All about this bright and beautiful tropical fruit.
Dragon fruit, or pitaya, is a mild-tasting tropical fruit that is easy to cut and eat, and beautiful to behold. Here’s everything you need to know about it: How to cut dragon fruit, test dragon fruit for ripeness, and lots more.
What Is Dragon Fruit?
Some people think cut ripe dragon fruit looks similar to a kiwi inside, but this warm-weather fruit is actually a part of the cactus family, similar to the also-edible (and delicious) prickly pear. Native to Central America, dragon fruit can now be found around the world, including South America and Asia.
The most common species of dragon fruit or pitaya is bright pink on the outside. When you cut a dragon fruit, you’ll see clean white flesh scattered with black seeds. Less-common variations of dragon fruit, or pitaya, include red dragon fruit and yellow dragon fruit, which have magenta or yellow flesh, respectively.
How to Pick Out a Dragon Fruit
When buying dragon fruit, look for shiny, bright pink flesh on the outside with fresh green tips. Avoid dragon fruit skin that looks wrinkled, has blemishes, or brown coloring.
When Is Dragon Fruit Ripe?
No one likes over- or underripe fruit. Overripe pitaya tastes mealy and slightly fermented. Underripe dragon fruit tastes hard and bland.
Here’s how to tell if a dragon fruit is ripe:
- Ripe dragon fruit has a bright pink color with smooth skin
- The dragon fruit should not be rock hard. Instead, let it ripen a little until the flesh gives a little big, similar to a ripe avocado or fresh mango.
- If the dragon fruit feels mushy or has become bruised, brownish, or wrinkled, it is overripe. Avoid.
How to Cut a Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is easy to cut–despite its slightly intimidating appearance. Here’s how to cut a dragon fruit:
- Slice the dragon fruit in half lengthwise using a sharp knife. Now you have two oval halves.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh of each half. Discard the pink outer “shell.” Alternatively, reserve the scooped-out shell for use as bowls to serve the dragon fruit or a mixed fruit salad incorporating the dragon fruit).
- Slice the flesh into cut wedges or cubes as desired, and eat! Cutting the dragon fruit into cubes makes an easy way to toss the fruit into a fruit salad. But I also like to cut dragon fruit into long pieces or a wedge, then fan them out almost like a garnish, as you see in the photo below.
Using a melon baller for dragon fruit
You could also use a melon baller to scoop balls of dragon fruit from the sliced halves. If you’d like to use a melon baller to scoop out the pitaya flesh, skip step 2 (above) and scoop the spheres directly from each cut half.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
Dragon fruit looks vibrant and gorgeous. Its flavor is a little . . . neutral. Most people compare it to a cross between mild kiwi and pear. Because of its mild flavor, some people may consider it a little bland.
Ripe dragon fruit has a soft texture similar to a kiwi, but with slightly less moisture content.
Because of its mild flavor, I like to combine dragon fruit with other fruit to make a larger fruit salad or platter, instead of eating one on its own. That way, you have the fun visual “pop” of the bright white seeded dragon fruit, but the good, sweet flavor of the other fruit. Dragon fruit also makes a nutritious addition to smoothies or smoothie bowls, or as an oatmeal, overnight oats, or yogurt topping in the morning.
How to Store Dragon Fruit
A ripe dragon fruit should be cut and enjoyed within a day at room temperature. You can slow down the ripening process by putting your dragon fruit in the fridge. Bring to room temperature to cut and serve.
Cut dragon fruit will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a day or so.
Is Dragon Fruit Healthy?
Yes! Like other fruit, dragon fruit contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Dragon fruit is especially rich in fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. A half cup of cut dragon fruit contains about 3 grams of fiber.
This pretty tropical fruit may look unfamiliar — even a little intimidating. But once you know more about it, you’ll see just how easy it is to cut, eat, and enjoy dragon fruit.
Want some more fabulous fruit? You’ll love:
- How to Arrange a Fruit Platter Like a Pro
- How to Cut Kiwi
- Watermelon Agua Fresca
- How to Cut a Pomegranate Like a Pro
How to Cut a Dragon Fruit (and Eat It!)
- 1 ripe dragon fruit
- any other cut fruit of choice, if making a fruit salad
- Rinse your ripe dragon fruit and cut it lengthwise through the center into two hemispheres using a sharp knife.TIP: You'll know dragon fruit is ripe by the shiny, bright pink flesh with fresh green tips. Make sure the dragon fruit's skin does not pucker or have wrinkles, blemishes, or brown spots.
- Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out of each half. Place each half face-down on a cutting board.TIP: You can discard the outer rind or peel, but I suggest reserving it as a bowl in which to serve the dragon fruit or a mixed fruit salad.
- Slice the dragon fruit flesh into cut cubes, slices, or as desired. Serve on its own or as part of a larger fruit plate or fruit salad.