What is a Sultana: Understanding This Sweet Treat

What is a sultana? In this post, I will talk in more detail about the small, golden dried fruit, distinguishing it from its relatives, raisins, and currants. We’ll delve into the sultana’s origin, nutritional value, versatility in cooking, and more.

The Origins and Cuisines

Sultanas originate from a type of seedless grape historically found in the Ottoman Empire. Today, however, sultanas are a global ingredient valued for their sweet taste and usage in an array of dishes. Their historical backdrop paints a picture of trade routes and culinary exchanges, contributing to various cuisines, including Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and European, and adding sweetness and texture to both savory and sweet dishes.

What is a Sultana?

A sultana is known for its light golden color, plump appearance, and sweeter flavor compared to darker raisins. To create sultanas, grapes are dried either naturally in the sun or through artificial methods. This process intensifies their natural sweetness, yielding a dried fruit that finds its place in everything from oatmeal to tagines. A common misconception is that sultanas and raisins are the same; while the process to create them is similar, sultanas tend to be sweeter, juicier, and lighter in color.

Nutritional Benefits

For health enthusiasts, sultanas pack a punch with their nutritional benefits. They are rich in dietary fiber, which supports digestive health, and antioxidants known to combat oxidative stress. They also provide essential nutrients like iron and potassium. Whether you’re looking for a quick energy boost or a snack that supports heart health, sultanas are an excellent choice.

Nutritional Composition

Caloric Content: Sultanas, like other dehydrated fruits, are calorically dense due to their reduced water content and concentrated sugars. According to nutritional databases, sultanas typically contain about 302 calories per 100 grams, making them a high-energy snack that should be consumed in moderation, especially by individuals monitoring their calorie intake.


  • Carbohydrates: The primary macronutrient in sultanas is carbohydrates, with approximately 79 grams per 100 grams, predominantly in the form of natural sugars. This high carbohydrate content provides a quick source of energy, making sultanas a suitable snack for athletes or physically active individuals.
  • Fiber: Sultanas are a good source of dietary fiber, offering about 3.7 grams per 100 grams. Dietary fiber is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and can contribute to cardiovascular health by helping to lower cholesterol levels.
  • Proteins and Fats: Sultanas contain a small amount of protein, around 3 grams per 100 grams, and are low in fat, with less than 0.5 grams per 100 grams. This nutrient profile makes them an excellent snack for those looking to increase their intake of plant-based proteins while keeping fat consumption low.

Micronutrients: Sultanas are rich in various vitamins and minerals, contributing to their overall nutritional value:

  • Vitamins: They are a good source of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, which plays a crucial role in metabolism, brain health, and hemoglobin production. Vitamin B6 content in sultanas is about 0.249 mg per 100 grams.
  • Minerals: Sultanas boast a notable mineral content, including potassium, magnesium, and iron. Potassium, essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart function, is present in sultanas at about 749 mg per 100 grams. Magnesium contributes to muscle and nerve function, while iron is crucial for the formation of red blood cells.

Antioxidant Properties

Sultanas, like their fresh grape counterparts, contain antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. These compounds can help combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Although drying can affect the antioxidant content, sultanas still retain a significant amount of these beneficial compounds.

Considerations and Practical Applications

While sultanas offer numerous health benefits, their high sugar content necessitates mindful consumption, especially for individuals with diabetes or those watching their sugar intake. Integrating sultanas into a balanced diet can involve using them as a natural sweetener in oatmeal, salads, or homemade trail mixes, where their sweetness can enhance other flavors without overpowering.

Incorporating Sultanas Into Your Diet

Home bakers and cooks can rejoice in the versatility of sultanas. These delectable fruits can elevate a simple salad, provide a sweet contrast in a rich curry, or add texture and flavor to bread and pastries. For snackers, they’re a great addition to trail mixes or homemade granola bars. And for a simple delight, mix them into your morning cereal or yogurt.

Keeping Sultanas Fresh

To maintain the chewiness and vibrant flavor of sultanas, proper storage is crucial. Keep them in a cool, dry place, ideally in an airtight container, to prevent any moisture from entering. When stored correctly, sultanas can last several months without losing their quality.

Our Top Sultana Recipes Picks

1. One Bowl Golden Sultana Cake

A delightfully simple recipe that brings out the rich flavor of sultanas in a moist, golden cake. Perfect for those seeking a straightforward baking project with reliable results. The use of plump sultanas soaked in hot water makes for a tender and flavorful cake every time.
Read more at What Sarah Bakes

2. Easy Sultana Cake

This family recipe has weathered the passage of time, offering a testament to the timeless appeal of sultana cake. Its one-pot approach not only simplifies the process but also ensures a moist texture and rich flavor profile, making it a staple for any baker’s repertoire.
Explore the recipe at Katy’s Food Finds

3. Sultana Loaf

Ideal for morning tea or as a comforting snack, this Sultana Loaf combines simplicity with deliciousness. Utilizing pantry staples, the recipe produces a moist and tasty loaf, with plump sultanas or raisins adding bursts of sweetness throughout.
Discover how to make it at Just A Mum NZ

4. Old Fashioned Boiled Sultana (Raisin) Cake

A nod to traditional baking methods, this recipe involves boiling sultanas for a depth of flavor that’s both unique and nostalgic. The resulting cake is a perfect blend of tenderness and taste, enriched by the addition of vanilla essence and chopped nuts.
Learn the method at Food.com

5. Chewy Sultana Squares

For those who prefer their treats to have a chewy texture, this recipe offers an easy yet satisfying option. With only three ingredients, including a creative mix of dried fruits and nuts, these squares are a quick fix for sweet cravings, with added cinnamon for a spice kick.
Check out the recipe at The Links Site

6. Sultana & Pecan Pull-apart Scrolls

A selection from Woolworths’ compilation of sultana recipes, these scrolls combine the sweetness of sultanas with the crunch of pecans, all held together in a soft, pull-apart bread that’s perfect for sharing.
View more sultana recipes at Woolworths

7. Fruity Tea Loaves

BBC Good Food presents a collection of dried fruit cakes, prominently featuring sultanas. These tea loaves are ideal for pairing with your afternoon cuppa, offering a balance of fruitiness and sweetness that’s hard to resist.
Explore sultana cake recipes at BBC Good Food

8. Old-Fashioned Sultana Cake

Another classic recipe that showcases the humble sultana in a beautifully textured cake. With almond or vanilla essence enhancing its flavor profile, this cake is a testament to the enduring appeal of traditional baking.
Find the recipe at Food.com

9. More Sultana Recipes – BBC Food

From Bengali butter chicken to Mary Berry’s hot cross buns, BBC Food offers a diverse range of recipes incorporating sultanas. Whether you’re looking for something savory or sweet, this collection has something for every palate.
Discover additional recipes at BBC Food

Final Say

To answer the burning question, “What is a sultana?” it’s a seedless dried grape treasured for its sweetness and health benefits, embraced in kitchens worldwide. Whether scattered atop a morning bowl of oatmeal or folded into a moist, sweet bread, sultanas offer a world of culinary possibilities for the discerning palate. Happy cooking and happy snacking!

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Hey there, since 2016, my mission has been to provide you with the information and guides you need to make food dehydrating simple and fun. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro, my site offers helpful guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your dehydrating experience. I take pride in only recommending products I believe in, ensuring my readers' trust. As an affiliate of various programs, including Amazon Associates, your support helps me continue providing quality content. Thanks for stopping by, and happy dehydrating!

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