Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Granola Parfaits

You might be taken aback by the secret ingredient in this recipe – wondering what on earth balsamic vinegar is doing in the line-up, but trust me, it works. Magically.

The red and blue fresh berries macerate (basically that scary word means to release their juices and soak up the flavors of the other ingredients) in a simple mixture of sugar and balsamic vinegar. The result? A sweet and tart berry syrup that has a complexity of flavor that pairs incredibly with the simple, creamy vanilla ice cream and the texturally perfect, crunchy granola.

Oh, these were divine. And so, so easy. Not to mention refreshing, cool, and mighty tasty.

And just in case you are wondering, my husband and our dinner guest had heaping seconds of these yummy parfaits, which caused my children to beg for heaping seconds, which peer-pressured me into having heaping seconds. In the end, we all had heaping seconds and were all the merrier for it.

Is it any wonder I lay awake at night wondering how my pants got so tight? It’s all because of peer-pressure.

One Year Ago: Shrimp Stir-Fry with Coconut Curry Sauce
Two Years Ago: Fabulous Orange Chicken

Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Granola Parfaits

Yield: Makes about 8 parfaits

Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Granola Parfaits


  • 4 cups fresh berries (I used a combination of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, but blackberries would work great, too)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 quart good-quality vanilla ice cream
  • 1-2 cups granola (I used this recipe subbing slivered almonds for all of the cashews and leaving out the raisins)


  1. Wash and gently dry the berries. Place them in a medium bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar and toss well. Let the berries sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so the berries can macerate and release their juices.
  2. When ready to serve, scoop a spoonful of the berries and syrup in the bottom of a dessert or parfait glass. Top with one scoop ice cream. Repeat the layers. Top with granola and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

23 Responses to Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Granola Parfaits

  1. Christina says:

    Can this be frozen overnight?

  2. […] this recipe, and I like the Frugal Girl’s granola recipe (which I blogged about here).  This recipe uses balsamic vinegar as a macerating agent alone with the sugar, and I very much approve of […]

  3. Erica says:

    Wow! What a delicious summer dessert!!!Simple, but lovely!

  4. Lucy says:

    I put some berries in balsamic and sugar tonight with the intent of filling crepes with them. I ended up eating a lot of the berries before the crepes were finished cooking though…What a great flavor combination.

    I also made some banana filling for some of the crepes.
    Thanks for inspiring a fun summer dessert that does not require use of the oven!

  5. grace says:

    i’d lay awake at night wondering about my pants and their magical tightness, but my belly is usually so happy, i fall asleep immediately. 🙂
    lovely parfaits!

  6. Memoria says:

    I’ve seen balsamic vinegar being used with strawberries many of times, but I’ve yet to try it out. This parfait looks great!

  7. Veronica M. says:

    OMgosh, I hope you know this “Shrek” character–he’s cracking me up! You should enter this recipe into the “All Through The Year Cheer” July 4th recipe competition–here’s the link for more info: You can submit recipes, starting tomorrow and can win your choice of three food mags. Good luck!

  8. Living Simply says:

    What if the coconut were left out of the granola? NO ONE in my family will eat coconut. Anything you could substitute? Otherwise I love the idea. Will have to try it with homemade ice cream, of course.

    • Mel says:

      Living Simply – I think you could definitely get away with leaving the coconut out of this and making up the difference with the same amount of oats.

  9. Cammee says:

    I hate to interrupt the party above ??, but these look divine. I’ve never made a fruit topping that involved balsamic vinegar, but I’m up for anything. I’ll definitely give these a try this weekend even though I don’t need any more reason to wonder why my pants are too tight!

  10. Shrek says:

    That’ll do donkey, that’ll do.

  11. Donkey says:

    I’m makin’ waffles and serving this on top.

  12. Shrek says:

    I am really trying to cut down on sugar, so could I replace the ice cream with onion mush?

  13. Donkey says:

    Everybody Loves Parfait.

  14. Holly says:

    I love your recipes! I follow your blog religiously. I am making this for the 4th…I love balsamic with anything but fruit..mmmmm. I am sharing my husbands favorite dessert which I know if you try you will love it. Definitely Colorado…. where we live.

    Colorado Crème
    1 TBsp. unflavored gelatin
    ½ cup sugar
    2 cups heavy cream
    1 ½ cups sour cream
    1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
    fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries)

    In med. saucepan mix gelatin, sugar and heavy cream, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue stirring over low heat until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and fold in sour cream and extract. Pour into custard cups or pots de crème. Chill for 2-3 hours. Just before serving, spoon fresh berries on top. Sometimes I will parfait this but I always use all 3 berries together

  15. CaSaundra says:

    Yum! These do sound like I would want seconds as well..and perfect for the upcoming 4th!!

  16. Kim in MD says:

    Peer pressure…thanks for the laugh this morning, Melanie! 🙂

    What a great dessert for the upcoming holiday (especially served in that cute mini trifle dish)! I love balsamic vinegar with fruit. There is something wonderful about the sweet/tartness of the balsamic with the sweetness of the fruit. It really is an amazing combination and serving it over ice cream would be over the top delicious! Thanks for sharing (and making me laugh this morning), Melanie! 🙂

  17. These are so adorable for the 4th!

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