15 Recipes for Ripe, Sweet-Tart Summer Blueberries

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[Photographs: Autumn Giles, Carrie Vasios Mullins, María del Mar Sacasa, Yvonne Ruperti]

Sour and hard during most of the year, perfectly ripe, in-season blueberries are one of summer's treasures—smooth, sweet, full of juice, and just a tiny bit tart. As good as they are plucked straight off the bush (and no, we won't judge you for not washing them first under those circumstances), the versatility of this pretty purple fruit makes it an irresistible addition to smoothies, baked goods, and even cocktails. Blueberries freeze well, so if you're facing the end of the season and haven't had a chance to tackle all 15 of the recipes we've collected below—including a blueberry-maple shake spiked with gin, a tangy blueberry-lime ice cream, and classic blueberry muffins and pie—be sure to load up at your farmers market and store some of those gems for the off season. Your future self will thank you.

Breakfast

Classic Blueberry Muffins

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Muffins are perhaps the most iconic vehicle for blueberries, but, as with most iconic vehicles, they're often poorly done: so sugary they resemble cupcakes, and too light on the fruit. By contrast, ours are chock full of little purple berries, which contribute plenty of their own wholesome sweetness. We add a tiny bit of ground coriander to amplify the blueberry flavor, and keep the berries from sinking by dropping a little cushion of plain dough into each muffin cup before incorporating the fruit.

Get the recipe for Classic Blueberry Muffins »

Individual Blueberry Buttermilk Loaves

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

Individually sized portions of food that typically comes in bulk automatically get extra fancy points—that's a known fact. These mini quick-bread loaves, faintly scented with vanilla and studded with blueberries, are a delicious case in point, and ideal for a brunch gathering. The buttermilk keeps the crumb light and moist, without adding any discernible tang.

Get the recipe for Individual Blueberry Buttermilk Loaves »

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

This dense, buttery pound cake gets a tangy lift in flavor from bright lemon zest and sweet-tart fresh blueberries. As in the previous recipe, the addition of buttermilk helps to improve the cake's texture. Top a slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert, but frankly, it's just as good plain for breakfast.

Get the recipe for Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake »

Blueberry Crumb Cake

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[Photograph: María del Mar Sacasa]

Perfect for brunch, this cake is made with a base of moist and not-too-sweet yellow cake dotted with blueberries, while a dose of lemon zest and tiny dried blueberries incorporated into the crumbly topping rescue it from one-note sweetness. This is one recipe in which frozen berries work just as well as fresh, so feel free to save it for a chilly fall morning, too.

Get the recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake »

Summer Blueberry Jam

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[Photograph: Jennifer Latham]

Like all great produce, really good fresh blueberries make only a brief appearance each year. Making jam is one of the best ways to enjoy a little bit of summer in the colder months. This one is a simple concoction of ripe blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice, with one key secret ingredient—a few green, underripe berries, which add pectin, acid, and tannins that will improve the flavor and texture of the jam.

Get the recipe for Summer Blueberry Jam »

Dessert

The Best Blueberry Pie

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

There's nothing mysterious or mystical involved in making a great blueberry pie—all it really takes is a scale. Weigh your fruit first, then use exactly 25% of that weight in sugar and 5.5% of that weight in tapioca starch. It's the same ratio we use for our flawless cherry pie, and it produces a filling that's just as thick and juicy as you want it, every time. As for the fruit itself, although you can use cultivated berries only, a blend of wild and cultivated will give the pie a more complex flavor—and yes, you can use frozen wild blueberries without defrosting them first.

Get the recipe for The Best Blueberry Pie »

Golden and Crisp Blueberry Crumble Bars

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

These sweet afternoon (or after-dinner) treats combine the best qualities of a crumb bar and a fruit crumble. We start with a shortbread dough as the base, covering it with a filling of fresh blueberries and blueberry jam. Instead of using the same shortbread to top off the bars, we finish them with a thick, buttery crumb topping sweetened with warm brown sugar. Got blackberries or raspberries on your hands instead of blues? This recipe will work just as well with any berry you like.

Get the recipe for Golden and Crisp Blueberry Crumble Bars »

Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

Why is it that pineapple is the only fruit associated with upside-down cake? You can make a seasonal version of this retro dessert with fresh blueberries that's just as delightful, and pretty to look at, too. A layer of berries, brown sugar, and butter is topped with a simple cake batter, spiced with a healthy dose of cinnamon. Bake, invert, and let cool, and it's ready to go.

Get the recipe for Blueberry Upside-Down Cake »

The Best Blueberry Cookies

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

They may not have the status of chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies, but blueberry cookies are a treat worth trying. The best bake up soft in the middle and just a bit crisp and golden on the edges, the vanilla-laced dough dotted with sweet berries. Be sure to chill the dough thoroughly before baking; otherwise, it'll be too soft.

Get the recipe for The Best Blueberry Cookies »

Blueberry Almond Macaroons

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

Macaroons are most closely associated with coconut, but chopped, crushed, or sliced nuts also work well for adding these cookies' signature texture. Here, we combine shredded coconut, sliced almonds, and almond extract with fresh blueberries, which add a pleasantly fruity, sweet-tart edge and a beautiful purplish color.

Get the recipe for Blueberry Almond Macaroons »

Blueberry-Lime Ice Cream

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Our standard custard base is mixed with a rich blueberry jam, infused with cinnamon and star anise for a flavor reminiscent of blueberry cobbler, to form this refreshing ice cream. Tart lime juice and zest give it a bright edge. Since the fruit will make the ice cream freeze a bit harder than usual, let it thaw on the counter before serving.

Get the recipe for Blueberry-Lime Ice Cream »

Lemon-Blueberry Fools

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

If you've never heard of a fool, it's a British dessert made by layering stewed fruit and custard; because it emphasizes fresh fruit and requires little cooking, it's tailor-made to be a warm-weather dessert. We find a traditional custard to be a little overly heavy for the season, though, so we substitute whipped cream folded with Greek yogurt in this recipe. You can use almost any sort of fruit in a fool, but this one highlights sweet fresh blueberries, balanced by a tart layer of lemon curd.

Get the recipe for Lemon-Blueberry Fools »

Drinks

Blueberry, Ginger, and Kefir Smoothie

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[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

This vibrantly colored smoothie is flavored with blueberries, spicy ginger, and tangy kefir, a drinkable form of yogurt. Though it can be made by just blending the liquid kefir with the other ingredients, we've found that freezing the kefir into ice cube trays works even better—the frozen cubes lend a creamy texture to the smoothie instead of watering it down. We also recommend grating the ginger so you don't encounter any large chunks of it in your drink.

Get the recipe for Blueberry, Ginger, and Kefir Smoothie »

The Maine Squeeze (Blueberry, Oat, and Ginger Smoothie)

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[Photograph: Liz Clayman]

Adding nutty, hearty cooked oats to a smoothie can turn it from a breakfast accompaniment into a full-on breakfast. Here, we thicken a combination of ginger, soy milk (dairy milk works, too), and blueberries with oatmeal, and sweeten it with a touch of honey.

Get the recipe for The Maine Squeeze (Blueberry, Oat, and Ginger Smoothie) »

Boozy Blueberry-Maple Shake

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[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

If I'm in the mood for a spiked milkshake, I'm likely to reach for a dark spirit, like bourbon or rum. But this recipe goes in a totally different direction by using gin—and it works better than you'd imagine. The herbal flavor of the gin is a perfect partner for sweet blueberries, with the juniper adding an unexpected sophisticated layer. Sweetening the shake with maple syrup gives it extra complexity.

Get the recipe for Boozy Blueberry-Maple Shake »