Part of the appeal of fruit pizza, perhaps besides getting kids to eat fruit for dessert, is that it looks as good as it tastes. Its bright colors and much of its flavor comes from the fruit “toppings.” But the naturally juicy fruit and the firm cookie crust don’t make the greatest pair in terms of storage. At best, fruit pizza should be made, or at least assembled, right before serving. If you’re feeling brave, make it ahead of time, but only if you’re going to serve it within a few hours.

Make and Take

If you don’t have time to make the whole pizza beforehand but you have a few minutes for assembly, your best bet is to make the cookie crust and refrigerate it. You’ll need at least an hour to mix, bake and cool the cookie crust. It must be completely cool before assembling the pizza or wrapping it for storage. You can also make the cream cheese and sugar mixture and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Prepare and store these one to three days in advance, but they’ll taste better if you serve them the same day you make them. The day you plan to serve the pizza, add the fruit, preferably immediately before serving. The fruit preparation depends largely on the types of fruit you’re using.

Plan for Canned

If you really need to make a fruit pizza ahead of time, plan to use at least some canned fruits. Canned Mandarin oranges, peach slices, pear slices and maraschino cherries hold up longer on a fruit pizza than many fresh fruits, especially if they’re drained very well before serving and then patted dry with paper towels. Fresh berries, kiwi and melons have a tendency to get mushy. Aside from losing their texture, their juices can make the crust soggy. Fresh apples, peaches, pears and bananas turn brown quickly. Prevent some of the browning with a light coating of lemon juice, but you might not be able to stop all discoloration. For best results, prepare and add fresh fruits right before serving. If that’s not possible and you don’t want to use canned fruit, slice fresh fruits a few hours in advance and add them to the pizza right before serving.

Dash and Dine

Many grocery stores stock everything you need for the fruit pizza, which means you can pick up all the ingredients on your way to your event and assemble it in less than 5 minutes. This negates the need to store a pizza and risk ending up with a soggy mess. Look for a giant cookie cake in the bakery department. Stop in the baking aisle and grab a can of cream cheese frosting. Head to the deli and purchase some mixed fruit salad or grab a few containers of sliced fruits and berries. When you get to the event, spread frosting on the cookie and scatter the fruit on top.

Last Minute Saves

If you rolled the dice and made your fruit pizza too far in advance, there are a few ways to save face. In a pinch, you can slice it and serve it in bowls with spoons and forks. The pizza will still taste delicious even if the crust isn’t firm enough to pick up with your hands. If you have an extra hour, you can make a second, slightly thinner crust, cool it, then top it with more of the cream cheese mixture. Use large spatulas to transfer the soggy pieces on top of the firm cookie for a layered crust effect. Cut and serve immediately before the soggy cookie layer has a chance to soften the new bottom layer. For exceptionally soggy fruit pizzas, make regular-sized cookies and spoon small sections of the soggy fruit pizza on top or use the soggy fruit pizza as a topping for desserts such as ice cream, pudding or gelatin.