We're calling it: Fruit trifles are the prettiest desserts of the summer.

By Vanessa Greaves
Updated July 14, 2020
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Berry Trifle
Credit: Meredith

What Is a Trifle Dessert and Why Should You Make It?

A trifle is a simple dessert that originated in England, and true to its name, doesn't take itself seriously. Easily created with any combo of cake + fruit + creamy filling you wish, these multi-layered bowls of deliciousness can be assembled ahead of time and chilled until you're ready to serve it up. Plus, there might booze involved. I'll share tips to make the best fruit trifle desserts, plus favorite recipes to try.

How to Make the Best Fruit Trifle

1. Use the right bowl. A large clear glass punch bowl with straight or gently sloping sides shows off the layers and layers of ingredients you use to build your trifle, adding to the wow factor of this deceptively easy dessert. You can also create individual servings in jars or parfait glasses.

2. Cut your cake, brownie, or cookie base into bite-size ingredients — this makes building and serving trifle a lot easier. However, if your recipe says you should use whole ladyfinger cookies to line the side of the bowl, you should follow that direction.

3. You can easily build your trifle with convenient store-bought ingredients, but in case you prefer homemade, try these recipes for pound cake, angel food cake, brownies, and ladyfinger cookies.

4. Trifles usually include a whipped cream, whipped topping, custard, or pudding layer. If you prefer homemade versions of store-bought products, try these recipes for homemade whipped cream, custards, and puddings.

5. Build your trifle layers from the outside in. Press fresh fruit or cake or creamy fillings right up against the glass so you can see the outer face of the layer, then fill in the rest of the layer.

Favorite Summer Trifle Recipes to Try

Store-bought pound cake cut into cubes makes this colorful trifle super-quick to make. You moisten the cake with a bit of rum (or not), then layer it up with fresh berries and lemony white chocolate whipped cream. Lots of reviewers served this for their 4th of July parties, but it would be heavenly all summer long.

All-American Trifle
Photo by Allrecipes

We love the idea of creating individual servings of trifle so everyone gets a picture-perfect treat. Jars, wine glasses, or even water glasses make great trifle containers. "I scaled this down to 4 servings and made them into 'mini' trifles. They turned out so cute, and they are delicious!" — Kim's Cooking Now!

Mixed Berry Trifle
Photo by Kim's Cooking Now!

Trifles made with angel food cake are especially light and spongy. This version is loaded with strawberries and takes a mere 15 minutes to assemble.

Here's another angel food cake trifle, but this one's layered with kiwis, strawberries, bananas, and pineapple. To get the most attractive layers, place fruit slices up against the glass before adding the filling. It's worth it to take time building your layers with care, making sure the cake and creamy filling stays behind the fruit layer.

Joy's Prizewinning Trifle
Photo by iluv2cook!

Lady finger cookies (you can usually find them in the bakery section of your grocery store) are a third option for the cake filling, and make an attractive layer around the bowl. For this recipe, you'll soak the lady fingers in rum, but that's up to you.

Vanilla Raspberry Trifle
Photo by Cynthia Ross

Berries aren't the only fruits you can use to build a trifle. Try this peach-packed beauty layered with angel food cake and vanilla yogurt.

Fresh Peach Trifle
Photo by Molly

Where did trifle originate? In England, where this dessert dates back to the 16th century and is still a favorite holiday treat.

English Trifle
Credit: Love2Nurse

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