How to Eat Dragon Fruit the Right Way, According to a Tropical Fruit Expert

Here's the scoop on savoring every slice of this sweet, exotic treasure.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

In the not-so-distant past, dragon fruit was something of a unicorn, a rare commodity found at specialty markets and ethnic grocers, but the tide has shifted. These days, they sit alongside more quotidian produce with increasing regularity. If you've ever wondered how to eat dragon fruit, we've got you covered. We spoke to a tropical fruit expert who shares the best way to get beyond that thorny, thick skin and straight to the delicious, antioxidant-rich flesh of this vibrant beauty.

Meet Our Expert

Desiree Pardo Morales, founder and president of Tropical Fruit Box, an online purveyor of tropical and exotic fruits.

Related: The Best Ways to Eat Passion Fruit

Dragon Fruit Explained

While plump and hefty, weighing up to a pound each, dragon fruit is considered a berry. Adding to their mystique, they grow on the branch tips of climbing, night-flowering cacti and are classified in the genus Hylocereus and genus Selenicereus.

Spiky, with thick leathery skin, dragon fruit takes its name from the fire-breathing mythological creatures that populate age-old lore. Their taste, though heavenly, is more down to earth. "Generally, the flavor of dragon fruit is a mix between a pear and a kiwi, with subtle differences, depending on the variety," says Desiree Pardo Morales, founder and president of the Miami-based exotic fruit purveyor Tropical Fruit Box.

Indigenous to the tropical and subtropical regions of Central America, South America, and Mexico, the dragon fruit is now also cultivated stateside in California, Florida, and Hawaii, as well as in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, China, and Indonesia, and the Middle East, among other regions.


White dragon fruit: "The pink, fuchsia skin with white flesh is the most common variety, referred to as the white dragon," says Morales. Like all varieties, the flesh is dotted with tiny, edible black seeds. Less sweet than its kin, it's also known as pitaya or pitahaya ("pita" means prickly in Latin).

Yellow dragon fruit: This species also has white flesh but with a yellow exterior and a pointy knob on top. It's the sweetest and the smallest of the bunch.

Purple dragon fruit: The flesh of this variety leans toward purple magenta, while its skin is fuschia. Somewhat rare, it's harder to come by in the U.S.

Red dragon fruit: The skin of this variety ranges from deep pink to red, with smaller leaves, while its flesh is scarlet and slightly more acidic.

How to Eat Dragon Fruit

While its exterior can be intimidating, given it burly bumps and texture, it's a cinch to get to the heart of the dragon. There are two main ways to go about it:

Scoop it: If you're enjoying the fruit on its own, Morales recommends slicing it in half lengthwise and simply scooping out the flesh with a spoon. "Be sure to penetrate all the way to the skin and use a circular motion to loosen," she says. "This is a great self-serve, on-the-go way to enjoy the luscious and nutritious fruit."

Slice it: "For a more formal presentation or food prep, slice it lengthwise, and peel off the skin," she says. Next, cut it into cubes or slices.

Best Ways to Enjoy

As noted, the flesh of the dragon fruit is sensational as is—but consider that your jumping-off point. "Dragon fruit can be part of a culinary experience, from appetizer to dessert," says Morales. Here are a few suggestions for enjoying their unique flavors to the fullest:

  • Traditionally dragon fruit is served cold, on its own, says Morales, or as part of a medley of fruits. She likes to combine it with passion fruit, mango, tropical avocado, and pineapple.

  • Those cubes or slices are terrific as a salad topper, says Morales, adding a bite of sweetness to a bowl of greens.

  • Dragon fruit slices heighten a dish of ice cream (allowing its sweetness to take wing).

  • They also brighten up yogurt at breakfast or snack time.

  • Smoothies are, of course, dragon fruit-friendly. Add a couple of fresh (or frozen) chunks to any of your favorite combinations, like mango, and avocado banana.

  • Dragon fruit can also star as a delightful ingredient in refreshing cocktails, especially those made with white spirits, says Morales. (Dragon Fruit Cosmopolitan, anyone?)

What Not to Do

  • While the dragon fruit is versatile, it does have its limitations. "I don't recommend cooking dragon fruit," says Morales. She does condone using it uncooked as a flavor enhancer in salsas and main dishes.

Read the original article on Martha Stewart.