With the weather getting colder, and some of my favorite fruits going out of season, I wanted to see if I could find any dried alternatives that could satisfy my sweet tooth through the winter. Although the health benefits of dried fruit do not add up to fruit in it's natural form, it can be a great alternative to heavily processed foods, like chips or pretzels, which offer almost no nutrients.

I created an unofficial dried fruit ranking based off of 11 Market Pantry brand dried fruit options, all available at Target. I based these rankings on the following criteria: taste, texture, snack-ability, and versatility. 

11. Cherries

blueberry, bread, sweet, pastry, pie, cherry pie, cherries, dessert, Baking, making pie
Julia Gilman

These were not great on their own. The taste and texture did not resemble the taste and texture of a fresh cherry. However, their tart but sweet taste is perfect for cookies and cakes. Unfortunately, if you are craving cherries this winter, you are better off waiting a few months until cherries are back in season.   

Rating: 3/10

10. Apricots 

I had high expectations for these, and I can not say they were met. There was nothing particularly wrong with them, but they are definitely not my top choice on the list. They were not super flavorful on their own, but perhaps simply dipping them in chocolate would make a world of difference.

Rating: 4/10

9. Figs 

fig, sweet
Kristine Mahan

These were probably the most unique dried fruit option I have ever tried. The problem here was not with the taste but with the texture of the dried fruit. They had a tough outside and crunchy inside, which was not very appealing to me. Overall, they were not the most appetizing. However, they get a few versatility points because they were one of the cheapest options (only $1.59 per 5 oz bag), and they could be used to make a killer homemade fig bar

Rating: 5/10

8. Cranberries

sweet, berry, raisin, cranberry, pepper, dried fruit
Niki Laskaris

This may be a controversial topic, but hear me out. Dried cranberries are very versatile. They can be used to make many things, from entrees to salads to desserts. However, they are not my favorite snacking option. To be quite honest, they are just a bitter version of raisins. In my opinion, anything dried cranberries can do, raisins can do better. Sorry.

Rating: 6.5/10

7. Blueberries

berry, blueberry, sweet, bilberry, blackberry, pasture
Jocelyn Hsu

These were the first fruit on the Market Pantry list of dried fruits that did not not disappoint me. The dried blueberries had a sweet taste and satisfying crunchy texture, making for a good snacking option. I imagine they could also be a great substitute for blueberry muffins in place of fresh or frozen blueberries. However, given the choice, I would still opt for fresh blueberries any day of the week. 

Rating: 7/10

6. Prunes

sweet, prune, plum
Ally Mooney

If you don't know exactly what a prune is, don't worry, you're not alone. Click here for a full explanation. The prune is praised for it's high fiber, potassium, and many vitamins. It can be used to make prune juice, as well as various desserts. As far as eating it by itself goes, it's gooey, juicy, and sweet (think blown up gushers). What's not to love about that? 

Rating: 7.5/10

5. Strawberries 

juicy, berry, berries, stems, boxes, strawberries, strawberry, Green, Red, sweet, Summer, farm, Organic, Fresh, Fruit
Katie Kasperson

I have nothing to complain about with the Market Pantry dried strawberries. They had a sweet taste and firm texture. They are perfect to throw on top of your morning oatmeal or cereal, or in a dessert. They are also a perfectly acceptable snack on its own. I thoroughly approve of this product.

Rating: 8/10

4. Pineapple 

vegetable, pineapple, sweet, breadfruit
Caroline Liu

This dried fruit product was a bit of a surprise. I did not know what to expect with these, but they exceeded my expectations. The combination of a sugary taste mixed with a chewy texture, make these a perfect food to snack on. As an added bonus, they only cost $1.79 per 6 oz bag, at Target. I highly recommend giving these a try. 

Rating: 8.5/10

3. Bananas (Banana Chips)

Trail mix, nuts, nut, banana chips, make your own trail mix, Whole Foods, jar of nuts
Shelby Cohron

This was the cheapest dried fruit option available at Target ($1.19 per 4.5 oz bag), and was definitely one of the best. The banana chips had a sweet and salty component, very different from any of the other dried fruits I tried. The chips were crunchy, and they are another great option for a tasty snack.

#Spoontip: dip these in some chocolate for a quick and easy dessert. 

Rating: 9/10

2. Raisins

nut, almond, cranberry, raisin
Tiare Brown

Easily the most recognizable and popular dried fruit, in the number two spot on my ranking of dried fruits available at Target, we have raisins. There's a million different ways to eat raisins. They are a great option to eat in trail mix, cookies, and as a snack. Raisins add a burst of flavor to any recipe, whether it be savory or sweet. This is why they are one of the most beloved snacks around the world. 

Rating: 9.5/10

1. Mangoes

sweet, mango
Catherine Wong

At the top of the list, we have dried mangoes. This one was a no brainer, and by far my favorite item on the list. The dried mangoes had a perfect taste and texture, beyond any other fruit on the list. These are one of my all time favorite foods, and I could go through a bucket of these a day. Mangoes might just be the only fruit (and don't hate me for saying this) that tastes just as delicious dehydrated as it does fresh.

Rating: 10/10


salad, strawberry, fruit salad
Julia Slisz

After a full afternoon spent testing dried fruit, I came to one main conclusion. Nothing can compete with fruit in it's purest form and at it's peak freshness. However, dried fruit can be a cheap and delicious snack that never goes out of season. Thanks to today's technology and globalization, we can now enjoy many fruits year round.