What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like? (5 Pitaya Varieties)


Sliced, halved, and whole dragon fruits on the table

Dragon fruit, also called pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear is one of the world’s most exotic fruits from the looks. You can occasionally see fresh ones in the grocery store, and when you do, the price isn’t low either. If you haven’t ever gotten one from the shelves, you must be wondering what dragon fruits taste like?

Dragon fruits taste like a mild blend of pear and kiwi with a soft texture similar to ripe kiwi. Dragon fruit’s sweetness varies among five varieties: four are sweet, and one is sour.

The taste of dragon fruits, pitayas, or which name you prefer isn’t as exotic as it looks. The best way I can describe its taste and texture is that it’s very close to ripe kiwi, yet the taste isn’t as strong, and a pear-like flavor is noticeable.

Dragon fruit certainly is a delicious fruit, yet its flavor can be compared to other known fruits. This can be disappointing because its unusual looks and fascinating name ”dragon fruit,” makes you expect a unique taste.

Dragon fruit grows naturally in tropical environments, so South America and Southeast Asia are where you can find them. Thanks to the wide habitat of pitahayas, it has spread into five different varieties that significantly affect the taste.

Next, let’s learn more about the five types of dragon fruit.

What are the Different Types of Dragon Fruit?

Dragon fruit isn’t necessarily the same as the next because instead of one type of dragon fruit, there are five: white, red, yellow, pink, and sour dragon fruits. What is the difference between the pitaya varieties?

The five varieties of dragon fruit include white, red, pink, yellow, and sour. White is the most common and least flavorful, whereas sour is sour. Both white and sour have pink skin and white flesh. Red and pink dragon fruit are moderately sweet and have pink skin and flesh. Yellow pitaya is the sweetest.

I have often seen that dragon fruit and pitaya are mistaken as different fruits, where the pink skin fruit is referred to as dragon fruit, and the yellow skin is called pitaya. In fact, the yellow pitaya is also a dragon fruit despite its different look.

You should also know that the five types of dragon fruit are categorized into three main varieties;

  • Hylocereus undatus, also known as Pitaya Blanca, is dragon fruit with pink skin and white flesh (white & sour)
  • Hylocereus costaricensis, also known as Pitaya Roja, is dragon fruit with pink skin and red flesh (red & pink)
  • Hylocereus megalanthus, also known as Pitaya Amarilla, is dragon fruit with yellow skin and white flesh (yellow)

Now, let’s take a closer look at how the dragon fruit type affects the taste and appearance of the fruit.

1. White Dragon Fruit

White dragon fruits are the most common type of pitaya and part of the Hylocereus undatus variety. They have that famous pink skin, green scales, and white flesh with black seeds that dragon fruits are most known for.

White dragon fruits are generally 350 grams in weight, yet they can reach up to 1kg. Surprisingly, this most popular dragon fruit is also the least flavorful and sweet. White dragon fruit from a poor harvest can have a bland taste, which isn’t expected when you look at its glorious appearance.

There are also different types of white dragon fruits cultivated. Here’s a list of fascinating ones;

  • Vietnamese Jaina: Perhaps the most popular dragon fruit variant, the Vietnamese Jaina has a breathtaking white coloring, placing it over the rest when it comes to taking pictures.
  • David Bowie: Thin and slim dragon fruit, compared to other varieties like David Bowie himself, has a lemony flavor.
  • Neitzel: Grown in California, the Neizel separates itself from the rest by being especially delicious when chilled.
  • Guyute: With a sweeter flavor than other white dragon fruits, the Guyute variant stands above the rest.
  • Thompson: The name Thompson is complementary to one of the world’s largest dragon fruits, which can grow heavier than 1.5 pounds.

For more information and perhaps a dragon fruit delivered to you, check out Spicy Exotics for more!

2. Red Dragon Fruit

Unlike white dragon fruits, the red dragon fruit has red flesh instead of white. With this comes a sweeter, richer taste.

The texture is still the same as all dragon fruits, although there are slight variations between them. The color isn’t the same in all either, and the colors can range from different depths of red.

You guessed it; there’s more than one red dragon fruit variety. Take a look at the best ones;

  • Red Jaina: As the name suggests, the red Red Jaina is famous for its red skin and juicy flesh. It’s great for fruit production too.
  • Zamorano: A red dragon fruit with a mild, sweet flavor and a medium size. It’s not too small or big.
  • Costa Rican Sunset: With its unusually slow-growing wine, the Costa Rican Sunset has time to gain flavor, which is extremely rich and sweet.
  • Natural Mystic: Named after a Bob Marley song, the Natural Mystic is an amazing red dragon fruit with great taste, over average size, and fruit production.

3. Pink Dragon Fruit

Similarly to red dragon fruit, pink pitayas have pink flesh and pink inside. They are both parts of the Hylocereus costaricensis family with slight differences.

The difference between red and pink dragon fruits is that pink ones aren’t as deeply red, bursting with colors. Instead, the color can range from soft rose to hot pink. Pink dragon fruits are at their best when chilled, yet they have various other uses.

Pink dragon fruit isn’t a single fruit, either. Here’s a list of popular cultivates;

  • American Beauty: With a blushingly pink color and a great sweet flavor, this dragon fruit is an American Beauty.
  • Delight: Above average in size, the Delight is delightful, thanks to a smooth texture, sweet taste, and beautiful pink flesh.
  • Purple Haze: Named after a Jimi Hendrix song, the Purple Haze has a flavor reminding of a grape, large size, relatively few seeds, and an amazing pink color.
  • Dark Star: The Dark Star is as cool as it sounds, with a long and skinny form and a grape-like taste.
  • Voodoo Child: Don’t let this tiny dragon fruit fool you because it’s packed with taste! The flavor resembles a grape in a dark flesh. It’s named after a Jimi Hendrix song too.

4. Yellow Dragon Fruit

Yellow dragon fruit is often called pitaya as if it’s a fruit of its own. Pitayas and dragonfly fruits are the same, and the yellow variety is the tastiest. These pitayas have the sweetest taste, yet they are the smallest in size.

Yellow dragon fruits aren’t as popular even though they have the best taste, possibly because they have considerably meaner thorns to be removed before serving. The yellow flesh with black edible seeds is the same as white dragon fruits.

The final difference between yellow pitayas and the other varieties is its flower with a strong odor, resembling a trumpet. This flower grows fruit in 4 to 8 weeks as well.

5. Sour Dragon Fruit

Stenocereus also called the sour dragon, is different from the white dragon fruit, even if it looks the same. As the name suggests, the taste is sour rather than sweet, making it quite refreshing. The flavor is significantly stronger too.

The sour pitaya grows mainly in South and Central America, and it has a juicier texture than other dragon fruits.

Look at the table below for quick information about the dragon fruit varieties and their looks and taste.

VarietyAppearanceTaste
White Dragon FruitPink skin & white fleshLeast sweet
Red Dragon FruitPink skin & purple fleshMedium sweetness
Pink Dragon FruitPink skin & pink fleshMedium sweetness
Yellow Dragon FruitYellow skin & white fleshSweetest
Sour Dragon FruitPink skin & white fleshSour
Taste and appearance differences for all dragon fruit varieties

Why Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like Nothing?

Dragon fruit flesh on a cutting board

Pitaya is a delicious fruit with many flavors; however, sometimes it isn’t. If you don’t know the answer, you might be overwhelmed because dragon fruit is supposed to be rich in flavor. Luckily, there is a logical answer to it.

If your dragon fruit is tasteless, it’s because it’s Hylocereus undatus, the pink-skinned and white-fleshed pitaya, which is the least sweet variety. Hylocereus costaricensis, the pink-skinned with red fleshed, is sweeter. Hylocereus megalanthus, the yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh, is the sweetest.

There are two kinds of dragon fruits in the Hylocereus undatus variety: White and sour dragon fruit. Both have pink skin and white flesh; however, one of them is the flavorless dragon fruit, whereas one of them has a sour taste.

The red-fleshed dragon fruits are significantly sweeter and richer in taste than the pink-skinned white-fleshed dragon fruit. However, the sweetest and most flavorful dragon fruit is the yellow-skinned white-fleshed pitaya.

In addition to the dragon fruit variety, other things affect the taste, such as local growing conditions, chemicals found in the soil, the amount of sunlight and water the fruit gets, and the overall harvest quality. That said, all pink-skinned and white-fleshed dragon fruits certainly aren’t tasteless. If the pitaya is from a quality harvest, it will also taste amazing.

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Is Dragon Fruit Stinky?

If you haven’t ever tasted a dragon fruit, you probably haven’t smelled it either. Dragonfruits, also called pitahayas, have a unique look that makes you wonder whether they have an unusual, stinky odor?

Ripe dragon fruit has a fresh, fruity, and mild aroma resembling banana and kiwi. Unripe dragon fruit doesen’t have an odor; thus, dragon fruit isn’t stinky.

Don’t get me wrong; if you keep dragon fruits, among other fruits, at room temperature for days, they will start to over-ripen and ultimately rot, which will have an awful stink. That applies to any kind of fruit and vegetable, so it’s only natural pitayas won’t be saved from such faith.

How to Eat Dragon Fruit?

All this talk about dragon fruits gotta makes your saliva flow. With the unique looks and taste of pitayas come unique recipes and usages. However, if you want to eat dragon fruit as is, how should you approach it?

To eat dragon fruit, slice it in half and cut the flesh into sections such as slices or cubes. Then use a spoon to carve the fruit out from the skins, like an avocado. Alternatively, you can scoop the flesh with a melon baller or a spoon without cutting it into sections. Throw out the skin as it’s inedible.

If you decide that you want the fruit out from the skin for other purposes than eating it plain with a spoon, I recommend using a spoon for the task. After cutting the dragon fruit in half, run the spoon along the edges of the skin and move it to loosen the flesh. When it’s loose, you can easily take the fruit out!

Did you know dragon fruit is healthy and even considered a superfood, being low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and you name it! Take a look at the nutritional values of dragon fruit per 3.5oz (100g);

NutrientAmount% Daily Value
Calories60gNA
Protein1.1g2.1%
Carbohydrates11g12%
Fat0NA
Fiber3g3.4%
Vitamin B10.04mg2.7%
Vitamin B20.05mg2.9%
Vitamin B30.16mg0.8%
Vitamin C20.5mg34.2%
Calcium8.5mg0.9%
Iron1.9mg10.6%
Phosphorous22.5mg2.3%
Nutritional value of dragon fruit (pitaya) per 100g | Source: Researchgate

Here You’ll Find My Favorite Kitchen Equipment.

Thanks for reading this article! I hope that it brought you real value that you can benefit from in your personal life! Here is my top kitchen equipment that I seriously couldn’t live without, and I think they could ease your life as well as they do mine.

  • Knife set: As a chef, I can’t stand dull, poor-quality knives without any design. My absolute favorite kitchen knife set is the Gangshan 3-Piece Knife Set. It comes with a handcrafted 8″ chef’s knife and a 3.5″ paring knife. What I love even more than these flawless knives is the walnut knife block which is incredible and unique.
  • Skillet: In addition to knives and my unwillingness to bargain with its quality is the cookware. My favorite skillet is Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet. This particular skillet is 9″ in size, it is heavy, it gets very hot, which is what is required to get a good sear, and it is just beautiful, as are all Le Creuset products. Le Creuset doesn’t need an introduction as a brand, as it is one of the world’s rated brands.
  • Food processor: I remember when I hadn’t a food processor at home. It wasn’t easy! But now, when I use my Ninja BN601 Food Processor, I can make anything super fast, which saves me many hours per week. This food processor has 1000 watts of power and four options, including chopping, slicing, dough, and purees. I also like the middle-sized 9cup (2.1l) bowl as it is big enough yet not too big to look unfitting in my kitchen.
  • Tweezers: Dalstrong Professional Cooking Tweezers are like tongs but much more elegant, thin, and easy to use. They are great for virtually anything, but flipping, turning, and grabbing with them is easy and makes cooking much more fun! These Dalstrgon tongs are titanium coated and very durable. Also, I like the black color instead of the everyday steel.

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Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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