The Best Fruitcakes for Folks Who Actually Like Fruitcake

Fruitcakes are a terrific desert to gift and serve, provided you pick the right one.

Thanks to modern agricultural practices, we live in a world of food abundance, but it wasn’t always so. That’s one reason why fruitcake, which dates to ancient Roman times, is a traditional gift. Nuts, fruits, spices, and sugar weren’t so readily available over the centuries, which is why a fruitcake, which contains all those ingredients, was generous and much appreciated.

It still is, even though fruitcake has suffered from some bad press over recent years. Because sugar (and alcohol, which is an ingredient in some fruitcake recipes) preserves the cake, and nuts and dried fruit can be safe to eat for many years, a fruitcake can last a long time. That has made it the butt of jokes—unfairly so, because a properly made fruitcake is delicious. That said, there are many commercial versions of fruitcake available, so which one is best for you? Here’s a few tips to help you shop.

Party Favorite

Comes in one-pound loaves, them ideal for slicing and serving buffet-style. Claxton Fruitcake

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Fruitcakes come in various sizes, but the loaf style is perfect for cutting into slices and putting out for guests at parties. Not only does a row of fruitcake slices look appealing, not everyone wants to eat a large piece—it’s not exactly low in calories, and often there’s a large selection of food at a party anyway. But, serving slices of fruitcake buffet-style can ensure guests can choose the amount of fruitcake they want, and it will reduce waste. These loaves are easy to store, so if you keep one around, you’ll always have something to offer guests, even those that drop in unexpectedly.

Handpicked Nuts

Contains pecans, pineapple, cherries, papaya, raisins, and honey in a gorgeous pattern. Collin Street Bakery

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If you want to give a fruitcake as a gift, look for two qualities: An abundance of fruit and nuts, which suggest a quality fruitcake; and a lack of alcohol, because some people don’t like the taste of it (or, for health reasons, don’t want to consume liquor). A fruitcake that comes in a tin and has colorful fruits on top is especially festive.

Serves 8

Handmade by Trappist monks at a small monastery in Missouri. Assumption Abbey

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Trappist monks, by their own rule, produce and sell products to finance their monasteries, and some make fruitcake. Any fruitcake fan would be thrilled to receive a fruitcake made by Trappists, who are known to have strict quality standards and use only excellent ingredients.