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Have you tried dragon fruit? Also known as pitaya or pitahaya, this exotic fruit is nutritious and packed with health benefits. The flesh is sweet and mild with gorgeous colors. Learn how to cut and eat dragonfruit as well as use it in recipes!

How to Eat Dragon Fruit by serving it cubed in its own skin; this photos shows two varieties, both white flesh and purple flesh for an attractive color contrast

Did you know that dragon fruit is America’s fastest-growing fruit? It’s all over TikTok thanks to its colorful appearance and nutrition. Maybe you’ve had the Dragon Fruit Refresher at Starbucks or seen the fruits at the supermarket.

Today we’re covering the benefits of dragon fruit, tips for cutting dragonfruit and the various ways you can incorporate it in your diet. Whether you’re a first-timer or a diehard fan, keep reading to discover everything you need to know!

What is Dragon Fruit (Pitaya)?

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that has grown in popularity thanks to its low calorie count and health benefits. You may see these fruits called pitaya, pitahaya or even strawberry pear in grocery stores. They vary in weight from half a pound all the way up to 2 pounds.

This tropical fruit comes from the dragon fruit tree, which is actually a climbing cactus also known as a dragon fruit plant. Growth starts as yellow-colored cactus flowers, from which the fruit emerge. Once mature there are 4 to 6 fruiting cycles per year.

Plantations exist across Asia, Latin America and other tropical regions. There is also a growing domestic harvest including more than one million pounds in Florida. The growing season runs from May through November in the northern hemisphere, and the October through May in the southern hemisphere making for year-round availability.

Dragon fruit tree

Nutrition and Benefits

There are myriad health benefits to this fruit, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Low Calorie Fruit: A 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving contains just 60 calories, while one small fruit yields 1 cup (227 grams) with 136 calories.
  • Rich in Antioxidants: There are many antioxidants including Vitamin C, lycopene, beta-carotene, flavonoids and hydroxycinnamates with benefits spanning brain health, heart health, immunity and cholesterol. In fact, some people have called it the next pomegranate in terms of superfood properties.
  • Beneficial Minerals: One serving contains 4% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron, 7% of the RDI of potassium and 10% of the RDI of magnesium, making it a nutrient-dense fruit.
  • Dietary Fiber: There are 3 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber per serving with benefits for digestive health.

Note that dragon fruit is not keto with one 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving containing 10 grams of net carbs according to the USDA. Therefore, you should consume it sparingly on a low-carb diet.

Does dragon fruit make you poop? This high-fiber food is a natural laxative and could lead to some abdominal cramping or diarrhea, especially when you eat a lot of it. Therefore, it’s best to add it gradually to your diet.

Side effects: According to WebMD, it’s safe to eat with only rare cases of allergic symptoms. You may notice a slight red hue in your urine and/or stool after eating red dragon fruit, similar to what you’d experience with red beets. Consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

Side-by-side comparison of red, white and yellow dragon fruit showing the different colors and textures of the flesh

The 4 Types of Dragon Fruit

It’s easy to get confused by the different varieties you may find in grocery stores:

  1. White Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus undatus): This is the most common variety and has pink skin with white flesh and small black seeds, plus a very mild flavor. May be sold as David Bowie, Thomson, Guyute and other names.
  2. Red Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus polyrhizus): This is the variety used by Starbucks in their drinks. It has pink skin and crimson red flesh with small black seeds. The flavor is slightly fruitier than white dragon fruit. Sometimes sold as Bloody Mary, Condor or Red Jaina.
  3. Pink Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus guatemalensis): One of the rarest varieties, this one has pink skin and purplish-colored flesh with small black seeds. The flavor is similar to red pitaya. May be sold as American Beauty.
  4. Yellow Dragon Fruit (Selenicereus megalanthus): Also called golden dragon fruit, this variety is slightly smaller in size with yellow skin, greyish flesh and larger black seeds.

You may also hear about blue dragon fruit, but that’s just a color during ripening stages! Similarly, purple dragon fruit is just another name for pink dragon fruit.

What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?

The flesh is mild and slightly sweet, often described as a cross between kiwifruit, pear and sugar beets. Usually there is no particular smell, although I’ve noticed some varieties take on a musky smell when very ripe. The texture resembles that of a pear, ranging from crisp to soft depending on ripeness.

There are also some variations by variety. White dragon fruit has the mildest flavor with a neutral taste and seeds so small enough you don’t notice them when eating. Red dragon fruit is fruitier with slight sugar beet notes and seeds you don’t taste. Yellow dragon fruit has noticeably sweeter flesh with larger, pod-shaped seeds that are slightly crunchy.

Try the different varieties as you encounter them to see which one is your favorite!

Where to Buy Dragon Fruit (and How to Pick One)

You should be able to find a variety of dragon fruit with other exotic fruits at your local supermarket or grocer. Many upscale supermarkets like Whole Foods also carry it (for a price!). Look for the bright colors and labels that may also read pitaya, pitahaya or strawberry pear.

Ripe dragon fruit

How to tell if dragon fruit is ripe? Look for bright, even-colored skin with a firm feel that’s heavy for its size. A few spots are normal, but dark blotches or blemishes indicate deterioration. Avoid any fruit with skin that’s wrinkling, sagging or becoming mushy. White dragon fruit flesh may also take on a pale grey color as it ages (I try to avoid these and seek out creamy white flesh.)

Why is dragon fruit so expensive? Pricing is all over the place for dragon fruit. One day you might see them selling for $3 at an Asian grocer, and the next for $7 or more at Whole Foods. You may need to shop around to find a reliable supply.

What about frozen dragon fruit? You can buy frozen cubes or purees at many supermarkets. While the nutrition is preserved, the texture deteriorates upon freezing, making this suitable for smoothies and beverages only.

How to Peel Dragon Fruit

While dragon fruit peel is edible, most people prefer to discard unless using it for serving. If you want to remove the skin while leaving the flesh intact, follow these steps.

Start by washing the fruit thoroughly to remove any debris or dirt. Then slice off a 1/2-inch from the two ends. Score the skin by using a paring knife to cut a 1/4-inch slit around the middle of the fruit.

Now you can use your fingertips to gently peel back the pink or yellow skin to reveal the flesh inside.

How to Cut a Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit is best to sit whole at room temperature until cut. However, many people prefer the taste when chilled, so you can also store in the fridge for convenience.

The cutting process is the same for all varieties. Start by placing the whole fruit on a clean cutting board. Then use a large knife to cut straight down the middle lengthwise:

Next, slide a large spoon between the skin and the flesh (like you might do with an avocado or kiwi). You should then be able to scoop out the flesh. Alternatively, you can use your fingertips to separate the skin from the flesh. Discard the skin unless you’re serving on the half shell.

Place the flesh flat-side facing down on the cutting board. If you see any pink residues from the skin on the flesh, you can trim them off. While safe to eat, they can have a bitter taste. Now you can cut the flesh into pieces any way you like:

  • Cubes: If you’re making desserts or refresher drinks, cubes of dragon fruit are an attractive presentation.
  • Quarters: For snacks on-the-go, I suggest larger pieces such as quarters that are sturdier and easier to handle.
  • Semi-circles: You can cut semi-circle shapes easily enough for garnishes or snacking.
  • Balls: For a fancier look, you can use a melon baller to produce round balls of fruit. Just note the yield will be lower, so this is best suited to large dragon fruit.
Cubed pitahaya on a cutting board

While this fruit is best when freshly cut, there are some storage options listed below. Also, red dragon fruit stains clothes just like red beets, so consider wearing an apron!

Watch our video tutorial to see how to cut dragon fruit:

Video: Cutting Dragon Fruit

How to Eat Dragon Fruit

Here are some of my favorite dragon fruit recipes:

  • Fresh Fruit Snack: Enjoy freshly cut chunks served with toothpicks or dessert forks when you’re entertaining, or packed in containers on-the-go.
  • Refresher Drinks: Why not skip Starbucks and make your very own Dragon Fruit Refresher with chunks of fresh or frozen fruit? Perfect for summer or when cravings call…
  • Smoothies: You can include pitaya for some extra nutrition in your next smoothie. Note: you can also buy frozen dragon fruit for this purpose if you don’t have fresh.
  • Smoothie Bowl: Try this delicious pitaya bowl for breakfast with your favorite toppings.
  • Fruit Salads: Try adding chunks or balls as a stunning addition to your next fruit salad like the recipe below.
  • Ice Creams or Sorbets: You can make homemade ice cream or sorbet especially for a stunning color and subtle flavor.
  • Popsicles: Beat the heat of summer with homemade dragon fruit popsicles.
Fruit salad with chunks of pitaya

Don’t forget that you can also serve it as a side with pancakes, waffles or french toast. You can also use slices as a beautiful garnish for cakes, cheesecakes, puddings, panna cotta, ice cream, trifle and more.

How to Store Dragon Fruit

Whole dragon fruit does not ripen must after being picked. Therefore, it can sit for 1 to 2 weeks at room temperature when stored away from heat or direct sunlight. You can also place it in a sealed ziptip bag to store in the refrigerator for a similar amount of time.

Freshly cut dragon fruit only lasts for a day or so and must be refrigerated in an airtight container to stay fresh. You can freeze for up to 3 months with some deterioration in texture, so you can only use it in smoothies, drinks or ice creams afterwards.

Freezing: Line a small baking sheet with parchment. Place pieces of fruit on top evenly spaced. Freeze for 2 hours or until hard. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. This way, the chunks will not stick together.

White dragon fruit and red dragon fruit cut in half to show the contrasting colors and small black seeds interspersed throughout the flesh

How to Grow Dragon Fruit

If you live in a warm climate, you may be able to grow your own dragon fruit from seeds or cuttings. Choose a full sun area in your garden and use well-draining soil rich in organics.

Seeds will need 2 to 3 weeks to take normally, and plants will begin flowering in as little as 6 months or up to 2 years. After that, you’ll get 4 to 6 fruiting cycles per year.

More Exotic Fruits You May Like:

See more exotic fruits

Closeup of dragonfruit chunks
Learn how to cut dragon fruit quickly and easily with this step-by-step guide. The sweet flesh is delicious and packed full of nutrients. You can eat dragon fruit on its own as a simple and refreshing snack or add it to fruit salads, smoothies, desserts and more!
4.50 from 8 votes

How to Cut Dragon Fruit

Learn how to cut dragon fruit to enjoy the delicious and nutritious flesh inside. We also how you how to eat dragon fruit with this homemade fruit salad.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 dragon fruit, any variety

Optional Additions

  • 1 cup mango chunks, 1 medium mango
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, 1/4 pineapple
  • 1 cup kiwi chunks, 2 medium kiwis
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed


How to Cut Dragon Fruit

  • Place the dragon fruit on a clean cutting board.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut each one in half lengthwise down the middle. The flesh may be white or red.
  • Slide a large table spoon in between the skin and the flesh, sliding it along the peel to separate the flesh (like you might do for an avocado or kiwi).
  • Scoop out the flesh onto the cutting board. Make sure to trim off any pink residues, which can be bitter. (Optional: Reserve the skin halves for serving.)
  • Repeat the previous step for the remaining half.
  • Place the flesh flat-side down and chop into cubes or chunks as desired. You can also slice it widthwise into semicircles.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the cut dragon fruit with the mango, pineapple, and kiwi. Sprinkle lemon juice on top and toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to one day.


  • Serving size: 1 cup. Note that nutrition information includes the optional mango, pineapple, kiwi and lemon juice.
  • 1 small dragon fruit yields 1 1/2 cups of diced fruit, while 1 large dragon fruit yields 2-3 cups of diced fruit.
Nutrition Facts
How to Cut Dragon Fruit
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Net Carbs
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Net Carbohydrates
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Please read our nutrition disclaimer.

Author: TipBuzz
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: World
Keyword: how to cut dragon fruit, how to eat dragon fruit
Did you make this recipe? Leave a comment below!

Dragon Fruit is a delicious tropical fruit with many health benefits. Learn how to cut dragon fruit easily and how to eat it whether you're making a smoothie, fruit salad or snack. #dragonfruit #reddragonfruit #whitedragonfruit
Editor note: Originally published Mar 4, 2019.