Durian vs Jackfruit

When exploring the world of tropical fruits, you’ll likely come across durian and jackfruit, two fruits that often cause confusion due to their somewhat similar appearance.

Despite both being large and spiky green fruits, they are distinct in many aspects, including taste, texture, and nutritional properties.

Durian, famously known as the ‘king of fruits,’ possesses a strong aroma that people either love or loathe, whereas jackfruit is generally more accepted for its versatile, subtler scent and taste.

A durian and jackfruit face off, their spiky exteriors contrasting against a backdrop of lush tropical foliage

Durian has a creamy, custard-like texture, and its flavor is rich and sweet with a complex mix of savory notes – a combination that makes it quite unique.

On the other hand, jackfruit has a stringy, chewy texture, and when ripe, it tastes sweet and is often likened to a combination of fruits like apples, bananas, and mangoes.

Both fruits are packed with nutrients, making them not only interesting culinary experiences but also beneficial additions to your diet.

While durian is smaller in size compared to jackfruit, which holds the title for the largest tree-borne fruit, the former’s intense smell and flavor leave a lasting impression.

As you get to know these fruits, remember that durian’s shell is more spiky, and its flesh is divided into large lobes, while jackfruit’s fibrous pods are encased in a bulbous, bumpy exterior.

Origin and Habitat

Durian and jackfruit hang from tropical trees, surrounded by lush green foliage and vibrant flowers. The durian's spiky shell contrasts with the jackfruit's smooth, bumpy exterior

Your understanding of the differences between durian and jackfruit begins with their distinct origins and natural habitats, both of which are rooted in tropical environments within Southeast Asia.

Durian Tree

Origin: The durian tree, scientifically known as Durio, is indigenous to Southeast Asia. It is believed to have originated in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra.

  • Habitat: Durian trees thrive in a tropical climate with abundant rainfall. These trees are commonly found across countries like Malaysia and Thailand, where they are cultivated on a large scale.

Jackfruit Tree

Origin: The jackfruit tree, or Artocarpus heterophyllus, is native to the Western Ghats of India and the rainforests of Malaysia.

  • Habitat: Like the durian, jackfruit trees are well-suited to tropical conditions but have a wider range, extending into more parts of Southeast Asia. They are grown in many tropical regions of the world, with India being a significant producer.

Appearance and Texture

When exploring durian and jackfruit, you’ll notice they exhibit unique visual and tactile characteristics that set them apart from each other.

Durian Characteristics

Durian has a distinctive spiky exterior, covered in hard, sharp thorns that demand careful handling. The size of a durian can be significant, typically weighing up to several kilograms.

When you open a durian, you’ll find its flesh to be creamy and custard-like, which contrasts sharply with its tough, thorny husk.

  • Appearance: Spiky, thorny husk
  • Texture: Creamy, custard-like flesh
  • Size: Large, can weigh several kilograms
  • Color: Typically yellow to pale white flesh inside

Jackfruit Characteristics

Jackfruit’s outer surface is less aggressive, with a bumpy, rubbery texture instead of sharp spikes. It is often considerably large in size, too, capable of reaching up to 35 kilograms or more.

As for the edible part, the ripe flesh of a jackfruit is dense and fibrous, and it becomes sweet and crunchy as it ripens.

  • Appearance: Bumpy, rubbery outer skin
  • Texture: Dense, fibrous flesh when ripe
  • Size: Extremely large, sometimes weighing over 35 kilograms
  • Color: Bright yellow flesh when fully ripe

Nutritional Profile

A table displays durian and jackfruit with labeled nutritional values

You’ll find that both durian and jackfruit offer rich nutritional profiles, each providing a unique set of nutrients to support your diet.

Durian Nutrition

Durian is calorically dense and provides a substantial amount of fat and carbohydrates.

For every 100 grams of durian flesh, you gain about 357 calories and approximately 5 grams of fat, including beneficial monounsaturated fats.

  • Protein: Roughly 1.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.
  • Vitamins: Significant levels of vitamin C and B vitamins, particularly B1 (Thiamine) and B2 (Riboflavin).
  • Potassium: Supplies a good dose of potassium necessary for heart health.
  • Dietary Fiber: High in fiber, which aids in digestion.
  • Minerals: Contains minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese, and magnesium.

Jackfruit Nutrition

Jackfruit is less calorie-dense compared to durian, with around 95 calories per 100 grams.

It’s low in fats, providing less than 1 gram of fat per serving, but is rich in dietary fiber and protein.

  • Protein: Provides about 1.72 grams of protein per 100 grams.
  • Vitamins: A good source of vitamin A and C, and also offers vitamin B6.
  • Potassium: It has a high potassium content, which supports blood pressure regulation.
  • Calcium and Iron: Contains notable amounts of calcium and iron.
  • Dietary Fiber: Jackfruit is rich in dietary fiber, important for gut health.
  • Antioxidants: Known for its antioxidant properties, thanks to the presence of vitamin C and flavonoids.

Flavor and Culinary Uses

Jackfruit and durian are celebrated for their distinctive flavors and versatile culinary applications.

Durian is renowned for its unique taste often likened to a creamy cheese, while jackfruit is appreciated for its sweet taste and adaptable texture when cooking.

Taste of Durian

Durian’s flavor is complex; it can evoke reactions from delight to aversion.

When you taste ripe durian, its flesh is soft and creamy, similar to a rich custard mixed with flavors of cheese, onion, and garlic.

Unripe, it’s firmer and less aromatic.

This ‘king of fruits’ is often eaten fresh, employed in sweet dishes like ice cream and cake, or even used in savory recipes such as curry.

Taste of Jackfruit

The flavor of ripe jackfruit is inherently sweet and might remind you of a combination of fruits like pineapple, banana, and mango.

An unripe jackfruit has a more neutral taste, which makes it an excellent meat substitute; in savory dishes, it is often compared to pulled pork.

Whether you’re looking to cook a fruit salad or experiment with tacos and curries, jackfruit is a versatile component in both sweet and savory dishes.

Aromatic Profile

The durian emits a pungent, musky odor, while the jackfruit exudes a sweet, tropical fragrance. The contrasting aromas swirl around the fruits, creating a sensory experience

When you’re discerning between durian and jackfruit, your nose may be your guide—their scents are distinctive and memorable.

Smell of Durian

Durian’s aroma is robust and trademarked by its pungency, which can be overwhelming.

To you, it might evoke a blend of savory aromas with a somewhat sweet undertone.

Be prepared for a potent scent that some describe as similar to onions or garlic complemented with various sweet notes.

Individuals often have polarized reactions, considering it either pleasantly fragrant or overpoweringly pungent.

Smell of Jackfruit

The smell of jackfruit is generally milder and more inviting than that of durian.

Jackfruit carries a sweet, fruity scent that could remind you of tropical fruits like pineapple or banana.

While it’s not odor-free, jackfruit’s aroma is less likely to be deemed offensive. Its smell is considered more palatable to those unfamiliar with tropical fruit aromas.

Health Benefits and Uses

Exploring durian and jackfruit not only uncovers distinct flavors but also reveals their diverse health benefits and uses in both medicinal and culinary contexts.

Durian Health Benefits

Durian is often celebrated for its rich nutrient profile, providing a significant amount of dietary fiber which aids in digestion.

It also contains vitamins B, C, and E, which are potent antioxidants, and is a source of healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

  • Blood Pressure and Heart Health: The fruit’s potassium content can contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: Certain compounds found in durian may help reduce inflammation in the body.

Jackfruit Health Benefits

Jackfruit is packed with nutrients while being relatively low in calories.

It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports the immune system, and vitamin A, important for skin health and vision.

  • Cancer Prevention: Due to its high antioxidant content, jackfruit may have a role in cancer prevention.
  • Digestive Health: The fiber in jackfruit promotes healthy digestion and may prevent constipation.

Medicinal and Alternate Uses

Beyond their nutritive value, both fruits have found their way into traditional medicine and have various alternate uses:

  • Anti-fungal and Anti-inflammatory: Durian and jackfruit are utilized in folk medicine for their anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Vegetarian Cooking: Jackfruit’s texture makes it a popular meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan dishes. It can be roasted, turned into a snack, or added to salads.

Cultural Significance and Availability

Your understanding of durian and jackfruit expands as you explore their roles in culture and their availability across different regions.

Each fruit carries its own narrative and significance woven into the tapestry of society in Southeast Asia and beyond. Meanwhile, your access to these fruits may vary depending on where you reside.

Durian in Culture

In Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, durian is often revered as the “king of fruits.”

The fruit’s distinctive aroma and taste have earned it a celebration through durian festivals, especially in Malaysia. These events become a hub for you to engage with a variety of durian species, exhibiting cultural reverence for the fruit.

If you happen to be in Southeast Asia, you’ll find durian widely available, with seasonal variations influencing its presence in the market.

Jackfruit in Culture

Jackfruit is regarded as the national fruit of Bangladesh and has a strong cultural presence in South and Southeast Asia.

Unlike durian, jackfruit is commonly relished for its sweet taste and is often incorporated into local cuisines. You can come across dishes like jackfruit curry in India, or it can be eaten ripe and sweet in countries like Thailand.

For availability, jackfruit spans a large geographic range, and due to its larger size, it’s a significant source of sustenance in the regions where it’s grown.

Handling and Storage

A person separates spiky durian and smooth jackfruit, storing them in separate containers

Proper handling and storage are crucial for maintaining the quality and safety of durian and jackfruit. Understanding the distinctive needs of each fruit will ensure that you can enjoy them at their best.

Preparing Durian

To prepare durian, place the fruit on a stable surface and make cuts through the thick skin using a sharp knife.

You’ll want to wear gloves or use a towel to protect your hands from the sharp spines.

Carefully pry the fruit open to reveal the large, edible lobes. The creamy flesh inside can be high in fat, with around five grams per a 100-gram serving, so enjoy it in moderation.

Storing Jackfruit

Once opened, jackfruit’s sugar content — about 31 grams per cup — makes it prone to spoiling. It’s essential to store it properly to maintain freshness.

Unripe jackfruit can be kept at room temperature until it ripens. After cutting, remove the fruit pods and store them in an airtight container.

You can keep ripe jackfruit in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. For longer storage, pack the fruit pods in a latex-free plastic wrap or container and freeze them, where they can last for up to two months.

Comparison and Preference

When selecting between durian and jackfruit, your preferences for taste, nutrition, and culinary uses play a pivotal role. Both fruits offer distinct flavors and health benefits suitable for different palates and dishes.

Choosing Between Durian and Jackfruit


  • Durian is famous for its creamy texture and complex flavor, often described as a blend of savory, sweet, and custardy tastes.
  • Jackfruit is sweet and fibrous, with a more straightforward sugary flavor when ripe. Unripe jackfruit has a neutral taste, making it versatile for savory recipes.


  • Durian has a pale yellow to red flesh, depending on the species.
  • Jackfruit typically showcases bright yellow pods when ripe.

Nutrition (per 100g serving):

Calories~147 kcal~95 kcal
Protein~1.47 g~1.72 g
Dietary Fiber~3.8 g~1.5 g
Vitamin ANegligible~5% RDI
Vitamin C~33% RDI~11% RDI

*RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)

Sweet Dishes:

  • Use durian for rich desserts like ice cream and traditional Southeast Asian sweets.
  • Opt for jackfruit as a topping or blended into smoothies for a tropical sweetness.

Savory Dishes:

  • Durian is less common in savory dishes due to its strong aroma.
  • Jackfruit is excellent as a meat substitute in curries and tacos due to its texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find answers to some of the most common inquiries about durian and jackfruit.

What are the differences in taste between durian and jackfruit?

Durian has a creamy texture and a strong flavor often described as a combination of savory, sweet, and creamy with a distinct onion-like edge. Jackfruit, on the other hand, is sweet and tangy, with a fibrous texture reminiscent of pulled pork when unripe and a banana-pineapple flavor when ripe.

How do durian and jackfruit compare nutritionally?

Nutritionally speaking, durian is higher in calories, with a significant amount of fat and more protein per serving. It also contains more sugar. Jackfruit contains a lower amount of calories, virtually no fat, and is packed with vitamins A, C, and B6.

Can you describe the distinct smells of durian versus jackfruit?

Durian is notorious for its strong odor, which is quite pungent and often compared to rotten onions or eggs. Jackfruit’s smell is much less intense, tending towards a sweet and fruity aroma.

Which is larger on average, a durian or a jackfruit?

On average, a jackfruit is larger than a durian. Jackfruit can grow to enormous sizes, weighing up to 100 pounds, while durians typically weigh between 2 to 7 pounds.

What are the reasons behind the controversy of the durian fruit?

The controversy surrounding durian mainly stems from its strong smell, which is so overpowering it is banned in certain public spaces in countries where it’s prevalent. Its divisive taste and smell make it a fruit that people either love or hate.

Are both durian and jackfruit considered edible fruits?

Yes, both durian and jackfruit are edible.

Durian is often eaten fresh, but it’s also used in sweet and savory dishes.

Jackfruit is versatile in its uses, ranging from a meat alternative when unripe to a dessert ingredient when ripe.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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