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Grapefruit Anise Salad

This simple, star anise-grapefruit salad is as welcome as an after-school treat as it is as a Valentine’s Day dessert.


star anise-grapefruit salad on a plate

Winter’s Saving Grace—Citrus!

Swooping in to save us from the dark days of winter, citrus is sunshine in edible form, and no citrus fruit shines quite as brightly as the perfectly pink grapefruit. True, some varieties can have a little bitterness (more on that in a minute), but paired with an anise-scented simple syrup to temper its bite, it’s a blushing citrus superstar, a burst of sunny, juicy flavor and its tangy, zingy taste is a palate-awakening promise of warmer days ahead.

a plate of grape fruit slices, a cup of sugar, a cup of water and 6 star anise
star anise simple syrup in a small pot

Types of Grapefruit

Any grapefruit variety that you love or happen to have on-hand will work for this anise grapefruit salad. But, should you find yourself staring at a wall of different grapefruit varieties wondering which to use, we’ve got your back! Like most popular fruits, there are tons of hybrids and varieties out there, but you’ll likely only see 3-4 kinds at your local grocery store. Typically—though not always—the redder the flesh of the grapefruit, the sweeter it is. Grapefruits are divided up into three categories:

  • White—white grapefruit is the most acidic and tart, and was the first variety of grapefruit grown in the U.S.
  • Pink—pink grapefruit has a lot of tartness, but is often nicely balanced. If you like that classic grapefruit zing, but want something a little sweeter than the white varieties, pink grapefruit is for you! We love to use pink grapefruit in this salad—a little zing pairs nicely with the anise syrup for our grapefruit salad dressing.
  • Red—red grapefruit varieties are usually the sweetest, but can lack complexity.
star anise simple syrup in a small white pot

How To Cut A Grapefruit

Let’s get down to business! How do you cut your grapefruit so that it looks as pretty on the plate as ours does? It’s pretty easy, but you must have a sharp knife. Have you invested in a knife sharpener yet? Best kitchen tool, ever. Anyway, we digress. Here’s how to cut grapefruit for this salad:

  1. Begin by cutting away both of the grapefruit ends.
  2. Stand the grapefruit up on one of these two flat ends, and—slicing from top to bottom—cut away the peel and pith in strips. Slowly work your way around the fruit until all of the peel and pith has been cut away.
  3. Slice the peeled fruit crosswise, into lovely little grapefruit rounds. Now you’ve almost made yourself a grapefruit salad! It’s actually just delicious as-is, but a drizzle of anise syrup transforms the citrus into a special treat

P.S. Grapefruit Is Also Super, Super Good for You

No, we’re not advocating a return to the 1970s “grapefruit diet” craze. We’d just like to point out that—as you drizzle sugar syrup over your sunset-hued grapefruit slices—the breakfast (or Valentine’s day dessert, or light lunch, or after-school treat) you’re about to serve is loaded with nutrients. Grapefruit is has tons of vitamin C and vitamin A, and is even a source of folate, potassium and fiber. It’s heart-healthy, and might even have some cancer-fighting properties.

slices of red grapefruit on a plate with star anise simple syrup
slices of red grapefruit on a plate with star anise simple syrup

Tools You’ll Need:

4 More Simple Salad Recipes To Try

Whipping up an interesting salad is one of the very best, sneakiest, easiest ways to dress up a meal, ever. The trick is to focus on one great ingredient—in this case, juicy pink grapefruit—and treat it minimally. Here are four more salad recipes that work that simple formula to the max:

slices of red grapefruit on a plate with star anise simple syrup

Are You A Grapefruit Person Now?

How about your kids? This grapefruit salad is a great way to introduce this grown-up fruit to the little people in your life, since the anise-flavored simple syrup enhances the fruits’ sweetness. If you make it, let us know how you like it! Plus, we want to see those gorgeously sliced grapefruit rounds—we know they’re going to turn out perfect. Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can see! Happy eating!

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Grapefruit Anise Salad

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  0 min
  • Calories: 123


  • 2 large grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 star anise, whole


  1. In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a low boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add star anise. Allow the star anise to flavor the simple syrup for 2-4 hours. Can be made ahead of time. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  2. When ready to serve or eat, use a small sharp knife to peel the rind away from the grapefruit. Slice into pieces and pour a little of the simple syrup over it.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories123
  • Protein1 g
  • Carbohydrates32 g
  • Total Fat0 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium1 mg
  • Total Sugars29 g

Grapefruit Anise Salad

Questions & Reviews

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  • jenn

    I made this with Valentine's brunch last year and it was so delicious! Can't wait to make it this Valentine's Day again!

    yay, so fun! Glad you love it!