Unexpected Ingredients That Pair Well With Blueberries

Native to North America, blueberries are a very popular fruit whose popularity is growing. They're the second-most popular culinary berry in the United States behind strawberries. The berry's popularity has significantly increased in the last three decades, and the U.S. grows nearly 1 billion pounds yearly. There are many unique varieties, including Alaska, Pink Champagne, and Pink Popcorn. However, highbush blueberries are the most ubiquitous. You can eat blueberries raw or cooked. While most people are familiar with blueberry muffins, pies, and pancakes, there are many other ways to eat them.

Because of this fruit's many different flavor compounds, the berry can combine well with many different other taste profiles. Some flavor pairings may even be unexpected. However, after breaking them down, we can see that different compounds lend to blueberry's descriptors as "grassy," "sweet," "earthy," "sour," and even "floral." From sweet to savory, explore different flavors and ingredients to add to your next blueberry dish.

Balsamic vinegar

The pairing of blueberries with balsamic vinegar works because it balances sweet and acidic (sourness), which Le Cordon Bleu says is one of the keys to delicious food. Balancing the five elements of flavors in one dish creates a complete and complex dish that will satisfy. Added to that, blueberries have a slight acidity that echoes the vinegar. Shared elements of flavor accentuate this.

Like blueberries, balsamic vinegar contains vanillin. Vanillin itself is an acid that occurs naturally in many foods but is also an additive in others and used in cosmetics. 

To take full advantage of the blueberry-balsamic pairing, consider creating a blueberry-balsamic glazed rosemary chicken recipe to get started. You can also make a balsamic dressing spiked with blueberries. If you are craving something sweet and savory, you can even add balsamic vinegar to a blueberry crisp. The bold flavors of the two ingredients blend to create something truly special. 


As Chef Samin Nosrat has made so famously known with her book, "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat," these four elements play well together. That said, blueberries and cheese might not be the first ingredient duo to come to mind. However, cheese has a varied flavor profile, including fattiness, umami, and saltiness (mainly because it's such a broad food category). This profile blends nicely with the tart sweetness of blueberries to create a near-complete balance of flavors. No wonder blueberry-topped goat cheeses like Aldi's are so popular!

While blueberry cheesecake isn't exactly a well-kept secret, don't be afraid to go savory. There are plenty of blueberry-infused cheddars on the market, for example. Or, try baked brie with blueberry. When the blueberries warm up with the cheese, it will take the whole concoction to the next level. And if you can't do dairy for some reason, don't worry: this combination also works with plant-based cheese.


Cured meats and pork especially make great pairings with blueberries. Like blueberries, cured meats contain ketones and sulfurs, according to a 2023 study by various universities in China. Ketones are carbonyl compounds that lend food their fruity, musty, or buttery taste, depending on the exact structure. Different sulfur compounds can create different flavors, from "herbaceous" to "oniony' to straight-up sulfurous.

It's not just cured meats that taste great with blueberries, though. According to Ketogenic, meats, in general, are part of a keto diet and contain lots of fat, which pairs well with blueberries. For example, try blueberries on a charcuterie board or in a barbeque pork recipe. On a charcuterie board, make sure to include plenty of cheeses as well. Or, if you're a breakfast fan, you can pair bacon and blueberry in many different ways, including preserves or French toast. The sweet and salty pairing is a winning combination. 


Due to shared and complementary flavor compounds, rosemary, mint, basil, and lemon thyme make great pairings with blueberries. Rosemary contains eucalyptol, borneal, and camphor as its main flavor components, which lend to its pine-like flavor. Blueberries also have flavor compounds (α-terpineol) that lend a piney scent.

Different varieties of mints have various flavor components. They include terpenes cineole and linalool, according to a collaborative 2021 study between United States universities, the University of Munich, and Mars, also found in blueberries. Finally, lemon thyme contains limone and thymol, which lend this bitter herb a hint of citrus. The citrus flavor of lemon thyme makes it taste great with blueberry.

These aren't the only herbs that go well with blueberries, though. Next time you throw a party, consider making a blueberry salsa  — the fruit and cilantro will make a fabulous pair. Add some coriander (cilantro seed) as an unexpected spice to your blueberry muffins and take them to the next level.


The starchiness and sweetness of corn match the sweetness and acidity of blueberries, making this a delicious pairing. Moreover, the duo is a Southern classic, according to Bravo TV. Even better, this combination is a great way to use produce in local dishes that are native to the Americas. For example, Minnesota is one of the top blueberry and corn-producing states.

Blueberry corn muffins are a classic choice, but if you'd like something a little more unexpected, try a blueberry-cornmeal galette recipe to enjoy the mix of corn and pie. But the possibilities extend beyond pastries. Both summer produce, corn and blueberry, form a great partnership in a lovely light salad. Sweet corn and blueberry ice cream is another option for those with a sweet tooth who don't feel like pulling out their baking pans. In both cases, you can add fresh herbs or even bacon, two other flavor combinations that work well with blueberries.


Pumpkin and blueberry desserts are a favorite among bakers, so combining them is a natural next step. (In fact, both fruits are actually berries!) These two berries pair well with the same spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom — which can help tie a recipe together. Pumpkin also contains vanillic acid, which echoes the vanilla compounds in blueberries. This is also a very healthy combination because blueberries are one of the top antioxidant foods and very high in vitamin K. Both these fruits are also low-calorie. Meanwhile, pumpkins are high in vitamin A and antioxidants. By eating them together, you get a double-dash of healthy antioxidants.  

Consider combining these nutrient powerhouses in a morning smoothie. However, if you are in the mood for a fruit-filled breakfast that is a bit indulgent, try a recipe for pumpkin pancakes topped with blueberry preserves. Either way, you are in for a delicious treat.

Brussels sprouts

The reason this pairing works is the sweet-bitter pairing. They also both contain sulfur, which is responsible for the bitter taste in Brussels sprouts (cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, in general, contain sulfurs). That means that blueberries have a slight bitterness to them, which echoes the flavor in sprouts, even if their primary taste is sweet.

Brussels sprouts are high in nutrients like vitamins C and K, as well as calcium and fiber. When you add that to all the nutrients and antioxidants that blueberries offer, you have got yourself a nutrient-dense flavor pairing. But how should you eat this pairing? You can either have them together in a salad and eat them cold. Then, you can add bacon, cheese, or other complementary flavors to the recipe if you'd like. If you prefer your vegetables warm, glaze your roasted sprouts with blueberries for a sweet and savory side dish.


Most non-citrus fruits taste good with citrus, but blueberries also contain citronellol compounds — which can either produce a citrus or floral scent — amping up this pairing. Citrus is also acidic, meaning it offsets and complements the sweetness of blueberries in recipes. It's important to always think about balancing different types of flavors.

If you want to take full advantage of a blueberry flavor combo, try making a blueberry lemon goat cheese tart recipe; you'll be taking advantage of not just citrus and blueberry's deliciousness but the way that cheese pairs with both. Of course, lemon is not the only citrus you can pair with blueberries. Orange and blueberry desserts are a winning combination, but growing in popularity is blueberry and orange-infused water. All you need to do is muddle the blueberries and oranges together before adding water. Let the mixture sit for a few hours to "steep" before serving.


Sweet and spicy is a traditional combination; fruit is no exception to that pairing. From the classic Tajín and fruit combo to modern takes like hot sauces, this flavor pairing is one you don't want to miss. And blueberries are a fruit that goes particularly well with chilis. While mango and pineapple salsas may be well known, blueberry salsas are just as tasty. The same goes for hot sauce. The reason this flavor combination works so well comes down to brain chemistry. As food scientist Brittany Towers explained to Insider, "Odd flavor pairings are all about balance. With sweet and spicy, our body processes spice through receptors in our taste buds, and the capsaicin in peppers binds to our taste buds."

But you don't have to stop at pairing chiles and blueberries. Why not try combining multiple combinations? For example, blueberries and chocolate work together, as do chocolate and spice, so why not sample some spicy blueberry chocolate? Or you can add chilis to some blueberry jam.


Lavender and rose go very well with blueberry due to the floral flavor compounds found in the fruit. Blueberries contain geraniol and nerol, which give the fruit its floral notes. Rose, for example, has not only nerol and geraniol but linalool, limonene, and citronellol. Except for nerol, lavender also contains these compounds. The compounds the plants share and those they don't create a complementary flavor that really punches blueberries up to the next level.

Mix blueberry and rose water in margaritas or baked goods to take advantage of this combo. For those dealing with dietary restrictions, try a seven-ingredient blueberry and lavender vegan cheesecake recipe. The key to cooking with flowers is less is more. Remember that you can always add more, so start slowly so the flowers don't overpower the blueberries and other flavors. If you're someone who's unsure about floral flavors, this blend is a great way to dip your toes in because the blueberries really temper the flowers' flavor.


One of the best things about blueberries is that they have so many different flavor notes, meaning they pair well with so many kinds of foods. In this case, the earthy flavor of beets is reflected in blueberry's woodsy and earthy undertones. Scientists have identified the compounds that make beets take earthy. While not exactly the same as those in blueberries, the earthy tones in each are complementary, making this a delicious, if unexpected, combination.

Low in calories and full of nutrients like folate and manganese, beets are an excellent addition to a meal featuring blueberries. You can get the nutritional bang for your buck by eating beets raw, so if you want to enjoy this flavor pairing, try a blueberry and beet smoothie recipe or mix the two into a salad. If you're more interested in flavor than preserving maximum nutrients, consider roasting beets with a blueberry glaze. 


Malty flavors go great with blueberries, making them a wonderful pairing. This makes sense as malt is a bitter-sweet taste, and blueberries have a sour-sweet flavor. This makes them complementary on the five-flavor chart. If you want to try blueberry beer without breaking the bank, we suggest Sea Dog Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale.

If you're a homebrewer, know that you can add blueberries to just about any kind of beer recipe. The trick is to add the berries during the second fermentation. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries, but you must strain them from the recipe either way. Sometimes frozen is better because the fruit is frozen at peak freshness. You can also use blueberry extract or 100% blueberry juice to flavor your beer. Another homebrewed drink that tastes great with blueberries is kombucha. You also add the blueberries during the second fermentation while making this beverage.