitely doesn't look appetizing. If you have to wait between slicing and serving, consider tossing the bananas in citrus juice before topping your cake to slow the browning process ... but only if the citrus flavor will work well with your cake and frosting flavors.


Nectarines are a stone fruit very similar to peaches, but for unknown reasons, they don't get the same love as peaches. Despite this, you might find nectarines are superior for your baking projects, depending on your goals. Nectarines don't have that characteristic fuzz that peaches are covered with, and they're a bit firmer. Since the fruit is firmer, they hold up better under heat.

You can bake nectarines into the top of a cake just like you would any upside-down cake, but you should consider adding them sliced to the tops of frosted cakes as well. Their flavor pairs well with most basic cake varieties, like vanilla and chocolate, and they go well with other fruits, too. Consider arranging sliced nectarines atop a cake alongside raspberries for a bright pop of color.

And if you have a favorite cake recipe that calls for a peach topping you can easily swap out peaches for nectarines.

Blood oranges

No one can deny that blood oranges boast a striking appearance thanks to their deep red flesh. Blood oranges burst with flavor, too, much more so than your average navel orange. Because of this, they may not be a favorite in every kitchen, but if you like blood oranges, you might just want to add them to the top of your next cake.

Sliced blood orange makes an attractive garnish for many cakes, alongside other vibrant fruits, like blueberries. You can even add in a few mint sprigs for more color. Since blood oranges boast a strong, distinctive flavor, you might not want to pair them with cakes or frostings that have similarly strong, distinctive flavors. Yellow cakes with cream cheese frosting are a safe bet. You might also opt to use the fruit slices to top a blood orange-flavored cake or an orange cake, for matching flavor profiles.

For cooking fruit into the top of your cake, you could hardly go wrong with blood oranges. After cooking, the oranges are even more striking in color and appearance.


You might not think of grapes as something you'd normally want in or on a cake. Most people think of grapes as a stand-alone snack — half-sweet, half-tart. Or, they associate grapes with grape flavoring, which sometimes doesn't taste like real grapes at all. However, the right grapes and the right cakes combine to make for a delicious dessert.

Unlike most fruits that you might use to top a cake, grapes are one that you won't want to slice. Instead, add them to the top of your cake whole. For a real wow factor, keep the grapes in their cluster and arrange them on one side of a tall layer cake. You'll have to remove the cluster before slicing and serving the cake, but no one will be able to deny that the look is one that turns heads. Other options include making a glaze, mixing the grapes in the glaze, and topping your cake with it in lieu of frosting (this works best with simpler cake recipes). Similarly, you can make a grape compote to top your cake.


Another stone fruit similar to peaches, apricots are slightly tarter and less juicy than their counterpart. This makes them ideal for cake-topping when you don't want to add extra sweetness to an already-sweet cake, or if you don't want to deal with peach juice ruining your frosting. While apricots can be added sliced to the top of your cake, or baked into the bottom of your upside-down cake, apricots are also a crucial part of a famous German cake recipe: aprikosenkuchen.

Aprikosenkuchen is a basic vanilla cake made with almonds (and sometimes sour cream) that features a layer of apricots on top. However, unlike an upside-down cake that requires you to bake the fruit on the bottom of your cake before inverting it, for this cake, you add your sliced apricots to the top before baking, allowing them to sink just slightly into the cake. When the cake is done, you can cover it with a glaze, but the apricots remain on display.


While many people love cantaloupe served fresh in the summer months, you'd be hard-pressed to find this ingredient anywhere else, served any other way. Cantaloupe is just one of those fruits that's best when it's fresh, cold, and raw.

For these reasons, you're not going to want to cook cantaloupe into the bottom or top of a cake. If you do want to cook it, your best bet is to lightly grill it and use the cantaloupe as a garnish atop a cake with a complementary flavor profile (an orange or coconut cake would be a good fit). And if you don't want to grill your cantaloupe? No worries. You can use diced cantaloupe as a garnish in the same way.

Another unique way to top a cake with cantaloupe is to make a watermelon cake. Not really a cake (though it could definitely stand in for one at any summertime event), a watermelon cake is made by slicing watermelon into the shape of a cake before frosting the "cake" with whipped cream or a similar light frosting. When it looks sufficiently like a real cake, you can top it with an array of fresh fruit. As another member of the melon family, cantaloupe is a great choice.

Dragon fruit

If you know dragon fruit mostly as the bright pink fruit that appears in some of your favorite Starbucks drinks, you may need to get reacquainted with the tropical, magenta-colored food. Usually enjoyed raw or, like pineapple and cantaloupe, sometimes grilled, dragon fruit offers a very mildly sweet flavor that's often compared to a cross between a pear and a kiwi. Because it's so light, the fruit is best paired with cakes that won't completely overpower it (if you're topping a cake with dragon fruit for its flavor as well as its looks).

For a beautiful and bright cake topper, use a melon baller to create small spheres of dragon fruit, using different colors of the fruit for a bold look (you can find dragon fruit with white or magenta flesh). Arrange the spheres atop a buttercream, cream cheese, or whipped cream-based frosting paired with an angel food or white cake. You can also mix dehydrated dragon fruit powder into your favorite frosting, to create a bright pink frosting that carries over the light, dragon fruit flavor.


Mangoes might not be a popular fruit for topping cakes in the United States, but we need to change that. In other countries (like the Philippines), sliced mangoes make frequent appearances atop layer cakes frosted with vanilla, chocolate, or cream cheese icing.

If you use mangoes to top a frosted cake and you want to get a little fancy, consider making mango rosettes. The National Mango Board has a handy YouTube video to show you how. It might take a little patience, but the end result will be well worth it. If you don't have that much time on your hands, though, you can just arrange the slices how you please, or make a mango puree and drizzle it atop your frosting. And if you don't want the drizzle mess? Pipe a frosting border around the top of your cake to keep the puree contained.

Like many other fruits, you can also use mangoes to top an upside-down cake, baking the mangoes into the bottom of the cake.


Rhubarb, that ultra-seasonal ingredient that's ultra-polarizing, is most often found in tarts and pies but it can find a place atop your cakes, too (if you're a fan, that is). With an appearance reminiscent of celery, but with a bright pink hue and a shockingly tart flavor, rhubarb requires some extra-sweet accompaniments so as not to be overpoweringly sour.

That said, if you decide to put it on a cake, you have a few options. You can bake the rhubarb into the bottom or top of the cake, for an upside-down rhubarb cake. You can also use it to top a finished cake ... perhaps a vanilla, lemon, or orange cake ... with a caveat — the rhubarb itself always has to be cooked. Otherwise, you'll just be eating soft, moist, delicious cake, topped with a crunchy, celery-like stick. To cook rhubarb before adding it to a cake, consider slicing and roasting it in sugar until the sugar dissolves and forms a syrup and the rhubarb is soft.


Since pears are on the crunchier side, chances are you'll want to cook them before adding them to the top of any cake. If your cake's already baked, you can slice and simmer pears in butter and brown sugar to create a glaze for topping. But if your cake's not already baked, you can bake the pears into the top of the cake one of two ways: baking them on the bottom of your cake pan and flipping the cake over once it's done, or baking them into the top of the cake.

If you go the latter route, just wait until your cake is ready to be popped into the oven, then add the sliced pears on top of your batter in an even layer (they can overlap a little, but not a lot — you want them to cook evenly). While some recipes indicate this is all you need to do, the pears may sink slightly into the batter. To prevent the pears from sinking too deep, choose a pear that's not overly ripe (so it's firmer) and a pear variety that won't fall apart during baking, like a Bosc pear.

Dried and dehydrated fruit

Dried or dehydrated fruit makes an exceptionally easy topping for just about any cake. The best part is, unlike fresh fruit that deteriorates quickly once cut or sliced, you can add dried or dehydrated fruit to the top of your cake at any time, and rest assured your cake will remain pristine for days to come.

Whether you purchase dried fruit or dehydrate your own at home for topping your cake, you can use a variety of fruits this way — berries, citrus fruits, pears, and apples. Consider adding a variety of dried fruits for more color, texture, and flavor. Also, consider crumbling some of your dried or dehydrated fruit and sprinkling it atop the frosted cake. You can additionally go the extra mile and mix dried fruit powder into your frosting for an easy frosting upgrade that provides extra color and flavor without any artificial additives. You can find freeze-dried fruit powder at the store or make your own by just grinding or food-processing dehydrated fruit you already have on hand.