Loaded with sweet, tart, and juicy winter citrus, these light and healthy parfaits are equally at home served as dessert or as part of a brunch spread. Each bite is like a cheerful burst of sunshine.
To complement the citrus, thick and creamy yogurt is sweetened with a splash of maple syrup and gets an additional flavor boost from warm spices like ground cinnamon, ginger, and clove. A scattering of green pistachios and ruby red pomegranate seeds adds a bit of crunch and even more color.
The Best Yogurt for Parfaits
Using a thick-style yogurt that stands up to the juicy citrus is key to the parfaits’ luscious texture.
When it comes to yogurt brands, I’m partial to Siggi’s, a thick and tangy Icelandic-style yogurt (also known as skyr), but Fage Greek yogurt also works well.
If you only have a thinner-style yogurt on hand, that’s okay! You can thicken it up by straining it. For a guide on how to strain yogurt check out our post: How to Make Homemade Greek Yogurt.
You could even make this vegan-friendly by using your favorite plant-based yogurt instead.
Mix it Up!
The other parfait components are just as versatile as the yogurt. It’s easy to swap out the various ingredients to suit your personal tastes or use up what’s in the house.
I love the combination of the maple with the yogurt, but if you don’t have it or don’t like it then switch up your sweetener.
Swap maple syrup for:
- Agave syrup (opt for a darker agave, which will have more depth of flavor)
- Pomegranate molasses
- Date syrup
- Sifted confectioners’ sugar
In addition to crunch, bright green pistachios add a nice contrast in color to the citrus but if you prefer other nuts then swap them out.
Skip (these are too bitter to pair with citrus):
Happily, pre-seeded pomegranates are readily available at the market these days, so there’s no need to stain your hands or countertops. (If you want to try removing the arils from your pomegranates on your own, here’s a handy guide.)
When pomegranates aren’t in season try:
Using three different types of citrus makes for a colorful display. I like the blend of navel oranges and pink grapefruit, but feel free to use any variety you like.
When they’re in season try:
- Blood oranges
- Cara Cara oranges
- Kumquat slivers could also be fun
And, speaking of citrus...
Tips to Supreme (Segment) Citrus
Yes, segmenting the citrus is a somewhat laborious step, but liberating the juicy pieces of fruit from their paper-thin membranes is well worth the effort.
For years, I hated the little fibers that would get stuck in my teeth whenever I ate an orange. In culinary school, I learned that segmenting citrus eliminates this annoyance. The technique (also known as “suprême” in fancy chef-speak) was a revelation.
To this day, I happily take the extra time to suprême my citrus, and actually find the process rather soothing and meditative.
- For neat and tidy segments, a sharp knife is a must.
- Trim the pole ends of the citrus so they lay flat on the cutting board.
- Use your knife to remove the peel by following the curve of the fruit from one end to the other, exposing the juicy fruit segments beneath. If you miss any bits of pith on your first round, do a second pass.
- Work over a bowl to catch the juices, and delicately cut between each membrane to remove the segments one at a time.
(Don’t waste any of the juice that’s left in the discarded membranes. Squeeze it out in the bowl to save for another use, such as flavoring a vinaigrette or mixing with a splash of mineral water for a refreshing drink.)
To keep the parfaits from getting bogged down with juices, strain the segmented citrus once more before you begin assembling.
How to Make Yogurt Parfaits Ahead of Time
You can segment the fruit a day ahead. I like to store my citrus separately so that when it comes time to assemble, I have better control layering the different colors in the parfaits. The yogurt mixture and toasted pistachios can both be prepared a day or two before serving.
The assembled parfaits will hold in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.
More Great Citrus Recipes
- Cardamom Citrus Fruit Salad
- Citrus Olive Oil Cake
- Radicchio Salad with Citrus
- Jicama, Avocado, and Orange Salad
- Orange Bread
Parfait with Maple Yogurt, Citrus and Pomegranate
- 2 cups (16 ounces) thick, plain Greek or Icelandic-style yogurt
- 1/4 cup (2 3/4 ounces) maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- A pinch of salt
- 5 navel oranges (about 7 1/2 ounces each)
- 4 pink grapefruit (about 8 ounces each)
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) shelled pistachios, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) pomegranate seeds
Make the yogurt:
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt until combined. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Segment the citrus:
Using a sharp knife, trim the pole ends oranges so they lay flat on the cutting board. Follow the curve of the orange with your knife to remove the peel and pith, exposing the segments beneath. (If you miss any bits of peel or pith on your first round, do a second pass.)
Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut between each membrane to remove the segments. Transfer the segments to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble the parfaits. Repeat with the pink grapefruit. For better control when it comes time to assemble the parfaits, store each citrus separately.
(Don’t discard the juice you collect while segmenting the citrus; set it aside for another use – whisk it into your favorite vinaigrette, mix it with mineral water for a refreshing beverage, or simply drink it straight.)
Toast the nuts:
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the pistachios until they begin to smell rich and nutty, 1 to 2 minutes. Shake the skillet regularly to keep the nuts from scorching. Set aside to cool.
Strain the citrus:
Strain the citrus segments to remove any accumulated juices (this helps prevent the parfaits from getting runny).
Assemble the parfaits:
Into 4 stemless wine glasses or parfait glasses, spoon 1/4 cup of the yogurt mixture. Evenly distribute the citrus segments among the glasses, leaving enough of each for a second layer. Top each with 1 tablespoon pistachios and 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds.
Repeat the layers once more, starting with the yogurt and ending with the pomegranate seeds. Garnish each parfait by scattering a few more pistachios over the top.
Enjoy these parfaits cold and within two hours of being assembled.