Learn how to cut dragon fruit with this simple-to-follow guide. Whether pink, white, or yellow, this tropical fruit is perfect for snacks, smoothie bowl garnishes, fruit salads, and so much more!
What is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit, which also goes by thanh long, pitaya, pitahaya, or strawberry pear, is a type of tropical fruit. It grows on the Hylocereus cactus species, also known as Honolulu Queen or Queen of the Night.
While this plant species is native to Mexico and Central America, you can find it grown in places all around the world such as Malaysia, Australia, and the Philippines.
There are three main types of dragon fruit:
- White Dragon Fruit: Pink-skinned fruit with white flesh. This is the most common variety.
- Red Dragon Fruit: Red-skinned fruit with bright magenta flesh.
- Yellow Dragon Fruit: Yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.
Due to the bright skin and spikey protrusions on its exterior, this fruit was aptly given the name “dragon fruit.”
What does dragon fruit taste like?
If you’ve never had the chance to try dragon fruit, you may be wondering if this odd-looking ingredient even tastes good!
Surprisingly, despite being such an exotic fruit, the flavor is not as exotic as you may be thinking. It’s often described as a cross between a kiwi, a pear, and a watermelon. It’s perfectly sweet, slightly crunchy from the seeds, and extremely refreshing.
How to Cut Dragonfruit
Don’t be fooled by the crazy pink and green protrusions you see on this fruit. With a soft exterior and an interior similar to kiwi, it’s actually quite easy to cut into. So, what are you waiting for?! Let’s cut some dragon fruit.
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Step 1: Cut in half
Start by placing your dragon fruit down on a flat surface. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice it in half lengthwise. Make sure to keep a good grip on one half of the fruit while you cut it.
Which type of knife is best?
Not sure which type of knife is which? Grab our guide to types of knives (there are four every home cook needs!)
Step 2: Remove the skin (Scoop or peel)
At this point, you can eat the flesh with a spoon by scooping out bite-size pieces. You can also peel away the pink skin to slice the dragon fruit.
If you don’t want to peel your dragon fruit, run a spoon along the edge of each half where the flesh meets the peel — like you would with a kiwi or a mango. The flesh should come away from the peel quite easily.
This is my preferred method since it preserves more fruit! Cut the dragon fruit halves lengthwise into quarters. Using your hands, lift the flesh away from the peel (again, they should pull apart easily).
Note: Some people find the pink remnants left behind to be bitter. If you find the taste to be unpleasant, cut away any pink portion that is left behind after peeling the fruit.
Step 3: Cut The Fruit (slice, cube, or sphere)
When it comes to how to cut up dragon fruit, you have three options.
Now that the peel has been removed, it’s time to cut it up. You can slice each half into half-moon shapes to eat as a snack. Place it flat side down on a cutting board or counter, then slice it as thick or thin as you’d like with a chef’s knife.
To cut your dragon fruit into cubes, repeat the same slicing technique with 1/2-inch thick slices. Lay each slice on its side, cut it in half lengthwise, then into 1-inch cubes with a chef’s knife. You can freeze the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet to be used in smoothies or smoothie bowls.
How to Use Dragonfruit
Dragon fruit can be served as a fresh and hydrating snack, drink, smoothie, and more. Here are some ideas for you to test out:
- Smoothies: Add frozen dragon fruit cubes to your next smoothie or smoothie bowl.
- Aguas frescas: Make a Mexican-style agua de pitahaya with fresh dragon fruit, water, sweetener, and ice. There is nothing more refreshing!
- Salsas: Make a spicy salsa by combining cubes of dragon fruit with jalapeño, lime, onion, and sea salt.
- Fruit salads: Mix cubes or balls with papaya, banana, mango, pineapple, and watermelon for a refreshing flavor and texture.
- Toppings: Use it as a garnish for yogurt bowls, oatmeal, overnight oats, or granola.
Storing Dragon Fruit
Here are a couple of tips for getting the most out of storing your dragon fruit:
- Room temperature: If you’re planning to eat your dragon fruit right away, keep it on the countertop for 2-3 days to ripen.
- Fridge: To slow the ripening process, store your dragon fruit in the fridge for up to 1-2 weeks. It’s best to keep it in an airtight container or sealable bag to ensure there is no flavor absorption from other foods.
- Freezer: For long-term storage, peel and cube the dragon fruit, add it to a freezer-safe bag or container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Since the texture changes slightly when freezing, it’s best to use frozen dragon fruit in smoothies!
How To Tell if it’s ripe
While dragon fruit is generally available year-round, the best months to purchase fresh varieties are June through September. Outside of these months, you can try frozen or freeze-dried dragon fruit. However, when you’re choosing a fresh dragon fruit, check for the following characteristics:
- Color: Dragonfruit should have bright pink, shiny, and smooth skin. The protrusions should be a light green color. Some light beige spots are okay, but avoid fruits with too many dark spots, blemishes, or wrinkled skin.
- Touch: When you lightly squeeze dragon fruit, it should give a little — much like a kiwi, avocado, or mango. If it feels mushy to touch, it is overripe.
- Smell: Unfortunately, you won’t really be able to tell if a dragon fruit is ripe by the smell. It does not emanate much of an aroma, unlike many other tropical fruits. The best way to tell if it’s ripe is by touch and color alone.
Nutritional Benefits of Dragon Fruit
Besides the delicious flavor, dragon fruit provides so many health benefits. Here are just a few of the nutrients you can find in a 1-cup serving:
3 Grams of Protein
Similar to jackfruit, dragon fruit is one of the few fruits to have more than 1 gram of protein per serving. There are almost 3 grams in a single cup!
7 Grams of Fiber
With 7 grams of fiber per cup, dragon fruit is great for a low-calorie snack that keeps you feeling full between meals. Fiber is also important in the maintenance of a healthy heart.
8% Daily Value of Iron
Dragon fruit is a terrific source of iron. This nutrient is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which is the protein that helps transport oxygen around your body.
18% Daily Value of Magnesium
Magnesium is essential in maintaining healthy blood pressure as well as helping muscles contract and relax. Dragon fruit contains almost a fifth of your daily intake in one cup.
Dragon fruit is filled with flavonoids like phenolic acid and betacyanin. These antioxidants protect your cells from free radicals — harmful molecules that lead to many inflammatory diseases.
White dragon fruit has a mild flavor while pink dragon fruit often tastes sweeter and juicier. However, the vibrant pink hue is the main factor that separates these two fruits, meaning more antioxidants! There is not a huge difference in texture between white and pink dragon fruits.
While the skin of dragon fruit is non-toxic, it tastes fairly bitter and leathery when fresh. It’s best used in savory dishes like oseng-oseng, (Javanese-Indonesian stir-fry). You can also dry the skins and make dragon fruit skin tea.
You do not have to remove the seeds of dragon fruit. They are completely edible and contain many health benefits!
- 1 dragonfruit
- Halve: Place dragon fruit down on a flat surface. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice it in half lengthwise.
- Remove Skin: Either scoop out fruit with a spoon by running a spoon along the edge of each half where the flesh meets the peel, OR peel. To peel, cut the dragon fruit halves lengthwise into quarters. Using your hands, lift the flesh away from the peel.
Cut The Fruit
- Option 1 – Slice: Place it flat side down on a cutting board or counter, then slice it as thick or thin as you’d like with a chef’s knife.
- Option 2 – Cube: Repeat the same slicing technique with ½-inch thick slices. Lay each slice on its side, cut it in half lengthwise, then into 1-inch cubes with a chef’s knife.
- Option 3 – Sphere: Don’t peel the skin away from the dragon fruit. Use a melon baller to scoop out spheres from each half.