The dragon fruit is a delicious superfruit that should be in your fridge, especially if you like to eat healthily! While this fruit is great prepared raw, it’s also an incredible ingredient in salads, smoothies, drinks, and so much more. If you’re looking for some dragon fruit recipes to help spice up your meal planning, you’ve come to the right place.
You might not know how to eat this strange-looking fruit at first glance, but trust us, it’s easy! Dragon fruit is incredibly versatile — its mild flavor and texture mean it lends itself well to a variety of uses. In this post, we’ll walk you through a few of our favorite dragon fruit recipes and what the fruit itself is all about.
What Is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that was originally native to Southeast Asia and Central America. However, the healthy and delicious nature of this fruit has turned it into a popular superfood around the world. Surprisingly, the scaly-looking fruit (hence dragon fruit) grows from a type of vining cactus, not a tree or palm as you might expect.
Dragon fruits taste very mild, and the flesh of the fruit is soft, aside from the seeds. When you cut one open for the first time, you might think it looks like someone spilled black pepper over vanilla ice cream! Because of these plentiful seeds, dragon fruit has a texture similar to kiwi, but slightly softer. Some people compare it to the flesh of a ripe pear, but with the seeds of a kiwi.
Dragon fruits are incredibly easy to eat, and because of this, they can make a great snack for the healthy person on the go. The easiest way to eat the fruit is to cut it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Since the fruit’s interior is very soft, you can eat it just like you would an avocado.
You can also cube the flesh of the dragon fruit or scoop it into spheres for a more dramatic presentation. The fruit also tastes wonderful when grilled, but its most popular uses are in smoothies, cocktails, juices, and as a raw snack.
The Dragon Fruit (or “Pitaya”)
The dragon fruits — also known as “Pitaya” — that we most commonly eat today come from two different genera. Pink dragon fruits, which belong to the genus Hylocereus, can come in three different cultivars: white, red, and purple.
The most common dragon fruit variety, Hylocereus undatus, has bright pink skin and white flesh. This variety tends to be the best option for those who’ve never tried dragon fruit before, as it’s neither the sweetest nor the most acidic of the dragon fruits.
Hylocereus polyrhizus looks identical to Hylocereus undatus on the outside, but instead of white, the flesh inside is deep red or pink. It also tends to be larger and sweeter than white-fleshed dragon fruits.
Hylocereus guatemalensis, or purple-fleshed dragon fruit, is the least common of the pink varieties, and it tends to be slightly smaller and more acidic. The fruit’s skin is a dull pink, and the inside is an almost neon-magenta color. This is the rarest variety of dragon fruit cultivated today — so rare that it almost went extinct in the year 2014.
Yellow dragon fruit, or Selenicereus megalanthus, is also less common since it’s not produced en masse like the pink varieties. However, you can still get it as a part of our Dragon Sampler Box if you want to try it! As you might have guessed, it has yellow skin and white flesh, and it looks slightly less “scaly” than its pink cousins.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Like we mentioned before, dragon fruits are a popular superfruit, and they’re full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients. All of the dragon fruit varieties follow this rule, though it is said that red and purple dragon fruits have higher antioxidants due to their dark red flesh.
All of the dragon fruit varieties are full of healthy fats, fiber, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Within 100 grams of dragon fruit, you’ll ingest about 4% of your daily iron, 10% of your daily magnesium, and 3% of your daily vitamin C, in addition to 1.2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 13 grams of carbohydrates, and about 60 calories.
In addition, the seeds within the dragon fruit are excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats and healthy fatty acids, like omega-3s and omega-6s. Among the antioxidants found in dragon fruits are betalains (common in red and purple dragon fruit), hydroxycinnamates, and flavonoids.
Dragon Fruit Benefits
Betalains, which we mentioned above, can help prevent the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Hydroxycinnamates have shown cancer-inhibiting potential in certain studies, and flavonoids have been linked to lowered heart disease risk and higher overall brain health.
Dragon fruit has shown positive results in mice and other animal trials. Some of these results include:
- Reduced insulin resistance
- Reduced liver fat
- Reduced inflammation
- Beneficial changes in gastrointestinal bacteria from prebiotic fiber
- Protection from free radicals
While some of these results haven’t been studied in humans yet, the potential benefits are undeniable. The chance of an allergic reaction to dragon fruit is always possible, though, so always take care when trying something new.
Dragon Fruit Recipes
Are you ready to put this fruit to the test with some of our favorite dragon fruit recipes? If so, try the ideas below!
Dragon Fruit Salad
A simple dragon fruit salad is one of the best ways to enjoy this delicious fruit for the first time. By incorporating the dragon fruit with some other healthy options, you’ll end up with a greater variety of nutrients, flavors, and textures. To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- Cubed red dragon fruit (1 fruit)
- Cubed yellow dragon fruit (1 fruit)
- Unsweetened shredded coconut (2 tbsp)
- Sliced and trimmed starfruit (1 fruit)
- Sliced banana (1 fruit)
- Cubed or sliced kiwi (2 fruits)
- Roasted and chopped macadamia nuts (⅓ cup)
- Mint leaves, to taste
Combine the ingredients as you desire to create the perfect dragon fruit salad. Add the coconut, mint, and nuts last to function as attractive and flavorful garnishes. Serve and eat immediately.
Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl
Since dragon fruits are soft, creamy, and mild-flavored, they excel as a nutrient booster for smoothies. To create this healthy smoothie bowl, you’ll need the following:
- Red or white dragon fruit (1 fruit)
- Passionfruit (1 fruit)
- Banana (1 fruit)
- Yogurt (1 cup)
- Lime juice (1-2 tbsp)
- Your choice of toppings
Start by removing the edible flesh of the dragon fruit from the skin, and add it to your blender. Next, do the same with the passion fruit, removing the seeds if desired. Peel and add the banana, then add the yogurt of your choice. We recommend vanilla or unflavored in Greek or non-dairy yogurt.
Finally, blend everything until the smoothie has a uniform consistency. Freeze for at least two hours, or until the smoothie reaches your desired firmness. We recommend banana slices, guava, papaya, macadamia nuts, almonds, or unsweetened shredded coconut for toppings.
Tropical Fruit Popsicles
Looking for a healthy dessert that’ll still satisfy your sweet tooth? This one is especially suited to hot summer days, but it’s still health-conscious enough that you can eat one or two without guilt. To make these tropical fruit popsicles, you’ll need:
- Cubed red or white dragon fruit (1 fruit)
- Peeled and separated orange (1 fruit)
- Cubed pineapple (2 cups)
- Banana (1 fruit)
- Your choice of milk product (½ cup)
Blend the fruit and milk together in a blender until the consistency is smooth. Use your choice of dairy or non-dairy milk. Pour the fruit blend into popsicle molds and allow them to set in the freezer overnight for the best results.
Feel free to experiment with different types of milk to see which you prefer, such as almond milk, dairy milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
It’s a Drag Drink
Is your usual morning tea or coffee starting to lose its appeal? If so, try jazzing it up with this easy dragon fruit and mango twist. You’ll need:
- Brewed green tea (at least 16 oz)
- Dragon fruit (1 fruit)
- Mango (1 fruit)
To start, brew your green tea and allow it to cool. While it cools off, peel and process your dragon fruit and mango until they’re in blender-sized pieces. Blend the fruit with your tea until the mixture reaches a uniform consistency, then serve over ice.
Exotic Fruit Recipes
It’s always a good idea to try the fruit in question before experimenting with exotic fruit recipes. That’ll give you a better idea of the taste of the original fruit and how it interacts with the other ingredients. After all, if you’ve never tried dragon fruit before, how will you recognize its taste in your smoothie, drink, or dessert?
If you’re ready to take the plunge and try some dragon fruit for yourself, you may be able to find some at your local health food store or Asian market. However, if you’re having trouble finding some for these dragon fruit recipes, feel free to order a box from our Full Moon Fruits shop! Place an order with us today, or send us a message through our online contact form if you have any questions.