How to Use Kiwi in Cooking

Embedding the vibrant flavor and nutritional punch of kiwi into your cooking brings a refreshing twist to a multitude of dishes.

This small, fuzzy fruit is well-known for its tangy yet sweet taste and vibrant green flesh dotted with tiny edible seeds.

Its unique flavor complements a variety of recipes, from simple smoothies to elaborate desserts.

A kiwi being sliced and added to a fruit salad

Using kiwi in cooking is not just about slicing it for a fruit salad; it can be pureed for dressings, marinades, or as a vibrant addition to sauces and salsas.

The enzymes present in kiwi also make it a natural meat tenderizer, making it a dual-purpose ingredient in the kitchen.

Whether you’re looking to create a tropical flavor profile or add a nutritious boost to your meal, kiwi offers a versatile palette for your culinary creations.

Kiwi Basics

Incorporating kiwi into your dishes starts with understanding how to select the best fruit and ensuring it’s at the perfect stage of ripeness for your recipe.

Selecting and Storing Kiwi

When selecting kiwi, look for fruits that yield slightly under gentle pressure, indicating ripeness.

Green kiwis are the traditional variety and should feel similar to a ripe peach when ready to eat.

Gold kiwis, including the Sungold variant, have a more tropical flavor and a smoother, less fuzzy skin.

Baby kiwis are small and can be eaten whole with edible skin.

Once you’ve selected ripe kiwi, store them in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness.

Unripe kiwi can be left at room temperature until they ripen.

Kiwi VarietyCharacteristicsIdeal Ripeness
Green KiwiTart flavor, fuzzy skinSlight give to pressure
Gold KiwiSweeter, less fuzzy skinYields to gentle pressure
Baby KiwiSmall, edible skin, sweetFirm, gives to pressure
Sungold KiwiTropical taste, smooth skinSlightly soft to touch

Ripening Techniques for Kiwi

To ripen kiwi more quickly, store them at room temperature away from direct sunlight.

Placing kiwis in a paper bag with an apple or banana can speed up ripening, as these fruits emit ethylene gas, which is a natural ripening agent.

If you have green kiwi, this method is especially useful since they are often sold underripe.

Keep in mind that gold kiwi, including Sungold varieties, and baby kiwi, tend to ripen faster than green kiwis and require closer monitoring to prevent over-ripening.

Once ripened to your preference, transfer them to the refrigerator to slow any further ripening.

Nutritional Profile of Kiwi

A colorful array of fresh kiwi fruit, sliced and arranged on a cutting board, with a bowl of yogurt and a sprinkle of granola nearby

Kiwi is renowned for its high nutritional value, including a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals that can contribute to your overall health.

Vitamins and Minerals in Kiwi

Kiwi is an excellent source of Vitamin C; in fact, it contains more of this essential vitamin per gram than oranges. This makes it a powerful ally in supporting your immune system.

Additionally, kiwi contains a good amount of Vitamin K and Vitamin E, both of which play a role in maintaining healthy skin and blood clotting.

Here’s a quick look at key vitamins and minerals found in kiwi:

  • Vitamin C: Essential for immune defense and skin health.
  • Vitamin K: Important for bone health and blood clotting.
  • Vitamin E: A potent antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.
  • Fiber: Promotes digestive health and regularity.
  • Potassium: Essential for heart function and muscle contractions.
  • Folate: Crucial for cell division and making DNA.

Health Benefits of Kiwi

Consuming kiwi can bring a variety of health benefits due to its rich nutritional content.

The fiber in kiwi helps with digestion and can contribute to weight management.

The antioxidants present in kiwi, like Vitamin E and other phytochemicals, assist in combating oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Additionally, kiwi’s folate content is important for pregnant women as it helps in the development of the fetus.

Meanwhile, the potassium in kiwi supports heart health by helping to manage blood pressure levels.

  • Digestive Health: Fiber in kiwi aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
  • Antioxidant Power: Protects the body from free radicals.
  • Pregnancy Support: Folate content is crucial for fetal development.
  • Heart Health: Potassium helps regulate blood pressure.

Preparatory Techniques

When incorporating kiwi into your culinary repertoire, the initial preparation of the fruit is crucial.

Properly peeling and cutting the kiwi not only makes it more palatable but utilizing its natural enzymes can also enhance the tenderness of proteins during cooking.

Peeling and Cutting Kiwi

To begin, you’ll want to peel your kiwi efficiently, preserving as much of the fruit flesh as possible. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Place the kiwi on a cutting board with one end facing up.
  2. Slice off both ends of the kiwi.
  3. Glide the knife under the skin, curving it to match the shape of the kiwi as you peel. Turn the kiwi and repeat until all the skin is removed.
  4. Cut the kiwi into slices or cubes, depending on your recipe requirements.

Peeling is recommended because the skin can be tough, though it is edible. If you choose to leave the skin on, it’s best to wash it and rub off any fuzziness.

Kiwi as a Meat Tenderizer

Kiwi is more than a tangy addition to fruit salads; its enzyme, actinidin, can break down proteins, making it an excellent meat tenderizer.

For the most tender results:

  • Peel and mash a ripe kiwi.
  • Spread the puree over your chosen meat, be it beef, chicken, or pork, before grilling or cooking.
  • Marinate for at least 20 minutes. Note that over-marinating, especially for delicate proteins like fish, can result in the meat becoming too soft or mushy due to the kiwi’s potent enzymes.
  • Rinse the meat before cooking to remove excess kiwi if desired.

Incorporating Kiwi Into Meals

Kiwi lends a tart brightness to dishes, punctuating meals with its characteristic zesty flavor and vibrant color.

Its versatility allows it to transition smoothly from morning to night in a variety of recipes.

Kiwi in Breakfast Recipes

In the morning, your breakfast can be transformed by the addition of kiwi.

Start with a Kiwi Parfait: layer Greek yogurt with slices of ripe kiwi and granola for a balance of creamy and refreshing textures.

Alternatively, blend kiwi into a Green Smoothie for a nutritious kick-start to your day, combining it with banana, spinach, and a splash of almond milk.

For a tropical twist, assemble a Fruit Salad featuring kiwi, pineapple, mango, and a squeeze of lime juice that can brighten up your morning routine.

Kiwi for Lunch and Dinner

For lunch, chop kiwi into a Kiwi Salad with mixed greens, feta cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, where its sweet tartness complements the savory ingredients.

As dinner approaches, consider kiwi as an accompaniment to seafood; add kiwi salsa atop your Fish Tacos for a stroke of genius that balances the richness of the fish.

For a unique side or dessert, grill kiwi slices until caramelized and serve alongside Coconut Whipped Cream for a dish that’s as visually stunning as it is delectable.

Kiwi-Based Beverages

Kiwi brings a vibrant taste to beverages, enhancing them with its unique tartness and sweetness. Whether you blend it into smoothies or stir it into lemonade, kiwi can transform your drinks into refreshing delights.

Refreshing Kiwi Smoothies

For a nourishing start to your day or a revitalizing midday pick-me-up, kiwi smoothies are an excellent choice.

You can make a simple Kiwi Smoothie by blending ripe kiwis with your choice of milk or coconut milk. If you prefer a vegan option, consider using unsweetened plant-based milk.


  • Kiwis (peeled and cut)
  • Milk or coconut milk (1 cup)
  • Ice cubes (optional)


  1. Add the cut kiwis and milk to a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth, adding ice if you prefer a chilled beverage.
  3. Serve immediately for the best flavor and nutrient retention.

Homemade Kiwi Lemonade

Transform traditional lemonade by incorporating kiwi for a tangy twist. Kiwi Lemonade is simple to make and offers a refreshment that is both sweet and tart.

Start by preparing a kiwi puree and then mix it with your homemade lemonade.

Ingredients for Kiwi Puree:

  • Kiwis (peeled)
  • Water (just enough to blend smoothly)

Ingredients for Lemonade:

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Water
  • Sweetener of choice (to taste)


  1. Puree kiwis in a blender with a splash of water until smooth.
  2. Prepare lemonade by mixing lemon juice, water, and sweetener.
  3. Combine kiwi puree with lemonade, stirring well.
  4. Serve over ice for a refreshing beverage.

Kiwi-Infused Desserts and Snacks

Kiwi’s vibrant flavor and aesthetic make it a delightful addition to many desserts and snacks.

Emphasize its tangy-sweet taste by incorporating it into parfaits and puddings or as an unexpected twist in baked goods.

Sweet Kiwi Parfaits and Puddings

Parfaits are an excellent way to enjoy kiwi.

Layer kiwi slices with your choice of yogurt and granola to create a visually appealing and nutritious snack. Here’s a simple structure to follow:

  • Bottom layer: Crunchy granola
  • Middle layer: Creamy Greek yogurt
  • Top layer: Fresh kiwi slices
  • Garnish: A drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of chia seeds

Puddings offer another indulgent option.

Puree kiwi and fold it into your pudding mixture for a subtle fruity note. The kiwi not only adds flavor but also a boost of vitamin C.

Baking with Kiwi

In baking, kiwi can be a star ingredient.

For a moist and flavorful treat, try kiwi muffins. Simply chop kiwi into small pieces and fold them into your muffin batter before baking. Ensure to adjust the sugar in your recipe as kiwi adds natural sweetness.

For an elegant dessert, top a classic pavlova with fresh kiwi slices.

The sharpness of kiwi balances the pavlova’s sweetness and adds a refreshing contrast in texture. Serve as is, or with a light dusting of powdered sugar for an added touch.

Creative Kiwi Condiments

A chef mixing kiwi into a saucepan of sizzling stir-fry vegetables

Integrating kiwi into condiments adds a bright and tangy flavor twist. These condiments can elevate both savory and sweet dishes with their unique zing.

Kiwi Salsa Variations

For a refreshing twist on traditional salsas, kiwi serves as a delightful base.

Incorporating kiwi into your salsa brings in a fresh and fruity dimension that pairs beautifully with fish, chicken, or chips.

  • Classic Kiwi Salsa: Combine diced kiwi, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt to taste.
  • Apple Kiwi Salsa: Mix diced kiwi with equal parts of diced apples and a hint of lemon juice, adding a crunchy sweetness.
  • Mango Kiwi Salsa: Blend diced kiwi with ripe mango, a bit of minced garlic, and fresh cilantro for a tropical flair.

Each variation offers its own profile, so experiment to find the pairing that excites your palate the most.

Kiwi Jam and Spreads

Kiwi can be transformed into delightful jams and spreads, perfect for slathering on toast or incorporating into desserts.

  • Simple Kiwi Jam: Puree kiwi fruit and cook with sugar and pectin until thickened. For added texture, add small chunks of kiwi towards the end of the cooking process.
  • Kiwi Chia Seed Spread: Mash kiwi and cook with a touch of honey and chia seeds. The seeds will help thicken the spread while adding a nutritious boost.

Each condiment variation celebrates the versatility of kiwi while providing your dishes with a dynamic flavor profile.

Take advantage of kiwi’s vivid color and taste to create condiments that not only dazzle the taste buds but also brighten up the plate.

Specialty Kiwi Dishes

Incorporating kiwi into your meals can transform the ordinary into a culinary adventure. Kiwi’s vibrant taste accents both savory and sweet dishes, making it a versatile ingredient for innovative recipes.

Exotic Kiwi Pairings

  • Kiwi and Avocado Salsa: You can prepare a refreshing salsa by dicing kiwi and avocado, which not only pairs well with chips but also complements grilled fish or chicken. The creamy texture of the avocado balances the zesty kiwi flavor. Ingredients Quantity Kiwi (diced) 1 cup Avocado (diced) 1 cup Lime Juice 2 tablespoons Red Onion (fine) 1/4 cup Cilantro 2 tablespoons Salt & Pepper To taste
  • Kiwi and Chia Seed Pudding: A nutritious and low-carb option for a snack or dessert. The chia seeds provide a substantial amount of omega-3 fatty acids and create a pudding-like consistency when mixed with your choice of milk, sweetener, and sliced kiwi.
    1. Mix 1/4 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup of almond milk.
    2. Add sweetener to taste and refrigerate until thickened.
    3. Top with fresh kiwi slices before serving.

Meal Prep with Kiwi

  • Kiwi Chicken Salad: For a week of healthy, low-carb lunches, mix diced kiwi with cooked, shredded chicken, greens, and a light vinaigrette. The kiwi adds a sweet tartness that brightens the dish and pairs exceptionally well with lean proteins. Ingredients:
    • Mixed Greens
    • Cooked Chicken Breast (shredded)
    • Kiwi (sliced)
    • Olive Oil
    • Vinegar
    • Mustard
    • Salt & Pepper
    1. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper to create your dressing.
    2. Toss the mixed greens and shredded chicken with the dressing.
    3. Add sliced kiwi on top for a burst of flavor.
  • Kiwi Quinoa Salad: An excellent base for meal prep that’s rich in protein and healthy fats. Cook quinoa as directed, allow it to cool, then incorporate diced kiwi for a fruity element. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt for extra creaminess, if desired. Ingredients:
    • Quinoa
    • Kiwi (diced)
    • Greek Yogurt (optional)
    • Almonds (slivered)
    • Honey (drizzle)
    1. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions and let it cool.
    2. Mix in diced kiwi, almonds, and a drizzle of honey.
    3. Add Greek yogurt to serve for added richness.

Kiwi in Different Cuisines

Kiwi in Asian Cuisine

In Asian cuisine, your encounter with kiwi may be as a sweet and sour addition, especially in Chinese dishes.

China, being one of the prominent cultivators of kiwi, incorporates this fruit into sauces and glazes that pair exquisitely with meats or tofu. A common preparation may include:

  • Kiwi-Garlic Sauce
    • Ingredients: mashed kiwi, minced garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar
    • Uses: Top your stir-fries or glazed over grilled seafood

The inclusion of kiwi in desserts, such as fruit platters accompanying dim sum, offers a refreshing palate cleanser, to balance the richer flavors present in the meal.

Kiwi’s Place in Western Cuisine

In Western cuisine, kiwi, originally from New Zealand, shines in both sweet and savory applications. You will find kiwi adding a unique touch to:

  • Salads: Sliced kiwi adds a burst of color and taste, complimenting greens such as arugula or spinach.
  • Desserts: It provides a juicy contrast in fruit tarts or pavlovas, making use of kiwi’s vibrant aesthetic and taste.

Additionally, marinades and dressings harness kiwi’s tenderizing enzymes to soften meats, which also subtly infuse them with its distinct flavor.

The combination of sweet kiwi and robust garlic is not uncommon in Western-style sauces, offering a flavor profile that brings a zesty punch to various dishes.

Utilizing Leftover Kiwi

Ripe kiwi being sliced and added to a fruit salad

When you find yourself with mushy or overripe kiwis, there’s no need to discard them. These fruit pieces can be repurposed to add flavor and nutrition to various dishes.

Reviving Mushy Kiwi

Mushy kiwi can often be too ripe to eat on its own, but it’s perfect for blending into smoothies.

You can create a nutrient-dense drink by combining your overripe kiwi with ice cubes or milk in a blender.

Blend until smooth for a quick and healthy treat.

Smoothie IngredientsQuantity
Overripe kiwi1 large kiwi
Ice cubes or milk1 cup
Optional sweetenerTo taste

Another option is to puree the mushy kiwi and use it as a natural sweetener for yogurt or oatmeal.

Repurposing Kiwi in Cooking

Overripe kiwi makes a flavorful addition to baked goods. Here’s how you can incorporate it:

  1. Muffins: Make your standard muffin batter and fold in diced kiwi before baking.
  2. Sauces: Kiwi can be mashed and cooked down into sauces or glazes, pairing well with both sweet and savory dishes.

Remember, the enzymes found in kiwi can tenderize meats, so use the fruit as a marinade component for tougher cuts of meat.

Just be mindful that prolonged exposure can over-tenderize the meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find concise, reliable answers to common inquiries on utilizing kiwi in cooking, ensuring you can approach this versatile fruit with confidence.

What can you make with overripe kiwi fruit?

Overripe kiwi can be perfect for smoothies or jams, where its sweetness is more pronounced and the softer texture isn’t an issue.

Which recipes can incorporate kiwi in vegetarian cooking?

Kiwi can be a refreshing addition to salads, salsa, or as a garnish on vegetarian tacos to add a unique twist with its vibrant flavor.

How can kiwi be used in dessert recipes?

You can incorporate kiwi into classic desserts such as pies, tarts, and parfaits to lend a tangy sweetness that pairs well with the richness of these dishes.

Are there any savory dishes that feature kiwi as an ingredient?

Kiwi can be included in savory dishes like ceviche or as a salsa relish for grilled fish, where its acidic tang complements the flavors beautifully.

What are some tips for including kiwi in bread recipes?

When adding kiwi to bread recipes, puree the fruit to distribute its flavor evenly and consider balancing its moisture with adjusted amounts of dry ingredients.

Which food pairings work well with the flavor of kiwi?

Kiwi pairs well with both sweet and savory partners. These include strawberries, citrus fruits, avocado, or spinach, enhancing the dish with its unique flavor profile.

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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.
Cassie Marshall
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