25 Exotic Fruits You Need to Try at Least Once
There’s nothing more refreshing and uplifting than biting into a juicy, delicious apple on a hot summer day, or throwing some slices of sweet, ripe banana onto your morning oatmeal. But if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to spice things up every now and again and challenge your taste buds with something a little more exotic.
If the classic apple or citrusy orange are too bland and boring for you, then check out these 25 tropical fruits and give your palate a jolt.
1. Passion fruit
Passion fruit is the best choice for those who enjoy tart, citrusy flavors that pack a punch. It’s enclosed in a tough skin, but inside, it’s gelatinous in texture, with crunchy seeds balancing the flavors out.
Eating passion fruit raw provides the best, out-of-this-world tropical experience, but if that’s a bit too intense for you, mixing the fruit with yogurt or sorbet is another good way to go.
Bonus: Desserts based on passion fruit are to die for. Check out these delicious recipes that are based on this exotic fruit: mango and passion fruit meringue roulade, passion fruit cheesecake, and mango & passion fruit tart.
2. Dragon fruit
Not only does dragon fruit look delicious, it also tastes incredibly delicious and sweet. Native to Central America, this reddish-pink, fleshy fruit has a deliciously sweet, slightly sour taste, similar to a pear or a kiwi.
Like passion fruit, it has crunchy, tiny seeds inside its spiky shell, which give it an extra punch.
This delicious, pulpy, strawberry-like fruit tastes just as yummy as it sounds. The pink-hued shell covers a delicious, almost translucent pulp that packs an incredibly sweet punch and leaves your mouth watering.
It tastes somewhat similar to a grape, but with floral undertones and a more consistent texture. It’s also amazing when mixed into your favorite desserts.
Jackfruit has a very strong flavor that resembles a citrusy banana, though some people say that it tastes like meat. It’s true that the pulp of the jackfruit has a meaty consistency, but that’s (almost) where the similarity ends.
When ripe, jackfruit has a sugary tropical flavor, but when unripe, its stringy texture makes it a good substitute for pulled pork. So, you can either work it into a dessert, or wrap it in a taco for a delicious vegan lunch.
5. Durian fruit
While jackfruit elicits mixed responses, durian fruit is likely to provoke more frowns than smiles. At least at first glance. Durian fruit is packed full of nutrients and it’s incredibly healthy, yet it can be hard to get past its very potent smell.
Still, if you manage to ignore that, you’ll find that durian tastes somewhat like cheese mixed with garlic and caramel. Does it sound interesting enough to give it a go?
6. Custard apple
Also known as cherimoya, this exotic fruit hails from South America, and its core consists of a creamy, pulpy, custard-like filling that luckily tastes like a mix of pineapple and banana.
Be careful not to eat the seeds, though, as they’re incredibly toxic. The custardy pulp is highly nutritious, packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and lots of fiber.
Few fruits look as intriguing and enticing as this next one on the list. And no, it has nothing to do with mango. Harking from the Indo-Malay region, mangosteen consists of a purple-y hard skin with a snow-white, pulpy interior that kind of looks like a star.
It’s incredibly sweet and delicious and a real treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. The mangosteen’s fleshy, juicy pulp is similar to that of lychee, and it tastes a little bit like a peachy pineapple.
Rambutan basically means ‘hairy’ in Malay, which is not surprising given that its reddish shell looks like a punk rocker’s hairstyle. However, dig into it, and you’ll find a creamy pulp that tastes a bit like a pear, though with a slight woody note.
Rambutan hails from the same family as lychee, so it too can be used freely in desserts, fruit salads, or simply eaten raw.
If you enjoy grapefruit, then you should try pomelo, which is basically the grapefruit’s older, wiser, more exotic cousin. Shaped like a big pear, pomelo can grow as big as a cantaloupe, and it tastes much sweeter than a grapefruit.
It’s a great source of vitamin C and a great choice if you’re not a big fan of the bitter taste of grapefruit.
10. Snake fruit
Otherwise known as salak, snake fruit looks sort of like a lychee that’s been dipped in chocolate. To others, it might look like a textured chestnut due to its scaley brownish skin.
But if you’re willing to get past the aesthetics, you’ll find that the inside of salak tastes like a mix between an apple and a banana, with just a hint of honey on top. It packs a lot of fiber, so it’s also aid to digestion.
11. Horned melon
This next tropical fruit has a lot of nicknames: horned melon, kiwano, horned cucumber, spiked melon, and even cuke-asaurus. It’s part of the cucumber family, so the taste is somewhat similar, but with a sweet twist.
When very ripe, it’s even sweeter, giving a hint of banana, so it’s a great addition to any fruit salad. If you want it to be sweeter, wait until its spiky shell starts to turn a yellowy-orange hue.
12. Star fruit
The carambola, otherwise known as star fruit, is a staple of Asian cuisine. Just looking at one is enough to make your mouth water, as it doesn’t get more tropical than this.
The star fruit is as soft as a peach and as sweet and floral as a grape or an apple. It’s not too sweet or too overbearing, and depending on how ripe it is, it can go the sweet route or the slightly bitter route.
13. Rose apple
Rose apples look a bit like ripe tomatoes, but they’re in fact quite sweet, their taste similar to rose water. If we’ve piqued your interest, then you should also know that rose apples spoil very quickly, so they should be consumed right after picking.
They’re known to be a tonic for the brain and liver, and they’re often used for infusions to stimulate digestion and reduce fever.
14. Black sapote
This next tropical fruit can be deceiving; although it looks somewhat like chocolate pudding, the taste is nothing like it. In fact, many people say that black sapote doesn’t really have a discernible taste. While the dark-colored exterior might not look too appetizing, the creamy, pudding-like filling is a treat, boasting a taste similar to caramel, honey, or dates.
You can eat it raw, turn it into ice cream or sorbet, or use it as an alternative to banana to make black sapote bread. Yum!
Sapodilla, also known as ciku fruit, is a super-sweet tropical delight most commonly found in southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
While it looks kind of like a potato, open it up and you’ll find a reddish-brown pulp that tastes super sweet and is a great source of vitamin C. It can be enjoyed as it is or mixed into drinks or baked goods, but note that it’s only edible when ripe.
A bite-sized fruit as big as a grape, kumquat is literally Chinese for ‘golden orange’, and that describes it perfectly. If you’re a big fan of citrus but are a bit bored with lemons and oranges, you should give kumquat a try.
It’s also easier to eat, since the skin is edible and incredibly sweet. A pro tip would be to eat a kumquat whole to get that perfect blend of sweet and tart.
First of all, pineberries are just incredibly fun to look at, as they look like white strawberries sprinkled with pinkish-red seeds. The flavor of this tropical fruit is even more delightful, similar to pineapple or pear, with a hint of strawberry.
You can enjoy pineberries on their own, throw them in a dessert or a fruit salad, or pair them with soft cheese like burrata or goat’s cheese.
18. Brazilian grape
Brazilian grapes, or jabuticaba, are super-popular in Brazil, and for good reason. They basically look like really fat dark cherries, and they taste incredibly sweet and refreshing, especially when ripe.
Unfortunately, they spoil quickly, which is why it’s hard to export them to other countries. They’re delicious enjoyed raw, freshly picked from the tree, or turned into jam, jelly, or juice, which also makes them last longer.
19. Cactus fruit
At first glance, cactus fruit doesn’t look very appealing, mostly because of its prickly, cactus-like skin. Because it’s shaped sort of like a pear, cactus fruit is also known as prickly pear, but don’t be fooled, as it doesn’t really taste like pear at all.
Cactus fruit actually tastes similar to a melon, sweet and watery yet generally mild. The fruit also has a lot of small seeds, which some people prefer not to eat, although they are edible. the best way to eat it is to just enjoy the cactus fruit raw, seeds and all, or use it to make lemonade, mojitos, or desserts like jelly and sorbet.
Gooseberries basically look like fat, translucent green grapes, and they have absolutely nothing to do with geese. They’re banned in some US states because it can host blister rust, a destructive tree-killing disease that can wreak havoc on white pine.
If you’re in Europe, however, gooseberries are much easier to get a hold of. Once you do, you can enjoy them raw, or incorporate them into your favorite pie or crumble recipes, since they’re a bit tart in taste.
21. Noni fruit
Noni is a tropical fruit that grows on the trees of Southeast Asia, Australia, India, and the Pacific Islands. While this fruit might not look like much, it’s one of the healthiest items on our list, packed full of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants.
The ripened core tastes earthy and citrusy, similar to a stinky yet sweet cheese. It has a unique flavor that definitely deserves a try at least once in your life.
Hailing from Mexico and the Caribbean, papaya, or pawpaw, is a deliciously sweet tropical fruit that by now we should all know and love. This bright orange, fat-zucchini-shaped fruit is full of nutrients, and can be consumed raw or mixed into juices, smoothies, fruit salads, and even salsas.
This tropical fruit, native to Southeast Asia, bears some resemblance to lychee, hiding a fleshy white pulp within its yellowish-orange shell. The langsat fruit has a grapefruit-like flavor, yet is sweeter, and is best enjoyed raw or mixed into delish tropical fruit salads.
Feijoa, a tropical fruit native to Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, is also known as the pineapple guava, or the guavasteen. As you might have already guessed, while it doesn’t exactly look like a pineapple, the flavor is quite similar.
This egg-shaped fruit is protected by a rough, textured shell, and tastes a bit like pineapple mixed with strawberry and guava.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the ever-popular coconut. The edible fruit of cocos nucifera, the rock-hard coconut shell hides a creamy white, textured flesh that can be eaten raw, or processed to create coconut milk or oil. While the slightly crunchy flesh is delicious in itself, the liquid coconut water is also super delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day at the beach.