Raisins are underrated. The dried grape gets a bad rap as the healthy (and unwanted) alternative to chocolate chips in cookies, but raisins have many applications in both savory and sweet dishes beyond basic cookies.
Raisins are great because even when other fruits are out of season, these dried beauties can still be used for a punch of sugar in so many dishes. Plus, raisins are a scrumptious, shelf-stable way to get a sweet treat when you are on the go, like during a summer hike or camping trip.
Here are nine delicious recipes that will have you appreciating that tub of raisins languishing in the back of your pantry.
This recipe for Lumberjack Cookies comes straight from the Maine woods, where cooks would prepare innumerable snacks for the hardworking timbermen on long trips. The tasty cookies have lard along with butter, sugar, molasses, eggs, flour, oatmeal, raisins and lots of spices. You can prepare them in different ways for different results, too. You can roll and cut the cookies, and then bake them in an oven; fry them on a hot skillet as fritters; fry them like doughnuts in deep fat; or bake them as a drop cookie in an oven. Don’t be intimidated by the serving size, either — the recipe is easily halved, or you could make the full recipe and refrigerate half to bake later.
Refrigerator fruit salad
Mixing dried and fresh fruits makes this refrigerator fruit salad more texturally interesting — and more delicious. Try putting all the dried fruit like raisins at the bottom of the bowl, where the juice from the fruits will sink and plump the dried fruits a bit. Let the salad sit for a couple hours before mixing it for best results.
Carrot raisin muffins
These carrot raisin muffins are lightly sweetened and filled with a confetti of shredded carrots and dotted with sweet raisins. They have a strong cinnamon element to them — both inside and on top — and are delightful hot from the oven.
Eggless, milkless, butterless cake
This eggless, milkless, butterless cake is so simple, so versatile and so delicious. Spiced raisins are the star of the show, and you’ll wonder why you ever turned up your nose at an oatmeal raisin cookie once you sink your teeth into this fluffy, raisiny goodness. A sprinkle of powdered sugar will dress it up if you don’t want to ice it, but the cake is also tasty with a cream cheese frosting. You can bake it in a square, round or loaf pan, with some adjustments.
Quick pickled raisins
You can apply the basic steps of quick pickling to raisins, which are delicious in a variety of applications. You can put quick pickled raisins on a charcuterie board, on a bed of fresh leafy greens, mixed into a chicken salad or even just snack on them on their own.
Irish soda bread
Irish soda bread is an under-appreciated quick bread. Good Irish soda bread isn’t dry or flavorless, and with a simple pat of butter, it will become your new favorite breakfast or tea-time snack. This recipe for Irish soda bread doubles the traditional amount of raisins for an extra sweet and moist affair.
Bran and oatmeal muffins
Grab-and-go healthy snacks are great if you are in a rush. You can make a batch of these bran and oatmeal muffins and stash them away in the fridge or freezer to eat later. They are delicious for breakfast along with fruit and yogurt, but also great for a healthy midday snack. The recipe doesn’t require raisins, but they add a healthy and delicious punch of sweetness.
Santa Lucia buns
Sunday, December 13, is the Swedish holiday Santa Lucia Day, but you can enjoy these Santa Lucia buns all year round. The buns are brioche-like and pleasant, made simply with butter, eggs, sugar, milk and — of course — raisins. They are best eaten when warm and spread with more butter or jam, and perfect with coffee or tea.
Tzimmes, or sweet potato, carrot and dried fruit casserole
Tzimmes is a Jewish stew of sweetened vegetables or vegetables and fruit, sometimes with meat, that is often served for Rosh Hashanah. Traditional tzimmes features sweet potatoes, carrots, prunes and honey. For this tzimmes recipe, you can even mess around with the prunes by substituting raisins, or using maple syrup instead of honey.
Raisins are inexpensive, versatile and delicious for both sweet and savory recipes. With these recipes, raisins are sure to become the new stars of your kitchen.