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What Does Durian Taste Like? Smelliest Fruit Ever: Love It or Leave It!

What Does Durian Taste Like? Smelliest Fruit Ever: Love It or Leave It!

durian fruit

Have you ever heard of the durian fruit? Wonder what does durian taste like? While this spiky Southeast Asian delicacy is known as the “king of fruits,” it’s also one of the most controversial foods due to its pungent odor and unique flavor.

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about durian – from its health benefits and varieties to how it smells and tastes. We’ll even explore alternative ways to enjoy its custard-like texture without having your breath smell like rotten eggs!

So grab a fork (and maybe some nose plugs) because we’re about to take on this infamous fruit head-on.

Durian In Southeast Asia

durian structire

Durians are large fruits that are native to parts of tropical regions such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, as well as other parts of Southeast Asia. They can weigh anywhere between two pounds or more than seven pounds each! One thing that sets them apart from other fruits is their exterior, which looks like an alien weapon with sharp spikes that could give anyone who touches them a painful prick.

Durian doesn’t attract you on the first date,  but don’t let the intimidating appearance of this spiky fruit fool you. Inside lies sweet yellow flesh that has earned itself quite a reputation among foodies around the world.

Aside from being deliciously creamy with hints similar to vanilla custard mixed with nutty undertones, durians pack quite a powerful nutritional punch too! In fact, there are people who call them the most nutritious fruits in the world.

Known as the “kings of fruits”, these largest fruits in the world contain fiber which helps keep our digestive system running smoothly. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, durian flesh is also an excellent source of essential vitamins C & B6, which help boost immunity levels against diseases such as cancer cell growth or inflammation-related problems. Potassium regulates blood pressure better than sodium does, so you should eat durian if hypertension runs in your family history!

Why Is Durian Controversial and Can Make You Vomit?

Durian might be a delicacy in Malaysia and the best-loved fruit on the local Asian market, but there is a good reason why durian is not known to people of the Western world.

To say that durian is smelly would be an understatement, the truth is, it smells so bad that a lot of people cannot bear its strong smell at all! In fact, it’s banned in many public places and by numerous public transportation services across Southeast Asian Countries due to people not being able to bear the pungent aroma of durians during commutes!

So why do some people find the smell so unbearable? Well, durian has a very unique odor described by many as smelling like rotten onions or even vomit! Some people even describe this smell as French kissing your dead grandmother, so if you have never heard of durian, the reason lies in the controversy surrounding this fruit.

So, what makes some people say that durian smells like a dead man’s old socks or diced garlic from the Underworld? This distinct scent comes from sulfur compounds present in the fruit that give off a strong “garbage-like” stench when ripe.

Some say this flavor takes time to get used to since it’s quite unlike any other fruit out there, making a lot of people loathe this fruit for the first time. But once you acquire the taste, it becomes something magical, and a lot of people describe it as their favorite fruit. Even though some of us might argue whether they love or hate durian. the truth is, it is really an acquired preference.

Varieties of Durian Fruit

Did you know that durian fruit comes in over 30 different varieties available today? Each variety has its own unique texture and flavor profile – you can describe the tastes as ranging from sweet and creamy with hints similar to vanilla custard mixed with nutty undertones to bitter-tasting varieties likened more towards almonds instead!

Varieties of Durian Fruit chart

Different Varieties And Their Unique Tastes

Among the many varieties of durian available across Southeast Asia the most popular type is undoubtedly Musang King (Mao Shan Wang). Enthusiasts laud it for its fleshy bits packed with sweetness combined with bitterness. Perfectly balanced, they create an explosion of tastes after you take a bite so that you will be coming back for more! Other popular varieties of durian include fruits like D24, XO, and Red Prawn – each with their own unique flavor profile.

Let’s take a closer look at three popular types of durian:

  • Musang King: Known as the “King of Kings” in Malaysia. Its golden flesh has hints of caramel mixed with bitter notes while being sweet and creamy. If you would like to eat durian fruit for the first time, it is taste and smell of Musang King that you are likely to find the most appealing: start your durian experience from this variety.
  • D24: This variety is known for its slightly bitter taste but also has nutty undertones that make it stand out from other durians.
  • Red Prawn: Called ‘hong Xia’ locally, this type features extra sticky pulp which gives people a longer-lasting chewing experience than others. Some people claim they can still feel the texture of the fruit in their mouths even after eating the fruit itself. There is really no need to say that this variety is highly sought-after: you will have to pay a lot to buy durian of this variety.

What Does Durian Fruit Smell and Taste?

Now let’s explore what makes durians so puzzling yet fascinating – their smells & flavors!

The Aromas of Durian

Durians are notorious for having a one-of-a-kind odor, often described by many across Asia as smelling like rotten onions or vomit! It can cause quite the sensory overload due not only to its smell but also because it tends to linger around the kitchen long after consumption, even when dishes are washed several times over! That’s why it is strongly recommended that you store durian in an airtight container and eat it as quickly as you can. 

Some might argue, though, once acquired, it tastes better and better and becomes a heavenly aroma instead – just like truffles or blue cheese!

In fact, there was once an experiment conducted where participants were exposed to different odors under MRI machine scans. When exposed to durian scent, some areas of the brain responsible for pleasure perceived it in the same way they would chocolate, while others found it repulsive! It seems our brain doesn’t really know whether to like durian or not.

In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers identified more than 100 volatile compounds in five durian cultivars, shedding light on the unique and pungent smell of this controversial fruit.

So whether you love the “king of fruits” (or hate it), one thing we can all agree on is how distinctive the taste really is, no matter how much attention it gets based solely upon its pungent fragrance alone!

The Flavors: First-Time Experiences

The taste of durians is often described as unique, with a texture similar to creamy custard. Some people say that it tastes like banana with sweetened condensed milk, while others describe the flavor profile as more like onions mixed with hints of honey and almonds.

In his book “A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines,” Anthony Bourdain shares his experience with durian, describing it as “love at first taste,” and further elaborates on its unique flavor by saying, “The texture was custard and flan, the taste a disconcertingly delicious blend of mango, apricot, and caramelized banana.” This quote offers a glimpse into the captivating and distinctive taste of durian that some people find irresistible.

If you’re trying durian for the first time, prepare yourself – this fruit can be an acquired taste! Many people who try it for the first time find its rich flavor overwhelming or even repulsive due to not being acclimated yet, sometimes describing feeling nauseous after consuming them!

But if you give durian another chance (and another), there’s a good chance that your palate will adjust to this fruit and also appreciate its complex flavors.

Comparing Durian Fruit Taste To Other Fruits

Trying to compare durians’ tastes alongside different fruits may lead one down a rabbit hole. Some say, apart from having a distinct, almost nutty-creamy uniqueness that makes it stand out texturally, raw fruits of durian family can be compared to such fruits as papayas or mangoes, although the textures of the latter are much softer.

Durians have been compared to apples when they reach their full ripeness, because their fleshy bits pack a punch of sweetness combined with bitterness, perfectly balanced, creating a combination of flavors that explode inside your mouth, making every bite worth savoring again and again!

Varieties of Durian Fruit

Alternative Ways To Love Durian Flavors

While many enjoy devouring fresh pieces of these spiky delights straight out of the shell, Southeast Asia locals often use it to flavor their dishes. Here are just a few of them:

Durian Ice Cream

This white or yellow frozen dessert has become increasingly popular across Asia in recent years. Its delicate balance between sweetness, sourness, and creaminess leaves behind irresistible lingering notes upon consumption, making it the perfect treat during hot days. It is a small wonder that a lot of people find durian ice cream to be absolutely delicious.

Last but not least, this ice cream also provides the nutritional benefits found within the fruit itself: gives an added boost to immunity and reduces the risk of infectious diseases! 

durian ice cream

Durian Sticky Rice

Sticky rice is a popular dish in Southeast Asia, often served as an accompaniment to main meals or desserts. Adding durian chunks into the mix can give it a sweet and creamy twist that’s hard to resist.

Durian Candy

Candies are another way people enjoy this fruit without having to endure its strong odor! Often sold in tins, these candies have all the flavor of fresh durians but none of their smell.

Durian Mooncake And Stuffed Pastries

Durians stuffed inside mooncakes and pastries make for amazing snacks. The rich, custardy texture is complemented by flaky pastry crusts, resulting in a tantalizing taste-bud experience like no other!


Now you know what does durian taste like. There’s no denying the unique nature of durians – from their spiky exteriors and pungent aromas to the complex tastes they leave behind after consumption. While not everyone may be able to handle such distinct flavors upon first try, those who do acquire the taste say it’s worth every bite!

So whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie just learning about the king of fruits now, don’t hesitate the next time you see them at your local farmers’ market. Once you’ve tried durian, you’ll never forget its unforgettable taste and aroma!

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