The main difference between mangosteen and lychee is their seeds; mangosteen has small edible seeds, while lychee contains larger, inedible seeds. While both produce a sweet, tropical flavor profile, lychee is juicier, while mangosteen has flesh that looks soft and matte.
Tropical fruits can be especially confusing, as most aren't readily available in stores like apples or pears. If you’re wondering what the difference between these two tropical fruits is, read on as we compare them in terms of flavor, uses, storage, origin, substitutes, and nutritional content.
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A Comparison of Mangosteen and Lychee
A mangosteen is a small fruit about the size of an orange that has a sweet tropical flavor and edible seeds. A lychee is a very juicy, sweet fruit that is smaller than a mangosteen with a large seed in the center that should be discarded. They are both excellent snacking fruits, with inedible skins that can easily be peeled.
Mangosteens are a purple fruit with internal sections of white flesh that pull apart like an orange. They’re juicy with a sweet, tropical taste that is a mix of strawberry, lychee, achacha, peach, and pineapple. Mangosteen seeds are edible and their soft texture makes them barely noticeable when eating.
Lychees have a red outer skin that looks similar to a longan, with creamy-white flesh that’s very sweet and juicy. They have a pleasant firm, somewhat crisp texture with a large seed (similar to a loquat) in the middle that should be discarded. A lychee has an enticing fruity-floral aroma with a flavor that is similar to a grape or pear.
Lychees and mangosteens can be used much the same way in cooking. Their sweetness makes them a delicious candidate for sorbet, ice cream, muffins, puddings, and smoothies. Desserts look mouth-watering when these fruits are used as a garnish. The texture of both fruits holds up well in cooked dishes, and they are excellent used in savory recipes. A salty black bean sauce is balanced out with a handful of these sweet fruits.
Mangosteens and lychees can be used interchangeably in recipes. They both have unique flavors, but your food won’t have any awkward flavors substituting one for the other. If you’ve got neither in the kitchen, then longans, rambutans, or grapes will all work well in most dishes.
Fresh lychees can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped with plastic for 5-7 days. When kept at room temperature, they’ll usually only last 2-3 days, especially in warm climates. If you have got extra lychees, freeze them in their skins for up to 6 months.
Mangosteens will last 2-3 days on the counter, but they are best stored in a cool, dry location (around 50°F). In this environment, they will usually last two weeks. It isn’t recommended to refrigerate or freeze these fruits as their texture will lose quality.
The mangosteen is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia while the lychee was first grown in China. Today, the main harvesting nations of mangosteen are Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Lychees are mostly produced in China, India, and Southeast Asia.
|Mangosteen: 1 cup||Lychee: 1 cup|
You’ll find the lychee and mangosteen are both tropical fruits that are ideal for eating out of hand. The lychee is more commonly found in Western countries, canned and fresh. But that doesn’t mean it’s the better fruit. They each have their unique flavor and it would be impossible to pick a winner out of the two.
Mangosteens are a little larger and don’t have a cumbersome seed to deal with. Lychees have amazing, sweet juiciness that is hard to beat when eaten out of hand. In the kitchen, the two fruits could be used interchangeably in recipes; they’ll taste a little different, but nothing unpleasant.
What is your favorite tropical fruit? Please let us know in the comments below.