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Fresca (Recipes: Fresca cake, salad, and a cocktail)


When we were in college, my best friend Joyce and I went on a Fresca®-and-tuna-sandwich diet.

Two weeks later, we'd each lost a couple of pounds and gained a life-long addiction to the grapefruit-flavored sugar-free soda.

Last week, in a post about food gifts for food lovers, I wrote that Fresca did not meet the test for a pantry item, though I drink it every day and always have copious amounts in my refrigerator, because it's not used as an ingredient in creating other dishes.

I was wrong.

Thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, T.W. Barritt of Culinary Types, who sent me three recipes that call for it, I'm considering adding my favorite beverage -- the favorite of both LBJ and Ainsley Hayes -- to The Perfect Pantry.


Since it hit the market in 1966, through six bottling redesigns, four changes of sugar-free sweetener, and one major flavor reformulation, I've been a Fresca drinker. However, I've only used Fresca as an ingredient one time before this week, and it didn't go well.

So, friends, I need your help to make this important decision. Here are the three recipes. I did make the cake, with a simpler lemon glaze; and if I were a drinker, I'd surely have tried the cocktail.

For now, Fresca remains in limbo, always in the fridge, but not quite in The Perfect Pantry.

Are you a Fresca lover? Do you cook or bake with Fresca?

FRESCA® cake with maraschino cherry frosting

Adapted from a recipe from T.W. Barritt. I substituted a simple glaze for the maraschino cherry frosting and cut back on the sugar, and, to my great delight (and total surprise), the cake was moist, fluffy, delicious, and not the least bit pink. Serves 10-12.


1-1/4 cups sugar
1/3 lb butter
5 oz vegetable shortening
4 large eggs
2 cups sifted cake flour
4-1/2 oz Fresca soda
2/3 tsp baking powder
2/3 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp grated lemon zest (I used the zest of one Meyer lemon)
2 tsp grated lime zest (zest of 1 lime)


Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9- or 10-inch round cake pan with baking spray.

In a Kitchenaid-type stand mixer, cream together sugar, butter, and shortening. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flour and Fresca alternately. Add baking powder, and when mixture is fully creamed, add vanilla and fruit zests. Pour batter into the pan, and bake 1 hour, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Lemon glaze: cook 1/3 cup granulated sugar with 1/3 cup lemon juice (or substitute half Fresca, half lemon or lime juice) over low heat until sugar dissolves. Drizzle over the cake.

Or, make this maraschino frosting:
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp Maraschino cherry juice
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
10 Maraschino cherries, chopped, or gumdrops

Mix all ingredients except cherries and beat constantly while heating in top of double boiler. When thoroughly mixed, thick, and spreadable, frost cake. Decorate top of cake with chopped Maraschino cherries or gumdrops.


1 ounce gin
1 ounce Fresca

Combine in cocktail shaker with ice and strain into glass.  Makes one serving.  


2 small boxes sugar-free lemon Jell-O
12 oz Fresca
1 can crushed pineapple in juice (large can)
1 medium size container of Cool Whip

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. In a 13x9 glass dish, dissolve Jell-O in 2 cups of boiling water. Stir in Fresca and 4 oz of pineapple juice. Let the Jell-O soft set, either in the freezer or the refrigerator. Stir the Jell-O with a whisk and then add the drained crushed pineapple. Fold in the Cool Whip. Cover and refrigerate until set.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Lemon-yogurt cake
Lemon curd

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Sounds very interesting. I'm all for a moist cake!

I am intrigued by it all. Fresca in a cake. And the frosting is what I am into.

I'm impressed that you stuck with Fresca through all the recipe reformulations. I recall Coke drinkers absolutely revolting at the change.

I've been lobbying for Fresca to be in the Perfect Pantry for a loooong time, and this recipe just goes to show that it can be used in a recipe and be delicious!

I think there's more potential in the Fresca and tunafish diet than in baking with Fresca. Have you considered publishing a book-length version? (I'm more of a diet Sprite person, haven't even SEEN Fresca for years -- maybe I don't live in a Fresca state)

I first had Fresca in the remove villages of Thailand--and have always associated it with my travels. Don't remember ever seeing it around here.

Sounds like an interesting diet!!

Fresca is one of my favorite cocktail mixers... The best one is a shot of vanilla vodka in a highball glass of ice, several shakes of orange bitters, black cherry Fresca to near the top and then a glug of orange juice. Yum!

Just this past year I have redicovered Fresca. I like it because it is not so sweet to my taste.

If we can use Cheerwine in ice cream, Coke in cake and on ham, and Pepsi in my "Secret Recipe Beef" then why not use Fresca in recipes too. What about macerating fruit in Fresca? Wish I could try the other Fresca flavors!

As a mixer, Fresca is also great with Sake, very refreshing and light. Interesting post! While I LOVE grapefruit juice, and enjoy an occasional Fresca, I never would have thought it could be a pantry item.

Bravo!!! I think anything that produces a moist, tender cake officially belongs in the Perfect Pantry! And, given how you feel about baking, I think this is quite a milestone! My brothers and I loved Fresca growing up (that was several formulations ago!). Since you've done the heavy lifting with the baking, how about I try the cocktail and report back?

What an interesting idea! I haven't seen Fresca since I was a kid, and I didn't see much of it then. If I can now find Inca Cola in the supermarkets of Boston, I ought to be able to find Fresca, right?

Fresca is still around?!?!?
I had no idea, I loved that stuff!
BTW - I was just over checking out Drop in and Decorate (I did get the logo up, finally)
Gret Job - wish I could participate in that, too. Actually, I wish I could just bake some cookies '-))

I've made a 7UP pound cake and a Crush Pound cake...so much fun!

So here I am, browsing Tastespotting, when I notice a lovely platter holding a cake.

Then I notice the cake (no frosting, my favorite kind) and think, "That looks pretty good."

Then I notice the napkin (placemat/towel/whatever) the platter is resting on and think, "Hey, that cloth looks familiar!"

And THEN I look at who submitted the photo & the title of the cake---and it's the Fresca Cake TW mentioned in your comments the other day, and YOU submitted it! I was so excited I almost fell off my chair! You made the Fresca cake! You baked---with FRESCA!


As for the cocktail recipe, may I suggest a simple variation of vodka for the gin? It's the drink of choice with a certain uncle of mine who shall remain nameless. (Not sure he'd want me admitting to the world that he's a Fresca fanatic...)

And for the record, the Fresca cake & salad are must-trys. Who would have thunk it?! ;-)

I heart me the Fresca - can't wait to try the cake recipe, maybe for new Year's Eve!

I can't believe that after an all-Fresca diet you ever wanted to drink it again!

Wow - I am impressed that you managed to get Fresca into three different recipes. Kudos.

Top marks for originality in your recipes!

I haven't had Fresca in ages!

Hmmm... I don't think I've tasted Fresca before.

Your cake looks delicious!


the gin fresca recipe i can totally get behind.

I admit that Fresca is my #3 soda choice behind Diet Coke with Lime and Diet A&W Root Beer, but I have vigorous sampled Gin and Fresca (back in the Lake Powell days) and I can report that it's quite tasty. Somehow the two flavors go together in a combo that's more than the sum of the parts.

I vote for Fresca as a pantry ingredient if you're taking votes!

I'm more of a Squirt girl myself, but I can totally understand the Fresca addiction. I bet that cocktail is *delicious* and, well, since I'm a team player, I'll deal with the withering looks from the significant other and take one for the team by giving it a try!

I'm not sure you should move Fresca into the pantry. Sometimes you need separation ;-)

Veron, I honestly thought this would be a novelty, baking with Fresca. So imagine my surprise when the cake actually came out light and fluffy!

Peabody, that cherry-gumdrop frosting was too much for me. But someone needs to try it. Maybe you?

Julia, Fresca and I will never be separated, unless they put sugar in it (which is what they do in Central/South America). As long as it's sugar-free and basically citrus flavor, I'm hanging in.

Mae, Fresca is a Coca Cola product, so I'm sure it's everywhere in the US. I'm a Diet Sprite person sometimes, too, but only when I can't get the Fresca. (Same for Diet 7-Up.)

Aimee, I wonder if the Fresca you had in Thailand was the same as here. In Mexico, Fresca has sugar and that's the only Fresca I've seen on my own travels.

Lauren, Matthew, Sandie, Kickpleat, Kalyn, Ann: I feel a cocktail party in the making here!

Teresa, that's a great idea. Maybe a mix of Fresca and fruit juice?

TW, I have to admit that my friend and guest blogger Peter, visiting from Brazil, did most of the "heavy lifting" on this cake, but we had a great time baking together. I did put the pan into the oven -- doesn't that count as baking? So, yes, now you must try the cocktail -- and you must invite everyone who's left comments here about their own cocktail variations!

Fearless, I've been buying Fresca in Boston markets large and small for 30 years. Go forth and shop!

Katie, you'll need a bit more of a kitchen to bake cookies. Until then, if you find Fresca in France, fix yourself a very large cocktail to get you through the construction project.

Debbie, Crush? Haven't had it in years!

Sandie, yes, I baked. Sort of (see above -- I had help!). Tell your uncle he's welcome in my house any time; there will always be a Fresca waiting for him.

HB, the recipe makes a good size cake, and we cut down to 2/3 of the original amount in TW's recipe. Still, it will feed a lot of people -- perfect for New Year's Eve parties!

Maris, the thing I didn't want again was tuna sandwiches, at least not for months afterwards!

Sam, many thanks. I didn't make the salad; maybe you'll try it?

Pam, time to give it another try.

Paz, this is a very sweet cake, but very easy to make and you don't taste soda in it at all. I think the bubbles help to lighten it.

Kalyn, I do love diet root beer too, though I don't drink it often. There is an A&W Root Beer stand not far from our house in Rhode Island -- it's one of the few remaining drive-up A&W stands. They sell the original diet A&W, which I love. Something to do on your next visit!

Ann, I'd never have figured you for a Squirt girl. You might be right about separation....

Lydia - I had the best time baking (and testing) with you and wish I could have stayed all afternoon. Your photo looks mahvelous. Our next session better be in Brazil.

Enjoyed reading all the recipes and replies. Thought I'd jump in and mention we have enjoyed Fresca for many years lately using the Fresca with added peach flavor and when I make Peach Jello Peach Fresca is the water replacement along with peaches and the lite syrup. You get a bang for your buck when repeating the flavor. I'm anxious to try the cake using peach also. Can't wait to get back in the kitchen for more fun. But first I must get down on my knees and crawl into that "Bermuda triangle" ( corner cabinet) and dig out my tube pan. Then make an appointment with the chiropractor or take some strong Advil. I always turn my body into a snake when digging for those once in awhile used baking pans. I hope you feel my pain! Now back to my pantry, but first I need a Fresca!

Peter, you're on -- next cooking in Brazil, I promise.

Geri, I'm laughing! Fresca cures all ills, of course. And I love the idea of spinning this cake in a peach direction. Wonder if a bit of peach nectar instead of some of the fruit zest would be good, too.

Fresca makes the best easiest Sangria. Used to do this everytime we were at the beach.

large bottle of Fresca
large bottle Gallo Hearty Burgundy
orange slices
lemon slices

What could be easier!! Mix together, chill and serve over ice. You can add a splash of brandy, but that will most definitely cut down on your beach time!

oh my god.. fresca. it's been years since i thought of that word. my grandfather used to love himself some fresca!!

I love Fresca. My mother had always loved it, grapefruit was one our favorite fruits. She got me liking it when I was in junior high...and I had a can in my lunch box one day and the other kids thought I was drinking beer I think!!
I still buy it sometimes but it seems like if you see it there will only be like one on the shelf. I think that walmart had a grapefruit flavored drink for a while, not sure if they still do. I live in GA so I don't know if they stock drinks like Fresca more where they are purchased more often or not!! All the recipes sound great!

Mary, that does sound refreshing...

WANF, your grandfather was wise indeed.

Amy, I always assumed that Fresca was sold all over the US along with other Coca Cola products. Sad to hear it's not as available elsewhere as it is in the Northeast.

Lydia thanks for the peach nectar idea. I'm going to give it a try after I finish the Christmas baking this weekend. I have a question for you do you have a favorite cinnamon? I'm asking because I noticed when eating cinnamon bun a while back the baker told me he only used cinnamon from Vietnam. I read one of Penzy's catalogs and noticed there are many to choose from. Anxious to hear what you and others know about the subject. Happy Holidays

I was about to make this because I can't resist the Fresca -- but is the butter measurement 2/3 pounds or 2/3 cup. Because 2/3 pounds seems like a lot.

Thanks so much for reminding me of this soda!

Adrienne, thanks so much for the catch -- 1/3 lb of butter! I've corrected the recipe.

Ha! Funny on the butter. I wonder if this would be good with Pepsi - my husband drinks at least 3 a day or almost a liter jar - yikes!

My two favorite recipes with Fresca (mine own I think) are:

A beautiful punch made with concord grape juice and Fresca. It is a family favorite and served at every special occasion in pretty, tall glasses with ice. Do not substitute the Welch's grape juice.

The other is apple sauce. Core, peel (or not) and roughly chop 6 or 7 granny smith apples. Put in a large saucepan and pour a can of Fresda over the top. Simmer until the apples fall apart then add a handful of red hots (candies). Let simmer until the red hots are melted, stir; add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and cool. Great on its own, or on pancakes, biscuits, or with pork.

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