Fruitcake: Recipe Makeover

Butt of jokes, doorstop heft: Time to trade in the old stuff for a truly tasty holiday treat. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD

Lighter Fruitcake
Photo: Photo: Randy Mayor

Though some folks, including a few on our staff, think the holidays are not complete without a slice of fruitcake with a cup of coffee or snifter of bourbon, most people dissent. The neon-fruit-studded, brandy-soaked brick is a thing Most Likely to Be Regifted. Nutritionally, it does no favors: Densely packed with candied and dried fruits, nuts, and a stick or two of butter, this cake can deliver 575 calories and 17 grams of fat in a slice.

In the spirit of sharing, we decided to develop a cake that's lighter (in calories and heft) yet delivers those warm holiday flavors that are so treasured. Candied fruit—heavily sugared and expensive—gets swapped for a combo of fresh apple and pear; plus dates, golden raisins, and tart dried cherries. Whole-wheat flour, citrus zest, and a trio of spices build a warm, hearty base, while low-fat buttermilk and the bright, crisp flavor of apple brandy keep our cake moist. The light, buttery brandy glaze delivers a rich final hit, yet our version has almost 300 fewer calories than the original. This may become your new family favorite, and it's a gift you'll be proud to share—and that won't be regifted.

575 calories per slice
8 grams saturated fat
17 grams total fat

283 calories per slice
2.9 grams saturated fat
8.9 grams total fat

View Recipe: Lighter Fruitcake


  • Two New Tricks for Fruitcake

    • Real Fruit Fresh apple and pear stand in for sugary candied fruit, adding flavor and moisture while cutting 123 calories per slice.
    • Big Taste, Less Tipsy We skip the calorie-dense post-bake booze soak, and save 40 calories per slice with a light drizzle of brandy glaze.

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