10 Delicious Food Pairings You'd Never Think to Put Together

Foods that go together and taste yummy extend way past peanut butter and jelly.

various unexpected food pairings photographed together

When you think of foods that go together to create something doubly delicious, your first thought is probably peanut butter and jelly. (Same.) But there are some much more unexpected food duos you're missing out on by sticking to the basics. Take the pairs below, for example — they sound weird at first, but take one bite, and you'll get it.

01 of 10

Salmon + Cardamom

salmon and a pile of cardamom pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

Salt, pepper, and lemon. Many chefs say that’s all the seasoning you need for a fine cut of salmon. But a whisper of cardamom can add an unexpectedly complex, warm, and citrusy flavor to the buttery fish.

Salmon with Cardamom-Infused Glaze


  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 center-cut salmon fillets


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat honey, orange juice, and ground cardamom in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until honey is melted, about 1 minute.
  3. Place salmon fillets skin-side-down on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and brush with half the cardamom mixture.
  4. Bake 5 minutes, brush on remaining glaze, and cook for another 5 minutes or until center of the fish is just cooked through. (Serves 4)
02 of 10

Red Cabbage + Banana

halved red cabbage and two bananas pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

Teaming up a sweet fruit with a bitter veg will leave you pleasantly surprised — plus it’s a great way to use up a never-ending head of cabbage. Level up your next smoothie with this pairing; frozen banana along with a helping of berries lends a sweet, frosty creaminess to counter the earthiness of the cabbage.

Red Cabbage and Banana Smoothie


  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk beverage
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Combine almond milk or coconut milk beverage, yogurt, red cabbage, flaxseed, blueberries, banana, almond extract, and cinnamon in a blender until smooth. (Serves 1)
03 of 10

Cocoa + Avocado

pile of cocoa and a halved avocado pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

Fatty in a good way, the creamy flesh of avocado has long been known to raw foodies as the perfect foil for pleasantly bitter cocoa in puddings and, even better, ice cream. The key is to use fruits that aren't too hard or too soft to avoid an overly strong avocado-y flavor.

Cocoa-Avocado Ice Cream


  • 2 avocados
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
  • 1 large banana
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder


  1. Combine flesh of avocados, coconut milk, banana, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cayenne or chili powder in a blender until smooth.
  2. Chill mixture at least 4 hours, then process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Serves 6)
04 of 10

Beef + Blueberries

cooked beef patties and a pile of loose blueberries pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

Yes, it sounds off-putting, but berries in burgers impart a sweetness that surprisingly complements the richness of the beef.

Blueberry Burgers


  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound sirloin, ground
  • 4 buns
  • condiments and toppings of your choice


  1. In a large bowl, mix blueberries (large berries halved), garlic, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, cumin powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Add sirloin and gently mix until just combined. Form into 4 patties.
  3. Grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
  4. Serve on buns topped with favorite condiments and vegetables. (Serves 4)
05 of 10

Oats + Sriracha

bowl of oats and a container of sriracha pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

If the most creative thing you’re doing with your morning oatmeal is topping it with almond butter, you’re selling this whole grain short. Oats can and should be treated as a blank canvas for all sorts of flavorings — including savory ones. The Thai-inspired creation below has that winning spicy-sweet-salty mix that is perfect for morning, noon, or night.

Savory Sriracha Overnight Oats


  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • chopped roasted peanuts or cashews, for garnish


  1. Place steel-cut oats in a medium-sized saucepan with water. Bring to a slight simmer, remove from heat, cover, and let soak overnight.
  2. In the morning, stir in coconut milk, soy sauce, honey, ginger, sriracha sauce, and scallions; heat until warmed through.
  3. Top with chopped roasted peanuts or cashews. (Serves 4)
06 of 10

Brie Cheese + Peanut Butter

brie cheese and a tub of peanut butter pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

A good grilled cheese should be so much more than doughy white bread and slices of orange processed dairy product. Case in point: Swapping in brie cheese and adding peanut butter turns an everyday sandwich into a gooey, creamy masterpiece. In the recipe below, fruit jam adds a sweet kick while arugula delivers a peppery finish.

PB and Brie Grilled Cheese


  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 ounce brie cheese
  • 1 handful arugula
  • 1 butter pat


  1. Spread peanut butter and strawberry jam on one slice of crusty bread. Top with brie, arugula, and another bread slice.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add sandwich and heat until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. (Serves 1)
07 of 10

Nori + Corn on the Cob

nori sheers and a cob of corn pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

Not just for sushi, nori (dried seaweed) and miso can turn flame-licked sweet corn into an umami delicacy. Also try using premade nori powder to add briny ocean flavor to salad dressings, soups, and popcorn.

Nori-Miso Corn


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • 1 pinch red chili flakes
  • 2 sheets nori
  • 4 corncobs, husked


  1. Place butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat until melted, about 20 seconds. Stir in miso and red chili flakes.
  2. Using a spice grinder or sharp chef’s knife, finely chop nori sheets and spread out on a plate or cutting board.
  3. Grill corncobs over medium heat, turning several times, until kernels are tender with some charring.
  4. Brush cobs with miso butter and roll in nori. (Serves 4)
08 of 10

Dijon Mustard + Dark Chocolate

jar of dijon mustard and shards of dark chocolate pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

You likely won’t find any mustard-flavored candy bars on store shelves. But when Dijon lends tempered heat to melted chocolate’s rich sweetness, the result is what’s sure to become your new favorite salad dressing. Try drizzling it over tender salad greens adorned with sliced peaches and prosciutto or rotisserie chicken. If the dressing solidifies upon sitting, whisk in a small amount of hot water right before serving.

Dark Chocolate and Dijon Mustard Salad Dressing


  • 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Place dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high in 25-second intervals, stirring between, until melted.
  2. Stir in extra-virgin olive or avocado oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and salt. (Serves 2 to 3)
09 of 10

Beets + Tahini

halved beet and bowl of tahini pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

Want to make a dip for your soirées that will catch everyone’s eye? Earthy-sweet beets lend traditional tahini-infused hummus a more adventurous flavor as well as a vibrant hue that really perks up an appetizer table. Serve with crunchy sliced veggies such as kohlrabi, tortilla chips, or chunks of toasted pita.

Beet Hummus


  • 3 beets
  • 1 can (14 ounces) chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • crumbled goat cheese and chopped chives, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap beets tightly in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour or until very tender.
  2. When cool enough to handle, scrub off skins with a paper towel.
  3. Purée in a food processor with chickpeas, tahini, cumin, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and salt until smooth.
  4. Transfer hummus to a serving bowl and garnish with crumbled goat cheese and chopped chives. (Serves 8)
10 of 10

Radish + Kefir

bunch of radishes and bottle of kefir pictured together as an example of unexpected foods that go together

Move over, gazpacho — there's a new soup in town. Blend peppery radishes with tangy kefir, and you'll have a delightfully piquant cold soup.

Radish and Kefir Chilled Soup


  • 2 cups plain kefir
  • 1/2 pound radishes, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • olive oil, to taste


  1. Purée kefir, radishes, English cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a container, stir in scallions and dill, and chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Divide among serving bowls and drizzle with olive oil. (Serves 4)
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