Mehpeaches aren't good for snacking but still have a place in your kitchen.
Peach-and-Blackberry Crisp
Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Katelyn Hardwick

Just because it’s peak peach season, doesn’t mean you won’t still occasionally end up with a dud in your basket. Or worse, you practice all the prescribed best practices for peach selection and storage, and somehow you still find yourself with an entire basket of lemons—peach lemons!

You know the type. When you sink your teeth in, rather than the luscious, sweet-tart flesh you expect, your mouth meets something mealier, less-hydrated, and void of flavor and sunshine. It’s not what you were hoping for, but hey, thems are the breaks. The good news is, even if they’re not prime for eating right out of your hand, that doesn’t make your disappointing stone fruit useless. Far from it, in fact. Here are six ways to make the most of your less-than-ideal peaches.

Strawberry-Peach Smoothie
Credit: Oxmoor House

Make a Smoothie

You know what they say, when life hands you peach lemons, make a smoothie! You don’t need the most awe-inspiring fruit when it comes to throwing stuff into the blender for a cool and nutritious sipper. Add sliced (and peeled, if you like) peaches to your morning smoothie, or try something like this Blackberry-Peach Smoothie with Walnuts or a decadent Strawberry-Peach Smoothie.

Maple-Peach Milk Shake
Credit: Randy Mayor; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Or a Milkshake

You know what would help some lackluster peaches gain a little luster? Blitzing them with a few scoops of peach ice cream (or vanilla fro-yo for a lighter take), obviously.

Pickled Peaches
Credit: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Pickle Them

It’s like my mama always said: You can pickle a mealy peach just as well as you can a juicy one. OK, my mother has never once said this, she doesn’t even like pickles, but it’s true all the same. Give this easy peach pickling recipe a go using some of your duds, and just watch your disdain give way to gratitude as your newly pickled peaches brighten your salads, barbecue sandwiches, and more!

Credit: Greg DuPreeFood Styling: Rishon HannersProp Styling: Thom Driver

Bake Them Into a Cobbler or Pie

I know it feels way nicer to use decadently succulent and flavorful peaches in your summer pies, but because you’re coating them in sugar, spice, and everything nice, then baking them—which further brings out the fruits inherent sweetness and juices—it’s actually OK to use the not-so-great peaches here. That said, knowing that you’re using marginally mediocre fruit, you will want to up the sugar in your recipe ever so slightly. Here are a few favorites to try: Easy Peach Cobbler, Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Peach Pie, Peach, Plum, and Apricot Crisp, Peach-and-Blackberry Crisp.

Photographer Iain Bagwell; Prop Stylist Mindi Shapiro; Food Stylist Torie C
Credit: Iain Bagwell

Iain Bagwell

Or a Bread Pudding

If you’re looking for a dessert that you can also get away with serving for a weekend breakfast/brunch (just call it a French toast casserole and you’re golden), this Peach Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel is 100% the way to go.

mr-Peach BBQ Sauce image
Credit: Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky

Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky

Turn Them Into a Condiment

A fresh peach BBQ sauce, which certainly does not require the prime picks of your summer peach bounty, will help you live your best your barbecue life. Serve it over anything from slow-cooker pulled pork to grilled chicken.