From Grapes to Dried Fruit: The Difference Between Raisins and Sultanas

Have you ever wondered about the difference between raisins and sultanas? Raisins and sultanas, those little nuggets of sweetness we often find in our favourite cookies, cakes, or health mixes, are dried fruits derived from different varieties of grapes. Despite their similar uses in cooking and baking, they differ in looks, origin and popularity. In this article, we'll delve into these differences, explore the types of grapes used for each, and discuss their nutrients and health benefits. Plus, read on for some sweet and savoury recipes highlighting the versatility of both raisins and sultanas for the whole family to enjoy. Let's get into it.

Raisins vs. Sultanas: What's the difference?

Raisins and sultanas are sweet, chewsome, natural pops of fun! But did you know they're actually derived from two different types of dried grapes? While both are delicious and nutritious, they have some subtle differences.

In Australia, we know raisins as dark-coloured dried grapes, usually Muscat or Flame grape varieties. These grapes are left to dry on the vine or are picked and dried in the sun for several weeks. Some raisins have preservatives added to help retain their shape. In either case, raisins are dark brown, sweet, chewy and typically wrinkled in texture.

Sultanas are a popular dried fruit available in most Australian supermarkets and specialty grocers. As an Aussie, I think sultanas are the perfect dried fruit snack. Sultanas are usually dried green Thompson or White seedless grape varieties. Sultanas can appear pale green or gold, but some are darker depending on the drying technique and type used. Always check the label for sulphites if you're sensitive to additives. Many naturally-dried sultanas are actually darker and sweeter, which is a win if you want a chemical-free dried fruit snack. 

How are Raisins and Sultanas Made?

Any dried fruit must undergo a drying or dehydration process, which takes it from fresh and juicy to sweet and chewy to be enjoyed year-round. Sultanas and raisins go through either a natural or man-made drying process, where the water content is removed, and the fruit is then preserved. Removing the water quickly keeps the fruit’s delicious taste and attractive colour while retaining all the health-giving nutrients.

There are three main ways that sultanas and raisins are made: sun, shade-drying or mechanical drying. Each technique gives the fruit a marginally different appearance, but the taste is fairly consistent. Regardless of the drying method, raisins and sultanas contain similar nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. So, no matter how they're dried, either is a nutritious snack.

Of course, sun-drying is the most natural way to dry both sultanas and raisins, with the least interference possible. It's like taking a fresh grape and letting Mother Nature do her thing. This is the way to go for some natural sweetness and plump, ripe texture.

raisins spilled out around a scoop

Nutrients & Health Benefits of Raisins and Sultanas

Now that we've covered the basics of raisins and sultanas, let's dive into their nutrient profiles and how to incorporate them into your diet. These little delights are full of healthy nutrients, minerals and antioxidants with many benefits.

Here's a quick overview of the health benefits of raisins and sultanas:

  • Maintaining Blood Sugar and Healthy Weight: The high fibre content and low GI level in raisins and sultanas can help you stay full for longer, lower postprandial glucose levels and help reduce unhealthy snack cravings.
  • Packed with Antioxidants: Raisins, in particular, have a high concentration of plant polyphenols. These compounds help combat oxidative stress in the body and protect against various diseases.
  • Energy Boosting: Both sultanas and raisins are good sources of B vitamins and carbohydrates. This gives a quick energy boost, making these dried fruits an excellent snack for athletes or anyone needing a pick-me-up during the day.
  • Mineral-Rich: These little beauties are high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and copper. These nutrients aid in nerve function, brain health, muscle relaxation and immune health.
  • Plant Protein Hit: In a 100g serving of sultanas, you get around 3g of plant protein. This is an easy and tasty way to boost your daily protein intake.
  • High in Natural Fibre: Sultanas and raisins are high in natural fibre, promoting a healthy digestive system, aiding in regular bowel movements and helping to maintain a healthy microbiome.

Did you know that all dried fruit is actually very good for you? There's so much to love about dried fruit, whether it's dates, figs, apricots, prunes and even Goji berries (yes, them too!). Dried fruit really is nature's lolly shop!

Golden yellow sultanas spread out across a wooden chopping board

How to Enjoy Sultanas and Raisins

There are so many ways to enjoy raisins and sultanas. They're delicious and nutritious as snacks, desserts and even as everyday healthy treats. Here are some ways to get started using both raisins and sultanas in your usual diet:

Add to Breakfast Cereals: Energise your breakfast by sprinkling a handful of sultanas or raisins over your cereal or porridge for a natural sweetener packed full of fibre.

Boost Your Salads: Toss a spoonful of raisins or sultanas into your favourite salad to add a burst of flavour and textural interest.

Incorporate In Baking: From bread to muffins, cookies to cakes, sultanas and raisins are a great way to add sweetness and moisture to your baking.

Use in Savoury Meals: Raisins and sultanas can add a unique flavour to many savoury dishes. Try adding them to curries, stews, or stuffings to enrich your meal with a touch of sweetness.

Featuring sultanas and raisins, here are some of our favourite treats:

Raisins and Sultanas Are Equally Healthy and Delicious Dried Fruit Snacks

Both raisins and sultanas are nutrient-dense foods that deliver several health benefits. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they are an excellent addition to a balanced, healthy diet. Whether you're enjoying them as a quick snack, incorporating them into a meal, or using them as a natural sweetener in baking, raisins and sultanas can help you maintain good health while offering a delightful taste experience. Have fun exploring the difference between raisins and sultanas, and let their unique flavours enrich your cooking adventures.

Healthy Recipes Featuring Raisins and Sultanas


Apple and Sultana Slaw

Enjoy this fresh, fruity apple and sultana slaw as a side dish with fish, chicken, or a light lunch option.


  • 2 apples, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, grated carrot, thinly sliced apples, and sultanas.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to create your dressing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until everything is well-coated.
  4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the slaw for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavours to meld together.

Bread and Butter Pudding with Sultanas

Enjoy this comforting, sweet treat that is not only delicious but also packed with the nutritional benefits of sultanas.


  • 8 slices of bread
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a baking dish.
  2. Spread butter over the slices of bread, then cut them into triangles or squares.
  3. Arrange half of the bread pieces in the baking dish and sprinkle half of the sultanas over the bread.
  4. Repeat this process with the remaining bread and sultanas.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, honey, vanilla extract and cinnamon powder.
  6. Pour this mixture over the bread and sultanas into the baking dish, ensuring all the bread is soaked.
  7. Let the dish sit for 10 minutes for the bread to absorb the liquid.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and set.
  9. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Oat and Raisin Cookies

Deliciously sweet and simple, these oat and raisin cookies celebrate the best of your pantry staples, which the whole family will enjoy.


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup whole wheat or spelt flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup raisins


  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together honey, egg, and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Gently fold in raisins.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking tray and flatten them slightly with a fork.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Spiced Lamb Pilaf with Sultanas

Enjoy this earthy and warming spiced lamb pilaf with sultanas. It’s a perfect blend of savoury and sweet, guaranteed to please the whole family.


  • 500g lamb, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish


  1. Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the lamb and cook until browned. Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion becomes translucent.
  4. Stir in the cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for a minute until the spices are fragrant.
  5. Return the lamb to the pan and add the sultanas. Stir well to coat the lamb in the spices.
  6. Add the rinsed rice to the pan and stir to combine.
  7. Pour in the water, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.
  8. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Then fluff the rice with a fork.
  9. Serve the pilaf garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

Tomato, Cumin and Raisin Chutney

This Tomato, Cumin and Raisin Chutney is a perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavours, great for serving with cheese, crackers, or as a side with your main dishes. Enjoy!


  • 500g ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a large pan, dry roast the cumin seeds over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until they release their aroma. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauteé until the onions become translucent.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, raisins, sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard powder, and roasted cumin seeds to the pan. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 1-2 hours until it thickens to a chutney consistency. Stir occasionally to prevent the chutney from sticking to the pan.
  5. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Let the chutney cool before transferring it to sterilised jars.

Traditional Raisin Cake

Enjoy this traditional British raisin cake with a cup of tea or coffee for an afternoon delight.


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and flour a cake pan.
  2. In a saucepan, combine raisins and water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the sugar and butter, and set aside to cool.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  5. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients into the cooled raisin mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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