What Does Cacao Fruit Taste Like?

You might be wondering, “Isn’t cacao what they use to make chocolate?” Yes, you’re absolutely right! But the cacao fruit itself has a completely different flavor profile.

It’s not like biting into a bar of dark chocolate. Instead, it’s a unique blend of sweetness and tartness with a hint of citrusy undertones.

In this article, we’ll discuss its taste, nutritional value, and even some ways you can incorporate it into your cooking. So, if you’re ready to learn more about this exotic fruit, keep reading!

How Does Cacao Fruit Taste?

The taste of cacao fruit is a unique blend of sweet and tart, with a hint of citrusy undertones. The pulp surrounding the seeds is where you’ll find this taste. It’s juicy, sweet, and slightly floral. It’s a far cry from the bitter taste of the cacao beans that are used to make chocolate.

What Does Cacao Fruit Taste Like

Types Of Cacao Fruits

There are several types of cacao fruits, each with a slightly different taste:

  • Criollo: Known as the “prince of cocoas,” Criollo has a delicate and complex flavor. It’s sweet, with a slight hint of bitterness.
  • Forastero: This is the most common type of cacao. It has a strong, robust flavor that’s slightly bitter and less sweet than Criollo.
  • Trinitario: A hybrid of Criollo and Forastero, Trinitario combines the robustness of Forastero with the refined flavors of Criollo.

Comparing Cacao Fruits With Other Fruits

Let’s see how the taste of cacao fruit compares with other fruits:

  • Mango: While both are tropical fruits, mangoes are much sweeter and lack the tartness of the cacao fruit.
  • Lychee: Lychees share the same juicy texture as cacao fruit but have a more floral and less tart flavor.
  • Citrus Fruits (like oranges or lemons): Citrus fruits have the tartness that you can find in cacao fruit, but they lack the sweetness and the unique flavor profile of cacao.

Do Cacao Fruits Taste Good?

If you’re a fan of tropical fruits with a balance of sweet and tart flavors, you’ll likely enjoy cacao fruit. The pulp is juicy and refreshing, offering a unique taste experience that’s quite different from most common fruits.

However, not everyone might enjoy the taste of cacao fruit. If you’re not a fan of tart flavors or expect it to taste like chocolate (because it’s the source of cocoa), you might be in for a surprise.

It’s also worth noting that ripe cacao fruit is sweet and delicious, but an unripe or overripe one will not be as enjoyable.

What Does Cacao Fruit Look Like?

The Cacao fruit, also known as a cacao pod, is quite distinctive in appearance. It’s oval-shaped and can be quite large, often about the size of a football.

what cacao fruit looks like

The skin of the fruit is thick and tough, and it can range in color from green, yellow, and orange depending on the variety and ripeness.

When you’re buying cacao fruit, look for ones that feel heavy for their size. This usually indicates that the fruit is full of pulp and seeds. The skin should be free of blemishes and mold. Pressing the fruit gently should give slightly under pressure, similar to a ripe avocado.

Remember, the color of the fruit doesn’t always indicate ripeness, as different varieties can have different colors when ripe. When in doubt, asking the seller for advice on choosing the best cacao fruit is always a good idea.

Do Cacao Fruits Have Seeds?

Yes, cacao fruits do have seeds, and these seeds are what we commonly refer to as cacao beans.

Each cacao fruit contains around 20 to 60 seeds nestled within a sweet, juicy pulp. The seeds are quite large, about the size of an olive, and they’re covered in a thin, papery shell.

While the seeds are technically edible, they’re incredibly bitter and unpleasant to eat in their raw form. The fermentation and roasting process transforms these bitter seeds into the flavorful cocoa beans used to make chocolate.

It’s also worth noting that the seeds contain theobromine, a stimulant that can have similar effects to caffeine. So, if you’re sensitive to stimulants, you might want to limit your consumption of raw cacao seeds.

How To Make Cacao Fruits Taste Good

If you’re looking to enhance the taste of cacao fruit, here are a few tips:

  • Choose ripe fruits: The taste of cacao fruit can vary greatly depending on its ripeness. A perfectly ripe fruit will have a sweet and slightly tart flavor, while an unripe one can be quite bitter.
  • Chill before eating: Cacao fruit can be quite refreshing when eaten cold. Try chilling the fruit in the refrigerator before eating.
  • Pair with other fruits: The unique flavor of cacao fruit can be enhanced when paired with other fruits. Try eating it with some mango or banana for a tropical fruit salad.
  • Add a sprinkle of salt: A little bit of salt can help balance the sweetness of the fruit and bring out its unique flavors.

How To Use Cacao Fruits In Recipes And Side Dishes


  • Cacao Fruit Smoothie: Blend the cacao fruit pulp with some banana and a splash of coconut milk for a refreshing tropical smoothie. The sweetness of the banana and the coconut milk’s creaminess complements the cacao fruit’s tartness perfectly.
  • Cacao Fruit Sorbet: Puree the pulp of the cacao fruit and mix it with some sugar and lemon juice. Freeze the mixture to make a refreshing sorbet. The tartness of the cacao fruit makes it a perfect base for a refreshing dessert.
  • Cacao Fruit Jam: Cook the pulp of the cacao fruit with sugar until it thickens into a jam. This can be a unique spread for your morning toast.

Side Dishes

  • Cacao Fruit Salad: Mix chunks of cacao fruit pulp with other tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, and papaya. The tartness of the cacao fruit balances the sweetness of the other fruits.
  • Cacao Fruit Salsa: Combine diced cacao fruit pulp with chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. This salsa is a great accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken.

Cacao Fruit FAQs

Can You Eat Cacao Fruit Raw?

Yes, you can eat cacao fruit raw. The pulp is sweet and slightly tart, making it a refreshing treat. However, the seeds or cacao beans are bitter and usually not eaten raw.

Is Cacao Fruit the Same as Cocoa?

No, cacao fruit and cocoa are not the same. Cacao fruit is the fruit from which cocoa beans are harvested. These beans are then processed to make cocoa and chocolate.

Where Can You Buy Cacao Fruit?

Cacao fruit can be found in some specialty grocery stores or online. It’s more commonly found in countries where it’s grown, like in parts of South America and Africa.

My Tasty Thoughts

If you enjoy trying new and exotic fruits, cacao fruit is worth a try. Plus, it’s not every day you get to taste the fruit that gives us chocolate!

However, keep in mind that cacao fruit is extremely difficult to find unless you live near a farm that grows them.

And remember, while the pulp of the fruit is delicious, the seeds are quite bitter and are usually not eaten raw. So, if you’re up for a little culinary adventure and manage to get your hands on a cacao fruit, try it!

About Justin Micheal

Hey, I’m Justin and the home cook behind Food Meets Flavor. I have a passion for cooking and making food delicious. So, I started this blog to help others understand what different types of food taste like and how to make everyday meals taste even better.