We all want to boost our immune system and do what we can to ward off colds and flu. While there are many ways to improve immune health – from staying hydrated to getting enough good-quality sleep – often, the best way is to eat foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

Vitamin C is especially known for its antioxidant properties, as it increases the production of white blood cells, which are crucial for fighting infections. It also helps the body absorb iron, produce collagen, and form blood vessels, cartilage, and muscle – all of which are needed for healing and immunity.

So, if you’re trying to stay fit, well, and energetic, we’ve got you covered! From warming soups to healthy sweet treats and refreshing smoothies, here are 12 vitamin C-rich recipes to support your immune system.

1. Red pepper soup

Red pepper soup

All peppers contain lots of vitamin C, but red pepper has the most. Gram for gram, red peppers contain nearly three times as much vitamin C as oranges, and a one-cup serving contains 211% of the DV (recommended daily value).

Plus, red peppers are packed with beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. They also contain fibre and plant-based iron. Red peppers are delicious cooked or raw – for example, on their own, in salads, or dunked into healthy dips like hummus or guacamole.

But, as the days remain chilly, why not make a warming pot of soup? This red pepper soup from Olive also contains garlic and chilli, which are additional sources of vitamin C. So aside from being tasty and comforting, it can give your immune system a hefty boost!

2. Orange parsley salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette

Orange parsley salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette

On a dark, dull day, sometimes a bright and vibrant salad is just what you need – and salads don’t get much brighter or more vibrant than this next recipe! Oranges are famously high in vitamin C, and while they contain lower amounts than other fruits featured in this article, one cup still clocks in at 106% of the DV.

But rather than just eating an orange or pouring yourself a glass of juice, why not make a zesty salad? Aside from juicy orange segments, this orange parsley salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette from Barefeet in the Kitchen contains several other immune-boosting ingredients.

Parsley is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and is believed to improve bone health, protect against chronic diseases, and provide many other antioxidant benefits. It’s also a natural diuretic and can reduce bloating and blood pressure.

This healthy salad is then topped with caramelised almonds, which add a satisfying crunch, contain high levels of vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), and minerals like copper and manganese, which can also improve your immune response.

3. Pomegranate, guava, and raspberry smoothie

Pomegranate, guava, and raspberry smoothie

When you don’t have time to cook a proper meal or prepare a salad, a smoothie is a great way to make sure you’re getting many of the most important vitamins in one serving. Plus, as well as being incredibly quick and easy to knock up, smoothies are refreshing and hydrating, and can be enjoyed on the go.

Gram for gram, guavas are one of the foods highest in vitamin C; a one-cup serving contains a staggering 419% of the DV. When you pair it with raspberries and pomegranate, this smoothie is incredibly vitamin C-rich – and it’s delicious too!

This pomegranate, guava, and raspberry smoothie recipe by Viktoria Radichkova contains all three fruits, and is jam-packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Plus, the addition of coconut milk makes the smoothie wonderfully thick and creamy and provides a dose of healthy fats too.

4. Roasted broccoli with garlic and lemon

Roasted broccoli with garlic and lemon

Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables around. Not only does a one-cup serving contain 112% of the DV for vitamin C, but it’s also packed with vitamins A and E, as well as fibre and plenty of other antioxidants. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense plants you can eat!

If you’re not a fan of broccoli, you might want to try different ways of cooking it. The best way to keep as many nutrients in the veg as possible is to cook the broccoli until it’s just tender – or even eat it raw. Soggy broccoli is nowhere near as tasty as tender-yet-crisp broccoli!

This roasted broccoli with garlic and lemon from Bowl of Delicious is quick and simple to make, and also tastes great. The garlic and lemon do wonders for bringing out the mild flavour of the broccoli, and both ingredients are individually great for boosting your immune system too.

5. Roasted Brussels sprout pasta

Roasted Brussels sprout pasta

They sometimes get a bad rap, but when cooked properly, Brussels sprouts can be incredibly tasty. And if you doubt that, you might want to try the following recipe!

Not only are Brussels sprouts higher in vitamin C than oranges, with one cup containing 107% of the DV, but they’re also high in fibre and plant-based protein. Plus, like broccoli and other cruciferous veg, they may also help protect against stomach, lung, kidney, breast, bladder, and prostate cancer.

This roasted Brussels sprout pasta recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen is delicious, and surprisingly healthy. The addition of gut-busting miso, and immune-boosting garlic, lemon, and chilli make sure it’s bursting with flavour – and even more health benefits.

6. Spiced cauliflower with chickpeas, herbs, and pine nuts

Spiced cauliflower with chickpeas, herbs, and pine nuts

Another cruciferous vegetable recipe for the list is cauliflower. Though not quite as high in vitamin C as either Brussels sprouts or broccoli, one cup of cauliflower still contains 61% of the DV. It’s also high in vitamin K and a good source of folate, which supports cell growth.

There are many popular cauliflower recipes to choose from; you can make creamy cauliflower soup, an indulgent cauliflower cheese, or some buffalo cauliflower wings. But, for maximum health benefits, why not make this spiced cauliflower with chickpeas, herbs, and pine nuts from BBC Good Food?

Flavoured with garlic, caraway, and cumin, the cauliflower itself is seriously moreish. But this recipe benefits from two other star ingredients: chickpeas, which are rich in protein and fibre; and parsley, which contains vitamins A, C, and K and provides many different antioxidant benefits.

7. Healthy strawberry oatmeal bars

Healthy strawberry oatmeal bars

While oranges are usually people’s go-to fruit when it comes to vitamin C, strawberries are another fruit that ranks higher in the vitamin C department. A one-cup serving contains 108% of the DV, and they’re also packed with plenty of other antioxidants.

Strawberries are delicious by themselves, in smoothies, or in all kinds of tasty, yet healthy desserts.

These strawberry oatmeal bars from Well Plated are incredibly moreish, and though they taste sweet and decadent, they contain only 100 calories each. They’re quick to make and seriously versatile; you can eat them for breakfast, on the go, as an afternoon snack, or as a dessert.

8. Grapefruit, ginger, and turmeric smoothie

Grapefruit, ginger, and turmeric smoothie

If you’re feeling a little under the weather, try making this smoothie from When Helen Cooks. Packed with fresh and healthy ingredients like grapefruit, orange, ginger, turmeric, and carrots, it’s full of immune-boosting nutrients that can help to put a spring in your step.

Grapefruit contains nearly as much vitamin C as oranges, and as this recipe calls for one whole grapefruit, that’s already 95% of the DV. Then there’s also the addition of oranges, apples and carrots, which are also packed with vitamins A, C, and K.

If that weren’t enough, the recipe contains turmeric, which has been shown to have many antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Plus, ginger also contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and can improve coughs, lower fevers, fight infections, and ease headaches.

The sharpness of the citrus fruit and ginger is mellowed by apples and ice cubes, but you can also add a dollop of yoghurt to your smoothie to make it creamier. Coconut and vanilla yoghurt work well.

9. Warm kale salad

Warm kale salad

It’s no secret that kale is bursting with nutrients. Widely regarded as a superfood, one cup contains 26% of vitamin C’s DV, plus a whopping 453% of the DV for vitamin K. It’s also high in iron, selenium, and vitamin E, and is thought to support both bone health and eye health, and protect against cancer and heart disease.

Kale can be eaten raw or cooked, but while raw kale salads are delicious and refreshing in summer, during the colder months you may crave something a little more comforting. So why not make this warm kale salad from I Heart Vegetables? If you’re not a kale fan, cooking it can make it more tender and less bitter – and might be what’s needed to convert you into a kale enthusiast!

This salad is super simple, packed with flavour, and full of healthy ingredients like olive oil, garlic, chilli, and lemon (all good for immune health). You could always jazz it up with some cherry tomatoes, sliced peppers, chunks of feta, diced red onion, walnuts, cranberries, or bacon too.

10. Tomato risotto

Tomato risotto

Whether eaten raw in salads and sandwiches, cooked into soups or tarts, or blitzed into pasta or pizza sauces, tomatoes are incredibly versatile. And they’re high in vitamin C (though cooked tomatoes contain more than raw tomatoes – a cup of cooked tomatoes contains 61% of the DV compared to 23% in raw tomatoes).

As well as being packed with flavour, tomatoes contain vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and fibre. They’re also rich in antioxidants, in particular one called lycopene, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers.

There are many gorgeous tomato recipes to choose from, but often it’s the simple ones that work best, where the juicy, sweet taste of the tomatoes is allowed to shine. So, why not make this comforting tomato risotto dish from Olive, which is bursting with simple Italian flavours?

11. Raspberry and chia jam

Raspberry and chia jam

If you have a sweet tooth but are trying to cut down on sugar, why not make some healthy yet delicious jam? It might surprise you to learn that you can make a sweet, fruity, and thick jam without using a single grain of sugar – just use chia as a thickener!

Juicy, poppable, and high in nutrients, a single cup of raspberries contains 36% of the DV for vitamin C. They’re also high in fibre, minerals, and antioxidants, and are believed to help prevent diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and obesity, and potentially even provide anti-ageing effects.

While chia seeds themselves aren’t especially high in vitamin C, they’re considered a superfood for a reason: they’re high in fibre, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also linked to reduced risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, as well as improved digestion and gut health.

Why not make this beautiful raspberry and chia jam recipe from Gordon Ramsay? The addition of lemon juice gives the jam another dose of vitamin C, while a squeeze of agave syrup lends some natural sweetness.

12. Broccoli, kale, and pea soup

Broccoli, kale, and pea soup

Finishing with another warming soup, this next recipe is perhaps one of the healthiest soups to exist. We already know how good broccoli and kale are at supporting the immune system, so why not go one better and add another health-boosting veg to your ingredients?

Peas are a good source of vitamin C, with one cup containing 42% of the DV for vitamin C. They’re also an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and E, as well as zinc and other antioxidants that help strengthen your immune system. Plus, they’re rich in plant protein.

This creamy broccoli, kale, and pea soup from Nutriplanet is as healthy as it is appetising – and it’s oil and dairy-free too. While it contains only six ingredients, it’s packed with flavour; is warming, hearty, and filling; and ready in only 15 minutes. Plus, it’s only 233 calories per bowl!

Final thoughts…

If you’re looking to help support your immune system, it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you struggle to eat enough fresh fruit and veg, making things like juices and smoothies is an easy way to get a whole load of nutrients in one go – and there are plenty of other ideas in our article, here.

The recipes above are incredibly versatile, so whether you’re in the mood for something zesty and refreshing or cosy and comforting, hopefully you’ll find a few recipes to whet your appetite!

If you’d like to find out more about boosting your immune system, you might like to read our articles, 14 foods that can boost immune health and 10 ways to boost your immune system. Alternatively, head over to the health and diet and nutrition sections of our website.

Do you make a conscious effort to eat foods that are rich in vitamin C? Or do you have any favourite vitamin C-rich recipes? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.