From acai to velvet tamarind, we’re covering the most popular types of exotic fruits from A to Z in this helpful guide to exotic fruits!
Exotic fruits are becoming increasingly popular around the world as people are interested in new and exciting flavors to add to their diets. These fruits not only taste great but many also often have stunning or unusual appearances and can make unique presentations in your fruit salad, fruit trays, or desserts.
They are a captivating category of fruits that hail from different regions around the world, often characterized by their unique flavors, vibrant colors, and distinctive appearances. These fruits are not commonly found in local grocery stores and may require a bit of exploration to discover. With their intriguing tastes and textures, exotic fruits offer a delightful departure from the familiar, inviting us to indulge in the excitement of new culinary experiences. From tropical delights to rare varieties, exploring exotic fruits introduces us to a world of flavors and textures that add a touch of adventure to our palates.
What is the most expensive fruit in the world? The answer is at the bottom of this post!
- Yubari King Melon
- Densuke Watermelon
- Dragon Fruit
- Velvet Queen Tamarind
Types Of Exotic Fruits
The term “exotic” refers to something that is foreign or unfamiliar, often associated with being from a distant or tropical region. When used to describe fruits, “exotic” signifies varieties that are not commonly grown or found in a particular region.
These fruits may have distinct flavors, appearances, or growing requirements, adding an element of novelty and intrigue to the culinary experience. Exploring exotic fruits allows us to discover new tastes and expand our palate beyond the ordinary!
Let’s take a look at some of the world’s favorite exotic fruits!
Acai is a small purple berry that grows on the acai palm tree in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil. It’s often used in smoothies, juices, and as a topping due to their pleasant taste. They are said to taste like blackberries, but they go bad quickly once picked making them difficult to export unless frozen or dried. Try them over ice cream or yogurt.
The Ackee is a pear-shaped yellow exotic fruit native to West Africa. It has a hard outer shell and a soft creamy pulp inside. The fruit is often used in Jamaican cuisine, where it is cooked and served with salted codfish. However, the fruit is toxic when it is unripe, and it must be prepared carefully before consumption.
This is a small cherry, also known as the Acerola Cherry, native to the nations of Central Americas. It’s known for its high vitamin C content and is often used to make juice and supplements. Like most cherries they are very high in vitamin C. For more in that regard check out nutritional benefits of cherries. Cherries are also one of the best options in popsicle recipes.
The breadfruit, also called the Ulu, is a large, starchy fruit that’s often used as a substitute for potatoes or rice. When cooked, it has a texture similar to bread, hence the name. The fruit is high in fiber and essential nutrients, and is a popular food in many tropical regions. Breadfruit is a cousin to the jackfruit and is grown mostly in the Philippines where it is generally roasted or baked.
Buddha’s hand is a fragrant citrus fruit that is native to China and India. It has a finger-like shape and a bright yellow skin that resembles a hand. Buddha’s hand has a sweet, lemony aroma and is often used in cooking and baking as a flavoring agent.
The cempedak is related to the breadfruit except that instead of smelling like bread it stinks! They grow in Southeast Asia and are noted for their interesting scaly skin. While they can be eaten raw, they are more often fried or boiled.
The cherimoya is a green scaly tropical fruit with a creamy white pulp. It has a sweet, creamy flesh that is often compared to a mix of banana, pineapple, and strawberry. Oh, but it gets better. They are also known as the ice cream fruit as they are often chilled and eaten directly from their skin with a spoon. “Ice Cream fruit”, that is all we needed to know.
Dead Man’s Finger
The Dead Man’s Finger is native to China, India, and several bordering nations. This 3-5” blueish fruit is known for its sweet pulp and smooth skin which gives it the feeling of a cold dead finger. If we were writing an article on Weird Fruits, the dead man’s finger would be our star.
The Densuke Watermelon is a rare type of watermelon that is grown in the Hokkaido region of Japan. These watermelons are known for their unique shape and texture, and only a limited number are grown each year. A single Densuke Watermelon can cost up to $6,000. That certainly puts them in the exotic fruit category for us.
The dragon fruit ought to be at the top of any exotic fruit list. Also known as pitaya, It’s often used in fruit trays and bowls. Dragon fruit is a beautiful fruit with a bright pink and green exterior. The inside of the fruit is white with tiny black seeds though some dragon fruit varieties have a deep red flesh. It has a mild, sweet flavor and is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They are great on fruit trays for their eye catching beauty. Their taste, however, is a bit disappointing. They have a mildly sweet taste that is almost bland.
There are about 2 dozen different types of dragon fruit with names like Purple Haze, Red Jaina, Alice, Cosmic Charlie, and Voodoo Child. There is even a yellow variety of dragon fruit. Dragon fruits are generally available at most groceries, but they will likely only carry one variety. If you want to try others, check international markets. Dragon Fruits can make a wonderful culinary presentation, so we made this quick How to Cut Dragon Fruit tutorial to help you get the most of your dragon fruit. For us the best variety of dragon fruit is the Vietnamese Jaina as it has the most classic appearance with a deep red skin and bright white flesh.
The durian is a large spiky fruit with a strong odor that has been described as a mix of rotting vegetables and animal droppings. Well, that is a bit harsh, but they are generally banned from public transport in the Philippines and Malaysia where they grow. Despite the smell, it’s a popular fruit in Southeast Asia and is often used in desserts.
Also known as the pineapple guava, it has a green egg-shaped exterior with a sweet and tangy pulp inside. It’s often eaten raw or used in desserts and jams.
The granadilla is also known as the Sugar Fruit because they taste like a very sweet passionfruit. They are mostly cultivated in Central and South America, the West Indies, and Australia. You should be able to find them in the USA at specialty or international markets. While they may be pricey, there is so much you can do with a super sweet passionfruit. Our recommendation is a Passion Fruit Smoothie.
Okay, the guava is probably the least exotic fruit in this article as they are pretty common, but they are just too good to leave out. Guava is a round or pear-shaped fruit with a sweet, juicy flavor native to Central America and Mexico. It is a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, but that isn’t its super power. That would be making Hawaiian POG Juice. If you haven’t tried this Hawaiian inspired delight, you really need to make up a batch.
The Hala is an exotic Asian fruit grown mostly in SE Asia, but also cultivated in Florida and Hawaii. It tastes something like a cross between mango and pineapple, and has a pleasant sweet taste. It’s appearance makes it truly exotic.
The jackfruit is a massive, spiky fruit that can weigh up to 80 pounds! The fruit is sweet and flavorful, with a texture similar to pulled pork. Jackfruit is often used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian dishes. Try these Jackfruit Carnitas, or these Jackfruit Pulled Pork sandwiches. Jackfruit can be a bit expensive, so we made this quick How to Cut Jackfruit tutorial to help you avoid wasting the fruit. For more on jackfruit nutrition, selection, storage and more check out Jackfruit 101. Everything You Need to Know.
The jabuticaba is a small, purple fruit that grows on the jabuticabeira tree in Brazil. It has a sweet and tart flavor and is often used to make jams and wine.
The Jatoba is also called the Stinking Toe Fruit. This puts it right up there on the list of weird fruits with Dead Man’s Finger. The fruit’s pulp is enclosed in a thick brown pod whose shape does look rather like a toe. They are said to be fairly sweet, but the unpleasant smell gives it the name. The Jatoba is native to Central and South America and difficult to find out of these regions.
The junglesop is an unusual fruit that can grow as large as 15 kg (33 pounds), and is native to Central Africa. It is a highly nutritious fruit that can vary widely in taste from sweet to sour. Locals generally only eat these in hard times when other foods aren’t readily available.
Kiwano, also known as the African horned melon, is a fruit that looks like a cross between a cucumber and a blowfish. It has a spiky, bright orange exterior and a soft, jelly-like interior that is filled with seeds. Kiwano has a sweet, tangy flavor and is often used in salads and smoothies.
The longan is a small, round fruit that is native to Southeast Asia. It has a sweet and musky flavor and is often used in desserts and soups.
The lychee is a small round fruit with a rough red exterior and a sweet & juicy white flesh inside. It’s often used in desserts and drinks.
The mangosteen is an exotic Asian fruit native to the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia. The mangosteen is noted for its thick purple exterior and a sweet and tangy white pulp. It’s often used in desserts and drinks. It is a pretty fruit that certainly has potential to make an interesting presentation with a fruit tray. You will likely have to find mangosteen at international markets as attempts to grow them in the United States have not supported commercial cultivation.
Miracle fruit is a small red fruit that is native to West Africa. It has a unique property that makes sour and bitter foods taste sweet, thus the name. The fruit contains a protein called miraculin, which binds to the taste buds and alters their perception of taste. Miracle fruit is often used as a natural sweetener, and it is also used in some dietary supplements.
The noni is a small, lumpy fruit with a strong, pungent odor. Despite its unappealing smell, the fruit is highly valued for its medicinal properties and is often used in traditional Hawaiian medicine. Noni is believed to boost the immune system and improve overall health.
Passion fruit is native to South America. It is a small, round fruit with a tough, purple exterior and a sweet and tangy pulp inside. It’s often used in desserts, but its super power is in drinks. Try it in Passion Fruit Juice, or a frosty Passion Fruit Smoothie. They also make some truly wonderful Passion Fruit Popsicles, and you don’t have to have molds. There are several types of passion fruit to include purple passion fruit, yellow passion fruit, sweet granadilla, and giant granadilla .
The pawpaw is a green, oval-shaped fruit with a sweet and creamy yellow flesh inside. It’s often used in desserts and drinks.
The persimmon is only borderline exotic, but we had to include it as it is such a versatile fruit great in yogurt, fruit salad, on cereal, you name it. The persimmon is a bright orange fruit with a sweet, mild flavor, and it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Pineapples from the Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, England, is home to some of the world’s most expensive pineapples. These pineapples are grown in a traditional Victorian-style greenhouse and are known for their unique taste and texture. Each pineapple can cost up to $1,500. This rare exotic fruit probably grows on less square acreage than any fruit in the world.
The pineberry is a small pink strawberry with a white flesh. While other strawberries are often pink as they ripen from green to red, the pineberry is genuinely pink when ripe. It has a tart and tangy flavor, and is often used in desserts and drinks. It’s unique color makes it a good option for fruit trays or fruit salads.
The rambutan is a small red fruit with a spiky exterior and a sweet & juicy white flesh said to taste something like grapes. They are native to SE Asia, and often used in desserts and drinks.
Ruby Roman Grapes
Ruby Roman Grapes are a type of grape that is grown exclusively in the Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan. These grapes are known for their large size and unique taste. Only a limited number of these grapes are grown each year, and they can cost up to $11,000 per bunch. This would make them among the most rare fruits in the world.
Salak is a fruit that is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand. It has a scaly, brown exterior that resembles a snake’s skin. Inside, the fruit is white with a slightly sour taste. Salak is often eaten fresh or used in salads and desserts, and is known for its high nutritional value. We think the peel makes them the most exotic Asian fruit on our list.
The soursop is a tropical fruit with a green, spiky exterior and a sweet and tangy flavor. The fruit has a distinct tropical flavor, and is often used to make smoothies or desserts. Soursop is also believed to have medicinal properties and is sometimes used to treat a variety of ailments.
Starfruit, also known as carambola, is a yellow exotic fruit with a star-shaped cross-section. It has a sweet tangy flavor and is a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Star Fruit is often used in fruit or vegetable salads, pies, and other desserts.
The tamarillo, also known as the tree tomato, is native to the Andes Mountains. It is an egg-shaped fruit with a tangy, slightly bitter flavor. It is a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
Taiyo no Tamago Mangoes
The Taiyo no Tamago Mango is a rare type of mango that is grown in Japan. These mangoes are known for their unique taste and texture and are often given as gifts. A single Taiyo no Tamago Mango can cost up to $3,000. Not the sort of gift we give on a writer’s salary here at Live Eat Learn.
As its name suggests, the ugli fruit is not the most attractive fruit out there. It is a hybrid of a grapefruit, orange, and tangerine, with a rough wrinkly exterior and a sweet juicy flesh.
The velvet tamarind is a small tropical fruit encased in a hard shell. It is native to West Africa where it is mostly eaten out of hand or made into drinks.
Yubari King Melon
The Yubari King Melon is a prized fruit in Japan, and is often given as a gift. These melons are grown in the Yubari region of Japan and are known for their sweetness and texture. A pair of Yubari King Melons once sold for a staggering $45,000, making it the most expensive fruit in the world. Why is it that the most rare exotic (and expensive) fruits seem to come from Japan?
The answer is the Yubari King Melon, which has sold for as much as $20,000 each.