If you’ve ever traveled to South East Asia, there’s a good chance you’ll have encountered a jackfruit or durian. They’re both large spiky fruit that smell funky and have a unique taste. When comparing a jackfruit vs durian, they aren’t difficult to tell apart once you know what to look for.

We’re about to compare these exotic fruits, and you’ll discover that they’re different in several ways.

Before we get started, be sure to check out our comparison of pawpaw vs papaya. Another couple of tropical fruits which cause a lot of confusion. Could you tell the difference?

Quick comparison

Jackfruit is a very large fruit that is greenish-yellow in color and has a bumpy skin. When ripe, it has a strong sweet tropical odor. It has a unique sweet taste with a dense, fibrous texture.

Durian is also a large fruit, although not as large as the jackfruit on average. It is covered in spiky skin and has a pungent odor. The flavor is an eclectic mix of creamy, sweet and savory all in one mouthful.

1. Flavor

Jackfruit

Before trying a new food for the first time, it’s good to have an idea of what it tastes of. A ripe jackfruit offers a distinctive gummy texture that can shock and disgust some. The texture is also quite fibrous and dense, like a pineapple or mango.

Its taste of the ripened bulbs is crunchy and sweet without any tart undertone. Its flavor is difficult to compare to any other fruit, but you could say it’s a mix of apple, mango, banana, and pineapple. The seeds are edible and taste similar to almonds.

As plant-based eating grows in popularity, jackfruit has become a sought after ingredient for savory recipes. It’s flesh, when cooked, resembles pulled pork and is used in a wide range of vegetarian meat dishes including BBQ burgers.

Durian

The durian is a challenge to describe in terms of flavor. Some love it…

“The flesh is as white as snow, exceeds in delicacy of taste of all our best European fruits, and none of ours can approach it.” Jacques de Bourges, 17th Century Missionary

And some despise it…

“Like pungent, runny French cheese … Your breath will smell as if you’d been French kissing your dead grandmother.” —Anthony Bourdain, Chef and Host of Parts Unknown

We eat with our eyes and nose as much as we do with our mouth. This creates a problem for the durian. First, its appearance isn’t exactly sexy when you chop it open – it doesn’t scream out to be eaten. But it’s the stench that emanates from the durian fruit that puts up a roadblock. It gets described as smelling of turpentine, onions, and other things much worse. If you can get past the aroma, then the flavor is an incredible mix of savory and sweet taste with a buttery texture. It also has very little juice content.

If you love trying different ingredients for the first time, then this may well be the food for you. For fussy eaters, this is not even worth contemplating eating. If Andrew Zimmern can’t stomach it, then that should give an idea of what to expect.

2. Appearance

Jackfruit

Jackfruit hanging on a treeJackfruit is the largest fruit variety that you’ll find growing on a tree; they grow up to three feet long and can weigh 100 pounds. They are an oblong shape and look similar to a large melon. If their size doesn’t give them away, the unique greenish-yellow skin will. It is bumpy and looks a lot like alligator skin. The durian has gained the name “king of fruits” due to its size.

The inside of a jackfruit is confusing for a first-timer with large edible bulbs that contain yellow flesh and an oval seed which is about one inch long. The fruit gives off a white, gummy latex which in unpleasant to eat and should be avoided. The meat is yellow and looks similar to mango.

Durian

Durians are large oblong fruit but are relatively small compared to a jackfruit. Their skin is noticeably spikier, and this is the easiest way to tell the two fruits apart.

The inside of a durian is a lot better organized than a jackfruit. There are five neat cavities that house fruit pods so accessing the flesh is much easier. There is less fiber to get in the way when it comes to eating the fruit.

3. Uses

Both fruits are commonly eaten raw; however, they are also versatile in their uses in the kitchen. People are experimenting with new recipes, and food companies are pushing the boundaries for the use of jackfruit as a replacement for meat.

Jackfruit

  • Eaten raw
  • Burgers
  • Tacos
  • Chili
  • Curry
  • Ice cream
  • Cake

Durian

  • Eaten raw
  • Ice cream
  • Chicken curry
  • Cake
  • Boba
  • Souffle
  • Salad

4. Type of tree

Although they do share some similarities, the durian is part of the Malvacae family, whereas the jackfruit is from the Morocae family. This classification means the jackfruit is a closer relation to the mulberry and fig than it is to the durian.

Jackfruit

A jackfruit tree trunk growing fruitThe jackfruit tree grows in tropical climates where humidity is high. It is known to reach a height of 80 feet when it reaches maturity. The fruit usually develop on the trunk, or near the trunk, in clusters.

Durian

A lot of durians hanging from tree branchesA durian tree is much taller than the jackfruit, growing up to 150 feet tall. The fruit will rarely grow on the trunk; instead, they grow evenly across the branches.

5. Origin

Jackfruit

Jackfruit originated from Southern India in the Western Ghats mountains. Western countries have been trading jackfruit for over 5000 years.

Durian

It is believed that durian originated from Borneo and Sumatra. The earliest European references to the fruit date back to the 15th Century.

6. Nutrition

Both these fruits are packed with nutritional content, including Vitamin A and C, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. Keep in mind that eating dried fruit increases the sugar content so fresh is best.

 Jackfruit (1 cup)Durian (1 cup)
Calories157357
Protein3g4g
Total Fat1g13g
Cholesterol0mg0mg
Carbohydrates40mg66mg
Sugar31g40g
Potassium739mg1059mg

Reference: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/

Related reading: What do Osage oranges taste like?

Final words

Working out the difference between durian and jackfruit (aka jaca fruit) is easy. If you’re at a market, naturally the sign will help you. You’ll also notice that jackfruits are much bigger than durians and they don’t have spikey skin. Instead, a jackfruit has an external layer that resembles an alligator’s skin.

The taste of jackfruit is probably the easier of the two fruit to get used to if you’re new to them. They have a sweet, tropical flavor – the most significant challenge will be dealing with the gummy texture if you eat it raw. Cooked jackfruit is a superb vegetarian meat substitute and tastes delicious in a burger. When prepared correctly, they are very similar to eating meat.

Durian is a challenging fruit due to its pong. Public transport systems in many parts of Asia won’t allow them to be transported for the sake of fellow passengers. The stench is potent and unpleasant. But jackfruit doesn’t exactly smell of roses either. They’re okay, to begin with, but once fully ripened they also give off a strong aroma.

So which is the best, jackfruit or durian? As with any food, it comes down to personal taste preferences. If they’re available near you, buy one of each and test them out to see which you prefer. I’d love to hear your comments below on your experience with either of these fruits. Personally, I prefer the taste of a jazz apple any day of the week.