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18 Tropical, Exotic, and Unusual Fruits to Try

You might not have tried these fruits before, but you can find them around the world.

Almost everybody loves fruit. Fresh fruit tends to be sweet, juicy, and delicious. But sometimes, we get bored of the same old apples, bananas, and oranges.

Exotic fruit salad served in half a dragon fruit

If you’re looking for a new fruit to try, why not become more knowledgeable about more exotic fruits?

While some of these fruits might seem unusual, you can’t knock them until you try them.

And this is especially the case if you’re planning on visiting a different country or vacationing on a tropical island because that’s where the best versions of these fruits are, as they are natural, local, and fresh.

So whether you’re planning a trip out of the United States soon or are just curious about other fruits for future reference, I’ve listed the best exotic fruits I’ve tried.

Exotic Fruits 

See which of these unusual fruits you might like and give them a try the next time they’re presented to you!


Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit is my favorite of all tropical fruits. I’ve had them in Bali and other parts of Indonesia, and they’re always so juicy, with just the right level of sweetness.

People commonly use them in healthy smoothies and smoothie bowls. This use is partly because of their tasty and agreeable flavor that pairs well with almost every other fruit — berries, bananas, pineapples, you name it.

But the other reason people use them is their beautiful deep pink color! It makes smoothies and bowls that much more appealing.

Sometimes, dragon fruit comes in yellow and white, with slightly different tastes, but I like the pink ones the most.

If you want to enjoy this fruit on its own, I recommend squeezing some lime on it to bring out more flavor.


Guava

Guava is native to Central and upper South America, and it’s one of the tastiest fruits I’ve had the pleasure of trying.

The taste is a mix between a pear and a strawberry, with a slightly sweet and acidic flavor. The texture is softer than pear but not as mushy as a strawberry.

The fruit itself is usually eaten raw, and you can even eat the seeds. But if you don’t like the seeds, no problem — they’re so small that you probably won’t even notice them.

Guava is also a popular choice for juices, jams, and jellies. I love having guava juice in the morning for a tropical kickstart to my day.

So if you see any of those products at the store, definitely give them a try!


Durian

Durian is a slightly controversial Southeast Asian fruit that some people love, and some people hate.

I’ll be honest — the first time I tried it, I didn’t love it. But I realized it was primarily due to the initial, slightly jarring smell.

Once you get past that smell (if you don’t like it), the taste is delicious. It’s sweet, creamy, and rich, kind of like a cross between a banana and an avocado.

People often use durian in desserts like ice cream and cake because of its creamy texture and sweetness.

I’ve enjoyed this fruit the most when I eat it frozen, like a natural scoop of fruity ice cream.


Jackfruit

Jackfruit is a giant fruit that’s native to India, and it’s one of the largest fruits in the world.

You can find jack trees throughout India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia, to name a few countries.

I often don’t eat jackfruit raw, but I cook it a bit and use it for a savory dish. It’s a common meat replacement for vegetarians and vegans because of its stringy texture that resembles pulled pork.

I’ve even had jackfruit in tacos, burritos, wraps, sandwiches, and pizzas — it’s that good! So if you see jackfruit on a menu somewhere, don’t hesitate to give it a try.


Mangosteen

Mangosteen is one of the best exotic fruits because it’s super sweet; it almost tastes like candy!

This tropical fruit is native to Indonesia and surrounding tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, and it’s often used in juices, jams, and other desserts because of its sweetness.

The mangosteen fruit is actually inside of a hard, dark purple shell. Once you crack it open, you’ll see the white fleshy fruit inside.

This antioxidant-packed fruit may look a little strange, but the flavor is delicious.


Passion Fruit

Passion fruit is a small, round fruit native to South America, specifically from southern Brazil to northern Argentina.

I often use it in juices, jams, smoothies, and desserts because of its tart and slightly sweet flavor.

The exterior of passion fruit is usually dark purple or yellow, and the inside is filled with tiny, black seeds.

One of my favorite ways to eat passion fruit is by cutting it in half and scooping out the inside with a spoon.

But you can also add passion fruit to smoothies, juices, or yogurt for a delicious and exotic treat. Next time it’s hot out, try making homemade passion fruit popsicles!


Star Fruit

Star fruit is the nickname for a fruit originally called carambola, which is from the Averrhoa carambola tree.

As you might’ve guessed, it got its nickname because it resembles a star when cut, given the five or six ridges it usually has.

Star fruit is both sweet and sour, making it an exceptional choice for more savory purposes, like relishes and garnishes.

You can find fresh star fruit in various regions, including Southeast Asia, East Asia, and South America.

This option is a very healthy fruit, but its slight toxicity means it’s not the best choice for people with kidney issues.


Acai

Acai berry is a tiny, rounded, black fruit that comes from the Acai palm tree.

This tree is native to Central and South America, specifically in countries like Brazil and Venezuela.

The acai berry has become pretty trendy recently because of its purported health benefits. 

These berries are very high in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage.

They’re also high in fiber, which is excellent for digestive health, and contain heart-healthy fats.

You can find acai berries in many health food stores in America, and I love to use them for morning berry smoothies more than anything else.


Persimmon

Persimmon is a fruit that’s native to China but is also widely grown in Japan and Korea.

Persimmon is technically classified as a berry, and it’s related to the kaki fruit.

Persimmons are available in two different types: astringent and non-astringent. The astringent variety is much more common, but the non-astringent variety is sweeter and more delicious, in my opinion.

The astringent variety of persimmon is very firm and tastes quite bitter if you eat it before it’s ripe.

The non-astringent type is much softer and sweeter, making it the better choice.

You can find persimmons in most Asian markets, and I love to eat them as a snack or add them to salads.


Buddha’s Hand

Like star fruit, Buddha’s hand has a nickname based on how it looks, with finger-like sections split throughout the fruit.

This fruit is a domesticated citrus that people have traced back to various parts of south and east Asia.

It has antioxidant and inflammation-reduction properties and a very crisp, citrus flavor similar to lemon.

Also, similar to a lemon, you can grate or peel the lemon part and use it as a zesty addition to various dishes.

The fingers of the Buddha’s hand can also be candied and used as a decoration on cakes or other desserts.


Cherimoya

Cherimoya is a fruit that’s native to South America, specifically in countries like:

  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Bolivia

This fruit is often called the “custard apple” because of its creamy texture and sweetness. It’s also often compared to pineapple in terms of flavor.

Cherimoya is a great source of vitamins C and B, fiber, and copper. You can find this fruit in many Latin American markets, and I love to eat it on its own or include it in a fruit salad with grapes, oranges, and apples.


Horned Melon (Kiwano)

The horned melon, also called the kiwano, is a fruit that’s native to southern and central Africa but is also grown in New Zealand.

This fruit is technically classified as a berry, and it’s related to cucumbers and squash in terms of its cylindrical shape and mild yet slightly sweet taste.

I like to keep it simple with horned melon by just slicing it half the long way, then using a spoon to scoop out the juicy insides.

There may be a bit of a sour taste to it, which is fine. But if it is too sour or bitter, that specific fruit you’re eating might not be agreeable to humans.

But don’t worry — just one bit won’t hurt. Simply throw it out and try another.


Kumquat

Kumquat is a citrus fruit with sweet and acidic pulp, similar to an orange in appearance and taste.

If you’ve ever seen a strangely elongated orange-looking fruit, you’ve probably seen a kumquat!

Kumquats are native to East Asia but are now grown in many different parts of the world.

The fruit is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, making it a great addition to any diet.

You can eat kumquats whole, or you can slice them and add them to smoothies or other dishes.

Like many of these fruits, they also go well when preserved in jams or jellies.


Longan

Longans look and feel similar to a lychee, which I’ll discuss in a bit, but they’re different.

Longan is a member of the soapberry family, while lychee is a member of the rose family.

This fruit is native to southern and southeastern Asia but is now grown in tropical areas worldwide.

Longans have a thin, brownish-red shell with white flesh on the inside. This fruit is slightly sweet and has a chewy texture, similar to a grape.

You can use longans in fruit juices and fruit salad, but I especially love them in hot longan tea.


Loquat

Loquat is another exotic fruit that goes swimmingly in hot tea.

This fruit is native to southeastern China but is now grown in many parts of the world, including Japan, India, Pakistan, and even California.

Loquat is a small, round fruit with a tart taste. It’s similar to a plum in appearance but tastes more like a tart apple, with apricot and cherry tones — sounds tasty, right? This fruit is also super healthy and rich in:

  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C
  • Fiber
  • Potassium

Loquat might seem difficult to eat at first, but you have two options: you can peel the skin and eat around the inner seeds or slice it in half and extract the inner seeds.


Lychee

Lychees are native to southern China but are now grown in many tropical areas, including India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Florida.

Lychees are one of my favorite fruits because, like mangosteens, they make me feel like I’m eating candy.

But unlike candy, lychees are very healthy for you, with many beneficial minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Because of their sweetness, I love including lychee as a dessert ingredient, like lychee custard or lychee cake.

You can also caramelize lychees, turn them into a pudding, or even make lychee syrup! I also love a lychee martini!


Pomelo

Pomelos are large, citrus fruits that resemble grapefruits and have a very tart, sweet, and bitter flavor — also like grapefruits.

Pomelos are native to Southeast Asia and come in wide varieties, but I’ve eaten the pink ones from Thailand and Vietnam and the yellow ones from China.

Pomelos are a great source of vitamins C and K, and they’re versatile. I use them to make shaved ice, prawn salads, and even cocktails.

To enjoy this fruit, you’ll need to remove the thick rind and break off each segment.


Rambutan

Last but not least is the rambutan, a fruit related to lychees and longans in terms of inner appearance but looks unique on the outside with its red hairy shell.

Rambutan is native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand but is now grown in many tropical areas.

People often compare them to lychees, but rambutans are a bit creamier, and lychees are a bit crisper.

I like rambutans in liquid items like fruit smoothies, cocktails, and even curries, perhaps because of their slightly creamier texture when blended.


Exotic Fruits 

  1. Dragon Fruit
  2. Guava
  3. Durian
  4. Jackfruit
  5. Mangosteen
  6. Passion Fruit
  7. Star Fruit
  8. Acai
  9. Persimmon
  10. Buddha’s Hand
  11. Cherimoya
  12. Horned Melon (Kiwano)
  13. Kumquat
  14. Longan
  15. Loquat
  16. Lychee
  17. Pomelo
  18. Rambutan

Final Thoughts

So which of these exotic fruits will you be trying first? While most of them are native to Southeast Asia or Central and South America, you can find them in tropical areas all over the world.

In my opinion, they’re the best, freshest, and tastiest when found in their home region. But if you don’t plan on traveling anytime soon, you might as well go to your local grocery store or farmers market and see what you can find.

Either way, you’re now more knowledgeable about these exotic fruits, so at least you’ll know what they are if you ever see them around!

Learn more about food on our blog, like the hottest hot sauces in the world!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.